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Fusion Politics - What We Have in Common

“We can’t go on fighting like this, 52% to 48%,” I heard the Reverend Mariama White Hammond say on Christopher Lydon’s radio program, Open Source. “We’re going to end up in a civil war.”

Fear is all around us. Fear is like the first line of our body’s immune defense. It has an important alarm function and mobilizes an organism’s systems to fight an assault from outside. But if the alarm keeps going off, there is a danger that the organism ends up with chronic inflammation, identifying “self” cells as enemies until it’s in a full blown autoimmune disease state. In that weakened condition, it is more vulnerable than ever to assaults.

In this analogy I think of our country’s wholeness as the organism. It’s made up of innumerable systems interacting among themselves in a dynamic state. A lot has to go right if it is to keep going on as itself, and civil war is a good term for what might happen if too much goes wrong. Right now we are in a state of chronic autoimmune inflammation, in which 52% win political power and the other 48% work at nothing but getting political power back. Whole portions of the organism believe that other portions mean them harm or are maybe not even “self.”

Our wholeness is under assault by a pure dominator worldview that recognizes no limits except those of brute power. The dominator worldview is expert in exploiting fears, and it could destroy not only our society but even the economic and ecological underpinnings that make anything like the life we know possible.

The threat is real, but we will need something more than fear and the fight for political ascendancy if we are to survive it. We need to strengthen—even heal—our organism.

With all the very real divisions before us, is something like that even possible? One person who not only thinks it is but is effectively putting it into practice is Reverend William Barber of Charlotte’s Moral Mondays movement. In his book The Third Reconstruction, written with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, he recounts the work of building an effective movement that has brought together across divides that seemed unbridgeable.

Here are a few of his ideas that struck me particularly:

“We have to be about a movement, not a moment”

The work of building relationships and bridges takes “radical patience” and “stubborn persistence.”

“Often the groups most impacted by injustice have been convinced that they are enemies. Fusion politics is about helping those who have suffered injustice and have been divided by extremism to see what we have in common.”

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About Katherine Power

I didn’t set out to be a terrorist. As a student activist, I moved from protesting the war in Viet Nam to waging guerrilla war to overthrow the government….

Recent and Upcoming Appearances and Publications
1/15/2014 Complexity and Social Change, Occupy Radio
10/31/2013 Surrender, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
10/25/2013 Surrender, Taos Community Theater, Taos, NM

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