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Forum Post: When Writing Becomes Transformative Nonviolent Direct Action: ESCAPING the LIE AND THE TRAP OF OUR HISTORY

Posted 5 years ago on Jan. 15, 2013, 6:04 a.m. EST by therising (6643)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Frovikleka reminded me of something important this morning. You really do stay young if you remain open to new ideas.

As I considered this, it occurred to me that you also stay young when you stay present and react spontaneously to things in this moment with an open heart and truly LISTEN, instead of speaking (however thoughtfully) from a reactionary programmed position that feels free but is really just the product of unchallenged assumptions we absorbed from somewhere else.

The legendary author James Baldwin once said, "A man is not a man until he can face and use his experience." Baldwin was a small man in stature but a literary giant whose essay "The Fire Next Time" so rattled the cage of the powerful that, upon reading it, the White House summoned him to a meeting of the minds with a dozen other luminaries to discuss civil rights issues... To defend the speed of change which Baldwin had publicly and powerfully assailed.

I have nothing but oraise for the courage of the Kennedy's and other brave souls in the white community who took a stand against longstanding injustice. And Baldwin applauded their sacrifice as well. But he refused to stop there. At the meeting arranged by the White House, Baldwin lovingly yet forcefully scolded Kennedy in the meeting, refusing to agree to Kennedy's plea that he and his brother were moving slow on civil rights because this was a hard transition for the American public to make and there was nothing more they could do than keep pushing at the barriers as they had been with all their might.

Baldwin was of course thankful for the courage the Kennedy's had shown but he refused to agree to stop critiquing them. He refused to agree that what had been done was enough. After all, he said, (my words here but his general meaning) I refuse to accept that a power that has had its foot on my people's neck for so long has any right to take its time removing that foot. Real people are on the ground suffering right now and I will not rest until the boot of oppression no longer crushes their windpipe. Baldwin refused to praise slow progress and refused to "see the wisdom of slow progress."

At first when I read what he said, I thought "How dare he. Does he know that the Kennedy's have stuck their necks way out and worked their asses off at great peril to achieve the advances they had helped secure by that point?". I had the same strong reaction to Baldwin's words as Bobby Kennedy did that caused him to hastily arrange a meeting with the author of an essay(!) and a dozen other great minds. But then it hit me: Baldwin wasn't being irrational. He saw clearly what the Kennedy's and others were up against with so many ignorant folks out there fearing the end of their world if a "negro" went to college. But Baldwin wasn't really scolding Kennedy. He was refusing to accept the slow progress of a PEOPLE who NEVER HAD THE RIGHT TO HAVE THEIR FOOT ON PEOPLE'S NECK IN THE FIRST PLACE. He refused to excuse their ignorance as an excuse for slow progress. After all, for centuries, real people had died real and painful deaths due to this ignorance.

Baldwin's insistance infuriated Kennedy. . . And we should be just as insistent and impatient. It just so happens that when Baldwin simply WROTE about it with his gifted prose, it rattled the cages of authority. Magnificent.

* All this came from Baldwin challenging every assumption he ever had and finally thinking for himself, "stepping out of the lie and the trap of his history" as he put it.

He beautifully noted that he "saw some young white men and women come to freedom on that same road" and that "they said to me exactly what I had always wanted to say to them. That they could step out of the lie and the trap lf their history and be, just be. Their being recalled to life was a beautiful thing to behold."

What a discovery, to realize this at the age of 18 or 80. It truthfully doesn't matter in the end at what age we discover it as long as at some point our "dungeon shakes" (as Baldwin out it) and we step out of that lie and trap of our history, face and use our experience, test all our assumptions and those of others and become out OWN PEOPLE instead of a conglomeration of "attitudes".

If you ever get time to pick up Baldwin's essay the Fire Next Time or Nothing Personal, check them out. Extraordinary. They shook my dungeon when I was 19 and I've never been the same since! :). Baldwin's novels "Another Country" and "No Name in the Street" are incredibly powerful and moving as well. He's not just writing in his fiction and nonfiction about civil rights and the lives of those who struggle for freedom, he writes about what it is to be human.

And by the way, he writes so beautifully that sometimes you just put down the book after reading a paragraph and smile in amazement. It's authentic and from the heart and it therefore resonates with your own heart and soul.

Your dungeons shake. You laugh. You weep. And you find yourself alive in this world in all its vivid splendor. Isn't about time that all our dungeons shook? Isn't it about time that we Americans step out of the lie and the trap of our history and think for ourselves?



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[-] 3 points by beautifulworld (22851) 5 years ago

It is truly time to wake this movement up. No more status quo. We don't have time to dilly dally.

