fuck peace. keep holding hands while kids starve, ecosystems dissolve, and the poor continue to cop the bullets... maybe if we give enough hugs and kisses to each other all this shit will stop. Please... fuck everything about this post. R E S I S T !
When planning a form of action you should take into account if you are actually accomplishing anything. How will my actions effectively stop civilization from destroying life?
Why advocate peace when the planet is being destroyed? Shouldn’t we be resisting against the status quo, taking any measures necessary- including violent rebellion- to bring down the systems in place?
In Defense of Peace: Fierce Love in the Age of Reunion
The following quote is from Vietnamese Buddhist leader, Thich Nhat Hanh:
“If we want to end the war in the world, we need to first end the war in our own hearts; our hearts need to be fully compelled to act with hope and compassion.”
The current state of humanity is one of imbalance. We are experiencing a convergence of different crises, which are all really part of the same crisis of consciousness, of spirit, of the human sense of self. It is what Julia Butterfly Hill calls “disconnected consciousness,” which makes it possible for us to clear cut forests, drop bombs on human beings, and view the world as “other”, as something separate from ourselves. In this way, the content of our hearts and minds - our thoughts, our beliefs, our perceptions, our emotions- and the essence of how we understand who we are constantly work to shape our external relationships and the actions that manifest in the physical plane. If someone looks at a tree and sees dollar bills, she will view that tree in a certain way. If someone looks at the same tree and sees a living, breathing sentient being with which she forms a sacred, interdependent relationship, she will view that tree in a different way.
Our separation goes very deep and we all feel, on some level, that something is very wrong around here. Most of us respond with despair, cynicism, numbness, and detachment as we watch a world spiral into catastrophe- both the physical and immaterial infrastructures of a culture built on separation have begun to crumble and fall to pieces as economies and governments falter, ecosystems collapse, and a new story of being begins to emerge. But the old story of self and of world has left us with deep, aching wounds; the paradox is that, despite the excessiveness of a culture obsessed with accumulation of the material, we are left with stinging fissures of emptiness as we lack what we truly desire: connection, community, authenticity, passion, and vital relationships with ourselves, with one another, and with the planet. We can’t create these new stories without fully feeling and unraveling the depths of the world’s wounds, without fully appreciating the roots of ourselves. One of my friends puts it this way,
My gut reaction [to war, suffering, sadness, greed, etc.] is to cry, to be in touch with the pain… to be really sad about how broken the system is and how broken we are. I can get really pissed and angry. But there is something redeeming in pain and suffering. Whenever I’ve felt pain, and made myself vulnerable to expose the brokenness, it’s been a really powerful experience of connection and healing- experiencing the suffering to transcend and operate from our deeper selves.
The criticism of the Pittsburgh Peace Gathering overlooks the psychology of living through this culture of separation, and it disregards the need for our wounded minds and hearts to heal. There is a spiritual dimension to the planetary crisis: a collective shift out of humanity’s separation is intimately related to a parallel shift in our individual self-conception. Something like the upcoming Peace Gathering on August 14 helps to reweave the tattered threads of the separate self into the fabric of community and connection- indeed, it means asserting oneself as part of a greater whole. There is a place for action- perhaps fierce, radical, revolutionary action- but if it does not grow out of a FIERCE LOVE, for the planet, for oneself, for the gift called “Living on Planet Earth”, it becomes weak, infused with indignation, bitterness, and resentment. What inspires us most is not anger towards suffering, but the profound love we have for creating a more beautiful world. There’s a place for anger; however, as a stimulus for action it pales in comparison to what we can achieve through compassion. The anarcho-primitivist rhetoric is usually replete with cynicism and condemnation, frequently resulting in the claim: “What you’re doing is useless and trivial because the real problem is civilization itself, so if you’re not directly involved in attacking or resisting its structures, your actions are meaningless.” But IS civilization inherently unsustainable? Author Charles Eisenstein asks: Is genocide and ecocide the inevitable price of civilization's magnificence? Need the most sublime achievements of art, music, literature, science, and technology be built upon the wreckage of the natural world and the misery of its inhabitants? Can the microchip come without the oil slick, the strip mine, the toxic waste dump? In other words, can the gift of technology and culture somehow be separated from the curse?
