Here’s the thing. Violence exists on a continuum. You can’t live in a militarized society where the sale of weapons is a major source of social wealth and expect that violence won’t come back to haunt you. You can’t live in a society that tolerates the killing of wild animals for sport, the torture of animals for food, and chemical assaults on insects, birds and marine life, and expect that you can somehow remain safe yourself.
What we put into the world comes back to us. We humans are not separate from the rest of life on this planet. We have to give up the delusion of our own exceptionalism and power. No living being on this Earth is immune to the violence humans are wreaking—not even us.
The same principle applies to hatred. When we look at a grown man filled with such hatred that he’s willing to send pipe bombs or murder people in their houses of worship, we have to peer more deeply into him and ask: what created this monster? What traumas did he survive, that warped him from the instinctively loving infants we all are (with the possible exception of those traumatized already in the womb or through epigenetics)? How was he damaged by the brutality of American culture?
I am not by any means implying that the crimes of these men should be excused. I am suggesting that their hatred must be seen in light of the broader cultural environment of violence and abuse that we are all swimming in, and that we all co-create if only by our tacit acceptance, our allowing it to go on.
Americans, our country was founded on revolution: on people saying ENOUGH: we will not be intimated and forced into compliance by a distant colonial master.
It is time for another revolution, this time against our own homegrown masters: against the self-interested greed of the men who run the military-industrial-weapons-petrochemical-pharmaceutical-insurance-finance-agricultural-engineering-electronic sectors of our society.
It is time to understand that there is no such thing as “trickle-down wealth” in a society that creates wealth by killing life, because in such a society the violence eventually comes back around to attack its creators. The climate crisis and ecological collapse are the signs of the limit of this ecocidal/suicidal worldview. The billionaires who have laughed all the way to the bank as they have devoured the planet cannot survive on a dead planet. And the dream of a rocket to a distant planetary colony is just science fiction.
If these masters of the planet will not understand that humans are here to serve Life, not death, and if we the people truly value Life (not just our own little lives, but all Life on the planet) then it is time for a revolution.
I do not say this lightly. Revolutions are going to be met with violence, and hence will increase violence for a time. I fear and detest violence. But I don’t see another way, other than going quietly into the night of death along with the greater part of the current inhabitants on Earth, human and non-human alike.
We can’t just reel from one disaster and tragedy to the next indefinitely, without fighting back.
If our warrior energy comes from love, it will unleash a different kind of battle. Acting out of love for Life, we can begin to reorient the way we live. Because money and wealth are so important to humans, a big aspect of the revolution can come through a shift in how we direct our wealth. Are we supporting the weapons industry with our investments? The fossil fuel industry? Big pharma, big agriculture, and the financial sector that supports them?
Ultimately, we have to not only put our finances, but also our bodies on the line. We have to turn out in protest, and not just on sunny Saturday afternoons.
We have to resist the cultural conditioning that says nothing an individual does matters. We have to get back in touch with our childlike instinct for love—and not just love of other humans, but love of the whole beautiful world that gives us life.
I am sick to death of living with so much mind-numbing violence and destruction. We are all sick of it—as in, it is making us all sick.
To heal, to feel well again, we have to heal our society and our world, because we are all interconnected. Nothing happens in isolation on this planet. We can’t ignore starving children in one part of the world and expect that the violence being visited on them won’t come boomeranging back to us. We can’t watch passively as the insect kingdom collapses worldwide and imagine that this won’t affect humans, perched smugly at the top of the food chain.
The climate crisis and Sixth Great Extinction drive home this message of interconnection globally. Gun violence is a symptom of the much bigger violence going down in myriad ways every day.
If you want peace and harmony, you have to live it and support it everywhere, in every human interaction, and not just with other humans, but with all living beings.
That is the meaning of a revolution of love. Step into it now. We have work to do.
Jennifer Browdy, Ph.D. is a professor of comparative literature at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, focusing on global women’s literature, spiritual ecology and social & environmental activism through the arts. Her memoir, What I Forgot …And Why I Remembered, was one of six finalists for the 2018 International Book Awards. Her writer’s guide, The Elemental Journey of Purposeful Memoir, was a 2017 Nautilus Silver Award Winner and was the inspiration for her popular online course in purposeful memoir. She writes two blogs: Transition Times, on issues of social and environmental justice, and Writing Life, on the art and craft of purposeful memoir. Jennifer offers author coaching, editing and manuscript review; find out more at http://www.jenniferbrowdy.com