Becket: It is not for me to win you round. I have only to say no to you.
King: But you must be logical, Becket!
Becket: No. That isn’t necessary, my liege. We must only do—absurdly—what we have been given to do—fight to the end.
—From the play “Becket,” by Jean Anouilh
Becket: It is not for me to win you round. I have only to say no to you.
You make this far too hard, Hedges. Sometimes you just have to pick up a rock and knock the big monkeys off the top of the hill. all this sophistry simply because no one can handle a simple truth: it’s the oligarchs or it’s us. and this is the way they’ve set it up to be. We take that power away from them or we perish. Yeah, it’s depressing it comes to this. But it’s not complicated.
Great stuff to start 2019 with.
Fight the power.
9 years before Rosa Parks , in Nova Scotia Canada a Black woman named Viola Desmond was arrested for “breaking the law”.
She bought a ticket to a Movie Theater , which was all but empty and had moved from the Upper Balcony, which was reserved for Blacks to the lower area. She was arrested but the crown did not charge her with sitting in a “white only” section as that law would not stand the test in the Courts. What they did was get her for tax evasion. The TAX on the lower seating was 1 CENT higher then the tax on the upper seating.
Her small act of resistance lead to all such laws and policies of segration being repealed in Nova Scotia in 1954.
If one looks throughout history “Breaking the law” is one of the most important ways by which positive change in a Country arrived at something those that post here about “illegal immigrants” from Latin America should keep in mind.
Chris Hedges noted some months ago that one description of faith - and I paraphrase - is living fully embracing the dynamic that ‘the good calls to itself the good’, without waiting to see, without looking to the past for precedent, but BEING in full faith.
With this in mind, I came across an ancient Islamic Sufi admonition in precisely the same vein (love the image of the vein carrying blood back to the heart); then in the Tao; then in Judaism; then in Quaker thought. Good enough for me - and thank you Chris Hedges for the re-presencing - which I will also seek to regenerate in hopes that the exponential function tickles the fancy of countless others who decide to live being in the good, drawing out the good everywhere straight out of the indecision, anxiety, confusion, imposed ignorance and even fear our neighbors might encounter.
Very well put, Susprira. The “Law” as we know it, is not sacrosanct. Nor is it hardly ever applied fairly and equally. The “Law” is an abstract construction of “elites”, and is only as
good or bad as they are.
Thank you for your excellent comment. Chris Hedges can be trusted to always see and write about the larger perspective, in a way that few others can (or will).
Agreed, but I’d argue the only law breaking going on at the border vis-a-vis the thousands of people fleeing Central America, is by the Trump administration. Those seeking asylum can enter the country by any means and any route and not be considered to have broken the law and who are, therefore, not “illegal immigrants.” In fact, they are neither illegal (if it’s even possible to be such) nor immigrants.
Thank you for posting this. I am just about finished re-reading Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Why We Can’t Wait and hope others get a chance to read it too. We all need to act from what is right. This book has lots of useful ideas for all of us on resistance and organizing. Another great book to read is, of course, Black Rage.
I knew that Canada had its share of racial animosity and wonder how deep does it get. Here in the US it is so deeply ingrained in the psyche of everyone and King makes the point that it got its start with the racism against the First Nations before there were large numbers of African slaves. He, as other scholars have, also pointed out that the US is probably the only nation that as a matter of national policy made the extermination of the original peoples a priority and a goal. Dunbar-Ortiz has, I think, convincingly argued that as long as this original crime goes ignored the more wars we in the US will face. Latin America shows just how much they have assimilated indigenous peoples and I can’t help wonder if our southern relatives crossing the boarder who are either indigenous or mixes of indigenous plays into this subliminal hatred and fear in the US who thought it had pretty much wiped out the natives.
From Why We Can’t Wait, Martin Luther King, Jr.:
A social movement that only moves people is merely a revolt. A movement that changes both people and institutions is a revolution.
Right now I am thinking of Antigone who buried her brother against “the law” and was entombed alive for this. And so many black people who were beaten and some killed during the civil rights struggles. Truth is, we must be ready to pay the ultimate price for our convictions.
I appreciate the inspired courage of the Berrigans but most of us need the hope of success to take action. That is why I admire not only spiritual heroes like Dan Berrigan but also the much more impulsive courage of working class people who go up against authority, whether it is Black LIves Matter or the Gilets Jaunes. I met Dan when organizing one of the few actions against the invasion of Grenada in 1983 and although his strategic advice was helpful, nothing would have happened without the hundreds of young people who came out on the streets on the Bronx thirty five years ago. If only thousands had come out then, maybe the subsequent generation of aggressive wars from Panama to Yemen might not have happened.
The resolve to act transcends the result of the action
Just to resolve to act, or the act itself?
No act of conscience is ever truly in vain
I don’t recall the Catonsville event Hedges describes, but it is worth keeping in mind that the only reason that event happened was because young people were being drafted, not because they gave a hoot about Vietnamese villagers being burned alive. In fact, the vast majority of Americans, then and now, haven’t got the foggiest idea, nor could they care less, that almost four million Vietnamese were burned alive in that horrific war.
Today, there is nothing like the political equivalent of the draft to contain the hordes of ignoramuses and bigots that have taken over the US.
I don’t have any answers, but I know intellectual dribble has very little impact on ordinary (very ordinary) folks - and nothing could be more distant from the average ignorant racist Trumpian Blue Collar Trash than a Becket dialog.
“But the consciousness of the radical man is integrated,’ Dan Berrigan wrote in ‘No Bars to Manhood.’ ‘He knows that everything leads to everything else.’” He also knows that capitalism cannot be reformed but must be destroyed and replaced by socialism or the human race will soon become extinct by ecocide or World War III.
‘We the people’ don’t have to literally ‘knock them off’, we only have to knock them off their Empire perch.
I understand your skepticism, but I think you greatly underestimate both the awareness and the motives of the people who laid their bodies and their futures on the line in opposition to the war. I was a pretty passive resister, merely refusing induction. But I knew personally quite a few people who were the diametric opposite of what you suggest, and knew indirectly of many more.
I’m always impressed when you manage to type “empire” without screaming hysterically. So congratulations are in order!
In any event, the point you fail to address is, “what if you can’t”? The empirical record on that score is what it is. Not good. If you could just nudge them aside gracefully, then the pink tide would’ve settled this issue. That’s the fun thing about actual analysis: you have to account for reality at some point. Give it a shot! So to speak.