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Re: Holding steady under fire/Harassed Permies
In a message dated 1/17/97 7:50:21 PM, you wrote:
>I thought what Dan was saying is that one does not have to take it.
>From the 'retalitaion' he has spoken of, it seems to be largely in
>the legal sphere and centred around just making it clear to his
>harassers that he is not going to lie back and take it.
>I do not regret making the initial comments that sparked this debate,
>but I am disappointed to find it turning into a slagging off fest.
>We all have to deal with the situation that presents itself. In Dan;s
>case, as in my own, we have faced considerable opposition and have
>just had to work through it.
>The primary goal of my original comments was to let others know that
>everything is not peaches and cream all the time, and to let those
>out there who are suffering similar actions know they are not alone.
>From the replies I have received, it is clear thaat this sort of
>thing does happen, but is rarely spoken about. I was impressed with
>the replies I did get to my comments, but disappointed that some
>chose to attack myself or Dan and asking what we had done to bring
>this sort of treatement down onto us.
>I know what sparked this treatment of those involved in our little
>part of the world. We were running a rehabilitation and counselling
>clinic. As a result, we stumbled across paedophilia and drug running
>in the local district. While we could of then abandoned our people in
>that situation, we chose to defend them. I, and none of the others
>involved, would change that decision if given the opportunity for a
>rerun. We have stood up to those who have wronged us and those around
>us and this is the sort of retaliation we have had to endure. We have
>had stock shot, brakes on cars interfered with, police conspiring to
>defraud and jail us, and in recent weeks, we have seen the whole
>thing burnt to the ground.
>Things are not always peaches and cream, but sometimes, it just gets
>And I do not know a lot about American History, and so I will not
>speak too long on Dr King, but I understand that the thing that made
>him the strong figure that he was was that he did not lie down and
>take it, but instead encouraged all around to rise up against the
>oppression that was previously being silently endured.
It is interesting that the discussion has got to this point given that Monday
in this country we have the Natioinal celebration of Martin Luther King's
birth, in honor and respect for the life that ensued.
Dr King was inspired by Ghandi who was inspired by Henry David Thoreau, a
native of my home state, Massachusetts, in the northeast of our country.
Thoreau led only himself and refused to pay taxes while the US government
was invading Mexico and annexing parts thereof. He did not seek to have
others follow him, but urged everyone to follow his/her conscience.
Ghandi, in South Africa at the time, had a lot of trouble with the
discrimination that then rampant there (as in a number of English colonies).
I'm a bit fuzzy about that time in his life except that it had to be very
frustrating and that like Thoreau, he spent time in jail for actions
consistent with his beliefs. He read Thoreau, was inspired, and went on to
change the world in a major way far beyond his successes and failures in
India. He also made some bad calls and got a number of people killed who
would have staid home, I suspect, if they could have anticipated the outcome.
Well, we are all human. King took Ghandi and reinterpreted him in the light
of the teachings of Christ. Overall, he seemed to be a brilliant strategist,
largely intuitive, so far as my personal observation goes, and the number of
people damaged from choosing to follow him is probably many less than if we
had done otherwise. it was grueling work and as I followed him around Boston
to scheduled talks, he was rather dull, speaking in a monotone and not making
much of an impression (not noticed because people were filling in the
powerful giant of ringing rhetoric that they were expecting.) He came alive
twice in that time, once when we toured the ghetto, or at least one ghetto,
in the Boston area, and he looked around and talked with the people he was,
he knew, sacrificing his life for. Again, then, when he stood up the mayor
and addressed a massive crowd in the Boston common later in that day. I
missed most of that because I was on guard duty at the mayor, sending patrols
over rooftops, scrutinizing police, checking entrances and exits, etc.
Finally we got word to come in to the common, and even at the end of this
talk he was charasmatic. Only in seeing him during the rest of the visit did
I know what energy that effort cost.
King was very aware of the security force the Boston civil rights folks had
organized. He thanked the man who put it together and told him that it was
the only time that an effort had been made to reduce his exposure to risk in
that way. Later, we know, he was assinated. His assination would have come
much later and been far more difficult if all places he went had taken the
trouble to organize defense for him and spread the risk. One of our
strategies was to intrude between King and a potential assassin, on the
assumption that many people will lose heart after killing several people and
having more still pop up in the way. We were also authorized to use
restraint, to hold someone, and we were told that we could work as hard as we
felt necessary at this.
In my view, King's assination became inevitable once he spoke out against the
Vietnam war. He was too effective to be alowed to counter vested interests
in this matter. Little could they know that it was too late, given their
mindsets of hierachy and leadership. It was the legacy of King's civil
rights struggle that kept the bloodshed agains demonstrators to a minimum in
the Vietnam war protests in this country. I was never so much as nudged as a
bodyguard for king, but I felt the force of clubs and police horses and faced
bayonetts protesting the Vietnam war. When the police and military did
provocative things, at least on the east coast it was the civil rights
veterans who keep the demonstrators from losing their cool and giving
authorities an excuse for general mayhem.
That's something of the history of nonviolent strategy in the United States,
obviously filtered through just one perspective whose objectivity is limited
by being a participant. I had to get out of the Vietnam protests at the end
because I had reached the threshold at which I would tolerate being
physically abused and threatened. To strike back once would have been to get
many people hurt and maybe killed.
I moved to the country and haven't been involved in that form of politics
then. The strongest image in my mind is the members of the American
Communist Party throwing rocks over everyone's heads at a intended nonviolent
attempt to close down the military inductioin center at Whitehall, New York
City. I have pictures of smashed heads that resulted. (My job was to get
into the thick of violence to document police and military brutality, which
had the effect of limiting it and of course of making me a target.
Strangely, I was never arrested or badly injured. A lot of the
demonstrators thought I was CIA--haircut for an office job, I suppose, may be
the cops did too.
One doesn't defend onself in a way that will bring wrath down on many or give
an excuse to others. I've been told by Mohawk friends that the 6 nations
philosophy was to negotiate first, to talk even after an initial attack if
possible, and to meanwhile have meetings and come to consensus. If they came
to consensus to war, they defeated their enemy and in a way that ensured no
repeat offense. The only time they were ever defeated was by George
Washington, who led a rather gratituous attack on the Six Nations because
they had a technical alliance with the British Crown, which had already
signed a peace treaty. I think all the fighting got him worked up or
something and he had to have one last fling before becoming president and the
father of our country. The Six Nations could not come to consensus, I'm
told, and decide that each nation would take it own course. This is the
version I was given at the Onondaga nation which remained neutral and has a
small soverign state in the middle of New York state.
It would have been interesting to see what the results would have been if
Ghandi or King had been Iroquois.
For Mother Earth, Dan Hemenway, Yankee Permaculture Publications (since
1982), Elfin Permaculture workshops, lectures, Permaculture Design Courses,
consulting and permaculture designs (since 1981), and now correspondence
permaculture training by email. Copyright, 1996, Dan & Cynthia Hemenway, P.O.
Box 2052, Ocala FL 34478 USA YankeePerm@aol.com
We don't have time to rush.