Fukushima, drone-warfare, massive denial on the implication of climate-change, out-of-control cops, vampire capitalist austerity cuts, mortgage rip-offs, corporate decimation of everything, the silencing and prosecution of free-speech activities, war on protestors, an ineffective controlled president and corrupt Congress and Senate. Yikes!!! It seems that the polarization of humanity, and of our American nation in particular, is hurtling towards an unseemly and depressing violence. I mean, the rage I feel just reading, watching, and listening to the Net headlines leads to snarkiness at best and an inner thoughtcrime of unrestrained violence at worst. These violent thoughts are an end in themselves, and perhaps they are even justified in a way by the constant assault on reason taking place in today’s world. But I am not ready to give it all up to a righteous and violent God. Neither am I willing to just fall back into manipulation and greed to get my last gap of fun before the citadel tumbles down. And the singularity does not seem to be happening. It’s been co-opted into another sales event by Apple, Android, Google, or Microsoft.
Lessons of the past seem wanting. The balm of forgetfulness of the 60s radicals or the steady gritty organizing of the 20s and 30s cadres stand like ghosts at the doorway of memory, and fade fast as phosphemes. They seem to me obsolete in our present day maelstrom of instant information, right-wing mythomania, and paranoid nativism.
A friend of mine, active in the mountain-top coal removal movement in Appalachia, wrote a Facebook piece on Memorial Day that reminded me of the real power within our grasp:
Gandhi believed that evicting the British from India would require an army of soldiers, but soldiers that would risk life and limb without ever responding in anger. This approached was used by the American Civil Rights movement as well, and it is the way forward now, as leaders like Bill McKibben and Tim DeChristopher have urged. I want to say on this Memorial Day that now is the time for all good citizens to rise in a non violent army that will confront the coal, oil, gas and nuclear industries and shut them down. That would be the right way to honor all the soldiers and civilians who have died in all of our wars.
Seeing the news today of the police arrests, possibly illegal, in Madison, brought Roselle’s Facebook article back into focus. I know that my buttons are being pushed by the events of our empires collapse, and so many others must feel that way too, maybe much more than myself who has avoided entanglements with the bright shiny objects of post-industrial capitalism.
One positive is that there are burgeoning environmental, civil, and human rights movements sparking across America these days like wildfires after lightning storms. Some of them are stirring from an Obama-induced slumber, some are brand new and filled with youth, some are ecologic and immediate and timeless. I wonder if we have the integrity to shape and define these movements in a widely non-violent way? The clash between rage and non-violence is being pushed though. It’s a challenge for all of us, just as the rage I feel at the wanton destruction happening all around challenges my own perseverance towards building sustainability locally. At times, I feel like giving up and retreating into the wilds. Or worse..in fact, I always preferred Bhagat Singh over Gandhi, but that was a different time and martyrdom always seemed an empty gesture to me.
Our planetary resources are becoming more compromised, expensive, and controlled by an elite militarized caste, and this is frightening because we know how selfish and ruthless these people can be. If we encounter situations where the forces of anger attempt to swamp our democratic sense of reason what choice are we to make? Politically, as we attempt to build a new movement in American culture, one that must be greater than the operating two-party system, it will become increasingly important to remember that peaceful non-violence is the only way to achieve collective survival. The army of non-violent activists needs to grow and grow fast.