Dear Brothers and Sisters,
What makes this movement so special and, from my perspective, so poignant, is that there are no enemies here.
Some of you will have been beaten or arrested by the police. Non-protesters may have had personal property damaged during the course of these events. The police may have had abuse or worse hurled at them for what they are doing in seeking to control the direction of these protests. Those of you who have been hurt have not been hurt by your enemies. You have been hurt by your brothers, your sisters and those who one day will be your strongest allies. Why do I see it that way?
The law is such that the police will enforce it as ordered regardless of its substance. In instances when the police have used heavy-handed tactics, they have done so because they are upholding the law as it has been explained to them and along the lines by which they have been instructed to do so. This is not a semantic point, but a very important key to our future as social beings on this beautiful planet of ours. A change in the law will change the behaviour of the police.
The police force is exactly that – it is a force, a tool which does the bidding of the hand which wields it. I may personally disagree with a great deal of the laws currently on the books, and I may wholeheartedly disagree with the manner in which those laws are sometimes enforced, but the police are not the enemy. They are our brothers and sisters, born into a way of life they did not build, conducting their life in accordance with the information they have been given over the course of their lifetime. With whom does the blame lie if they have been given the wrong information, or told to enforce unjust laws? Is it the fault of a child who has never been taught language that he cannot speak? In all of this action and rhetoric, the true tragedy is that we are falling prey to the exact divisive strategy which has allowed us to be governed so unjustly for so long.
When the laws are changed to better suit the idea of justice and governance that befits us as an intelligent life form, the police will be on the front line of keeping those laws intact. The neutrality of the police may be a most incomprehensible thing to those witnessing violence as a result of it, but that neutrality is also to our advantage.
Police men and women who will use baton and pepper spray to subdue those allegedly violating public order will steadfastly turn those weapons on whomever is designated an opponent to public order, no matter how it is defined. If this is the case, as I believe it to be, then we have no enemy in the police. They are human beings, just like us, and the structure which they are a part of has convinced them that we must be watched and subdued.
The police in Britain and across Europe have undergone some of the most stringent cutbacks in wages, man-hours and employment numbers. These protests stand, among other things, for equitable wages in return for fulfilling work. These police men and women are the people we are fighting for. They just don’t know it yet, and if they do, they have pressures of their own to account for their silence as they wait patiently for the law to allow them to act in accordance with their beliefs.
Whether or not people should follow orders they disagree with is by the by. It is both dishonest and unfair to expect them to behave differently to how we think we would in their place, because we are not in their place. They are not our enemy. There is no “they”. There is only “us”.
So this is the crucial aspect of this movement that must be shouted from the rooftops. Any human of flesh and blood who resides within a society whose laws and financial system bind them is one of us, because that is who we are and that is what we represent. One who has no enemy also is no enemy. This is the way in which peace can be built on the foundation of compassion.
This movement is exactly that – a movement. Like a nuclear chain reaction, movement can become a revolution over time if a critical mass is reached. If enough of us really begin to see each other for the commonly bound humans that we are rather than the social roles into which we are divided, then the rest falls into place.
The media calling for an agenda, for a plan, misses the necessary process of a movement:
– We become aware of something wrong, so we move towards where we think the answers may be.
– We find over time that we are moving in concert with others like us, and in that shared understanding of seeking answers, we begin to help each other to formulate the right questions.
Looking for answers is not an egotistical activity. Anybody who can help us in our search is an ally, anyone who hinders us in our search simply has not yet found the drive within themselves to begin looking. This is how we move together; this is what a social movement is. This is not about the selfish imposition of a certain preference on others who do not share that preference. This is about openly stating what can be factually supported, regardless of how much the media choose to leave out or ignore, regardless of how current comforts mollify people into defensive acceptance of the status quo. Again, they are not the enemy. They are us, and they will figure it out one day.
True revolution begins in the mind. If we learn the ways of the oppressors only to replicate those ways when we have replaced them, then we have achieved nothing. The only true revolution begins with the realisation that we are all one. Beneath political and social definitions and dynamics, there is no oppressor and oppressed. There are only vulnerable, fearful people manipulated by deeply rooted buttons which those who wish to retain power know how to push.
I am one of those vulnerable, fearful people, but I am trying my best to awaken my mind, to awaken the wellspring of compassion within me which fears no-one because by fearing, I avoid understanding and empathising. I try to acknowledge what my buttons are and observe how they are pushed by others, by information, by activity. Only then can I see how close to everyone else I am, because we are all just as vulnerable and just as fearful as I am, since we are all biologically the same and exist within localised modulations of a single social structure.
