Revolution Without Enemies
Joanne Sales – May 2009
One sunny, windy day in the summer of 1970, the waves were particularly
high off the coast of Southern California. A few of us were playing
in those waves. We raised our fists up high to the sky, and shouted
“Up the revolution!” The huge waves would then crash
down on us, toss us around under water for a while, and drop us
off on the beach. As soon as we could get up, we would run towards
the next towering wave, take our stand and shout again, “Up
the revolution!” Down again. And up again.
It was a good day. Well, kind of a good day. Not a day I would
have chosen. My 21-year-old brother Kurt was not shouting “Up
the revolution” at the waves with us, but he was the reason
we were doing so. Kurt had been killed in Viet Nam, along with
58,000 other young men of our generation in the US. 58,000! Although
we looked like silly kids, we were fighting a real revolution.
We didn’t have guns. We only had our commitment to a change.
Fast forward 30+ years, with many of the same players. At the
summit meeting about the Englishman River Watershed in Parksville
last May, the tension was high. An island resident stood up to
ask a question of the representatives of the timber company. She
said, “What we are seeking is a revolution... I mean resolution.”
There were chuckles in the room. “Revolution / resolution.”
That is what is called a Freudian slip. She said what she meant
the first time – by accident.
I don’t like violence, but I like the word revolution. Today’s
global and earth crisis is worthy of “a sudden, complete
or marked change” – as the dictionary defines revolution.
“Revolution” is evolution with a r-roar. Evolution
= gradual change. Revolution = sudden change.
Revolution is a big word, and often implies a breakdown, a battlefield,
and violence. But when this woman made her Freudian slip, she
was referring to a good revolution. What is a good revolution,
now that we know that vulnerable and interconnected everything
Malcolm Gladwell In his best seller, The Tipping Point, tells
how in New York City in the 1980’s, the relentless violence
in the subways was turned around by small changes. They got rid
of the graffiti on the trains, and enforced paying fares at the
turnstiles. These small changes changed everything. A revolution
took place – without enemies.
Of course, it’s easier to get all riled up when we have
designated enemies, but that’s the old paradigm that caused
our crises in the first place. Maybe our challenge is to learn
to fight battles without enemies. I guess we duel it out with
the Seven Deadly Sins as they play inside each of our minds but
we no longer have the luxury of saying, “It’s your
fault.” We know whose fault it is. Walt Kelly’s cartoon
character, Pogo, said it so well: “We have met the enemy
and he is us.”
The revolution in the surf and now playing out in summit meetings
was not and is not a gang war. It is not based on good guys and
bad guys. It is based on a need for a new way of thinking, doing
things and solving problems. A revolution in how we feed, cloth
and protect ourselves; how we produce and use things; how we gather
together and resolve conflict; how we think, what we value, and
what we think we are.
Revolution implies a circle. Returning again - revolving upward
hopefully. Picking up something old from a place that is new.
Going back 3000 years, the violent warriors invading the north
of India realized that their old lifestyle of attack, rape and
plunder no longer worked. They started their revolution with the
simple act of taking animal sacrifice out of their ceremonies.
But that change in trajectory began a complete turn around; the
people of India became one of the most peaceful in human history.
The woman at the watershed meeting was not saying we want to go
to war; she was saying, we want to go somewhere – and quickly!
She was asking for the small changes in trajectory that would
change everything for everyone so our grandchildren and all earth
creatures can live in peace. Just as it did in India and in the
subways of New York.
We could probably find those small changes that make big changes.
But a revolution of thought is required - we have to be willing.
* The Aryan warriors created an all inclusive Peace Prayer in
Sanskrit 3000 years ago that is still chanted today. “Peace
in the heavens, peace on earth…. Peace permeating the atmosphere…
Peace to all causes and effects. Peace to all vegetation.”