Expect Resistance

Few of us can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied. – Arthur Miller

I recently started commenting on the news and politics stories at cbc.ca. Conservatives and Liberals abound and the partisan rhetoric can be fierce at times. Liberals will repeat their flawed arguments to the bitter end, until they have had the last post and everyone else has given up and gone to sleep. Conservatives will trot out the party line and when questioned on it will attack the messenger. When I point out to them that this simply tells the world that they really do not have an argument beyond the sound bite from the leader, they simply attack harder. Facts and the finer points of debate don’t go very far in this forum. Posting facts that challenge the great myths that our culture lives by are met with disapproval and anyone who steps outside of the narrow partisan lines is met sometimes with incomprehension and sometimes with anger.

When I attempt to discuss the sorry state of the world with friends and family, I am met with similar arguments. The ad-hominem attacks, the denial of reality, the slinking off to go watch TV rather than engage, they are all present. And I guess I should have expected it all along. I am far beyond asking anyone to make changes to how they live their lives as that is a surefire method to engender resistance. What I didn’t expect was the level of resistance to simply discussing the problems.

In order for us to maintain our way of living, we must tell lies to each other, and especially to ourselves. It’s not necessary that the lies be particularly believable, but merely that they be erected as barriers to truth. These barriers to truth are necessary because without them many deplorable acts acts would become impossibilities. Truth must at all costs be avoided. – Derrick Jensen, A Language Older Than Words

My wife tells me that I need to have compassion for people, that to expect them to have traveled the same path and to have reached the same conclusions that we have is unrealistic and unfair. The Tao says that to not contend is to succeed. The path of the Shambhala Warrior uses compassion as a weapon, along with a comprehension of the interrelatedness of the world. I agree with all of them and then I take it one step further. I can work on having compassion for people. People who have never been told the truth, people who live in a world based on fantasy and lies. I can feel for them. But I can also have compassion for the other people in the world. The ones at the other end of the waste pipe of this wasteful and destructive society that we have constructed. I can have compassion for those with no power, no voice in the actions that we take that affect their lives, human or more than human.

Long before I came to the realization that how I lived was directly connected to how other people experienced the world and how the world paid for my choices, I was always a champion of hypocrisy. I hated it, would always be the first to point it out, but always externalized it as someone else’s problem. My nephew is always quick to point out that as environmentally insensitive we may be, there are other players in the world that are worse. I liken it to claiming that we are the good child molesters, as we only rape one at a time, where the other child molesters in the world have figured out how to do it serially. Where do we draw the line?

The best scientific estimate is that all of humanity can contribute no more than the equivalent of 233 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide greenhouse gases to the Earth’s atmosphere by 2100 if the average global temperature rise is to be kept under two degrees centigrade, he said.

B.C., with 0.0065 percent of the world’s population, will contribute six percent of that total, if all of the province’s active and proposed coal mines exhaust their supplies, he said. That works out to roughly 1,000 times the province’s share, based on population, of allowable emissions. – The Tyee

The BC Liberals/Conservatives, those who don’t care and those who don’t know will all say: “Not our problem. We just sold them the stuff, they are responsible for using it.” But when you know for a fact that the only use for coal is to burn it, you know it will be burnt. When you know ahead of time the environmental impacts of coal extraction to our province, to our trees, our watersheds, our caribou and still you have the attitude that it is not our problem, what is a responsible adult human being supposed to think? To do?

I suppose that we could attack the messenger. The BC Government, big coal and anyone who simply doesn’t know any better could be painted as evil, money grubbing, greedy, expletive deleted. We could extend this to the provincial government of the Province of Alberta for their non-regulation of the tar sands, the Federal Government for its non-regulation of the Fisheries off the coast of our lovely province, the people who do their best to keep their heads in the sand to maintain their sense of moral superiority over those who are actually paying attention. We could, we could paint all of those in the most hateful terms one human can think of to say about another. We could use their very own tools against them. Would it ever feel good to do so.

Or we can use compassion. Compassion for the very people who are destroying the world. We can rationalize that they are simply misinformed, that they are unaware, that they are simply not paying attention. The kind and loving thing to do then is simple. We inform, we make them aware, we help them to pay attention. We take the abuse, the scorn, the belittling and the other attacks on our person and the way we live in this dysfunctional system. We move them gently to a place where they can see what we see, feel what we feel and hope beyond hope that at the end of the day, some of them will come to us and ask: “How can we help?”

I will expect resistance.

As it ever was…

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