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"Forget the Rest" blog

August 22, 2011    SubscribeUnsubscribe.

Bulletin #125: "What can I do?"

Dear friends and colleagues --

We are frequently asked, "What can I (or we) do?"

Sometimes the question is narrow, as in, "What can we do to prevent the construction of a huge plutonium processing facility and its satellite waste and storage facilities at Los Alamos?"  Sometimes it is broad, referring to the larger set of converging crises that is driving our culture toward collapse and sweeping away much of the planet's life-support systems. 

These are both worthy questions but in their abstract form they often lead to blankness, inaction, and despair. 

Sometimes, however, this question becomes personal -- as in, "What can I do to help?"  In this intimate and concrete form, it is now a question that unlocks hearts and minds, our own not least.  In this form, seemingly vast problems acquire a human scale -- ours.  With this approach, "problems" turn into opportunities, then relationships, lives, works, and stories.  Sure, a terrible storm is coming, but freedom is possible, and much that is vain will be swept away.  As we know, "There is no other life."

"Why Log Truck Drivers Rise Earlier Than Students of Zen"

In the high seat, before dawn dark,
Polished hubs gleam
And the shiny diesel stack
Warms and flutters
Up the Tyler Road grade
To the logging in Poorman Creek.
Thirty miles of dust.
There is no other life.

          (Gary Snyder, Turtle Island, 1974)

If you do want to help here are some suggestions. 

  1. If you haven't read our recent update on the proposed $6 billion new warhead factory at Los Alamos, the so-called "Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement" (CMRR) building (Los Alamos’ Proposed $6 Billion Plutonium Fortress), please do so.  Knowledge is powerful.  Start there. 

  2. Right now, awareness is building worldwide in numerous ways regarding the CMRR and its multi-hundred-million dollar satellite facilities and projects (each a major project in its own right), and what they portend.  Still many if not most people in the directly-affected region, including influential and politically active people, do not know about this facility or are just hearing about it.  Please help us reach out to them, by sending our fundraising letter (pdf), with your explicit endorsement, to your friends by email.  If you have friends in or near Santa Fe, send them this invitation (pdf) and map if you have not already done so.  Your explicit endorsement of our efforts is very important to us and will not cost you anything.  Help your friends break through the malaise and paralysis that lies heavy on so many and indirectly affects all of us. 

Many of our supporters can't afford to come to the big fundraising event (pdf) in Santa Fe this Thursday.  Don't worry about that.  It's an expensive fundraiser, very necessary.  If you want to help please do in other ways and we will see you at our next event if you can make it!
By the way, we should have mentioned that we will be joined by songwriter and singer Peter Neils on Thursday, who will offer us a couple of his fine and highly topical songs.
  1. If you live out of state please use your networks and personal contacts and the editorial pages of your newspapers to denounce the Obama nuclear weapons buildup, which is teetering in the balance RIGHT NOW.  The facts are widely available, for example at our web site (just scroll down a few months and look at the articles and press releases).  You already know the committee assignments of your congressional delegation, or you can easily look them up -- so you know that if, say, you are in California, Senator Feinstein is particularly important.  We don't have all the talking points you need laid out in an easy "fill in the blanks" template, but we all need to make this information our own anyway.  It's critical that we do so. 

Ready-made "cookie cutter" approaches are worse than nothing at all, because they take the place of real involvement and no (zero) effect on lawmakers and the political process.  Any organization that asks you to sign a "petition to Obama" or some other such garbage needs serious reform or, if that fails, a cold shoulder. 
  1. If you know of New Mexico businesses who want to join with other businesses in a public statement against CMRR, please contact Trish.  Such an effort is already underway.  The businesses you contact -- or perhaps your own -- will not be alone.  Act quickly, please, because this train is already moving. 

