by Bruce Gagnon
January 5, 2011
Some in my household have asked me to think about and clarify a rant I did earlier this week. It is the one about a meeting I attended on January 1 where I critiqued some of the discussion in that meeting. It appears that I may have offended some with my rather harsh words about “going inside”. The feeling is that I was judgmental with those words.
To this charge I fully admit I am guilty and would like to amend my words.
I do not think badly of the going inside process. I think it is a divinely inspired spiritual practice. The native people did it, Jesus and Mohammad did it, Gandhi did it, zillions of people I admire today still do it. Even I at times do it. Let me apologize to anyone I offended for seeming to discredit this spiritual practice.
I also recognize that not everyone is going to go to a protest or go to jail. Not everyone will become a farmer, or a street protester, or a Buddhist. I understand we each have to follow our own path. I respect that.
My blog is like a diary for me – a daily record of what I am politically seeing, and thinking, and speculating about – my observations about the world around me. Things that touch my soul and break my heart. Sometimes my humor comes out, other times my rage. Sometimes my judgments….for good and for bad.
I don’t like it when others judge me though I’ve been around long enough to know that it happens when you do this kind of work so I understand that it is a two-way street. I do a lot of judging of people and institutions on this blog …..Obama, the Democrats, corporations, etc. Sometimes I judge others in our movements who I think are off-base on a particular point. Sometimes I go over the edge with it I am sure.
But like basketball, politics is a contact sport. Elbows fly at times and I can have sharp elbows with the best of them. I try not to be mean-spirited with my words but I know at times they can have some very rough edges. Sometimes I want my words to sting – at other times they sting more than I’d like them to.
At this moment people all over the nation, and around the world, are thinking about and debating what we should do to get out from behind the corporate eight-ball that blocks real change. A lot of the debate is very spirited. There are many opinions about what should be done and I have my own very real and strong ideas about what I think is needed to make things happen for the better. I try to use this blog to project my thoughts onto the public wall so people can see what I think. In doing so I also make evaluations of the opinions of others. When I make these judgments I try not to make it personal but sometimes there is a fine line between the personal and the political. I don’t mind walking that narrow edge – it is who I am. I put my elbows on the table and say what I think. Sometimes, I acknowledge, I step over the edge a bit and it can be a bit messy.
Let’s take Gandhi for a moment. He was a lot about “going inside” and walking the spiritual path and learning to love even his enemies. He simplified his life to the lowest level imaginable – I’ve seen one of his ashrams in India and it was spartan for sure. He grew his own food and spun his own cloth. He rejected the British system fully. I don’t come close to measuring up to what Gandhi did with his life. I respect anyone who is trying to follow that path.
But Gandhi did more than that. He also organized virtually his entire country to move into active civil disobedience against the British empire and led active protests over and over again that landed him and many others in jail. Many were killed due to his resistance organizing and still he pressed on – always trying to keep their disobedience non-violent – but still pushing things forward, not ever certain about the short-term implications of his work.
I think the point I have been trying to make, and have not always done so well, is that the inside personal work is important but in my opinion not enough if we are serious about overturning the corporate empire we face today. And I hold to my strong belief that many in our middle class consumptive society, even many so-called liberals, would rather talk a good game than take those unknown steps forward into the uncertain world of resistance to empire.
At the same time many I know are genuinely struggling with what they should do….maybe they are not ready to do certain things, or don’t think what I do is right for them, but they are trying to do what they think is best. OK fine….no problem….glad they are moving. It is good they are doing something that they think is important.
I just happen to believe that “we” must all do more to change things. I think we must talk more in our communities about what the next steps are, without judging the things we each are presently doing, but recognizing that we must ultimately move ahead into full Gandhian resistance to empire.
I will keep saying these things, and will keep trying to do better at practicing what I preach.
from the archives:
Re-creating Revolutionary Communities (Part I) by Cindy Sheehan
- Charges Dropped From White House Protest by Bruce Gagnon (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- Time Of Lone Wolf Is Over by Bruce Gagnon (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
Keep the fire burning,, keep up a little rage,, it keeps us all moving in the right direction.
How frustrating is it to discuss our current occupations with someone,, and then they say the old cliche’ line,,”Yes,, peace would be nice, but it needs to begin in our hearts” ? It makes me want to jump out of my skin !!
In my opinion too few people rant,, too few people take a personal stand against incorrect behaviors,, too few people make a stand or a fuss.
Keep your rants coming. None of us are Ghandi.
And we shouldn’t try to pretend to be. We’re human,, we get fired up, and angry,, and we say things we mean. No apology necessary in my direction Sir .
War Is Not An Accident:
A Profile of Radical Pacifist A.J. Muste
By David McNair
Shea, no inner peace, no outer peace, that’s the deal.