I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
It is your right to protest and be a component of social evolution and revolution, just as it is your right to breathe. There is no hurtful or violent spirit in true revolution, for if that dark spirit is present, then it is not true revolution, but is even a step backwards. You do not build an oracle of enlightenment and freedom on a foundation of brutality. True revolution advances consciousness. Revolution that does not advance us toward higher consciousness and compassion is devolution. The spirit of revolution should be rooted in the principle that eventually there will be an accounting for past injustices, not a punitive accounting which will create more conflict, but a reform in the state of consciousness that allowed the injustices occur in the first place. Those involved in revolution would be wise to heed what this implies. Revolution is simple. It is like breathing — out with the old, and in with the new. One thing revolution is not is timid, submissive, or obedient. Revolution is defiant. But, revolution also needs to know when to let go and move forward.
The nature of oppression can be very tame, and often goes by the false name of civility. It is with a cold and inhumane civility that many great crimes are carried out against the warm hearts of good people. Inside of every good person there is also something very wild. Freedom is wild, and to be free we must at times live dangerously and wildly. We must at times deny the false world its identity within us, and reject its so-called civil order, and be fearless as individuals. There is no prison that can hold a free mind. Divest yourself from the machinery of society’s most ignorant and cruel values, and rebuild them with your unique contribution of wisdom and love. Submission to the unnatural forces of societal coercion is a voluntary process; you can rescind your voluntary submission with a single thought. Your soul exists outside of the jurisdiction of any entity. Give no earthly master permission to subdue your unique truth, but allow your truth, to seduce their lust for control to a love of freedom. Freedom needs role-models.
There is something greater than any nation; it is the spirit which created the nation. As a citizen of any country you have a natural allegiance to something deeper than your citizenship. There is a deeply obscured level beyond citizen — it is the domain that gave birth to the space for the constructs of citizen and country to exist. This is your true domain as a free creator, and it is to this space your highest gratitude, loyalty, and belonging should ascend. Upon this earth we have no obligation whatsoever to uphold any institution, country, or idea that does not serve as a humble refuge for all of humanities tender frailties. When people of any country begin to capitalize on their weakest members and even their sick and dying, then their national dream is dead already, and has become a nightmare. Let us revolt against the nightmare, and work together for a kinder world.
Non-violence is one of the highest master tools and paths of creating the dream we all know is the ultimate truth; the dream of a peaceful world. But non-violence needs to be applied inwardly to ourselves. It is not necessary to dignify tyranny with anger, which merely validates its false power. The ultimate defiance is to simply and gently be your own truth. The ultimate defiance is to simply BE. The ultimate protest is to simply do what is right and good. Lay down your worldly attachments and merely exist in total cooperation with your own unique inner truth. A person who wants nothing fears nothing. Your power is total and unstoppable. There is no single power on earth, nor any person, nor any institution, which has access to ANY power source beyond what you have direct access to right now, in this very moment. We are all fueled by the same free source of life and liberty.
Creativity is the greatest expression of liberty. Understand your power. Live dangerously. Live truthfully. Live freely. Live fearlessly. Cower before no earthly master. Know yourself. Be yourself. Love yourself. Seek goodness and be goodness. Seek beauty and be beauty. Seek love and be love. Once you realize what you really are, you cannot be stopped. The nightmare spirit of control has always been, and is, profoundly stupid. Historically we can see that any attempt to control has always fueled the heart of conflict. We are in power because we control the resources — because we are the resources. People are the ultimate resource — the human resource; all people. All natural, organic human-resource currencies are presently difficult for us to recognize, because our transactions with each other are obscured by the currencies we tender in our daily exchanges. This creates an ever present system of accounting, where the penalties for common errors and intrinsic human flaws and weakness add up to a great cultural debt of resentment, cynicism, and guardedness. The ultimate exchange economies are without currency, and are tendered heart to heart, and soul to soul. We are a community and family of humans, and we are all in this together. Together we have the resources to sustain one another. People are the final answer to the real call for freedom. The dreamer’s untamed eye sees beyond the illusions to the heart of what is real. All power constructs are thought-forms of consensus reality, that only exist because we choose to support them collectively with the human resources of the human heart, mind, and hand. We possess control of the ultimate resource — US. We can overturn ages of struggle against one another, by understanding the true value and worth of each soul — starting with ourselves.
