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General News    H4'ed 9/7/13

Strangely Like War: Reflections on the Assault Upon Earth With Derrick Jensen

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"Control the oil and you control nations; control the food and you control the people," Kissinger once said.

What if we begin by saying "No! Henry, you will not control my food! NOR will YOU control me!"

Jensen clarifies, "This has nothing to do with HOPE that a better future awaits us. Hope is not the same thing as resistance. Hope is a longing in a situation in which you have no agency. Resistance returns agency to you, so you are no longer a victim." His vision, passion, and mission is fueled by resistance, not hope.

Jensen began as an activist and then turned to prolific writing as a tool, not as an abstraction. He refuses to be part of the "environmental intelligentsia" that hopes we can find ways "to keep this wretched party going a little bit longer." He wants to protect the trees, the water, the air, the salmon, not the lifestyle of Western culture. "I think we have to separate our loyalty from the system and put it to the land itself." Then we are activated on behalf of the land. We become much less anthropocentric, acknowledging our agency within the realm of Nature.

When you hope you serve Mother Culture; when you resist you serve Mother Nature. This is the way Daniel Quinn, a prior guest on ENVISION THIS, explains the same distinction Jensen is clarifying. On the basis of this allegiance to Earth rather than the system, Derrick Jensen saw " a hole in the discourse. Nobody was talking about a militant activism about environmentalism. So I decided to fill this hole ." He is proudly a militant activist, though his sword is his pen, not, so far, a bomb to destroy a bulldozer. He acknowledges that this would only stop deforestation in one place for one day and be bad strategy, giving the logging corporations an ace to play in the discourse. He understands that a bomb would have "collateral damage" to trees, wildlife, and human life, an unacceptable and disgusting concept to him.

This author and most of the guests we have on ENVISION THIS are far less militant, leaning instead toward what gets called "non-violent resistance." We understand that Gandhi-style passive resistance is, ironically, very active , returning great agency to the formerly repressed. Gandhi acknowledges our determination with a "thumbs up!" Believing that militant power and destruction cannot be the solution or antithesis to militant power, we advocate grassroots dogged refusal to be dependent on a system of greed. "Grow your own," "Buy Local," "Become self-sufficient in communities" we cry.

Knowing the power of self-sufficiency, Gandhi moved millions, including King. It was millions of oppressed South Africans singing in the streets in opposition to the violence of apartheid, along with the American financial divestment campaign of the 60s that won the day. Derrick Jensen is currently using his pen and his podium very much like Nelson Mandela did. Can he move millions that way, or will he have to turn to violence fueled by rage, frustration, and fear for our beloved planet?

That depends on you and me. My concern is that in so doing, we risk a "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" scenario. So can the reader of this article move millions. Standardized grammar requires that I put a question mark after the end of the past sentence. F--- standardization; I prefer to bold the can! Yes, I believe the readers can move millions who, in turn can move millions more--if we first realize how conditioned by indoctrination they have become to a sick way of living. This isn't even a question in my mind. But, that's not important. What is important is whether the reader has a question mark in her mind....if she even questions at all.

If questions aren't asked, don't worry. As Bush Jr said in the midst of crisis, "just go shopping!" Then, you don't have to fear comedian George Carlin's prophecy: "BAM! Right in the f'n head!"

Or do you? Will we continue to participate as victims (read employees/consumers) in the violence that enslaves us, or will we finally have to respond to violence with only a choice of counter-violence or submission? Then there is the third option: that of Gandhi, King, and Mandela. As Jensen says, "Those in power require the consent of the governed." Yes, we can withhold our consent, if we are brave enough to take this road (which includes the "go to jail" card along with a "risk death" card) in large enough numbers to prevail? That is today's question, placed squarely to us by Derrick Jensen.

Interviews and References

Interview of Derrick at Envision This!:

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Burl Hall is a retired counselor who is living in a Senior Citizen Housing apartment. Burl has one book to his credit, titled "Sophia's Web: A Passionate Call to Heal our Wounded Nature." For more information, search the book on Amazon. (more...)
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