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Orion Magazine | Beyond Hope
"THE MOST COMMON WORDS I hear spoken by any environmentalists anywhere are, We’re fucked. Most of these environmentalists are fighting desperately, using whatever tools they have — or rather whatever legal tools they have, which means whatever tools those in power grant them the right to use, which means whatever tools will be ultimately ineffective — to try to protect some piece of ground, to try to stop the manufacture or release of poisons, to try to stop civilized humans from tormenting some group of plants or animals. Sometimes they’re reduced to trying to protect just one tree.

Here’s how John Osborn, an extraordinary activist and friend, sums up his reasons for doing the work: “As things become increasingly chaotic, I want to make sure some doors remain open. If grizzly bears are still alive in twenty, thirty, and forty years, they may still be alive in fifty. If they’re gone in twenty, they’ll be gone forever.”

But no matter what environmentalists do, our best efforts are insufficient. We’re losing badly, on every front. Those in power are hell-bent on destroying the planet, and most people don’t care.

Frankly, I don’t have much hope. But I think that’s a good thing. Hope is what keeps us chained to the system, the conglomerate of people and ideas and ideals that is causing the destruction of the Earth.

To start, there is the false hope that suddenly somehow the system may inexplicably change. Or technology will save us. Or the Great Mother. Or beings from Alpha Centauri. Or Jesus Christ. Or Santa Claus. All of these false hopes lead to inaction, or at least to ineffectiveness. One reason my mother stayed with my abusive father was that there were no battered women’s shelters in the ’50s and ’60s, but another was her false hope that he would change. False hopes bind us to unlivable situations, and blind us to real possibilities.

Does anyone really believe that Weyerhaeuser is going to stop deforesting because we ask nicely? Does anyone really believe that Monsanto will stop Monsantoing because we ask nicely? If only we get a Democrat in the White House, things will be okay. If only we pass this or that piece of legislation, things will be okay. If only we defeat this or that piece of legislation, things will be okay. Nonsense. Things will not be okay. They are already not okay, and they’re getting worse. Rapidly.

But it isn’t only false hopes that keep those who go along enchained. It is hope itself. Hope, we are told, is our beacon in the dark. It is our light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. It is the beam of light that makes its way into our prison cells. It is our reason for persevering, our protection against despair (which must be avoided at all costs). How can we continue if we do not have hope?

We’ve all been taught that hope in some future condition — like hope in some future heaven — is and must be our refuge in current sorrow. I’m sure you remember the story of Pandora. She was given a tightly sealed box and was told never to open it. But, being curious, she did, and out flew plagues, sorrow, and mischief, probably not in that order. Too late she clamped down the lid. Only one thing remained in the box: hope. Hope, the story goes, was the only good the casket held among many evils, and it remains to this day mankind’s sole comfort in misfortune. No mention here of action being a comfort in misfortune, or of actually doing something to alleviate or eliminate one’s misfortune.

The more I understand hope, the more I realize that all along it deserved to be in the box with the plagues, sorrow, and mischief; that it serves the needs of those in power as surely as belief in a distant heaven; that hope is really nothing more than a secular way of keeping us in line.

Hope is, in fact, a curse, a bane. I say this not only because of the lovely Buddhist saying “Hope and fear chase each other’s tails,” not only because hope leads us away from the present, away from who and where we are right now and toward some imaginary future state. I say this because of what hope is.

More or less all of us yammer on more or less endlessly about hope. You wouldn’t believe — or maybe you would — how many magazine editors have asked me to write about the apocalypse, then enjoined me to leave readers with a sense of hope. But what, precisely, is hope? At a talk I gave last spring, someone asked me to define it. I turned the question back on the audience, and here’s the definition we all came up with: hope is a longing for a future condition over which you have no agency; it means you are essentially powerless.

I’m not, for example, going to say I hope I eat something tomorrow. I just will. I don’t hope I take another breath right now, nor that I finish writing this sentence. I just do them. On the other hand, I do hope that the next time I get on a plane, it doesn’t crash. To hope for some result means you have given up any agency concerning it. Many people say they hope the dominant culture stops destroying the world. By saying that, they’ve assumed that the destruction will continue, at least in the short term, and they’ve stepped away from their own ability to participate in stopping it.

I do not hope coho salmon survive. I will do whatever it takes to make sure the dominant culture doesn’t drive them extinct. If coho want to leave us because they don’t like how they’re being treated — and who could blame them? — I will say goodbye, and I will miss them, but if they do not want to leave, I will not allow civilization to kill them off.