Those who currently wield power and influence, who line their pockets, manipulate markets and governments in order to extend their power and undermine opposition – they are also not the enemy. They too are us, but they are confused. They have become confused by the very system which they are struggling to maintain as it wheezes and grinds to a halt around them. They think their power is real. They think their money is real. They think that by defending their claim to power, they can hold onto their money, which in an evidently circular manner, is also the fictitious source of their fictitious power.
Any threat to power can be very frightening. This is why ideas are the commodity most tightly regulated in our cultures. Our modern global system is built on piles of abstractions and unquestioned assumptions. To maintain the structure of this ideology, built as it is on quicksand, only a superficial amount of idea variation is tolerated before the protectors of the structure crack down.
People march all the time, for St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, Gay Pride. They protest against war, they petition embassies and picket the White House. But none of these variations comes close to the sea change in structural thinking that this movement can bring about if it is preserved, if it maintains integrity and does not collapse in on itself or become what it offers to replace.
If the purpose of this movement is to simply replace the current way of doing things with a structurally identical but ideologically different way of doing things, this movement will fail because it will find itself fighting against ideas which oppose it, just as revolutionaries have throughout the ages.
We must structurally alter the manner in which we govern and inhabit this planet as a species. Doing it for Jesus instead of Yahweh, or Allah instead of Jesus, or science instead of religion, or money instead of science – these are all the same thing. We have always done the same thing, and we all know the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
In this way, it is not the wealth of a small number of people which is the problem, nor is it the tax avoidance of large companies. These things are examples of the hypocrisy that our system engenders, but they are not the enemy. Getting bogged down in this level of discourse automatically plays to the system of averages and financial valuation which has confused so many of us for so long. Believing that justice is a simple matter of us getting our hands on what other people have is exactly the kind of thinking that got us to this point in the first place.
Capitalism is not the problem. All economic systems are capitalist systems because capitalism is simply the use and management of capital, most commonly referred to as surplus wealth. Whoever told you that capitalism is somehow different from other economic systems does not understand economics.
The deeply extractive, materially fixated, morally bankrupt, ecologically and socially destructive number games which are played world wide right now are simply a washed-out perversion of an underlying economic truth which has been lost over time, namely that people require access to goods and services in complex societies and the easiest manner in which to distribute those goods and services is by the use of a common means of exchange which frees the labourer from needing to find a supplier who wants the thing he produces. I can buy shoes with money instead of trying to find a cobbler who needs cucumbers or hats. This is a social service which is necessary for any society functioning above a certain threshold of size and complexity.
The fact that money has been turned from a service into a thing, and in so doing has been concentrated in very few hands which seek to perpetuate their control of that money and the system which allocates it does not constitute a proof that money is somehow evil or unnecessary. Like all gods, money gets a bad rap for what fundamentalists do in its name.
People have the highest degree of learned behaviour of any animal which has been studied, and as such, we respond very quickly and unwittingly to social and structural expectations. We thank someone for a meal we didn’t enjoy, we get a job at a faceless big box store and begin using the words “we have” to describe the selection of goods on offer. We identify with structures and social norms, and it is those things which must change if there are to be really meaningful alterations to mankind’s trajectory going forward.
It can no longer be a social norm that goods arrive before us with no provenance and no moral association other than our desire for them. It can no longer be morally (let alone intellectually) justifiable to bang on about economic growth in the OECD nations when the major purpose of growth is to support the growing debts we accumulate through a persistence in allowing money to be created as a debt-bearing thing rather than circulated as a debt-free service.
The strict extractive system which is currently in place in the OECD nations, centred on taxing the people in order to service debt generated wilfully, will never resolve inequity either at home or abroad. The emphasis placed on work (particularly non-productive work) is a by-product of a system which requires work in order to meet the basic needs of life.
From birth, we are told we live on someone else’s property, eating someone else’s food, wearing someone else’s clothes. There is no birthright for the modern citizen. We were told that democracy meant no taxation without representation, but what we have is no representation without taxation.
Brothers and sisters, in the streets and squares, in the offices and apartments, in the banks and agencies, in the police and military, we have a lot of hard work to do. We can only succeed if we do it together, with compassion for one another. With the world’s population hitting 7 billion at the end of this month, there has never been a clearer sign that we sink or swim together on this pale blue dot. The immaturity of ego, which wants for itself and cares nothing for external consequences, must grow to a mature and compassionate understanding of our responsibilities to each other and to the planet.
Asking for what the wealthy have is irrelevant. We should have something far greater in our sights: a real birthright for every living thing on this planet, in balance, understanding and peace.