In an effort to spur some intelligent response, I think I am going to start asking more questions. Generally, yes, but also specifically here on this blog. I can type a whole bunch of words telling you what I think about the world, but until we engage in a meaningful conversation and exchange points of view, this is really just a whole bunch of mental masturbation. We need more than that.
To begin, I would like to share three important questions from Derrick Jensen. He has written a few great books and I had the opportunity to see him speak a few months back in Portland, Oregon. He has a great sense of humor, considering he writes books explicitly stating that human civilization is killing Earth, and that civilization should be dismantled and destroyed immediately. He actively encourages other people to fight for the destruction of civilization in whatever way they can, and to those who aren’t yet acting, he poses a few questions. I think if we all sit down and think real hard, answering these questions just might end up being the catalyst that sets us off.
The first question is, “which side are you on?”. We need to be able to identify our allies and our enemies. We need to be able to trust the people beside us on the picket lines and in the marches, (or at the gym, or the coffeeshop, or the library). We need to know that we share a common vision and common purpose. We need to instill our community with a sense of loyalty and peoplehood that removes any doubt about where we stand. So, which side are you on?
Another question Jensen asks is, “why do we continue to lose?”. Why do we keep getting beat? Is it our small numbers or our mediocre tactics? Is it because we don’t care enough, because we are unwilling to sacrifice enough to achieve success? Is it because our success would mean we might be forced to live out our beliefs and we can’t really imagine what that would be like? Is it because our opposition is stronger, or more prepared, or better funded, or they cheat? Maybe we should begin moving away from the stockpile of excuses we have accumulated over the years and just starting winning. Maybe we could look hard at all those old excuses, analyze those scenarios, and then develop new, creative ways of avoiding previous mistakes. Maybe we could take a sincere interest in the health and wellbeing of ourselves and our communities and begin acting like we really wanted to see change in our lifetime. What is it that keep us from attaining our goals?
For those who have not yet found a way to positively contribute to saving the world, the most powerful questions is, “what is your threshold?”. What is it going to take for you to act? Put this in whatever context turns your stomach the most. How many more species of plants and animals must go extinct before you will act? How many more tons of plastic will clog our rivers and oceans before you will act? How many more indigenous people will be killed or displaced by corporations seeking to extract and exploit natural resources before you will do something? How many more children will die of obesity or be killed by toxins in their mothers breastmilk before you will make a decision to change your life? How sick will you allow yourself to get before you act against those who are destroying our planet and absolutely do not have your best interest in mind? What will it take to make you act?
Derrick Jensen asks other questions in his books and presentations. Many of his questions are poignant and insightful, and the answers to many of his questions are both disturbing and inspiring. He is asking the “right” questions. Let’s start asking ourselves questions that inspire and disturb. Let’s start asking each other questions that put us outside our comfort zone. Let’s start listening to each other, and then let’s start answering some of these questions, honestly and openly. I can’t wait to see what happens. Until next time…