Thursday, June 14, 2007

Being Anti-War: Just Follow a Few Steps

That's what Bruce Gagnon sez. I'm sure much of what Bruce says today has been said in one form or another before, but it all bears multiple repetitions. Much of what he suggests dovetails nicely with Buddha's Eight-Fold Path - namely right view, right speech, right intention, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. Of course in our case we're not working on achieving nirvana, but are merely trying to change how we go about bringing about a much needed meaningful social change - preventing wars at a point when it is abundantly clear that wars are merely a form of murder-suicide on a global scale. In particular we need to keep mindful of what living off the largess of empire means in terms of our ability to lead ethical lives, to what extent our society is addicted to war, as well as how various cultural narrative or myths (such as the myth of the rugged individualist and the Horatio Alger rags-to-riches myth) affect our ability to perceive correctly. Realizing that we've got a problem and having the intentions to address the problem are the critical first steps. Next comes action: changing consumption habits and re-prioritize spending choices, ditching the mindless careerism that affects too many of the US middle class, turning off the TV and picking up some good books, interaction with others rather than going it alone, etc. The cool thing is, all of what Gagnon offers up is well within the realm of the possible - one does not need to lead a life of privilege or be some genius technocrat in order to try his suggestions out. I like his last words of advice in particular:
Step #10 Learn to trust again and have fun. Some of the nicest people in the world are doing political work. Meet them and become friends with them and your life will change for the better.
Revolutions, whether violent or nonviolent, don't occur because of a handful of folks doing it all, but rather because of many individuals who find fellowship and trust in one another, and who can see a lightness that betrays the bleakness of the present circumstances.

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