Indymedia: Brad Will, Bravery, Our Common Struggle
I didn't need to be reminded by one of my indymedia comrades that more people died yesterday in Oaxaca aside from Brad Will. I know that. I don't want anyone to die struggling for justice. But, Pedro Carmona killed one of our own. As narrow and subjective as that point of view may seem at first, it is what remained after I had my tears and my clenched fists, so I know it comes from a good place.
While the indymedia tactic, via sites from around the world in the network, will help to tell Brad's story to others, I feel a burning need to talk to my comrades who use indymedia about "us". What does this mean to the people who enable indymedia or who post to or read indymedia nearly every day? What does it mean to me? Put simply, I'm very proud today of indymedia. I'm very sad, but also I'm very proud that such a way of doing things as indymedia attracted Brad Will and that he died in the act of doing it. I think we should all be sad, but proud.
I didn't know Brad. I can only claim what probably many can claim. We were working to cover the big social justice events of the past few years together and probably rubbed elbows here or there. I've probably met you there too and vice versa. We have all rubbed elbows here or there in a common struggle.
I highlight common because I believe that on the battlefield for truth and voice everyone who does indymedia work shares at least some core observances and principles. When I sit in a room at these large convergences with other imcistas I do feel like I am among comrades notwithstanding differences in region, class, or politics.
Those shared observations and principles are few, but important. It's what makes "us," not "them". The statement and practice of those principles explicitly or implicitly is what attracted each one of us to get involved with indymedia, work hard to make it happen, take risks and alter our normal life patterns. To see Brad Will be an example of indymedia in action makes me want to redouble my efforts and I hope it does for you.
Our shared list of observations most probably includes the observation that corporate media (and perhaps all monied media) lies about information and hides information because it is beholden to financial and/or political interests. Further, that corporate media and journalism as we know it operates in a hierarchical and closed fashion. Further, that because of these lies and hidden truths corporate media is complicit with the destruction of life for profit we are seeing all around us. Further, that their complicity is not merely secondary to the operation of injustice and death, it is a root cause and vehicle for it.
Our few shared principles then might only be that we will all endeavor to create a place for information that is non-hierachical, free from the poison of money, and open to the voices of all who are just and without much voice. But there are also some shared values that lurk below and between these principles. It is times like this, when the death of someone like Brad makes it all the more obvious what those values are.
One of them is bravery. Indymedia stands for bravery in so many ways. I see that so clearly today and I hope you do too. Bravery is a shared value that all other ways of making media lack today as a core value. The old journalism may still try to rest upon some laurels from the 60's and 70's, but, today the corporate media looks at US and shudder to think that they might have to say "Indymedia" and "Journalist" in the same sentence. They are shamed into it. But today, each corporate media crony must feel the full sensation of their spinelessness in every bone of their bodies as they look to us as an example of what it means to try to get the truth out un-filtered for the benefit of everyone.
I've seen my friends go into situations with video cameras and microphones to protect people and to report the truth. Situations that were very dangerous. I've even done it myself once or twice on the basis of that example. I've seen those actions yield justice for those hurt and for uncovering the truth of something that happened while the corporate media covered it up or lied. I've seen my friends get hurt and taken prisoner. I've had friends been dragged into the Grand Jury room, remain silent knowing full well the consequences. Some people I know well have traveled to dangerous places at dangerous times to do indymedia work. But, until today the word "brave" never really fully came to mind to describe indymedia work. It just seemed like "that's just what you do" in indymedia work. Until the ultimate bravery that Brad showed brought it up from the sub-conscious, "bravery" was waiting to be born below surface of my understanding of indymedia values. Now it lives in my consciousness. One more thing for which I thank Brad.
We have other shared values. I believe love is one of them. We do indymedia work because we love it, not because we get paid for it, and because we love people and because we love.....Freedom. Freedom is another shared value. We want to see people govern themselves according to their own desires and values, if they wish it, for better or for worse. We don't want to be told what to do or tell others what to do. We value equality. We value accessability. We value justice. We value the first person experience. We value creativity. When I meet a new person that comes to our collectives to begin work or if I meet someone at a convergence, if they possess these values, I know we are doing the same thing. Indymedia. I'm very proud to be in the same company with people like that. I'm very proud to be in the company of Brad Will.
Lastly, I just want to say again that I think we should all take a look at what is so important about indymedia work and why it is so important and what it means to each one of us. I hope that we draw courage of conviction from Brad's example and that we stand together throughout the indymedia network and as individuals to redouble our efforts. I think you all know that it could have been any one of us. But, it is so much easier for them to take us one at a time. We stand much more strongly together in what we can all be proud of. Our brave common struggle. Indymedia.