Thanks for this inspiring post.

[-] 3 points by therising (6643) 5 years ago

Thanks very much for all of your great posts and comments. Yes, indeed. It's time for the people to rise!

[-] 2 points by peacehurricane (293) 5 years ago

I shall read these books as soon as I can get them thank you much an excellent post:)

[-] 2 points by therising (6643) 5 years ago

Cheers! You'll love Baldwin! Another Country and Just Above My Head are two of his better novels and the Fire Next Time and Nothing Personal are two of his most hard hitting essays.

[-] 2 points by Theeighthpieceuv8 (-32) from Seven Sisters, Wales 5 years ago

I very much like American history; I'm staying there. And you should occupy your own history; is that not what you are attempting to do here? Nice writing, btw.

[-] 1 points by therising (6643) 5 years ago

Thanks for the encouragement. Yes - exactly. Occupying your history. Owning it. Accepting it -- not meaning doing nothing but facing it as it is with no illusions so that you are then free of it and can take calm deliberate sustained action instead of a kneejerk reaction.

[-] 1 points by FawkesNews (1290) 5 years ago

Writing...A weapon so powerful no army can withstand it's onslaught.

Demading 'rapid change' requires the ignorant be educated in advance of the demand. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tortoise_and_the_Hare

Just thought I'd add two cents.

[-] 1 points by therising (6643) 5 years ago

I believe this to be true.

[-] 1 points by FawkesNews (1290) 5 years ago

Thanks. I am a firm believer in both, even though I also want change as rapidly as anyone else.

[-] 1 points by therising (6643) 5 years ago

The third and related piece might be, metaphorically speaking, the simple move in Aikido wherein someone comes at you and instead of aggressive towards them, you pivot slightly and take a small step back with your right foot. Then, rather than moving against your "aggressor's" energy and momentum, you harness it and move with it, "helping him to the ground where he'll be safer.". I'm using this as a metaphor, not suggesting we need to abandoned nonviolence in any way and engage in some kind of physical struggle. I'm talking about using the 1%'s aggression and energy...harnessing it and using it to power our movement -- just the way Martin Luther King, Jr. and his fellow civil rights activists did. Beautiful.

That aikido move. . . It's done with kindness. And requires just the right leverage at the right spot at the right time. Might be the secret of our future success if we adopt such an approach. Even aggressive negative energy is raw energy that can be harnessed if approached with a clear mind and a kind open heart. This is not weakness. It is strength. Remember, the "aggressor" ends up on the ground with you calmly holding him there.

Let's do more of that too :)

Pens, tortoises, helping your opponent. This is yoda jujitsu stuff and I have found that it works quite well when I'm able to apply it properly with a calm clear kind mind. We ought to always have a playful smile on our lips when dealing with important or tricky situations. Not talking about a fake one of course. Talking about the real thing that comes from having a sense of humor and a pretty good idea that what's going to happen next is going to be quite positive. Confidence isn't arrogance. The two are so often confused. Confidence actually allows one to be calm, kind and giving. It comes from having survived everything and there y knowing that you can. Then irrational fears disappear and clear paths to positive outcomes become naturally apparent. (on a good day anyway :)


[-] 2 points by Middleaged (5140) 5 years ago

Follow up on Mental Jujitsu below: a little about the Dialectic method, socratic method from wikipedia. It seems to be part of your journey, so perhaps you have read about the Dialectic many times. I am not a lawyer, but the Socratic Method looks like what prosecutors or lawyers do in a cross examination or interview. Sophistic art on the other hand is what politicians are doing (Rhetoric).

So I believe what forums hope to accomplish is the Socratic Method

Dialectic (also dialectics and the dialectical method) is a method of argument for resolving disagreement that has been central to European and Indian philosophy since antiquity. The word dialectic originated in ancient Greece, and was made popular by Plato in the Socratic dialogues. The dialectical method is discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject, who wish to establish the truth of the matter guided by reasoned arguments.[1] The term dialectics is not synonymous with the term debate.

Socrates favoured truth as the highest value, proposing that it could be discovered through reason and logic in discussion: ergo, dialectic. Socrates valued rationality (appealing to logic, not emotion) as the proper means for persuasion, the discovery of truth, and the determinant for one's actions. To Socrates, truth, not aretē, was the greater good, and each person should, above all else, seek truth to guide one's life. Therefore, Socrates opposed the Sophists and their teaching of rhetoric as art and as emotional oratory requiring neither logic nor proof.[4]

One way to proceed—the Socratic method—is to show that a given hypothesis (with other admissions) leads to a contradiction; thus, forcing the withdrawal of the hypothesis. Another dialectical resolution of disagreement is by denying a presupposition of the contending thesis and antithesis; thereby, proceeding to sublation (transcendence) to synthesis, a third thesis.