In his beautiful work, THE ASCENT OF HUMANITY, Charles talks about civilization as an organic process of becoming, rather than a monstrously wrong turn in human history. Certainly the domestication of plants and animals was a momentous event that perhaps has forever transformed the planet, but so has tool making. So has fire building. So has the migration of life from the oceans to the land. So has the formation of cell walls and multicellular organisms. So has the cooling of the primeval universe to assemble atomic structures. The universe has been complexifying since its first manifestations, to the point where today, we monkeys have created extraordinary works of culture, language, art, ideas, technology, communication, and all the other achievements that make us human. In one sense, it seems that civilization was an inescapable path, an essential step in the process of our evolution. Or rather, that humanity needed to embark on the journey of separation to learn how to live properly (again) in an ever-changing/developing universe. Perhaps the transition from hunter-gatherer to agricultural society marked the birth of an epoch, whereby humanity was reborn into childhood, into a ‘take’ relationship with MOTHER earth. Charles Eisenstein writes that, just as a child takes and takes from a mother without reciprocating, as characterized by the growth of any organism, we have been taking from the Earth without giving back, without forming a mutual relationship with her. The crises facing us today are the birth pangs of a new humanity, which is transitioning from childhood to adulthood, from the disconnected consciousness of the take relationship to the connected self, through which we desire to give back and enter into a partnership with what Charles calls, LOVER EARTH.
I don’t think the appropriate question is: How will my actions effectively stop civilization from destroying life? But rather: Are my actions contributing to healing or destruction? Empowering communities through peace gatherings is more effective than blowing up a dam, or a bank, or the NYSE, because this empowerment is imbued with the consciousness that says “Yes” to the world, rather than no, rather than viewing our situation as doomed to failure and ourselves as insignificant agents of social change. Eisenstein says:
No matter how complete the despair, no matter how bitter the cynicism, a possibility beckons of a world more beautiful and a life more magnificent than what we know today. Though we may rationalize it, it is not rational. We become aware of it in moments, gaps in the rush and press of modern life. These moments come to us alone in nature, or with a baby, making love, playing with children, caring for a dying person, making music for the sake of music or beauty for the sake of beauty. At such times, a simple and easy joy shows us the futility of the vast, life-consuming program of management and control.
We intuit also that something similar is possible collectively. Some of us may have experienced it when we find ourselves cooperating naturally and effortlessly, instruments of a purpose greater than ourselves that, paradoxically, makes us individually more and not less when we abandon ourselves to it.
There is a healthy, positive energy that comes from creating instead of resisting. Or rather, resisting in the form of creating and collaborating, resisting in the form of manifesting peaceful relationships and peaceful solutions. Being the change we want to see in the world means acting with compassion and organizing peacefully. There is no one who does not want peace. And if you can’t find it where you’re standing, where do you hope to run in search of it? The solutions exist already- the challenge is for us to inspire one another to listen to our hearts. In other words, to become ourselves again, and in so doing become something much larger than ourselves.
Acting peacefully in the face of such calamity reminds me of Taoist or Zen Buddhist philosophy, whereby what is malleable is always superior to that which is immovable.
Many aspects of human civilization are inflicting great harm upon this planet, yet there is something that feels right about yielding to the suffering, ingesting it in our hearts and minds to fully feel the sorrow, and to intimately experience its pain. I call it “The Zen of Creating the More Beautiful World We All Know is Possible in our Hearts;” it involves accepting what is and creating joyful alternatives rather than furiously resisting what is. It is flexible, supple, and adaptable. It is letting the muddy water of our minds be still to become clear.
Lao Tzu says:
Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong. Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.
It is from this way of being that the right actions emerge. This doesn’t mean sit around meditating while the world around us is being pillaged, as represented in one of Derrick Jensen’s cartoons. It means acting through acceptance. It means moving through the world with a soft heart and a clear mind, and letting your actions flow smoothly and effortlessly out of the joy of being, of living, of creating.
The passionate human being that was criticizing the Peace Gathering continues:
I guess I just don't see the point in a celebration. How can you celebrate at a time like this? I feel if you are going to celebrate, you should earn the celebration. Do something that is effective, and then celebrate the victory.
I think that part of the transition into a new humanity means celebrating LIFE in all of its manifestations- the leaves and the laughter, the sky and the sorrow, the birds and the just being. Any movement that dissuades us from being happy and enjoying life’s pleasures just doesn’t feel right. Happiness is totally compatible with change. Many beings are suffering, but many are waking up OUT of suffering. Many ecosystems are being destroyed, but many are being rehabilitated. Many cultural stories are ending, but many are just beginning. We can celebrate and show gratitude for all that is, while simultaneously acknowledging suffering. They need not be separate. We can’t get there from here, without being ourselves.