You will never be a better citizen than when you are dreaming, creating, challenging, discussing, protesting, and adding your voice to the great, considerate, and humble conversation of life. Protest is an effective path to change. We have a responsibility to disobey and violate unjust rules and laws. Civil disobedience is a wonderful tool that has shown itself to be one of the most effective and powerful vehicles to speedy social evolution. Non-violent, but absolutely defiant non-cooperation, through acts of public civil disobedience are powerful and nearly uncontrollable tools of social reform. They are tools which throw a wrench into any systems’s obtuse machinery, forcing even the most blind of organizations to crack open their eyes for a moment of self-reflection. This is of course because the survival of the organism is being threatened through challenges to its identity — that identity being primarily one of control. To challenge that identity shocks the system with a fear of loss of power and relevancy, which would prevent the organism from being able to continue to exercise its core competency of control. The way we keep these systems in check, is through speaking truth.
We must always speak our truth. If one cannot speak their truth, and be their own truth, then what is life beyond an unbearable lie? Any construct that prevents our creative voice from spontaneously flowing and adding richness to our world must be eliminated. Our dearest expressions of desiring the richness of life to expand to the measure of very heart’s capacity, must seek to reach out, and attempt to sway or neutralize injustice and tyranny. Peace is not passive. Peace is, at times, a verb that expands in all directions, like a great circle of defiant love reaching for every goodly destination at once. Above all — free discussion and expression without intimidation must preserved, and we must ardently, and even joyously preserve it for those with whom we deeply disagree. How can we be free to express ourselves, if others are not free to do the same? The master key of real personal truth is that others should be able to live by their truth. It is one of our primary duties, to speak-up against what we believe to be wrong, but it is equally important to listen to the other side, and to look within for our own self-deceptions. We must challenge those who would force or trick us to live by their lies, and, you can know something is a lie when it has no love in it. But ultimately, we must first make sure we are not lying to ourselves, by living and promulgating world views, in which love is absent.
Peter Finch as Howard Beale in the 1976 movie, Network, galvanized a country by articulating a popular rage, and by encouraging people to come out of their homes and apartments and communicate. His suggestion was we can fix the problems once we get the conversation going.
I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s no one anywhere that seems to know what to do with us. Now into it. We know the air is unfit to breathe, our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had 15 homicides and 63 violent crimes as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad. Worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in a house as slowly the world we’re living in is getting smaller and all we say is, “Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster, and TV, and my steel belted radials and I won’t say anything.” Well I’m not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad. I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot. I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crying in the streets. All I know is first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, “I’m a human being. God Dammit, my life has value.” So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out, and yell, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” I want you to get up right now. Get up. Go to your windows, open your windows, and stick your head out, and yell, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Things have got to change my friends. You’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open your window, stick your head out and yell, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
One of the most powerful ways of speaking up and expressing our truth is through the means of non-violent protests. Protesting is never a disturbance of the peace. Corruption, injustice, war and intimidation are disturbances of the peace; protesting is merely a response to those disturbances. Freedom of assembly, which can be used as in protest, is in theory protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and is part of the Bill of Rights. It states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This suggests that as long as our protests are peaceable, we are free to assemble and allow the voice of reason within us each to join others in a conversation. Unfortunately the realities on the street are often very different from promised rights — no matter the country. Too often our conversations through protest are cut short by rude interruptions from the agents of concentrated power, which do not want to hear what change has to say. But change is inevitable and unstoppable. Life moves forward, not backward, and it would be wise to listen to what change has to say. Change may knock lightly on the door of antiquated thinking at first, but when the old mindsets bolt the door, change may rip it from the frame. Change has no master, no limitations and no fear. Change has no ideology, no dogma and no rationality. Change, like time, will wait until the graveyards are full of old ideas. Change can be beautiful when we are brave enough to evolve with it, and change can be brutal when we fearfully resist.