In classical philosophy, dialectic (Greek: διαλεκτική) is a form of reasoning based upon dialogue of arguments and counter-arguments, advocating propositions (theses) and counter-propositions (antitheses). The outcome of such a dialectic might be the refutation of a relevant proposition, or of a synthesis, or a combination of the opposing assertions, or a qualitative improvement of the dialogue.[14][15]

This is what we want to accomplish in a Salon or Forum

In Plato's dialogues and other Socratic dialogues, Socrates attempts to examine someone's beliefs, at times even first principles or premises by which we all reason and argue. Socrates typically argues by cross-examining his interlocutor's claims and premises in order to draw out a contradiction or inconsistency among them. According to Plato, the rational detection of error amounts to finding the proof of the antithesis.[17]


Logic was studied in several ancient civilizations, including India,[6] China,[7] and Greece. In the West, logic was established as a formal discipline by Aristotle, who gave it a fundamental place in philosophy. The study of logic was part of the classical trivium, which also included grammar and rhetoric.
In medieval universities, the trivium comprised the three subjects that were taught first: grammar, logic, and rhetoric.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antithesis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thesis_or_dissertation
Sublation can be seen at work at the most basic level of Hegel's system of logic. The two concepts Being and Nothing are each both preserved and changed through sublation in the concept Becoming. Similarly, determinateness, or quality, and magnitude, or quantity, are each both preserved and sublated in the concept measure.
Trivium was preparatory for the Quadrivium, which consists of geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and music.
Logic is often divided into three parts, inductive reasoning, abductive reasoning, and deductive reasoning.

[-] 1 points by therising (6643) 5 years ago

Wow - I need to take some time to review this. It's been awhile :)

[-] 1 points by niphtrique (323) from Sneek, FR 5 years ago

To put it in practice, the conflict of Capitalism versus Socialism or free market versus government intervention was the fundamental theme in most of our political debate for over a century because wealth is not distributed based on need or achievement. Both ideologies state that they have the best intentions for mankind. However only understanding the underlying cause of a conflict can solve the conflict if both sides share the same basic principles. The underlying cause of the conflict between Capitalism and Socialism is interest on money.

Interest on money results in a distribution of wealth that is not based on need or economic achievement. Socialists mistakenly believed that return on capital and therefore Capitalism was the cause of the exploitation of workers. The Capitalists had to defend themselves against those allegations. In this way the thesis Socialism as an ideology gave rise to the antithesis Capitalism as an ideology. This resulted in a fierce political debate that lasted for more than a century. This political debate has not been resolved in a synthesis.

[-] 1 points by Middleaged (5140) 5 years ago

Good post. Good points. I always experienced an oppresive kind of hatred by Capitalism for Socialism (what we all call Communism and European Socialism or social medicine). Based on the above I can see that Socialist probably have been hating on capitalist of course.

The biggest impact seems to have been the use of US Military and US CIA against other countries ... and even probably undeclared wars ... and false flag attacks like those of Operation Gladio and the Gulf of Tonkin. We have had an embargo on Cuba for 50 years which is an act of war. We are embargoing Iran just as we did before to Iraq after we decided to no longer be his friend.

But I don't see Socialist leaders being free from corruption, seeking power for personal gain, or freedom from the problems of capitalism. So, yes, it is unresolved. The friction and push-pull remains. China is a mix who has shown great strength and growth in 20 years.

http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/05/dialectic.htm This link seems to warn us to stop engaging in the Dialectic as it is pushing us toward world government or socialism. Interesting.

Occupy Earth has a video on 5 reasons why we should stop voting for the 2 party system. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A629piceJ7M The point is that the system is rigged and we should act in a cynical way to show we won't participate in the voting and government which is all control and false choices.

The cold war is not over at all. Everyone wants to control the oil and get petro dollars in their own currency. But we might face water, food or other shortages in commodities.

AGKaiser has a post on Interest Rates/Money http://occupywallst.org/forum/compound-interest-power-to-concentrate-wealth/ Not sure if you are actually saying what he is saying "Interest on Money" above. Rent Seeking and taking profit from being a middle man is a drain on the economy and doesn't add value or produce anything extra. This is what TBTF and Wall Street Does. I guess that is what you are saying. Wealth is distrituted based on control or control of money not based on need or economic productivity.

It kind of feels like Washington DC, the federal reserve, Wall Street banks, and the wealthy powers that be ... are running things and are going to hold on to their positions.

Not sure I see a solution. We can't have referendums or national debates unless we can get rich hollywood people to pay for the TV and Cable time... that might be more money than all the money in Hollywood.