When we realize the degree of agency we actually do have, we no longer have to “hope” at all. We simply do the work. We make sure salmon survive. We make sure prairie dogs survive. We make sure grizzlies survive. We do whatever it takes.

When we stop hoping for external assistance, when we stop hoping that the awful situation we’re in will somehow resolve itself, when we stop hoping the situation will somehow not get worse, then we are finally free — truly free — to honestly start working to resolve it. I would say that when hope dies, action begins.

PEOPLE SOMETIMES ASK ME, “If things are so bad, why don’t you just kill yourself?” The answer is that life is really, really good. I am a complex enough being that I can hold in my heart the understanding that we are really, really fucked, and at the same time that life is really, really good. I am full of rage, sorrow, joy, love, hate, despair, happiness, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and a thousand other feelings. We are really fucked. Life is still really good.

Many people are afraid to feel despair. They fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate our situation really is, they must then be perpetually miserable. They forget that it is possible to feel many things at once. They also forget that despair is an entirely appropriate response to a desperate situation. Many people probably also fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate things are, they may be forced to do something about it.

Another question people sometimes ask me is, “If things are so bad, why don’t you just party?” Well, the first answer is that I don’t really like to party. The second is that I’m already having a great deal of fun. I love my life. I love life. This is true for most activists I know. We are doing what we love, fighting for what (and whom) we love.

I have no patience for those who use our desperate situation as an excuse for inaction. I’ve learned that if you deprive most of these people of that particular excuse they just find another, then another, then another. The use of this excuse to justify inaction — the use of any excuse to justify inaction — reveals nothing more nor less than an incapacity to love.

At one of my recent talks someone stood up during the Q and A and announced that the only reason people ever become activists is to feel better about themselves. Effectiveness really doesn’t matter, he said, and it’s egotistical to think it does.

I told him I disagreed.

Doesn’t activism make you feel good? he asked.

Of course, I said, but that’s not why I do it. If I only want to feel good, I can just masturbate. But I want to accomplish something in the real world.

Why?

Because I’m in love. With salmon, with trees outside my window, with baby lampreys living in sandy streambottoms, with slender salamanders crawling through the duff. And if you love, you act to defend your beloved. Of course results matter to you, but they don’t determine whether or not you make the effort. You don’t simply hope your beloved survives and thrives. You do what it takes. If my love doesn’t cause me to protect those I love, it’s not love.

A WONDERFUL THING happens when you give up on hope, which is that you realize you never needed it in the first place. You realize that giving up on hope didn’t kill you. It didn’t even make you less effective. In fact it made you more effective, because you ceased relying on someone or something else to solve your problems — you ceased hoping your problems would somehow get solved through the magical assistance of God, the Great Mother, the Sierra Club, valiant tree-sitters, brave salmon, or even the Earth itself — and you just began doing whatever it takes to solve those problems yourself.

When you give up on hope, something even better happens than it not killing you, which is that in some sense it does kill you. You die. And there’s a wonderful thing about being dead, which is that they — those in power — cannot really touch you anymore. Not through promises, not through threats, not through violence itself. Once you’re dead in this way, you can still sing, you can still dance, you can still make love, you can still fight like hell — you can still live because you are still alive, more alive in fact than ever before. You come to realize that when hope died, the you who died with the hope was not you, but was the you who … [more]
derrickjensen  activism  crisis  fear  hope  nihilism  love  vulnerability  survival  monsanto  weyerhaeuser  johnosborn  humans  life  living  presence  present  hereandnow  action  agency  emotions  rage  sorrow  joy  despair  happiness  satisfaction  dissatisfaction  feelings  exploitation  mortality  death  canon 
march 2019 by robertogreco
How to Get Angry a Lot - YouTube
"It’s remarkably easy to spend most of one’s life in a blind rage. So much of existence is, after all, infuriating. But there are other options to be painfully and slowly learnt."
anger  perspective  comparison  self-centeredness  rage  schooloflife  life  living 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Cornel West on state of race in the U.S.: "We're in bad shape" - CBS News
[via: "Showed kids 60 Minutes with Cornel West last night. ("I'm unimpressed by smartness.") http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-cornel-west-on-race-in-the-u-s/ "
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/711908596540379136

"+ See also West on Mandela: "a militant tenderness, subversive sweetness and radical gentleness." http://www.cornelwest.com/nelson_mandela.html "
https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/711908847695368192 ]

"Cornel West is a different kind of civil rights leader. His below-the-radar presence at racial flash points across America recently, stands in stark contrast to many of the more traditional civil rights leaders and their bright light press conferences.

