Domination and the Arts of Resistance

Domination and the Arts of Resistance

James C Scott in his penetrating examination of domination and it historic precedents in Domination and the Arts of Resistance published in 1990 has captured my attention for these past days. He carefully examines the ways that the abuse of power has been more or less successfully dealt with down through the ages. Even though his work seems to reflect a past era, it appears to me timeless. It also highlights how the overthrow of oppression often ushers in the new oppressor, who under the guise of liberator captures the good will of the newly freed only to erect the new form of oppression. It reminds me of a well-meaning friend who heroically attempts to solve a friend’s problem, only to discover that solving the problem was not really the issue. Staying the center of attention was really the issue of the “friend”. While diligently applying talent, time and treasure to solve the current problem, the person needing the attention was just as diligently creating new problems to be solved, sometime even at the expense of pain for themselves, because the real issue was their need for attention at any cost. Once that was seen, the well-meaning person/citizen withdraws from the futile attempts thereby freeing energy and resources to develop real problem solving responses. I feel that a close reading of this book might be a liberating experience today. In these times of cell phones, internet, texting and who knows what else will be available in the future, we, once freed from our illusions of domination might actually meet the real needs of our time. “Mother nature” will have the ultimate say. “She” isn’t influenced by the old “they who have the gold make the rules’ standard. No amount of gold will provide the necessary conditions for my great grandchildren to live humane lives if clean air and water are unavailable. So I now wear diaper pins to remind myself that every choice I make they will have to live (or not be able to live) with. I plan to have extras in my pocket to give to those who ask why the pin. At 82, it is my form of resistance so aptly outlined in this penetrating work of James C. Scott. Get your library to find it for you. It might provoke a lot of interesting reflections for you too.

Moneyland

Moneyland

Bullough, Oliver. Moneyland. St. Martin’s Press. NY. 2019.

In August of 2011 I rode the AmTrack to Colorado. It is the best way to experience the mountains up close. On that ride there was a person who explained why all the trees were dying. She had a jar with a black mountain pine beetle in it. Later I found this information on the beetle. “For many years, Diana Six, an entomologist at the University of Montana, planned her field season for the same two to three weeks in July. That’s when her quarry — tiny, black, mountain pine beetles — hatched from the tree they had just killed and swarmed to a new one to start their life cycle again. Now, says Six, the field rules have changed. Instead of just two weeks, the beetles fly continually from May until October, attacking trees, burrowing in, and laying their eggs for half the year. And that’s not all. The beetles rarely attacked immature trees; now they do so all the time. What’s more, colder temperatures once kept the beetles away from high altitudes, yet now they swarm and kill trees on mountaintops. And in some high places where the beetles had a two-year life cycle because of cold temperatures, it’s decreased to one year.” Oliver, in his thorough examination of how “moneyland” came into being, mirrors the spread of the beetles.  https://e360.yale.edu/features/whats_killing_the_great_forests_of_the_american_west

This tiny beetle was killing the trees which would later be the kindling for so many of the fires that have raged through the mountains ever since. On page 271 of Moneyland you  will read; “Offshore (and onshore) bandits are looting the world, and this looting is undermining democracy, driving inequality and sucking ever-greater volumes of wealth into Moneyland, where we can’t follow it.” These bandits, will someday find that the world they have sucked the life out of will become inhospitable to even their own lives.  All through reading this book I kept hearing that sucking sound and was surprised to find on the last page my intuition was shared by the author himself.

This fear based living which is a thinly disguised bravado tries to drown out the truth created by the egoic mind   “But if you don’t believe that infinite love is the center of the universe, you live in a scarcity model where there’s never enough—food, money, security, health care, mercy—to go around. You can’t risk letting go because you’re not sure you’ll be refilled. If you’re protecting yourself, if you’re securing your own image and identity, then you’re still holding on. Your ego remains full of itself, which is the opposite of kenosis. This is the nature of almost all human institutions and systems created by the egoic mind. You can take such a pattern as a sign that one lives in God. People filled with the flow will always move away from any need to protect their own power and will be drawn to solidarity with the powerless, the edge, the bottom, the plain, and the simple. They have all the power they need—and it always overflows, and like water seeks the lowest crevices to fill. No wonder Christians begin their spiritual journey by being dipped into water.”https://www.catholicregister.org/faith/item/29488-pope-invites-young-people-to-pledge-to-build-a-new-economy

Ultimately, unless we turn around and accept our individual complicity with this banditry we will certainly create the conditions for the growth of this sucking system becoming like the rapidly growing hordes of beetles.  In an article in Aeon recently I read; “Collapse, then, is a double-edged sword. Sometimes it’s a boon for subjects and a chance to restart decaying institutions. Yet it can also lead to the loss of population, culture and hardwon political structures. What comes from collapse depends, in part, on how people navigate the ensuing tumult, and how easily and safely citizens can return to alternative forms of society. Unfortunately, these features suggest that while collapse has a mixed track record, in the modern world it might have only a dark future.”            https://aeon.co/ideas/civilisational-collapse-has-a-bright-past-but-a-dark-future?

I encourage you to read this book so as to be able to navigate the tumult that is certain to come. When the moneylanders finally suck the juice out of the system they have created, my hope is that those drawn to solidarity with the powerless will help to avoid the dark future that might await our children and grandchildren.

A Disarming Spirit

A Disarming Spirit by Frank Fromherz is a very timely book. It is a study of one person and his ongoing struggle to live his truth and how it can make a difference. If you were to want a biography written about your life, you would hope it would be with the care and attention to detail that Frank gives to Bp. Hunthausen. He walks us through how one person accepts their truth with integrity and courage. Like any of us who starts out in life discovering our path step by step, often finding the way after many trials and errors, “Dutch” accepts each step with prayerful attention. We would hope that we too would be remembered for the quiet and sometimes heroic choices we make in the name of love. Love for the truth, a healthy self-love, resulting in love for others. “Dutch’s” details are unique to him, as are each of ours. Reading this book will give anyone encountering it a model of how to do it too. In these chaotic times it is becoming ever more important to give each other our best, even if we like “Dutch” won’t live to see our hopes materialize. But if someone writes our story someday, let us hope that someone cares enough to tell it as comprehensively at Frank, so we can add our truth to the world story.

A Higher Loyalty

A Higher Loyalty by James Comey was an interesting read. What did I learn? Not much about the details of the struggle as they have been extensively chronicled by the many news outlets. But I did learn how much those like Comey give to all of us just being in the various law enforcement agencies sworn to protect our freedom. I also experienced to a degree that surprised me the awareness of how much we put on the shoulders of others what we should be carrying  ourselves.  As long as they are doing “their jobs” I can go about my life not concerned about the Constitution or the freedoms it provides. But Comey shares with all of us that this comes at great cost to many. They cannot do it alone.  We, and I, need to do our part as well. Time will tell if we are up to our jobs, and if we are worthy of the commitments so many make on our behalf. The book ends on the hope that like a forest fire that clears the way for new growth previously hampered by the overgrowth of the old trees. I look to the youth of today to grow into that role. Now it is our turn to sort out what is true and give our energies to that same truth so that the young will trust that it is worth their lives.

The Strange Woman

 The Strange Woman by Gail Corrington Streete. Louisville, Ky. Westminster John Knox Press. 1977.
When we know how something came into being, and the part it played in the survival of those who wrote the bible, we can than use this insight to move into our new reality with greater survival skills. This book will help you to understand how power and sex became so influential in the formation of the bible. We then can be free to go into the future, standing on the shoulders of those who blazed the trails for us, grateful for what we have been given, and better able to give to those who come after us.