Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Why I left

I promised myself I would write this for a while now. Dissatisfied with the pace of change and lack of cohesion and supportive community within the peace and justice movement, I decided to return to my own life and focus on building my career and having a good life with my partner. I knew I would be taking a long break from activism and organizing before I even went to jail (Dec. 18-21), but my time in there simply confirmed this in my own mind. I realized that leaving this "movement" was the right thing, but at the same time I was annoyed that people I cared for were sacrificing a great deal more than 98% of the rest of the peace and justice movement, and were getting precious little support. I wanted to make a point about this. This fact exposes a major injustice. I also was not getting hardly any support for my own ordeal.

Furthermore, a few I had considered good friends had already turned against me. They were angry that I would challenge them, and be so completely honest in my opinions about the movement's lack of diversity and willingness to adapt.

The peace and justice movement has shrunk during President Obama's tenure. Some within the progressive community, although fewer now than a year ago, persist in seeing him as some great hope. Something nearing the proportions of a modern day Moses. Efforts to persuade them otherwise have not been very successful. So not only is the peace and justice movement stuck in doing the same limited, predictable and easily dismissed protests but it is floundering in the face of this unrealistic belief that elections can change our course. Meanwhile social movements have not changed anything in a positive direction in decades.

I wish those who persist in the struggle good luck, although I am disappointed by their unwillingness to accept diversity and adapt their tactics. Groups like National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, although well-intentioned, have stubbornly clung to the same type of actions which are not working. And now for those risking jail time, this group (as well as many others) offers very little legal or financial aid.

Jail is a terrifying place, and although this would probably be a major part of a nonviolent revolution, far too few are willing to go there. Personally, I went there once, and I do not care to repeat it. This burden, like so many others within the movement is not fairly shared. And there's not a lot of real concrete support; there remains a lack of community and cohesion which is deeply disappointing and troubling.

On a personal level, my relationship with my wonderful partner is getting better. Now is a good time for me to get off this crazy merry-go-round. I have very little hope we can impact the course of the empire at this time. We can, however, impact our own lives one day at a time in very personal but powerful ways.


Don Muller said...

Thanks, Pete, for everything you've done for peace over the years. There's absolutely nothing wrong with taking a break--for rest, for re-evaluation, for renewal--and I'm assuming it's a break, and you'll be back! See you sometime in the future.

Don Muller

PeteinDC said...

Thank you Don! You actually offered Matthew and I some support. It was greatly appreciated. :)