18 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 :
19 Sep 2021
I felt compelled today the regroup the nice media I’ve consumed about the topic of herbalism and gardening from some sort of decolonial lens. It’s a logical continuation of the feelings I have found in myself while writing my last post in the mouth of the lion, i.e. that I am deeply sensitive and interested in gardening and interacting with plants as a way to nurture the collective dimension of human life.
So here’s some great podcast I’ve listened to these days :
- Restorative Agriculture : Gardening, Homesteading, & Permaculture by Revolutionary Left Radio, emphasis on gardening/permaculture as a way to be resilient and useful for our communities in the incertain times to come + critique of the whiteness in the permaculture world, needing to reindigezine our practice
- Ann Armbrecht: Healing with herbalism and its deeper relational values by Green Dreamer , covers herbalism at large, but talks more specifically about the commodification of plants, also includes an invitation to rethink our relation to healing and medecine in general, emphasis put on connecting with our local plants (Green Dreamer podcast is wholesome in general, probably my fav podcast at the moment)
- To follow up with the Rev Left Radio episode, the guest of the already mentioned episode, Sole has his own podcast Propaganda by the Seed which I haven’t tried yet, but I am sure I will enjoy it because hey when comrades/revolutionaries meet plants, I always enjoy it
- rise up! good witch podcast is also a good one I’ve been enjoying this last year, it is more on the spiritual/esoteric side, but still very militant, the host likes to highlight people’s plant origin story (that is, to cover how they came to herbalism) and it’s a very interesting way to approach herbalism in my opinion
Now time to turn to the interesting books :
- I’ve added Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer to my ereader after the already mentioned Rev left podcast episode, which is a book about the indigineous ways of taking care of the land to what I’ve understand, and I’m very excited to start it. Sole said it adds to the poetic dimension of gardening and this book made him cry a lot. I also downloaded Gaia’s Garden following his recommendations, which is apparently a classic of permaculture litterature, but I feel like I will enjoy it less because it seems like a practical guide for people who owns landLa ré
- The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu Fukuoka. This is a book I’ve enjoyed a few years ago. It’s, in some way, a japanese permaculture book but with a mix of anarchism and buddhism and it really resonated with me. I need to re-reagood it some day.
- Radical Remedies by Brittany Ducham is a book about using herbalism for self-care and self-healing but it looks like uber wholesome. It’s like a kitchen witchcraft guidebook. It oftens cross my instagram feed and I always say to myself that I need to gift it to me.
Meanwhile, I also put my name in the waiting list for this online AEC en production maraîchère biologique of the Cégep de de Victoriaville (just in prevision for the next existential crisis you know). I’m already daydreaming of doing my intership at the farm of Santropol Roulant hahaha
Hopefully, I’ll update this post with time!
10 Sep 2021
Lately, I’ve been experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions as I follow up with my decision to run for city counselor as an independant candidate. I’m so glad that I have found a buddhist mantra to hold unto while I was listening to the Green Dreamer podcast :
Illumination doesn’t happen in a cave, it happens in the mouth of a lion.
I wouldn’t say I feel near illumination whatsoever, but I do feel like I am in the mouth of a lion right now. I need to actively find ways to keep going and not let myself spiral in anxiety, self-doubts and scarcity mindset. My old drinking habits are also coming into play with these mental health struggles. But what I found helps me the most to go through the days is my spiritual practice and also, the already mentionned Green Dreamer’s podcast.
There has been a few very memorable episodes that made me felt like I should put them down somewhere, write something about it, well, to digital garden with. So here I am back to do just that and I took the opportunity to also revisit old posts of mine and my piece Witchcraft Is Social Change made a very good effect on me. I forgot I wrote that honestly. In the same line of thought, I received a mail yesterday from Etsy, telling that somebody put my product in their cart. Product from an Etsy shop I had somewhat forgotten about too. It was my anticapitalist tarot business I tried to set up after taking The Sovereign Witch class by Anna Joy. So it feels the universe wants me to think and reflect on spirituality again.
Also I want to mention, that in some magical divine timing, I found a wonderful job in my neighborhood in urban agriculture this summer that was so very much fullfilling. I liked the proximity with nature, it healed something in me (still healing now). I wouldn’t say it turned me into a ‘‘green witch’’ or anything, but it gave me a new direction for the future (I want to keep working in that field) and it feels very comfortable.
But yes, the episodes that marked me the most so far were :
Unfortunately, I do not feel like summarize them and truly make them echoed each others at the moment. I am more in the mood to expand on what they made me realize, that is that what moves me the most is collective work and that no matter how much I’m trying to be ‘‘serious and rational’’ I can’t help but be highly attracted by the spiritual/esoteric.
