Sheehan thoughs over on Non​vi​o​lence​.org

Just a lit­tle note to every­one that I’ve blogged a cou­ple of posts over on Non​vi​o​lence​.org. They’re both based on “peace mom” Cindy Sheeran’s “res­ig­na­tion” from the peace move­ment yesterday.
It’s all a bit strange to see this from a long-time peace activist per­spec­tive. The move­ment that Sheehan’s talk­ing about and now cri­tiquing is not move­ment I’ve worked with for the last fifteen-plus years. The orga­ni­za­tions I’ve known have all been housed in crum­bling build­ings, with too-old car­pets and fur­ni­ture lift­ed as often as not from going out of busi­ness sales. Money’s tight and careers poten­tial­ly sac­ri­ficed to help build a world of shar­ing, car­ing and understanding.
The move­ment Shee­han talks about is fueled by mil­lions of dol­lars of Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party-related mon­ey, with cam­paigns designed to mesh well with Par­ty goals via the so-called “527 groups”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/527_group and oth­er indi­rect mech­a­nisms. Big Media likes to crown these orga­ni­za­tions as _the_ anti­war move­ment, but as Shee­han and Amy Good­man dis­cuss in today’s “Democ­ra­cy Now interview”:http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07%2F05%2F30%2F1343232, cor­po­rate media will end up with much of the tens of mil­lions of dol­lars can­di­dates are now rais­ing. Shee­han makes an impas­sioned plea for peo­ple to sup­port those grass­roots cam­paigns that aren’t sup­port­ed by the “peace move­ment” but this rein­forces the notion that its the mon­eyed inter­ests that make up the move­ment. I’m sure she knows bet­ter but it’s hard to work for so long and to make so many sac­ri­fices and still be so casu­al­ly dis­missed – not just me but thou­sands of com­mit­ted activists I’ve known over the years.
There are a few peace orga­ni­za­tions in that hap­py medi­um between toad­y­ing and pover­ty (nice car­pets, souls still intact) but it mys­ti­fies me why there isn’t a broad­er base of sup­port for grass­roots activism. I myself decid­ed to leave pro­fes­sion­al peace work almost a decade ago after the my Non​vi​o​lence​.org project raised such piti­ful sums. At some point I decid­ed to stop whin­ing about this phe­nom­e­non and just look for better-paying employ­ment else­where but it still fas­ci­nates me from a soci­o­log­i­cal perspective.

  • Patrick Stan­ton

    Mar­tin,
    Well, what can we say? Cindy linked up with the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty groups and they used her for what they could. Now she can see the truth behind the “anti­war” stance of the Party…She may, after a sea­son, return to the kind of action you dis­cuss. This will be her entry into real activism, and we should be hap­py to wel­come her…
    Your Friend in Jesus,
    Patrick Stanton
    Burling­ton (VT) Meeting
    adventtent@yahoo.com

  • @Patrick: I’m not quite will­ing to write off what she was doing as unre­al. She cer­tain­ly inspired a num­ber of peo­ple. If she were a Friend and I had been asked to serve some over­sight role, I would have tried to under­stand if the headi­ness of being in the media spot­light were act­ing as any sort of snare.

  • Barb

    Mar­tin — thanks for your Cindy post. I know this is total­ly off top­ic, but I am get­ting inter­est­ed in Quak­erism again. I’m read­ing an engag­ing, wit­ty, hard to stop read­ing book­let on Lib­er­al Quak­erism by Chuck Fager called ‘With­out Apol­o­gy’. Have you read this? What do you think of it? For me, it explains so much, going back thru the his­to­ry of Q-ism and the Amer­i­can splits. I have a lot more respect for the lib­er­al posi­tion, because Fager spells it out clear­ly. It is use­ful for quot­ing and in dis­cus­sion with new­bies who are get­ting their feet wet in Q-ism. I real­ize, if I am to be catago­rized under Q ter­mi­nol­o­gy, I might be con­sid­ered a Gurney-ite.…something I’m not sure I’m com­fort­able with. How­ev­er, becom­ing a Q is a life long prospect for me, if I stick with it. More impor­tant for me, tho. is not to become a Q, but grow into matu­ri­ty in the Spir­it, and as long Q-ism aids that for me, I sup­pose I will con­tin­ue. And hope­ful­ly, I will have oppor­tu­ni­ties to give back to that which has nur­tured me.

  • Hi Barb,
    How fun­ny, you must not have stum­bled across the rag­ing dis­cus­sion about Chuck’s book “cur­rent­ly hap­pen­ing over on Rich Acetta-Evan’s blog”:http://​brook​lyn​quak​er​.blogspot​.com/​2​0​0​7​/​0​5​/​r​e​v​i​e​w​-​o​f​-​c​h​u​c​k​-​f​a​g​e​r​s​-​w​i​t​h​o​u​t​-​a​p​o​l​o​g​y​.​h​tml. Sixty-eight com­ments as I write this! I read parts of Chuck’s book a few years ago. I remem­ber find­ing it engag­ing, thought-provoking, a lit­tle biased, etc. I’d be care­ful label­ing your­self a Gur­neyite based on Chuck’s description.
    If you want to delve deep­er into that side of Quak­erism, I might sug­gest Thomas Hamm’s “Trans­for­ma­tion of Amer­i­can Quak­erism,” a mostly-nineteenth cen­tu­ry his­to­ry of the Ortho­dox side of Friend, one big piece of which became the Gur­neyites. The G’s weren’t numer­i­cal­ly strong in Philadel­phia but they became very influ­en­tial in the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. I’d argue they’re the major archi­tects of mod­ern lib­er­al Quak­erism, though few mod­ern lib­er­al Quak­ers would claim them – every­one wants to be a Hick­site now.
    I should dig out “With­out Apol­o­gy” maybe, see what use you’re refer­ring to.
    BTW, vis-a-vis today’s post about the strange google vis­it: around the same time some­one came to my site on the search about kids clothes some­one else googled your full name fol­lowed by “nascar own­er” and “this post”:http://​www​.quak​er​ran​ter​.org/​f​o​r​_​o​t​h​e​r​_​u​s​e​s​_​s​e​e​_​l​i​g​h​t​_​d​i​s​a​m​b​i​g​u​a​t​i​o​n​.​php came in at num­ber 27. Are you real­ly a Nascar own­er?! Wow, now there’s a lib­er­al Quak­er stereo­typed smashed!

  • Barb

    Mar­tin — you are so wry and sly. 150 proof, home­made. In addi­tion to NASCAR, I also orga­nized the Mil­lion Women March, etc. The googler is onto something.…I am from good Hick stock. Not Hicksite…Hick. I will read Hamm’s book next. Thanks for the rec­om­men­da­tion. I run hot and cold with my inter­est in Q-ism. But the his­to­ry, the god wran­gling and wrestling, it’s fas­ci­nat­ing. Or the lack there­of. No one comes to reli­gion easy these days. thanks for shar­ing your jour­ney on your last post. I am com­ing to the idea that the orig­i­nal sin was ide­al­ism. Just when I think I’m a thor­ough­ly entrenched real­ist (or cyn­ic, a woman of the world, a whiskey drinker, etc) I real­ize that my cyn­ic springs from my deep inner ide­al­ist zealot. But how to kill the inner ide­al­ist, with­out killing the inner girl scout too? The cyn­ic also springs from wounds that need to be tend­ed to. I guess I need both of them, both tem­pered by time and the Spir­it. Well, I have to get back to nascar. zoom zoom, gimme some of that rye.