Saturday, November 1, 2014
Whispering to Fireflies: Field Notes on Activism
I was told, recently, by a friend of almost twenty years, that I talk too much about 'rights', 'poverty', and the 'environment', and "it kills the chill factor" and "hurts people's emotions by questioning their belief systems". So, I thought I would address these issues for everyone out in the field, protesting, occupying and opposing.
I get told quite often, especially in the upper middle-class circles and the academia, that I "need to take it/go easy". It is almost a conscious, deliberate and pre-meditated, and a rather transparently populist denial of the distinction between 'urgent issues of existential significance' (existential in a very physical sense, and not a metaphysical one) and 'subjective opinion of sustainable activities/factors', and it is rooted in the voluntary ignorance of the propagandised middle-class and the conformist servitude of the academia to its corporate overlords. The massacre of the planet's biodiversity in the name of 'culture and heritage' (cf. Faroes Islands, Japanese whaling), destruction of the rain forests (Exxon, BP), fracking and tar sands (Canada vs. First Nations), systematic destruction of the our oceans (deep sea oil, whaling), the melting arctic ice, denial of climate change for short term profit of billionaires (US republicans and democrats alike), bombing of children (Gaza, Haiti,Guetamala), torture of infants in the name of religion (genital mutiliation and circumcisions of infants) and a self-righteous, imperialist, oppressive, fascist, xenophobic, police-state creating an empire out of massacred masses, hidden genocides and systematic ecocide (US foreign policy since the early 19th century) are NOT matters of opinion, and cannot be taken "easy". If a baby is choking on a piece of small plastic toy, you don't "take it easy". You do what it takes to get the plastic out of her windpipe. Well, Carl Sagan's pale blue dot, our planet, is choking on the plastic bags, soda cans, and all the dead children and dolphins we have buried under the soil and then tried to cover up with our Taco Bells and KFCs. There is no time to "take it easy".
I realise that over the course of my activism and writings, I have said and done certain things that did not live up to the constructed notions of 'civility','camaraderie' and general 'politeness', and might have hurt feelings by casting the light of skepticism over deeply valued belief-systems. (As it had caused me discomfort when my convictions were subject to skepticism. The difference is that I did not complain about it. I tried to carry the debate forward.) Unfortunately, however, at this terminal phase of human existence, 'beliefs' are a luxury we cannot afford. I cannot sensor my facts to comfort your ignorance and unfounded beliefs and claims, because the very fate of our planet is at stake. You gave me a label. And now I fall unto it-- I am rude, obnoxious, aggressive and perhaps militant. But only in a society built upon the acceptability of unidirectional violence, can someone calling for non-violence be labelled 'militant'. But make no mistake about it, I do these things. And I will continue to do them. And you, and everybody else, can judge me all you want. I won't pretend that it does not bother me. But it is not going to stop me. We have been far too kind, for far too long, to those who seek to destroy the planet and all the life it supports. It stops now.