On the collective work side, my job actually helped me understand this sensibility of mine. I felt so invested in our collective garden and the other sites where we would garden for food sovereignity. And then when I came to work on my own little garden on my balcony I felt almost nothing, no motivation. It ties up a bit with my eating struggle : I have phases where I want to cook so bad, but I have usually no appetite to eat what I cook, unless I am with someone. Once again, I am so grateful for my job that gave me the opportunity to coordinate a team of volunteer-gardeners, like it truly empowered to hopefully, start a guerilla gardening collectif or something (maybe next summer).
About the spiritual/esoteric, I won’t go in depth here, because it is such a reccurent theme in my life, it would deserve it’s own separated piece. But basically, I guess that if I don’t get elected, I should truly try to pursue ‘‘the esoteric activist life’’ more seriously, like I think (am convinced?) it is part of my calling.
15 Apr 2021
I really want to read adrienne maree brown’s book We Will Not Cancel Us. I think we need to be really critical of cancel culture as it creates a lot of divided in our already divided left. Conspiracy theories like Pastel Q-Anon make me even more worried about how things might evolve. Accounts like caitdissociates on IG who self-proclaimed as “Pastel QAnon/Alt-Right Cult Destroyer” feed those worries. Many of their posts claim that Jay Manicom and Clementine Morrigan (who are partners) are responsible for Alt-Right Abuse Cult because Jay made his master thesis on the topic. Like… I’m studying capitalism and fascism, does it makes me a capitalist fascist? My point being that it is quite normal, even strategic, for leftists to study the right and that doesn’t mean anything. On that topic, this interesting article on cancel culture Deconstructing and critiquing the Court of Social Justice and “accountability has Jay Manicom as a case study. But it’s a recommended read, no matter if you care or not about that Jay.
Meanwhile, on my side, bits of text I’ve read a while ago came back to mind. The text was Disrupting Rape Culture (2019) by Fanghanel and covered how the BDSM community was dealing with people who do not respect boundaries. In some way, they have their own kind of cancel culture, where being called-out equals being banished, ostracised. In my opinion, the online cancel culture is quite the same : what you seek is banishment of the person, not a change in this person (even if the words say that what we seek is change in behaviors, I feel like the method/comportement says otherwise). And then people unfollow those being called-out because of respectability politics, not allowing place for the exercice of the critical mind.
In the BDSM community Fanghanel observed, she said that this banishment approach “resorts to almost pre-modern forms of policing based on punitive punishment
rather than what we might call restorative.” (p.143) She also goes more in lenght about banishment in and on itself :
A bandit is someone who is living in a state of exception without
formal recourse to the polis. In the course of my research, it was
banishment which, more than anything else, was named by members
of the community as a habitual way of dealing with transgression. For
Giorgio Agamben (1998), a bandit is stripped of legal status by the
sovereign. Excluded from the polis (and so, ‘out there’), he must exist
in a state of exception, designated by the State, beyond the beneficence
of state protection and recognition as a legal person. (p.131)
The medieval way does not seem the way to go to me.
Also another element on this very blury reflexions, from the book Silicon Values (2021), on how content-moderation began :
Facebook did not until recently take proactive measure to identify prohibited content, instead relying upon its users to police the site trough a system known as community policing or “flagging”. This system, argue Kate Crawford and Tarleton Gillespie, “act[s] as a mechanism to elicit and distribute user labor — users as a volunteer corps of regulators.” […] This practice of flagging has resulted in a culture of snitching, in which people are expected to monitor each other and report problematic activity to central authority. This form of “community policing”, like the “community standards”, is hardly about community — rather, it would more accurately be compared to the US Department of Homeland Security program called “ If You See Something, Say Something R”. Designed in the wake of 9/11 to encourage ordinary citizens to report suspicious behavior to authoritis, that program in numeros instances led to the reporting of innocent people of color to law enforcement for dubious reason. (p.17)
How much have we internalized this flagging culture and how does it play with cancel culture? Of course, people of color aren’t the people the most being reported on, for once, but I think it doesn’t help at the end of the day. Like yes, maybe cancelling people does protect our community in some way. But also, maybe by targeting even more and more white people for mistakes of theirs, or unlearning they haven’t done yet, we are scaring potential allies (culture of “we cannot say anything anymore”) and isolate ourselves further more, which, at the end of the day, is more of a victory for white supremacists than for us.
White people cannot become perfect antiracist allies without interacting with BIPOC people, it’s sad but true. A white person can read all the the book on antiracism, but reading alone is not praxis, even if you want it to be praxis. You need real people, real situations, to learn. Therefore, it sucks but it’s part of the game. Also, while it is true that we must condemn harms done voluntarily, we also need to recognize that hurt people hurt people. We are all hurting under this system. Compassion is often the way to go.