A discussion on action

A message for folks who are currently involved in the struggle for a planet that sustains life.

Greetings companeros.

Hi. We’d like to have a talk – we feel like its been coming for a while. We want to speak and listen, and find ways to do these things well. We want this dialogue to be respectful, acknowledging the place from which the other is coming from… while not forgetting our own place. We want our words to be informed by, and inform our action. We want to be critical when we speak or write, breaking reactive patterns, breathing and allowing ourselves space to imagine other ways… because we believe that nothing that has been done so far has been enough, and because we are humble, we rebel… that is, because we acknowledge that there are worlds, ways of taking action, ways of interacting that we cannot imagine yet, we strive to open up space for new ways, better ways, to exist.

We have been talking about patterns. We have been talking about how little we ask ourselves “why” before we take action. We have been trying to do this. And we have been stumbling. We do not know how to do this well yet. But we are beginning. We are beginning to ask ourselves what we take action for. Where are we going? Is it a destination, or a way of travelling? Regarding climate change, we are asking ourselves why we would struggle against it? What is important to us? Do we actually value life? Do we actually think life (human, plant, animal whatever) is worth struggling for? What about if life is dreary, boring, painful? We have been taking the time to remember the things that make it worth struggling. We have been creating space for our desires to direct our action. Could ask better questions, eg. What will it take?

And we have been talking about tactics. We have been talking about power. About assumptions. About things that we are all taught about how this society works, and stories we have internalised, even if we profess to not believe them. Like how change happens. Like what it means to “raise awareness”, or “put pressure on politicians”. We have been asking what the importance of raising awareness is when people do not have channels to exercise their power in meaningful ways. We have been questioning why we so often communicate with politician (By “demanding” “asking” “calling on them” to do things) when we do not believe they can or should represent our needs, our interests. And we have been asking why we so rarely communicate with people at the roots… with people who do not currently sit in places of institutional power (private or state). We have been asking what it would actually take to achieve the goals, visions, dreams, whatever that we have. We have been asking if our current actions are the equivalent of trying to stop a tank that is coming to blow up our house by throwing styrofoam at it and then asking it to slow down.

We have been questioning the assumptions of our own communities. We have been making space to define our goals, desires, visions and trying to let these, rather than any abstracted principle (whether it be “Non-Violence” or “Anarchism”) guide our action. We have been asking the hard questions about what we actually think is effective… and realising that sometimes the answers are overwhelming. But we are beginning to stop hoping for shortcuts (“The apocalypse will come soon!” or “At least Rudd won the election!”) and asking what our next step should be. We do not feel like we are doing this very well as yet. We feel like our words may reflect what we think is important and effective, but our actions are still patterned, still drawing from what is familiar rather than what we think works. However, we begin.

And we are asking, what do you think is important? What process do you go through to answer this question? When you ask “why?” about the actions you take (eg “why are we shutting down this power station”) do you have an answer? Is the answer still a tactic (eg “to get media”)? What if you ask “why?” to this answer? Is your response another tactic (eg “raising awareness”)? How many times do you have to ask “why?” before you get to a goal, a vision, a desire, a value? Even “stopping climate change” must be a tactic to realise something else, maybe its “because I think maintaining life on this planet is important”, maybe it’s something else. This may seem like a difficult and long task, however we believe that until we can define what we are acting for, it’s near impossible to decide what tactics are most effective.

This is not a call to government to make a series of policy changes. This is not a call for large businesses to become “greener” under the illusion that profitability and what is socially and ecologically beneficial are not in conflict. This is a call for you, friend, to share your experiences, thoughts, words on three simple things. What are we struggling and acting for? What would it take to realise these things? And are we prepared to do what is necessary? Maybe everything depends on these answers.

With humble respect,

Some folks who like their weekends dirty and their habitat clean

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