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Everywhere I hear about the need to raise "awareness." So much so, that awareness and consciousness appear to have become the goals: ends in and of themselves. If only we were conscious of "what's going in Darfur" or aware of how "prevalent cancer has become" or whatever else we need to recognize, it seems most folks would be mighty satisfied.
My question: When exactly does all this goddamned awareness translate into productive action and tangible change?
"I expected to die," Black Panther Huey Newton said back in the day. "At no time before the trial did I expect to escape with my life. Yet being executed in the gas chamber did not necessarily mean defeat. It could be one more step to bring the community to a higher level of consciousness."
Was Huey right? Would his death have done anything more than create another t-shirt icon, another excuse for Sean Penn to take out a full-page ad in The New York Times? Che Guevara, Ken Saro Wiwa, Fred Hampton, Rachel Corrie, Sacco and Vanzetti, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Leonard Peltier, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mumia abu-Jamal, Tookie Williams, Brad Will-the list grows and grows...as does the homicidal/suicidal human culture that we cannot or will not change. We've raised our consciousness to such a high level that we proudly own hybrids and use only recycled toilet paper. But what are the results?
We're aware of global warming and its causes, factory farms, war crimes, environmental degradation, political corruption, fixed elections, the health care crisis...blah, blah, blah. We know about it. We talk about it. We write about it. We complain about it. We hold meetings, talks, seminars, and classes about it. We march about it. We make signs about it. Nothing changes.
Lesson #1: Awareness is overrated
Lesson #2: Lesson #2: The current patterns of dissent in America are long overdue for re-evaluation and overhaul. The powers-that-be have long ago figured out how to either marginalize or co-opt dissent. Until our tactics evolve, we are accomplices to the perpetual global crime we call civilization.
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.