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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | San Francisco | Anti-War
Fortress Bay Area - The Center Cannot Hold
Fortress Bay Area is a project to make visible everyday militarisms of life and prosperity in the San Francisco Bay. Please share your everyday militarisms with #FortressBayArea.
A goal is to draw out historical details to make our present more coherent. Sketching a line from Spanish conquest, to Mexican rule, into U.S. Indian wars, and now into remote technicolor megadeath, will help to understanding our moment and place, and where we might go.
Fortress Bay Area - The Center Cannot Hold
"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold"
-From William Yeats' 'The Second Coming'
A crossroads. Our road of lies, theft, and avarice has met an intersection of clarity, remuneration, and reconciliation. The center willful ignorance of previous generations cannot hold. We know too much, and we must do right if we can hope for our own liberation, or for the liberation of others.
On trial is our sacrosanct 'way of life'. This way of life relies on gully-washing floodwaters of forgetting. We mustn't remember. We must not remember whose land we inhabit. We must not remember what it was to be connected to land. We must not remember bloodshed so others might have what was not theirs. We must not remember towers of babel constructed to exalt men who could not feel.
Wounds are wise teachers, if they can be heard. They quietly point toward a better way. A world has been erected where wounds are bottled up and cast away, yet the bottle keeps washing ashore. We need to uncork the bottle, withdraw the paper, and read it. We need to find our wounds and the wounds of those around us, and embrace them. Heal them. Then we might hope to slow the wounds we inflict on the world within our inattentive way of life.
Stop inflicting wounds. It's likely you're unable to. Our way of life depends on wounds. Gently at first, notice them. It is jarring and uncomfortable. Just notice them. Then after some time, name them. Now maybe a little louder. Ask a neighbor if they too see a wound. Ponder how the wound might heal. How might the healing of that wound heal this wound?
We must help each other to stop inflicting wounds. On ourselves, on each other, on our children, on the land, on our progeny. It is possible to see the wounds. It is possible to name the wounds. It is possible to heal the wounds. Which place can we start but our homes?
I have a self-inflicted wound. I joined the United States military. I didn't know. I couldn't see. I couldn't hear. I was borne of wounded folk. I became wounded myself. Let us heal.
I am currently using a Twitter account @FortressBayArea to name militarisms past & present. People in our communities who love and are loved, are engaged in work that creates wounds. The easy road would be to condemn. This also creates wounds. I am trying to envision a situation where we neither condemn nor condone. I aspire to a kind of community solidarity where we challenge our neighbors to stop inflicting wounds for their own sake & that of others.
The foundation of the modern Bay Area was laid on conquest. Of land, of people, of spirit. One of UC Berkeley's cornerstones was shifted 5° to align with the Golden Gate and mark the coming conquest of the Pacific. War made this place, it remains to be seen if war can be unmade, in this place.
I welcome your wisdom, tips, pointers, or other input.
Also, in its little way I'd like to dedicate this project to the Winnemum Wintu peoples whose land my great-grandfather's labor helped submerge behind Shasta Dam, The Yana peoples whose land he later settled & I was raised on. The Suisunes band of the Patwin tribe who were burned alive miles from where I now live, and to the Miwok, Wappo, Ohlone, & all indigenous people who continue to be dispossessed.
There are many who came before me and some I've had the pleasure of learning from. I hope someday to complement their gifts: California abolitionists, Anti-Imperialist Leagues at the dawn of the 20th century, WWI's anti-interventionists, the Bonus Army, the Port Chicago 50, the Catholic Workers, the Quakers, the student & GI antiwar movements, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, the black & women's liberation movements, the American Indian Movement, Livermore Action Group, Veterans for Peace, S. Brian Willson, the founders of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Siri Margerin & the Civilian-Soldier Alliance, Michael Thurman & Courage to Resist, Chelsea Manning, Occupy SF & Oakland, Jason, Matt, Ryan, Lori, Emily, Dottie, Amber, Lisa, LT, Becca, Adele, Antonia, Aaron, Graham, Brooke, Anthony Wagner (rip),Ethan (rip), Jacob (rip), Scott Olsen, Bill Creighton, Paul Cox, & SF VFP, Nadya Williams, and so many more.
Photo Credit goes to Gray Brechin's illuminating work 'Imperial San Francisco'.