It's four o'clock in the morning, and I've just been writing for the last while. Here's what I've got. It's mildly close to being a manifesto, but not really.
The words tattooed over my heart, "compassion" and "truth", are my two most important values. This humane quality of not only understanding the suffering of others, but wanting to do something about it, coupled with belief in the value and importance of integrity and honesty, make up the core of my being. I believe in an omnipresent, omniscient god, who I call Jah. He not only created everything, he is everything. The love of Jah and Jah’s people and creation (everyone and everything) is what will save the world. Compassion for that creation is how we will survive.
Other than this god, I give credence to no authority over me. The idea of “rights,” granted to me and protected by a government, is made null if I choose not to acknowledge that authority. I agree, though, with the great thinkers that we have certain unalienable, natural rights. These include life, liberty, property, and a say in humanity’s future. I am what is referred to as a “libertarian socialist.” I believe in the libertarian ideals of autonomy, free will and self-determination. I believe in the socialist goals of a complete reconstruction of society, with a more just and equitable distribution of property and labor.
The natural state of man was ideal. It did not include language, property, law, reason, or inequality based on anything other than physical state. Human condition went downhill at that juncture when men began to interact for purposes other than procreation, develop language, and settle into small groups. When man started to notice his relationship with others and care about their opinions of him, he also began to feel a need to dominate in order to be happy. As man lost pity through reason, he strayed further and further from the natural state. He became competitive, domineering, and uncompassionate. Property was used to measure a man’s worth, and class differences arose. After class differences came power differences, with the rich, as Rousseau put it, “playing the best trick ever” and convincing the poor to unite with them in a governmental form. The powerful subjugated the weak, and eventually their power changed from legitimate to arbitrary. At this apogee of man’s departure from the natural state, there existed masters and slaves, the ultimate manifestation of inequality among men.
Ibn Khaldun wrote “The reliance of sedentary people upon laws destroys their fortitude and power of resistance.” Khaldun’s notion of law is that people, if left unoppressed by societal laws and mores, will allow their natural courage to show through. These people become models of self-reliance and are satisfied. Khaldun believed that the imposition of the law through punishment weakens individuals through humiliation, while imposition through education leads to docility.
Externally imposed laws of any sort oppress and work to subjugate individuals. The only laws I obey are those issued by my god or by my sense of moral righteousness. This is how laws should be imposed: by teaching people to obey their inner moral guide. Not teaching what is right or wrong, but teaching men to find that for themselves. Not punishing, but letting their conscience and God punish for actions opposing what they know is right.
It is time to return, not to a state of nature, which would be impossible, but to a state where co-operation, peace, equity, and compassion are the norms. The annihilation of existing social institutions and systems is the first step. But more than that, the ideas that such systems are good, and even the idea of systems as necessary, must also be obliterated. Our western civilizations are foundationally constructed of interrelated, inextricably linked institutions. The schools, the armies, the governments, the economies, the libraries, the prisons, and the mindsets of most citizens are all on the same wavelength. It is a mindset of competition, of profit. These are systems of brainwashing and indoctrinating the docile masses and coercing them into the fold. The fact that we have phrases like “prison industrial academic complex” is a prime example of how closely tied all of these institutions are to each other. We’ve all been sucked into, tricked into this shit.
There’s an old parable that goes like this: A man heats up a pot of water to boiling and then puts a live frog in the pot. The frog leaps out of the scalding water, and lives. The man then puts the frog in a pot of cool water, which he slowly heats up. The frog, which acclimates itself to the heat, is scalded to death. The moral of this is that it is the little steps that will enslave or kill us.
It is also the little steps that will save us. I, and all of us who see what is happening, must fight on a daily basis to shatter these institutions. Through specifically “activist” work, as well as lifestyle choices, I feel that we are slowly, but surely, chipping away at those oppressive walls. Unlike my namesake, who needed only to blow a horn to bring down the walls of Jericho, I have to work steadily, long term. Like an ulcer in her belly, I am slowly working to bring down Babylon.
I believe in the power of simple living to do this. Growing or hunting one’s own food, lying in the sun, eating intimately with loved ones, and enjoying good books that promote positive relationships and values are all ways of leaving the lifestyle that we are encouraged to live. Living simply and compassionately is a subversive act, one that is made hard by the system.
Walter Benjamin believed that there is a secret agreement between generations; that each generation looks to the future ones as the promised one, the generation that can fulfill their desires, can achieve what the present one did not. He believes that each future generation has a “weak Messianic power,” and holds the possibility of redemption. Each generation looks to the next as an improvement, as the next big thing.
I believe that this secret agreement exists. It’s the reason that we look forward to births and anticipate babies. We believe them to be the ones who can save us. Babies are born not knowing war or rape or profit or hatred or animosity. We look to them with a hope that they never will know these, that they’ll be the generation that puts aside all the bullshit and lives life as it’s meant to be lived. Live life as they want to, as they desire. The fortitude of our children will not be corroded or corrupted if they have full faith in the laws of their religion and the laws of themselves. I have faith.
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