Rebellion Rebirth 4/1/2020:
In the midst of a new world right now. We had our first XR meeting in a long while, and it took place on line. Half a dozen small faces on the small screen, including mine, tried not to talk over each other, because it doesn’t work audio-wise. Everyone reintroduced themselves, explaining how they were adjusting to isolation and concern over the Covid19 virus. A nice spring evening outside went unremarked. In this economic backwater, northeastern Connecticut, there are few cases, but the number creeps up day by the day. The hour was spent in somewhat listless conversation, no conclusions reached, no concrete plans. Earth Day, April 22, is less than a month away, and planned big events and demonstrations are in limbo.
Someone suggested that the virus crisis illuminates injustice and has potential to force change. And then that both the virus and the climate are part of a present day exposition of unfairness and un-enlightenment across all of humanity. We thought that after 9/11, and it turned out that we took steps back, not forward. Much of the population is now consciously or unconsciously fearful, but their answer is to search for a stronger hand to take over. Sadly, we have been there before too. Over and over, I might add.
It crossed my mind that this alarming worldwide threat is a reminder that Earth is still in charge. Never mind a volcano or a tsunami, never mind a random asteroid, all it takes is one microscopic lifeform to turn our existence upside down. But this has happened before as well, many times, and we have bulled our way through without the eyes to see how our greedy culture could be reconfigured. As a matter of fact, it’s exactly this fear, of “the other”, that makes us xenophobic. It’s another leftover from deep in the past, when those others showed up at our cave bearing not only clubs and spears, but potentially deadly germs. That made us self-reliant as well, I suppose. The balance between individualism and community has been perhaps the dominant psychological conundrum of the eons of human history, and it shows no sign of being resolved anytime soon. While loudly championing liberty, humans consistently choose security over freedom.
So how does one disrupt in a virtual world? How do you walk the walk (says the guy typing alone in his study)? Even the Arab Spring, though it was created on line, didn’t become a significant threat to power until it was in the streets. Psycho-social revolution has happened before. Jesus did it. Gandhi did it, and we – in my lifetime – did it with Civil Rights and ending the Vietnam War. We can do it again. Let me be clear: “OF COURSE WE CAN DO IT AGAIN.” If we can manage to interrupt the status quo, the mindless momentum.
A leader might organically appear, using a pen or a guitar, or a dream, as his or her only weapon. Greenwich Village was full of heroes in the early sixties, Pete Seeger, and Ed Sanders among them. It’s arguable the Sixties began in April of 1961. (April again…interesting.) That was when the forces of conformism decided it was too dangerous for folks to play music in Washington Square Park, leading to violent arrests of people singing “The Star-Spangled Banner”. I’m not making this up. Nobody right now, alas, is going to form a large crowd in front of a government, military, or corporate building. We’re uncomfortable just handling our mail.
But we don’t even need a leader (see above). We need a community of caring souls, acting with love, for freedom, justice, and in particular, extending that inclination toward the rest of the living planet. The key word here is “acting”. How shall we accomplish effective protest under these pandemic conditions? If nothing else, we have plenty of time to think.
Everyone is out hiking now; nothing else to do. I think we should all make sure we are walking somewhere on April 22nd, a rail trail, conservation area, state or town park, and make sure to wish them all a “HAPPY EARTH DAY”? Got a better idea?