I’d like to start this entry with a quote from the Charge of the Goddess:
“If that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without. For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.”
In other words, if you’re not happy inside, then nothing on the outside can make you happy. Some people, I suppose, would take this as an excuse to abandon revolutionary pursuits and just sit around contemplating the inner peace of their navel. But for me, I see it as just the opposite — a powerful lesson in the most powerful source of all revolutionary action.
Earlier in life, I saw revolution as some sort of overwhelming impersonal duty. My emerging empathic abilities informed me very quickly that billions of people are experiencing great suffering right now, not to mention the ecological havoc that is annihilating whole species each and every day of our lives. Since I could see the problems… and since “my” government/corporations had contributed to the problems… and since I might have the power to stop the problems… then wasn’t it my responsibility to take action?
The short answer is yes. Yes… all of us who see these problems have a responsibility to act. All of us who contribute to the problems have a responsibility to act. All of us who could conceiveably stop these problems have a responsibility to act.
But… and there’s ALWAYS a but… the true question lies in HOW to act.
Is it productive to walk around feeling physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually crushed by an overwhelming sense of the horrors of the world? Is it productive to burn ourselves out in the span of a few precious years with forms of activism that only address the barest of symptoms? Is it productive to forbid ourselves the little joys of life, simply because other people are suffering and we don’t feel that we deserve joy until after the revolution?
The answer to these questions is no. No, no, and no. And no to a thousand other conscious and unconscious questions that haunt many of the activists and revolutionaries that I know.
I want to live in a better world. I can envision that world quite clearly now, and I believe it’s a vision that goes beyond my own personal preferences, into the realm of securing greater freedom and justice and peace for all people, and for the land itself. And for a long time, I feel like I’ve been holding back my own personal pleasure, as if waiting for the creation of a utopian society, or at least a small community that was prefigurative of such a society.
Maybe after the revolution, I’ll be happy, and joyful, and peaceful, and free, eh? Maybe I just need to hold all of that personal passion for life back until then so that it doesn’t get in the way, eh?
Well, as some of you may have noticed already, all of that holding back is over for me. I’m not waiting until “after the revolution” anymore… I’m living for that passion now, and I’m here to tell you that you should do the same.
What we really need right now is some passionate revolutionaries. We need people who feel that same sense of duty to fight oppression, but use that duty as an opportunity to let their passion and creativity shine.
Some people would say that it’s disrespectful, or perhaps even shameful, to live a life of passion, joy, and celebration while most if not all of the world is burning. But really… how are we going to create a better world if we can’t feel the beginnings of that world inside of ourselves? If we can’t feel that new world inside of ourselves, how are we going to create it on the outside, and who’s going to believe us that it’s really possible?
Passion is life… passion is love… passion is power. We are born to be passionate — to experience divine ecstasy in a way that most people alive today can scarcely even dream of. And yet, the systems of authority and oppression rob us of our birthright through a combination of physical, social, and psychological violence.
In order to change this system, we must start with some of the usual steps that activists and revolutionaries start with. We must come to a greater understanding of the problems, and we must work to formulate principles, strategies, and practicies that will lead to solutions. But once this rational organizing has formed the cold, firm flesh of our revolutionary movement, our passion must be the hot blood that animates every ounce of it.
When we’re in the midst of a campaign, we must pursue our goal with a single-minded passion, like wild berzerkers whose very survival depends upon success. And when we’re in the midst of our purely personal time, taking an hour or a day’s break from any organizing work, we must approach our own life with equal passion. We must sing and dance with our fellow travellers until the wee hours of morning. We must paint, draw, or write in a fit of focused fever, burning inside as though our very life depending on finishing that creative project. We must swear to ourselves and each other that we will no longer let our passions be tamed by any governments, corporations, groupthink, or any of the senseless inhibitions that they inspire.
I swore to myself long ago that I would live to see the destruction of this entire system of oppression. I swore that one day, I would be free, and all people would be free, and the Earth as a whole would be free and healthy. I swore that I would live to see this, or that I would haunt the Earth forever until it finally came to pass. And now, I’ve come to discover that the greatest force of all in this struggle will be our heart’s deepest passions, expressed in harmony with our visions for a better world.
Apathy is the engine of all systems of oppression. Why? Because your passion is at the core of your humanity. Once you learn to imprison your passion, you are essentially learning to imprison your own humanity. Therefore, with your humanity under lock and key, it becomes quite easy to teach you how to dominate others. This is the foundation of fascism — to suppress healthy human desires so that they may be replaced with an apathy for genuine humanity and a passion for service to the Machine.
Well, I say fuck the Machine. It may be struggling to control my body, but my mind has broken free, and it will never have my heart again. No walls can imprison me, and no chains can bind me. I’ve found freedom and passion in my heart… nothing can take that away from me, and it’s a gift that I intend to share with all the world.
It’s going to take a long time to make all of this renewed passion a reality, both in my personal life and in my political life. Let’s face it… I’ve spent the better part of the last ten or more years keeping a tight lid on my passions, either to fit in with the social reality or to deny myself pleasure in favor of supposedly revolutionary pursuits. But in the end, I learned that my passions are so strong that restraining them would literally be the death of me.
I have a deep, genuine desire to be free; to share the joys of that freedom with a community of people who think and live freely; and to serve in securing the freedom and well-being of others. If I resist this core passion of mine in any way, for even a moment, my very flesh starts to wither away. I don’t know if this is how it works for other people… but this is how it works for me, and I’m not going to deny my passions any longer. Merely living in the presence of the profound apathy that surrounds us is painful to me… if I embrace that apathy myself by repressing my emotions, then it literally makes me ill.
So what does all of this talk of passion really mean? In the short term, it means that I’ve been doing more singing, more dancing, more playing, more creating, and at times more mourning and anguishing over things that are beyond my control. [Wailing passionately is better than not crying at all…] But in the long term, I can tell already that it means that I’m becoming a more holistic person, capable of riding through the peaks and valleys of ecstasy and despair without losing my sense of inner peace and vision for a better life. On a personal level, this means my life is becoming more rich, more meaningful, more rewarding, and in an odd and unexpected way, more focused. On a political level, it means that my understanding of the personal aspects of revolution is deeping, and my ideas on revolutionary organizing are evolving.
How do the corporations sell people a bunch of worthless plastic crap that they don’t really need? They do it by appealing to their suppressed passions. “Hey, this product will make you have fun, look younger, feel more self-confident, and have sex with someone you desire.” Well, what would the corporations do if we found our own fun, our own youth, our own self-confidence, our own sexuality, without the help of their worthless products?
If that happened, we would truly be free. And if that were the end of it, it would only be a victory for us personally. But what if we felt that all people had the right to be free too? What if we took some of our newly liberate passion and directed it to the service of freedom for one and all? Why, we’d have a revolution on our hands!
THAT is what people want from revolution — something they can feel passionate about, and something that liberates their passions in return.
So that’s a theme I’ve been exploring in my life over the past few weeks… both philosophically and on the dance floor. If you’d like to explore it with me, you know where to find me. In the meantime, I’m off to express my passion further through some more writing elsewhere…