  2. Between now and September 30 the balance of military, social, and environmental spending by the federal government is being renegotiated in an especially explicit way.  The fate of Obama's nuclear weapons buildup is hanging in the balance, at least provisionally.  Meanwhile, most of the channels by which meaningful, effective political conversations occur in the U.S. are now thoroughly blocked.  That means we will have to go around them, quite possibly by meeting outside, in the streets, on a recurrent, long-term basis, evolving the material and social basis of such engagement as we go.  Think about it. 

    Will your local newspaper or TV station explain the issues in any way that will help you effectively communicate with your congressional delegation?  No, not in time, unless you give them some reason to do so. 

    Don't wait.  Act, even if your action has to be poorly planned.  History is changing rapidly and most efforts will be overtaken by events ("OBE"). 

  1. Reach out to the news media directly.  In New Mexico, talk to editors about how to turn around the lack of information about CMRR, the largest government project in the history of New Mexico since the interstate highway system was built and one of the most evil (not to put too fine a point on it).  Why is it effectively an open secret, not openly discussed or written about, and what shall we do about that?  We strongly suspect many news editors and publishers want this facility built and are actively suppressing reportage and hence rational discussion about it.  

The shadow side of CMRR: if it goes forward, there will be no big push for green jobs and renewable energy for us.  Is it really that simple?  Basically, yes.  Because of the scale of CMRR, the two directions are politically and fiscally incompatible, especially for us in New Mexico.   And that means, no decent economic future for us, because the only chance at a decent economic future we have is through a big commitment to sustainable energy production and buildings.  (Why?  Because the old economy is dying; it cannot be revived.)  Our political economy is a system involving financial, institutional, and ideological elements, not just a simple fiscal trade-off (although that is a strong enough indication that this is a zero-sum game). 
This open secret is exemplified by the fact that the Albuquerque Journal managed to avoid attending, or writing about, the court hearings in which extensive evidence (including from former senior government and contractor officials from the laboratories and White House) was brought to bear on why this facility was not needed.  The Journal covered Judge Herrera's later decision not to allow our lawsuit to proceed, of course.  Overall, the main news media in central and northern New Mexico are extremely biased toward the laboratories, as numerous reporters who have worked for these papers have told us (in case that weren't obvious). 

More broadly, many of us see these newspapers as a powerful bulwark of the system of poverty in New Mexico.  They direct our attention elsewhere, and nothing effective is ever done about any of the major problems we have had here for decades.  They make it possible to run for Congress, occupy a seat in the House or Senate for a long period of time, accomplish little or nothing for New Mexico (or perhaps positively harm the state, say by lavishing attention on its nuclear laboratories), and still be praised wherever you go.  At this point, after so many years of this tradition, our newspapers probably don't even know there might be an alternative.  Day after day they turn their attention to the wealthy and powerful and away from the vulnerable and powerless, whose voice is so hard to hear in any case.  Day after day they fawn before power and authority, which is only what comes natural to all of us if we are not awake.  It goes far beyond Democrat vs. Republican, of course.  The Albuquerque Journal has a "Business" section.  Who would even think of a "Labor" section?  Doesn't "business" automatically take care of "labor?"

We have the news media we deserve.  Too many of us are too passive.  So let's not cast stones.  It's just a matter of waking up to what is going on.  We who woke up yesterday, figuratively speaking, should not too harshly censure those who are still asleep.  But we do need to wake them up.  Give them a positive, nonviolent, reason to cover your concerns, and so help heal our frayed social contract, wherever you are.  Be part of the answer.  Show the way.  Unfold a road for others. 
  1. Let us help you.  Several of us are ready to speak to your group, or a circle of your friends. 

  1. Call us if you want to help.  I hope you understand this is a big commitment on our part, opening our busy professional lives in this way.  We do so with a wing and a prayer.  We have faith that some of you will step forward in a way that facilitates the work of others.  Our door is open.  Our board and core volunteers will help where Trish and I cannot.  

  2. Some time ago we gathered a few answers to this fundamental question here

That's it for right now. 

There will be no meeting this Tuesday in Santa Fe. 

Best wishes to all,

Greg Mello, for the Study Group


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