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Passe': Why Protests Alone Don't Work

PASSE’. Passé [pa-sey] Adjective 1. no longer fashionable, in wide use, etc.; out-of-date; outmoded.

With all due respect to the angry masses, the disenfranchised and the betrayed, the enraged, outraged, and fighters with a cause… you are now called to take your fight to a different venue.

I am one of you. I also once plotted acts of revenge against “the machine,” a power sending young men to die for shadowy causes that had more to do with balance sheets than concern for humanity’s welfare, as was being advertised. I did so because I felt helpless against the power of a so-called capitalist, so-called democratic regime. Without necessarily having a complete answer, I knew only that what I was being told was not the truth and that those pillagers of “resources” who would not hear the voices of more sensitive and sensible souls, let alone the voices of the trees and of whole species, of rivers, oceans, hillsides or indigenous cultures, would only understand interruptions in their operations, interruptions in the flow of money to bank accounts that existed far offshore, featuring money in amounts that can only be termed in two ways: “unfathomable” and “insatiable.” So, I’ve picked up my rocks, so to speak. I’ve carried my pitchfork and held that Molotov cocktail.

I thought I had no other choice. What’s wrong with fighting fire with fire? They push, we push back. I am right, they are wrong. I have higher standards than they. I see things more clearly, I thought. So it was my responsibility to fight back, wasn’t it? I was taught to admire the fighter, and here were worthy opponents. I was taught to always throw the first punch. Too late for that, but I could certainly throw one of my own in retaliation. In the honest defense of my early, worthy and honorable teachers, this philosophy works in the temporarily dominant culture. In fact, it is widely encouraged. “Be stronger than your opponent,” the teachers demand, “and you will win because you will defeat them. You will stand over them, victorious.” Onward, Christian soldier.

But that is no longer the path.

In spite of ourselves, in spite of being asleep enough to allow the powers that be arise to the powers we now see, we are evolving. Science has caught up to what the brown-skinned prophets, shamans and seers of the forests, deserts and mountains have been teaching for 50,000 years: everything is alive, and we are all connected in ways that defy words.

So what does that have to do with Monsanto?

It means the energy we bring to a situation matters. It means the Monsantos of the world will always be present in our reality if we continue to see them as The Enemy when they’re really just products of a philosophy. I’m not advocating pacifism. I am not advocating pacifism. I am definitely not, I tell you, advocating pacifism. I’m saying going toe-to-toe with yet another entity in some kind of philosophical fistfight (that often turns into a literal one – or worse) is only going to strengthen the culture that birthed it because the culture loves drama, loves fighting and loves distraction. It’s easy to see; just turn on the news and you’ll see not only candidates embroiled in their silly and shallow banter, but also special attention being payed to anything that seems like a fight--a snowstorm, a wildfire or a cause that carries an emotional charge. And what is the energy we so often experience? What do you feel in your body when you see these things? Many of us feel an exhilaration, a rush. This is our innate sense of fight or flight being activated, the reptilian brain taking over. So we pick sides, our sense of righteous indignation flaring up like cancer coming out of remission, but at least we have something to occupy our minds for a minute or a month. Meanwhile, the culture of conflict thrives because the energy we are bringing is exactly what the culture is about. It doesn’t matter which side you choose. All that matters is hatred for the Other and your own sense of egoic “rightness” growing. You do not matter to the culture. Just feed it your anger, and it will grow. This applies to everything, from the war on drugs to the war on terror.

But what of the progress that has been made by fighting? I neither wish to denigrate the true accomplishments of Dr. King, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu in the fight for civil liberties, nor those of Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Jane Addams or Frederick Douglass in the fight for women’s rights. But for all the effort, because the fight was performed on the culture’s terms, the victory is hollow. It is only what the culture will allow. Look around. Women can vote, but aside from that right are women substantially less oppressed, less discriminated against, respected more as the carriers of the human form of the Divine Feminine than they were in the 1920s? Arguments could be made they are less so. And yes, we have a black president, and that is significant. But many who lived through the civil rights movement in this country – it took a movement!-- feel that for all our traveling, we have not gone far at all. Enough to appease the masses, to stop the temporary violence, yes, but the core issues remain.

Does this mean demonstrations, peace rallies and the occasional act of civil disobedience should not take place? Not at all. It’s just helpful for the actors in these plays to realize they are acting within the paradigm of the culture--push and push back--so they will have limited efficacy. Being aware of this limitation, they can more accurately gauge the efficiency and effectiveness of these tools and use them in appropriate ways.

We give a lot of lip service to our spiritual leaders. We lionize them because we think they are right. We recognize their wisdom in areas of ourselves deeper than our spinning minds. We feel the truth of their teachings in our hearts, the traditional seat of the soul. If we were to sit in solitude for a time in nature, we might find these parts of ourselves speaking to our minds the same truths the spiritual teachers spoke, but in our own words. And the message is clear: only one antidote to an insane culture and her bullying, dominating children exists, and it has nothing to do with fighting. And because the most effective antidote to the things we see as hurtful to Life is often rejected as sugar-coated naivete, many are tempted to dismiss it summarily. However, the only cure can be summed up in one word.


