surviving and fighting, emergent strategies and buddhism18 Jan 2022
I was going through my old Obsidian file when I stumbled upon an old abandoned zine project (I suppose it was a zine project) that I had completely forgotten about. As I was re-reading it, I was like “wow, I wrote that? that’s relevant”, therefore I thought of sharing it here. I am somewhat too lazy to edit it though, so consider it a draft. After all, this place is a digital garden. I plant seeds, not complete and perfect ideas. So here it is :
Survival Guide For Those Who Aren’t in Denial
The state of the world is quite depressing. The fight for social and environmental justice will be a long and harsh one. The ‘‘awakened’’ privileged ones feel guilty. The less privileged ones are simply already suffering. A sense of powerlessness and alienation is everywhere. And yet, I think we can go collectively go throught this with our heads up.
WHEN WE ARE WONDERING IF WE ARE DOING ENOUGH (INDIVIDUALLY), IF WE ARE DOING THE RIGHT THINGS, IF IT WILL BE ENOUGH (TO MAKE CHANGES HAPPEN)
My strategies to cope rely on two simple things :
- I trust that I can always prioritize actions that contributes to the greater good and that what I am doing is needed in the making of this new world we seek.
- I trust people, I have faith they are doing the same, that they have the capacity to do the same, even if I don’t see them in actions.
The concept of holism is one of the many things to help us understand the power of micro-actions and social changes
WHEN WE ARE THINKING
The ‘‘why why why’’ strategy
CHOOSE A SURVIVAL STRATEGY (aka the way you will sustain yourself, i.e how will you nourish, house and take care of yoursel)
- This can mean how you will make money
- This can also mean to find arrangements that don’t require money
- Financial independance litterature can help on the matter
CHOOSE THE FIGHT When we look at the state of the world, it easily becomes overwhelming when we think about how the work that needs to be done. This definetely cannot fit in our busy schedule. What helped me is to decide that this the fight for social change was my number one priority and all the rest was secondary. Well, to be more exact, my well-being is my number one priority, than social change is somewhat the second, but since my well-being is intrinsincly connected to social change those two goes hands in hands. The rest is means to achieve my well-being and social changes.
Of course, this approach might sounds very privileged, but it is not really. Like, yes, if you have a family, you need a survival strategy that brings you more riches than if you are single and without a kid. Here, I am not saying quit your day job for doing full time militantism. While I kind of did that on my side - stopped working to be able to get involved while living super frugally -, it doesn’t mean it has to be this dramatic. But truly, this one is all about mindset.
It doesn’t mean to stop having professional ambitions, it means to reather see the profesionnal advancement as a tremplin for social changes.
It doesn’t mean to stop going to school, it means what you are learning will help you build social changes.
It doesn’t mean to stop consuming culture, it meants what you are consuming in empowering you to co-create social changes.
It mights sounds radical (and it probably is), but I think it’s one way to trick the brain into thinking everything’s (relatively) under control. Also, that’s the kind of commitment I think is needed from us at this point.
And let me be clear, it doesn’t mean always being political and starting debate. It might takes the form of always being kind to others, to take a post in the syndicate, to refuse to do something against your values, to suggest a new business partner in the meeting, who knows. It might even take the form of simply watching anime that night despite having the most eternal to-do lists. Because you are prioritizing yourself and when you are doing good, you can bring good.
BE MORE BUDDHIST AND ACCEPT SUFFERINGS
That the world is suffering is one of the most misunderstood buddhist precept. Yet I think it’s one that takes time to accept, but once it is accepted, it is so very helpful.
This section goes with the idea of ‘apocalypse’ and failure. With the COVID-19 pandemic, I came to think even more at the ‘end of the world’. I was trying to envision a future where it would be pandemic after pandemic and what we could do about that. Since the pandemic interrupted my climate activism efforts, those ideas were melting with the images of environmental colapse. I was trying to find a middle ground. Because there is this idea that the ‘‘end of civilization’’ could be beneficial for ‘‘nature’’. Without falling into the eco-fascist trap, I concede part of this is true. But note as I wrote the end of civilization and not the human race. Note how I’ve put nature in quotation marks. Because there is no duality between we humans and nature, we are one. And right now we are harming ourselves as much as we are hurting the ecosystems. If an angry person would start to destroy this appartment, one wouldn’t think “awn poor appartment, I have compassion for you”. No, the compassion would rather be directed to the angry person that, once the anger will be over, will realised all the backlashs it has made. We don’t do enough compassion towards ourselves. That’s namely why environmental activisim feels somewhat so abstract. “We need to stop cutting this forest we have never walked in”. “We need to stop the carbon emissions we cannot see.” While it is true we must do those things, we need to bring back compassion toward ourselves. And this centering exercise is to better decenter ourselves afterward of course. We humans aren’t superior living being just because we can write and stuff. But if we don’t understand our motives, or how much we hurt, we’ll never be able to persevere in our fight, we won’t act from a place of truth, merely a place of fear.
So, that we are humans or non-humans, animal, plants, spirits, there will be suffering in our lived experience. Buddhism holds no contradiction when it states that suffering is inevitable and yet ask their practicionners to vow to free all beings from suffering.
It is in this perspective that I do my activism. I know that there will be harm and exploitation and climate hazards in the future, that some are happening in the present moment even, and yet I can only vow to help reduce the amount of it. It doesn’t mean I’m a reformist, or a non-revolutionary. Contrary to the suffering in buddhism, “political pain” can be eradicated.
Buddhism’s suffering included sadness of losing someone we lost and pain linked to inevitable sickness. We will all die, we will all get sick at some point. Nonetheless, nothings says that we must all be oppressed/exploited/living in scarcity. This is only the result of the way we are organizing societies. Therefore, political pain can be eradicated.
Also, about the climate catastrophe, I like to remind myself that scientists aren’t prophets. Even if we feel like we can predict how things will evolved, I don’t think it’s completely true. The butterfly effect could change everything. The spirit world could come change the rules of the game. And also, maybe, the numbers we are seeing and sharing everywhere are not well interpreted. Who knows? And in all case, only the present moment exist.
But still, it would be very unprobable that the whole species disappear. And the ‘‘fall of civilization’’ might sounds like dramatic or at least rhymes with ‘‘harsh conditions to existence’’ but when you think about it, the amount of “harsh conditions” many humans already live for the profit of some lucky fews is not this much better.
Also, we can say that we were lucky as a species to have been granted such great environmental conditions to thrive in a very long time (think about those dinosaurs and their meteorit). It’s a shame we somewhat have ruined it, but it’s possible to still experience gratitude. Afterall, everything is impermanent.
Related content :
- mental health and how to fight for uncertainty, digital garden entry from sept 2020
- how to get your shit together in this capitalist hellscape, freebie made for my The Happy Anticapitalist project