Some of the new generation of African-American activists seem to be gravitating towards West, a charismatic academic scholar who doesn't lead an organization or have an entourage.

Cornel West has a message about how poor and disadvantaged Americans are being treated today and he can be searingly provocative on matters of race, never more so than when he criticizes President Obama.

Cornel West: When I call the president a black puppet of Wall Street, I was really talking about the degree to which Wall Street had a disproportionate amount of influence on his policies as opposed to poor people and working people.

James Brown: Why use such harsh language with-- showing no respect for the office of the president?

Cornel West: I tend to be one who just speaks from my soul, and so what comes out sometimes is rather harsh. In that sense I'm very much a part of the tradition of a Frederick Douglass or a Malcolm X who used hyperbolic language at times to bring attention to the state of emergency. So all of that rage and righteous indignation can lead one not to speak politely sometimes.

Eight years ago, Cornel West was a fervent supporter of candidate Barack Obama. Today, he blames the president for not doing more on issues like income inequality and racial justice. A product of the turbulent sixties, West has joined protests led by civil rights groups like Black Lives Matter. Here in Ferguson, Missouri, he was one of many arrested for civil disobedience.

James Brown: The young people who are leading the Black Lives Matter charge, you're all behind them?

Cornel West: Oh, very much so. I think that's a marvelous new militancy that has to do with courage, vision. The fundamental challenge always is will their rage be channeled through hatred and revenge or will it be channeled through love and justice. You got to push 'em toward love and justice.

James Brown: Why do you think you have that kind of currency with young people?

Cornel West: They know that I take their precious lives seriously. When I go to jail in Ferguson and say quite explicitly, "I'm old school, and I want the new school to know that some of us old folk love y'all to death" and they hear that and say, "Well, dang, you know, we might not always-- agree with this brother, but this Negro looks like a fighter for justice."

[March: This is what democracy looks like. Justice!]

Nyle Fort: I think a lot of young people really gravitate towards him not only because he's a giant of an intellectual, he is somebody that you want to be around.

Nyle Fort is a 26-year-old activist and religion PhD student at Princeton. He first saw West speak at a rally four years ago.

James Brown: The manner in which Dr. West has been criticizing the president. Your reaction?

Nyle Fort: I think it's important for us to listen to the substance of his argument. And I think that his critiques not just of President Obama, but of our current state of democracy in this country, the current state of the world, is something that we need to pay attention to.

A favorite on the lecture circuit, we were with him at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, when the crowd of 1,500 broke into applause before he said a word.

Then, for more than an hour, an extemporaneous journey filled with biblical passages and quotes from philosophers and poets about decency and virtue. All in support of West's warning about the dangers of inequality.

Cornel West: I have nothing against rich brothers and sisters. Pray for 'em every day. But callousness and indifference, greed and avarice is something that's shot through all of us.

Cornel West has diverse influences to say the least; crediting jazz giants John Coltrane and Sarah Vaughan with helping him understand human suffering. West sees civil rights pioneer, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel as one of the great treasures of the 20th century.

Cornel West: It's never a question of skin pigmentation. It's never a question of just culture or sexual orientation or civilization. It's what kind of human being you're going to choose to be from your mama's womb to the tomb and what kind of legacy will you leave.

Cornel West was born 62 years ago in Oklahoma, but grew up in Glen Elder -- a predominantly black neighborhood near Sacramento, California. He is the second of four children. His father, Clifton was a federal administrator and his mother, Irene was a teacher. They were a close-knit, church-going family.

Cornel West: I feel as if I have been blessed to undergo a transformation from gangster to redeemed sinner with gangster proclivities.

James Brown: You actually were a thug when you were a youngster?

Cornel West: Oh absolutely, I got kicked out of school when I was seven-- seven years old.

James Brown: Doing what, Dr. West?

Cornel West: I refused to salute the flag because my great uncle had been lynched with the flag wrapped around his body. So I went back to Sacramento and said, "I'm not saluting the flag." And teacher went at me and hit me, and I hit back. And then we had a Joe Frazier/Muhammad Ali moment right there in the third grade.