I don’t mean love of ice cream. I don’t mean love of family or freedom, or even love of peace although these are all worthy. I am talking about a concept of love that does not begin in the mind; indeed, it has nothing to do with the mind at all. This kind of love has its genesis solely in the heart and cannot be mitigated by the machinations of the mind, although the ego will certainly make the effort. It’s a kind of feeling that can seem irresponsible, idealistic. But, believe me when I say it is the love Jesus spoke of when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I believe he meant that literally. And I believe he said it because on the level our Creator sees us, we ARE our neighbor. This is the wisdom of the ancient prophets once lost to this culture that science has now both verified and quantified.

This teaching requires a change in the way our minds operate. More accurately, it requires us to get to a place where our whispering hearts can be heard over our riotous minds. Again quoting Jesus, who, in this instance had placed a child in the midst of his already committed and worthy disciples, “Unless you are converted…” (a change of heart) “…and become as little children, you cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Remember, what Jesus was preaching overall was anathema to the spiritual leadership of the day, a leadership that wielded great political power as well. And the Jewish political power was overseen by ruthless Romans who had little respect for the Jews. His very presence was seen as a destabilizing threat to the peace of the Jewish nation. In other words, to follow Jesus then was a dangerous proposition on several levels. To follow Jesus was likely seen as “idealistic” and “irresponsible” or, if you will, “childish.”

I submit this condition has not changed, and this change of heart, this new way of seeing our neighbors as ourselves on a far deeper level, is the only way to determine who truly follows Jesus and the other spiritual leaders we say we follow today, and who just finds it a little too idealistic, simplistic and frightening.

This world wide “heart-cure”has nothing to do with cumbaya. And once again, it has nothing to do with pacifism. It has to do with a certain “lever” that cannot be reached without this vision. This lever allows us to act for the benefit of not only our own world on all levels, but also for the benefit of our souls, the souls of our friends, and particularly for the benefit of those we currently label “enemies.” It’s the lever of the Will of God, the lever of Acceptance and Letting Go of What We Think Is The Only Course of Action, the lever of Faith. Once the lever is accessed, we will have a situation where we are co-creating from a place that allows integration, respects differences and leaves certain questions in the capable hands of our shared Creator. In the great paradox of human spirituality, we will not see this lever until we change the way we see. The change has to happen first before the lever will appear. The light has to be flipped on, but it won’t be until we walk into the darkness. Our vision has to translocate from our physical eyes to our spiritual hearts. Some of what we have traditionally called “reason” has to be tuned out. A simplification of our beings has to occur. In other words, we must forget some of what we think we know and, as Jesus spoke, become childlike, teachable. We will not be able to access these keys to assist humanity through these darkened times without first making this change. More accurately, we must allow the change to occur within us on an individual level. “More accurately” because I believe our hearts are trying to become our primary way of seeing the whole of our lives. Seeing with our hearts rather than our minds is the reason we are on earth. This is the new venue I referenced. The venue is you. It is me. It is within each of us.

We are in no danger of having streets empty of protesters. There will be angry masses for the foreseeable future. Suicide bombers with trembling fingers will strap to their bodies vests filled with explosives and walk into crowded markets. The only way to stop this anger, dissatisfaction and madness is what I have described. We’ve seen all this before. History is replete with examples of the next bloody chapter. We know the end. What we as humanity have NOT tried on a worldwide level is what our spiritual leaders have taught.

The time is now.

We must turn off our TVs and radios, our computers and cellphones to stop the unending propaganda programming. We must get out of the cities and into the wilderness. Not just the country, the wilderness. We have to be willing to sacrifice some of the amenities we love that make us physically comfortable. I don’t know what these are for you. Go sit in the wilderness for a few days alone and you’ll know. For me, days of fasting and prayer and physically difficult ceremonial rituals have rewired me. But then I’m a hard case with more rewiring to come. It might be easier for you. The point is our wise and loving Creator didn’t make a mute ball of rock for us to stumble around on. This place speaks. It speaks without ego. It speaks with love. It tells of wisdom immemorial. More and more of us are hearing it, even as the planet is being systematically damaged by egoic greed. But a tipping point is coming, soon. Either the bulk of mankind will awaken to the vision that Jesus, the Buddha and other spiritual leaders have described and lived, or we will live in fear that the “other,” which is nothing but an illusion, will overtake us. It’s a race to a Life of Love.

My prayer is we will courageously challenge our way of thinking, we will see fear as the illusion it is, we will accept the will of our hearts to move away from anger and toward the vision I have described.

The venue is here. The time is now.

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