born, never asked

i just had an experience that confirms to me that my decision to stay in kc (for the time being) is the right thing to do. there are lots of things that go along with that decision, that i’m not going to go into with this post, but part of it is that in the not-so-distant future i feel that we are coming upon some big changes to our way of living. my decision to stay here is based on my using this as a time of preparation, on a number of levels.

that being said, i am currently reading derrick jensen’s two volume endgame, and it is blowing my mind. i have previously read his a language older than words and the culture of make believe, both a few years ago. although the subject matter of each book is somewhat different, the underlying premise in both is that western civilization is inherently destructive. in endgame, he ratchets this up by saying not only is it destroying the planet (he says simply in a number of places in the book, ‘we’re fucked; we’re so fucked.’), but it needs to be taken down.

frankly, most of you reading this blog, or people who manage to make it through both books (they total 929 pages), are going to write him off as some sort of environmentalist whacko (as rush limbaugh would say), and probably think that what i’m writing here is a little over the top. here we have a grown man who claims to communicate with trees, and with coyotes, and is in love with salmon, not as a well-prepared seafood entrée, but as living species who are being driven to extinction by humans. he advocates violence as an appropriate mechanism to take down the system. by violence, he means, well, look it up in the dictionary, you know what it means. by system, he means… well, in his ideal world, there would be no internet, because there would be no computers, because the cheap third world labor used to build those computers is instead living directly off of their own land, instead of working to supply ‘our’ ‘needs’, and as for us, well, we’re living off the land too. yeah, that means you.

but to even ask if anyone reading this would be prepared to live off the land if necessary would be a huge joke. hell, i live in a 10-story high-rise apartment building. if an e-bomb went off tomorrow, i (along with many millions of others) would be totally screwed. as i sit here today in my air-conditioned haven with background music going and plenty of filtered water available (who in their right mind drinks straight from the tap anymore?), i have no fucking clue as to where i would get fresh water and anything edible (outside of looting, which helps only in the very short term). however, jensen is not the only person thinking that, some time not so far off, this is what it will come to here in america, the most affluent society to ever exist. of course it may not be due to an e-bomb, but any number of scenarios could cause this: remember katrina? with the advent of global warming, and political hot spots ever increasing around the world, and the arrival of peak oil, and many social ills here and around the world, our affluence is simply unsustainable. something’s got to give and it’s going to be ugly for at least a couple of hundred years when it does. the only thing different about what jensen is saying compared to many others is that we should be the ones to instigate the downfall of civilization, in order to prevent it from doing any further damage to the earth.

um, so, anyway, a couple of hours ago i started reading this passage from page 436 of volume 1:

Far less likely to fight back even than slaves are those so deeply and thoroughly enslaved that they no longer perceive their own slavery. This is what we today would call normal. As Frank Garvey wrote, “In this country people are rarely imprisoned by their ideas because they’re already imprisoned by their ideas. The wage-slaves of today aren’t ripe for revolt because they don’t know that they’re slaves and no more free than the slaves of yore, despite the fact that they think so…. You can’t get rid of slave culture until the slaves know that they are slaves, and are proud of the historical responsibility it gives them to be the agent of social change.”

It’s not too much to say that most of us have essentially no understanding of what it would be like to live free.

at the moment i am reading this passage, in the background i have on community radio station kkfi, and i hear the beginning of my favorite laurie anderson song ‘born, never asked’ from the cd ‘big science’. i put the book down and turn the radio up so i can listen to the entire song, which is actually mostly instrumental. in the beginning there is a brief monologue with no background music, then about a quarter through the song, she speaks one line, then the rest of the song is without vocals. beautiful, beautiful song.

the one line she speaks is this: ‘You were born. And so you’re free. So happy birthday.’ tears just start running down my face when i hear this. because i finally get it. *i get it.* buying all the environmentally friendly toilet paper in the world and eating organic foods and recycling, while all these things are good and necessary, they are not what’s going to save the planet. corporations and the government are now encouraging us to ‘go green’, so we can feel good about ourselves, like buying a hemp knapsack made in honduras is going to save the planet, and meanwhile, they continue on with their abuse of the forests and the oceans and brown-skinned people. i’ve had a distrust of government in general for a number of years, especially since 9/11, but this book has helped me to realize that they have never had my best interests in mind or the best interests of any other person or group of people (except for maybe stockholders). and if they don’t care about people, they are certainly not going to care about ‘lesser’ beings such as animals or trees, or inanimate items.

i see the system for what it is, and i want to do something about it. i plan to continue to be a part of the system and use it for what i can (and eventually use it against itself), but i no longer am a member of it. library school is still in my plans (what better way to inform and prepare people than through being a stewardess of knowledge), and i still plan to make yearly treks to new orleans (even though ultimately, rebuilding may be a waste of time?), and i’ll go to concerts still (next one: ben harper on september 2; i also may go to etta james on august 23), and just live my life. but in the meantime, i’m also going to slowly but surely prepare for whatever is ahead, and talk about what i’m reading by jensen and other likeminded people, and write about it, and live it, and maybe get another person or two to break off the chains.

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