Clifton West: He was the only student I ever knew that came home with all As and had to get a whipping.

Clifton West is Cornel's brother, best friend and was his role model growing up. He says behind his little brother's bad behavior, was a relentlessly curious mind.

Clifton West: We had this bookmobile. And we would come out, and check out a book, and go on back in the house and start reading it. So Corn, at one point, I don't know how long it took, he had read every book in the bookmobile.

James Brown: Excuse me?

Clifton West: I don't know it had to be 200 books, easy. And the bookmobile man, who was a white guy, went to all the neighborhoods, little chocolate neighborhoods, saying, "There's this guy in Glen Elder that read every book in here."

Anecdotes like that convinced teachers to give their troubled student an aptitude test. West's recorded IQ: 168.

Cornel West: I got a pretty high score. So they sent me over all the way on the other side of town. Mom used to drive me all the way to school and then drive back to her school where she was teaching first grade.

The new school had a gifted program that challenged his mind and changed his behavior.

James Brown: Was that when you first grabbed hold of the notion that you were smart?

Cornel West: You know, I never really thought I was that smart. Because there was so many other folk in school that I was deeply impressed by. But I'll say this, though, that I've never really been impressed by smartness."
cornelwest  barackobama  race  2016  via:ablerism  love  activism  socialjustice  blacklivesmatter  generations  inequality  values  nylefort  jamesbrown  cliftonwest  eddieglaude  decency  virtue  callousness  indifference  greed  avarice  jazz  suffering  humanism  abrahamjoshuaheschel  life  living  legacy  religion  belief  ferguson  racialjustice  racism  civildisobedience  wallstreet  intellectualism  intellect  curiosity  poverty  policy  language  malcolmx  frederickdouglass  rage  indignation  civilrights  johncoltrane  wisdom  smartness  sacrifice  conformism  sarahvaughan 
march 2016 by robertogreco
This is Rage. This is Joy. This is My Classroom. | Teach. Run. Write
"I commented recently that I “have no chill and rage often,” about things, especially when it come to race, privilege, and especially when it comes to those things in education. I think it matters, a lot.

I’ve sometimes wondered if I should tone it down, but at the end I am surrounded by folks who remind me that I shouldn’t. That the work has to continue. W. Kamau Bell’s piece on This American Life only drove that home, when the father he interviewed said that he doesn’t let anything go, because, as Bell noted, “you can’t just keep letting your boundary get pushed.”

I’ve come to terms with the fact that some people don’t like that. That’s fair. I’m not a particularly aggressive person, but I am fairly persistent.

Still, “rage” isn’t normally a positive term applied to teachers, and I don’t want to give this perception that to be attuned to how racism plays out means that my classroom is filled with out-of-place anger or a place where my students don’t find joy.

So, just in case, here’s what Rage means for my classroom, and the educator I try to be.

Rage is asking tough questions, and refusing easy answers.

Rage is a refusal to shy away from “the controversial,” or “too tough” discussions.

Rage is refusing to assume their innocence to support my complicity. Rage is accepting that the tough topics and the controversial discussions might be my job.

Rage is making space for the texts overlooked, the activists ignored, the history erased. It is refusing to give up when there’s no pre-made curriculum for the texts kids should read. Rage insists we create the curriculum we never had.

Rage is refusing stagnant practice, it is the internal insistence to create for them, innovate for them, change the game for them, push my boundaries for them. Rage is also knowing that sometimes they need to do that instead.

Rage is honesty. Rage is letting them know as many sides as possible. Rage is baring the burden of their shock and hurt, and sharing yours. Rage is letting them have space to be angry, to grieve, to be frustrated. Rage teaches Ferguson even when it doesn’t “fit” the lesson plan. Rage pulls up the #CharlestonSyllabus to create the lesson, makes kids question where they get their food and why it matters. Rage explains “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts during warm ups and sets aside “social justice Fridays.”

This is what Rage looks like in my room.

Rage lets them question the “why” and the “how” and pushes them to question more. Rage affirms their emotions. Rage lets them be angry, sad, and empowered. Rage loves them in their youth, their growth, their malleable opinions, and doesn’t necessarily create more Rage, just more questions.

Rage creates space for them to glow. It insists on lifting them up. It insists on creating spaces for them to shine. Rage insists that they create their own holidays, celebrate their culture, tell their stories. It is a joyous Rage that giggles when they begin to subvert the norm, just be being their marvelous selves.

