Friends and Members,
Let’s not beat around the bush. We’re writing this letter to encourage you to make a donation to United for Peace and Justice, a generous donation.
As the world watched the U.S. get ready to go to war against Iraq, we were part of the small group that convened in the fall of 2002 to say something had to be organized in the U.S. to stop this madness. A great deal of anti-war sentiment was already being voiced, so there was a reason to be optimistic about creating a new, nationwide coalition. What we didn’t know then was that the ground we were breaking would lead to the largest peace coalition in this country’s history.
At its height, UFPJ had some 1,400 member groups – both national organizations and local groups, groups that were decades old along with those just forming. We were able to do some amazing things over those years: organize the largest mobilizations against the war in Iraq; give support to those in the military opposing the war along with those working to end the economic draft; develop working groups that included coalition members and addressed a range of issues from the attack on civil liberties, to the bloated military budget and the urgent need to fund social programs at home, to linking the struggle for climate justice to the work for peace; and much more. Several of UFPJ’s working groups have remained strong over the years, still bringing together people from around the nation to develop resources, organizing materials and common programmatic work. This includes the Nuclear Disarmament/Redefining Security, the Legislative and the Jobs Not War working groups.
There is something else, something less tangible, that UFPJ has provided. The work of previous years laid the foundation for more recent important efforts. For instance, a few months ago the U.S. was poised to take military action in Syria, action that could have easily escalated into regional warfare with the U.S. in the middle of it all. But the quick action of the peace movement (and others) helped make visible the widespread public opposition to such action. There are at least two things that made it possible to move quickly and effectively:
Of course, it’s no secret that UFPJ is not the same coalition it once was. The world has changed in the 11 years since it was created, and activism has taken new twists and turns. Over the years, UFPJ has shifted from a coalition structure to being more of a network that shares information and affords opportunities for groups that want to work together on specific issues and projects to do just that. An infrastructure has been built and this is no small feat, nor something that should be given up lightly.
Now, the current leadership of United for Peace and Justice is once again struggling with hard questions: what is needed, how can this network make the most effective contribution, how to maintain a structure that both serves the work of today and could be the foundation for something larger and more powerful in the future? One critical task they have taken on is checking in with the hundreds of local groups and national organizations that still view themselves as part of UFPJ to see what they need and what they might contribute. This work is well underway, but it will take some time before the project in completed.
While that all unfolds, UFPJ needs your help–more specifically, it needs your financial support! We know this is the time of the year when virtually every organization is asking for donations, and we know you are probably already giving to many groups. Nonetheless, we hope you will take a moment to recall the incredible work done by UFPJ over the years, take stock of the ongoing efforts UFPJ is giving leadership to, and consider what it would mean to lose the structure that has been built over the years.
Yes, it is that serious. Without your support – and the support of others in every corner of the country – the future of UFPJ is in danger. There are many things we would love to have disappear from the planet – senseless wars, theft of resources, nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, corporate greed and control over the lives of so many, racial and gender hatred and violence, degradation of the Earth and our climate. But losing UFPJ doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and it’s totally preventable, if you take action today.
We hope you enjoy the holidays and we look forward to standing with you – and UFPJ – in the year ahead as we take on the next phases in the struggles for peace and justice.
Leslie Cagan – UFPJ National Coordinator 2002-2008
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Mail to: UFPJ c/o Fellowship of Reconciliation, 521 N. Broadway, Nyack, New York 10960.
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