Monday, October 25, 2010

Raging against Oppression

Does anyone dare deny the appropriateness of anger in response to what is in our midst?  Not just annoyance or irritation, but outrage?  For so many years now we have denounced treating people of other so-called “races” or sexes as objects, if not literally then for all of the consideration they are shown.  Yet people blissfully go on treating experiencing others the same way, who happened to be born of a different species.  Kant derided treating others as “mere means” even while human ingenuity presses itself over and against animals as mere “resources.” Or animals are consigned to “the environment,” as though they are just part of our surroundings and we are not a part of theirs. 

Almost all of officialdom stands against the animals.  Yet in the highest offices, from which issue the most powerful commands, these leaders should stand down and stand aside, allowing true leadership that stands against all oppression to assume its rightful place in the world.  Adults commonly act like children for all of the maturity that is lacking in the nihilistic vacuum that is sucking away our global riches and leaving a devastation in its wake.  Our food system is premised on raising animals in houses of torture and shipping them off to yet another, and our medical system is based in vainly trying to force animals to reveal medical information about our own species through tormenting them. The Earth itself, so verdant and rich not so many generations ago, has had more than 95% of its ocean life destroyed, and is like a dying patient, riddled with infection by humans.  Yet humans need not function like a disease. 

We have that ambiguity. We can elevate the forms of life on Earth to soaring heights of vitality if only we dedicate ourselves to such an end.  The Earth itself is now having a near-death experience, and it is hard to imagine anything in our experience that is so urgent.  Have few or no children!  Promote non-pollution and fewer carbon emissions!  These need to be issued as laws and commands, not as polite requests, with a “please.”  It is not to “please” the concerned nor even to allay their righteous anger, but rather for the sake of all of us in the global community, not even just those who are struggling to CREATE a global community. 

If any degree of suffering is treated with contempt, it is part of a still highly dangerous contagion, and friends of that cruelty should not be allowed an all-too-comfortable refuge.  People seek refuge in the narcissism of feelings of complacency, life-swallowing entertainments, and doctrines of nihilism and self-indulgent egoism.  Yet there is no refuge left if we lose this Earth.  Shall we salvage only patches of land?  No—the whole must be made whole, holistically. 

Do I rant and rave?  Yes.  But that is an expression of my fury.  And I challenge anyone to demonstrate that anything less than fury is appropriate to the sum total of degradations that we face.  And will anything else rouse a public that slides ever further from civility, seeing politeness as just one possible “manner” of acting and taxes merely as taxing rather than as a necessary part of the liberation of all from oppression?  The public shirks the role of reason by indulging endless intuitionism or opinion, until all we will be able to believe in is a gradually creeping on post-Apocalyptic horror, more or less deliberately allowed, a debacle of poverty, natural degradation, de facto discrimination, and suffering cruelly permitted. 

Yet we must be gentle with our moral evolution, since it is a delicate process and world problems transcend the power of the individual alone.  People do not always find it easy to leave behind the brain- and life-paths of speciesism, such as eating corpses, and must be helped more than harangued.  Thus we can channel our anger into constructive actions.  But we must not be too timid, or lacking assertion of what is right.  Our fury should lead to a furious pace of counter-transformation of the world even as it becomes more and more metaphorically diseased.  If our anger is at aggression then paradoxically our fury transmutes into gentleness, checking needless aggression against aggression, thus walking beyond oppressors’ defences to a common forum of reasoning that may yet salvage sanity on the world stage.  Healing needs promotion of healthy functioning, not attacking other aspects of our sick planet like an immune system at cross-purposes.

Our inner fury should not therefore be self-indulged.  Yet fury can come out at the last when we are faced not with caring adults, but rather jeering children who echo generations of uncaring forebears before them.  Only when reasoning allows no place for rationalization of oppression can our fury then come out at what lacks any possible excuse, and yet is carried on regardless.  We cannot lose regard for those lacking consideration, but neither can we lose cognizance of their endless numbers of victims. 

We victimize ourselves if we limit our own reason and ability to make powerful changes, thus disempowering ourselves.  Any great movement is only ever made up of individuals, after all.  Liberation is not merely of recipients, but of agents of change.  It is not merely negative, but leads to the most widespread possible joy.  Anger needs to be balanced with appreciation of actual and potential goods in the middle of this global Holocaust, as the whole Earth burns, but most people hesitate to put out the flames.  "Holocaust" literally means a burning of the whole, deriving from burnt offerings of a whole animal as a form of sacrifice. Still, the fires of anger are needed to help put out the fires of oppression that burn this Earth and sacrifice its vulnerable inhabitants.  We do not need water to put out this spiritual and material fire, but only good sense put into action.

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