close the SOA

Reposting again as the School of the Americas is still in operation, though the White House met with SOA Watch this week for the first time. Today the Vigil at Ft Benning is underway. Livestream is here and also at the website.

I am reposting a post from November 2009 in honor of yesterday's anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

I am just back from the SOA Watch to close the School of the Americas at Fort Benning GA.  My son, 10 years old, and I participated in the moving Vigil ceremony, using the presente litany and puppetistes, on Sunday morning as well as attending two days of workshops, concerts and events.  We attended with two older women, a Catholic and a Quaker, who are long-time attendees and supporters of the work of the SOA.

Many college students and young people were there also. This mix of ages and generations is a real strength of the event and rarely experienced in these days of massive institution-alization.  From schools to businesses to prisons, all vastly centralized at remote offices, we live our lives in these group structures that dehumnaize us and are not designed to support the kind of interactions that were so wonderful this weekend at the SOA Watch. 

The thinning of the social experience, increased urbanization and the centralized systems of social order, reduce our humanity and quality of life.  We will have to become conscious of our social nature and work to make spaces for the ages and stages of life around us in order to be together.  Just as organic plants absorb a wide spectrum of nutrients from healthy soil, so we, too, as human beings require rich and deep social interactions in our families and our communities to make us mentally, physically and spiritually strong.  

It is the closing of a school that is the focus of the SOA Watch, the School of the Americas (now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institure for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) commonly called the school of the assassins.  It is a school, with all the rules and procedures associated with that.  We restrict democracy in the large majority of schools and the rich community structure and way of life that once surrounded schools has been altered and no longer provides the social support, especially for children, that enables schools to achieve what they clearly did achieve at the beginning of the 20th century.  

So it is no suprise that teaching assassination, teaching destabilization, teaching terror and torture, are blithely organized into units of curriculum, testable and rankable, so that we can hierarchically organize and sort people.  And the entrenched military-industrial complex will be quite used to segmenting their psychological experience and so will view classes in warfare as mundane.  They are unable to see the consequences of their actions as teaching and compulsory school policies are foundational now as they were not earlier in our history.  When the vast majority of people in the US have been raised within this militaristic, public school structure, and take it for granted, it is hard to step back and question it.

We must stop compulsory schooling on a militaristic, industrial model. Schools must be a voluntary, cooperative effort of parents and neighbors, a service by and for people instead of the massive and inhumane burreacracies that have overtaken us, bureacracies we must decentralize and transform, in grief and in joy for those to come. 

Close the SOA


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