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Demonstration this coming Tuesday (Peaceful Skies), followup from SF meeting Wednesday, next SF meeting July 15 (tentative)

June 14, 2015

From Washington, DC, where I am this week

Dear friends –

Skipping ahead, and in partial response to the excellent question “What can I do?”, please consider this important alert from Peaceful Skies (see also further discussion as to why this is important, below):

Join representatives of the Peaceful Skies Coalition and other New Mexicans at the east entrance of the New Mexico State Capitol in Santa Fe on Tuesday, June 16th, at 1:30 PM.   

Peaceful Skies Coalition has been monitoring the extent of military training on public and private land in NM and throughout the US with great concern. On April 17, 2015, we sent a letter to NM Governor Susana Martinez asking her to assure that Jade Helm 15, a very large scale military training, be limited to the 4 million acres of military land in NM. The letter was re-sent on April 29th after having received no response from the governor. Still no response.

Jade Helm 15 may be the largest military exercise ever conducted in the US.

It is especially unusual in that civilian agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement will join in the training under military control by the Special Operations Command. 

Seven states will be a part of the war training over a several month period of time. This is unprecedented. 

Peaceful Skies Coalition has requested a 15 minute meeting with Governor Martinez or her Chief of Staff on Tuesday, June 16th at 2 PM. We will meet outside the Capitol at 1:30, at 1:55 a delegation will go to the office of the Governor to present the letter in person. At 2:30 PM, we will address the media and supporters.

We hope to see you in Santa Fe on Tuesday, June 16, 2015.

Military operations within the US in our communities on public and private lands must stop! It is time to turn from end, less war towards peace.

(For further background on this particular “straw on the camel’s back” please see “Jade Helm 15 Is Not a Federal Takeover: It's Domestic Military Expansion,” Candice Bernd, Truthout, May 22 and “Does Jade Helm Violate Posse Comitatus,” Ralph Lopez, June 1).

We have to take these opportunities as they come and we are grateful to Peaceful Skies for putting this one together.  Think of this manifestation, if you like, as a continuation and realization of our meeting this past Wednesday in Santa Fe.

It was a pretty good meeting.  I would say it was marked with a wonderful respect and trust, anchored by a resilient network of relationships anchored in public service that spans decades.  We had an excellent discussion and Trish and I are very grateful to all who attended.  We know your time is very valuable and are especially grateful to those who came from far away.

The meeting location helped a great deal as well.

Our next meeting is tentatively set for Wednesday, July 15, at 5:00 pm (note this difference from before!) so there will be more time for snacks and meeting and greeting one another.

This will be a quite different and more formal meeting, with some new faces as well as familiar ones, with slides this time, and I hope you will be able to pencil it into your calendars.  We will be presenting some of the results of strategic discussions we have been having with you as well as our national and international allies and advisors.  You will hear more about this meeting in a week or so, and as the date approaches.

Tremendous strides have been made internationally and more are on the way.  We want to make nuclear disarmament a present narrative reality in New Mexico and the rest of the US even as we – that’s you and the rest of the Study Group – help open the door to a broad-based anti-war, environmental, and social justice movement.  Without that disarmament narrative, and without that movement, New Mexico and its environment will, we believe, spiral down into immiseration and degradation.  There is not a moment to lose.

If for some reason we have to change that July date we will let you know right away.  We will also send reminders.  Again, please write us for the meeting location with your RSVP (or call 505-265-1200).

We have pages of notes and insights from this past Wednesday’s meeting, which like previous meetings help guide us more than may be apparent.  Like many meetings, it was a mix of old hands and new.  From this longer list I would like to offer the following remarks to our most interested members.

  • Few of us grasp the urgency and gravity of the multidimensional crisis in which we find ourselves, which threatens to irreversibly undo much of life on earth in a very short time.  Our situation is so new, and so drastic, it is all but invisible.  We are in protective denial.  This is apparent in comments we often hear about the churches not being a good place for which to look for full-time, independent, locally-responsible, morally-grounded organizers. 
We agree it is difficult.  But then we also have to ask – and these are not at all rhetorical questions – where else shall we produce and find them?  What other moral foundation and social support can we quickly provide, independent of frequently-compromised, agenda-setting, liberal philanthropy (as much as we ourselves depend to some extent on it)?  Without full-time commitments, how shall we build, inform, sustain, and win the necessary struggle?
Please notice that we are not asking for something we have not done and are doing ourselves.  We are asking for people to join us, in a multiplicity of ways that are accessible to everyone and with maximum, but local, social and financial support.  We are not suggesting that people become volunteers for any national nonprofit, an old model that has led to three decades of “failure-to-thrive” in the environmental movement for example and is entirely unsuited to today’s multidimensional crisis situation.
Please note that we are not at all asking for your ideas now.  We are asking for our core members to reach out to others they know and help organize full-time climate and justice activists in the churches or wherever.  In our meetings it is sometimes difficult for people to grasp that we are not talking about something else that Trish and Greg will do!
Our own version of this is to bring in new interns to the Study Group.  We are working on that assiduously, including here in Washington.  We will need your help with that too. 
As you may know the Pope will issue, on Thursday, his first encyclical, on climate protection and the poor.  His December 2014 message on the necessity of banning nuclear weapons was based on closely-related, perennial Christian teaching.  We will issue a press release on Thursday.  It is a door.  I have no idea why anyone would see these as very different issues.  He doesn't.  We don't.
  • In New Mexico especially, most people are so beaten down, politically speaking – so used to having essentially no agency or enfranchisement – that it is difficult to imagine having real agency.  This affects all of us.  It can be quite comforting, excusing inaction at every level of involvement.  If we can’t do anything, why try?  This is probably the most common, post-democratic attitude in the US.  Public engagement is even considered aberrant – not cool – in some subcultures now.  However arrived at -- and there are many avenues -- this norm of disengagement also contributes to making some of us who do have some degree of agency a bit invisible – especially if it does not come with a flourish of trumpets the way our celebrity-poisoned culture says it should!  (It also means that only a few people can make a very great difference, since most people are disengaged.)  This contributes to the conclusion in the last bullet below.
  • Many assume without really knowing it that disembodied public education has far more political value than it does.  Decades ago, in the formative years for many of us, it may have had.  But it doesn’t now.  Political information and sentiment, if it leads to opinion merely, has zero impact on policyPublic education in the absence of sustained organizing, the associated infrastructure, face-to-face relationships, and sound, resourced strategies, has approximately zero political value.  The political and cultural ramifications of this are profound for academics, artists, and nonprofit leaders.  So when we hear various ideas as to how to “reach” more people, it is not quite the right note.  Without quite realizing it, we can fall into propaganda and advertising, which of course saturates the culture and is the norm.  But that is a terrain upon which we cannot win.  We are looking for something else instead – more personal, more satisfying, and more certain of success.  Quite certain in many ways.
  • Because of widely-mistaken political assumptions that were perhaps accurate at one time, and the general lack of genuine democratic experience in our communities (or "communities") of late, and other cultural and political impediments too tedious to list, we pretty much need to jump right in before all the i’s are dotted and the tees all crossed.  We’ll learn as we go.  It will also take a lot of discussion but there is a regrettable tendency in our culture today to stop at the discussion stage.  That is another reason we are urging you to consider going to the Capitol on Tuesday with Peaceful Skies.  It would be a mistake to consider this an issue-driven demonstration merely (however vast and fundamental galloping militarism is as an “issue”).  It is also a carrier for a broader and potentially more powerful cultural conversation, using that nonviolent term broadly.

In solidarity, and see you on July 15!

Greg Mello


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