Rage cheers them on, laughs with them, grows more with them, delights in them. Rage sees their light and begs them to “rage, rage against the dying light.”

Joy comes too. Joy is the deep heaving sigh at the end of a sprint. Joy is the letter full of fifteen photos from a student. She hopes your summer is “a hit,” and she wanted to let you know she got her aunt to go 50 miles to the farm we read about and she met the farmer and she talked all about the book you read in class.

Joy is seeing the fruits of Rage. It’s not always more Rage. Sometimes, it’s just light. It’s the strength to keep raging."
2015  christinatorres  rage  teaching  learning  schools  howweteach  socialjustice  race  privilege  controversy  activism  joy  honesty  change  changemaking 
july 2015 by robertogreco
blank on blank
"Interviewer: I think certain people think of your music as essentially as “angry music.” As raging against, perhaps, the establishment principles.

Jimi Hendrix: Oh, it’s not raging against it. If it was up to me, there’d be no such thing as the establishment, you know. It’s the blues. That’s all I’m singing about. Today’s blues."

[See also:
http://blankonblank.org/interviews/jimi-hendrix-on-the-experience/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK2lfs_uiwk ]
jimihendrix  blues  music  rage  establishment 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Your Rage (with tweets) · rogre · Storify
"Your Rage” by V.V. Ganeshananthan (@Vasugi)

[See also: http://the-toast.net/2014/08/15/regulations-rage/

"Please keep your rage polite and orderly.

Please make sure your rage stands in the queue and waits for its turn.

Please advise your rage to say “Excuse me” when interrupting others’ conversations, regardless of their topics. Do this even if on fire.

Please ensure your rage follows the dress code. Rage must be tidily dressed, & must say “sir” and “ma’am,” even if called “boy” or “girl.”

We would prefer that your rage be punctual and arrive neither too early nor too late.

Your rage should be constructive and look for solutions, rather than simply existing for itself.

Your rage can be something when it grows up.

Please make sure your rage is logical rather than emotional. Your rage will have a hard time if it is overly sensitive.

We would advise your rage that it should bring along a resume and/or CV with a timeline of proof.

If only your rage had had two parents. Think what it could have done!

Your rage should take the time to educate others about what has made it so inexplicably angry.

If your rage uses that word, why can’t I?

When your rage behaves like this, why is it surprised that others react badly to it? When we profile your rage we are reacting to the facts.

Rage should shave its beard and unwind its turban. Rage should smile at catcallers.

Your rage should speak English and ask for permission before crossing the border to flee a dangerous situation. Is your rage over 18?

We will process your rage eventually, but the meantime, it should wait in a small boat in the middle of the ocean.

Your rage should have known! We were only joking!

We’re so sorry, but your rage isn’t… This isn’t the right neighborhood for your rage. Your rage doesn’t really like this apartment.

We will give your rage back the house in which it has lived for generations after we have taken care of matters of national security.

Your rage should play its music at an acceptable volume.

If your rage expects handouts, we would prefer that it check with us before spending on frivolous items.

Your rage wasn’t even born there. Why does it care so much?

Your rage should be careful about its terms: terrorism, genocide, occupation, regime.

Doesn’t your rage know we were democratically elected?

How did your rage get so tired? Your rage should take a break. Doesn’t your rage ever just… relax? Take a load off?

This facility isn’t equipped to accommodate your rage’s body.

Would your rage mind refilling this drink? Does your rage work here?

No, we weren’t following your rage around this store…

Oh, goodness—was your rage standing there? Didn’t even see it!

We will be happy to talk to your rage when it is done sobbing.

Why didn’t your rage just call the police?

Your rage looks just like that other rage! Do they know each other?

Your rage should know we were doing our best to avoid civilian casualties."]
feminism  privilege  race  rage  vvganeshananthan  emotions  2014  ferguson  storify 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Rhythms
"I like what Kelli Anderson says about her work. For every project, she figures out everything that she hates about the conventional approaches, and proceeds to rage and spit at them, and then tries to channel all of that energy into a different approach. This is how many of her projects turn out to be fantastical.

I see a similar rhythm in the way I like to work. Build up a set of frustrations, in public or in private, and then use them as fuel to light a path forward."
flow  habits  meditation  2012  self-knowledge  energy  frustration  rage  howwework  allentan  kellianderson  rhythms  rhythm 
february 2012 by robertogreco

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