Law suites are cheaper. But it will take 10 years and have to be focused on the right people and agencies.

[-] 1 points by niphtrique (323) from Sneek, FR 5 years ago

I guess the problem often boils down name calling:

  • Label it socialism and many go bezerk because they believe socialism is evil.
  • Label it capitalism and many go bezerk because they believe capitalism is evil.

It is difficult to get through that.

On the interest issue, there is a difference between capital and money. Capital deserves interest because it costs effort to build. You cannot avoid that. Interest on money leads to a concentration of wealth, it should be avoided and can be avoided, as I have pointed out earlier.

The economic problems revive the controversy of Capitalism versus Socialism. Both economic systems have their limitations. Supporters of Capitalism will argue that the problems are caused by government intervention in the markets. Proponents of Socialism will argue that they are caused by too little regulation of the markets. Both arguments seem reasonable but they conflict. The spread of poverty caused by the failure of the financial system creates the need for new ways of thinking.

The real cause of many problems lies in the nature of the financial system where interest is charged. Interest causes wealth to concentrate as the poor pay interest to the rich. Interest can be seen as a tax on poverty to the benefit of the rich. Money in the bank is backed by debt, so interest is a fraud that forces the poor into debt if the rich do not take the money out of their accounts and spend it. The following example demonstrates this and also why interest on money is unsustainable and leads to crisis:

If someone brought a 1/10 oz gold coin to the bank in the year 1 AD, and the money remained there until the year 2000 AD, collecting a yearly interest of 4%, the amount of gold in the account would have been 3.6 10^31 kilogramme of gold weighing 6,000,000 times the complete mass of the Earth.*

When interest is charged on a limited scale or over a short timeframe then those problems do not surface. Interest is an insidious process. Over time it is inescapable that it reduces large numbers of people to a state of servitude to the money lenders. This is a long term development that transcends the life span of a human. Interest is the main reason why a number of civilisations have failed and why Western civilisation is about to fail. Therefore all interest is usury and the current financial system is a usury financial system.


[-] 2 points by Middleaged (5140) 5 years ago

Yes, corporate welfare, corporate subsidies, and corporate tax rebates, Carried Interest Income Tax, Loop holes for the wealthy and for titanic corporations, conflict of interest, revolving door, regulation capture, Anti-Trust Law are some of the many other issues out there waiting to be debated nationaly.

I've viewed all the different versions of Money Masters videos and money as debt videos from Paul Grignon. It gets hard to keep all that fresh in the mind though. I certainly can at least partly agree with doing away with Ursury. Finance is a zero sum game ... and I would not be surprised if there were computers or guys out there zeroing in on individuals investments just to take their money away from them.

Thanks for the clear Ideas here.

[-] 2 points by Middleaged (5140) 5 years ago

Mental Jujitsu, okay. I haven't seen the Gandhi Movie for like 20 years... but Gandhi was doing that. He was a Lawyer in South Africa if I got it right, and he became a great speaker for Union or worker rights. But my feeling is that he spoke in a way that put him in the same game as the political leaders.

A) Sometimes if we ask questions back to the politician he is caught off guard and he loses support, but that is too much to hope for. Speakers all will try to prepare themselves with simple narratives of what their intension is ... and at least 3 main points to repeat to the camera. Sir, what is your intension and what is your position?
B) Questions can redirect the conversation toward a deeper issue or a deeper truth. Like answering a question with a better question, right. We all want fewer gun murders and gund crimes. Sir, why not hold townhalls or national referendums to get the people solutions, feelings, thoughts, and principals more fully revealed? How many people have really been in touch with your office and what are they telling you and how available have you been to record the peoples feelings?
C) Citing clear and appropriate principals applicable to the issue at hand in response to being questioned or berated. We are all people. We all want the best solutions for the community. Public health, principals, prior legal judgements, changes in technology, approprate staffing, budget, enforcment, and monitoring are all things we should be carefully looking at.

Sorry not much above in my text that is really instructive for mental jujitsu. But probably as you always say Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi can still show us a lot if we can translate it to our current congress and current culture.


[-] 1 points by therising (6643) 5 years ago

They definitely have a lot to teach us. They have left us with an instruction manual to achieve our aims. It involved direct nonviolent resistance. Thanks for getting me thinking. Need to consider what you've said here.

[-] 3 points by Middleaged (5140) 5 years ago

Hm... I wonder if someone put together some different guide books to activism from the reformers in our country ... or like Gandhi. Someone sent that to me asking for more examples from MLK, JFK, Gandhi, .... I wonder if we would add Robert Kennedy to that.

Anyway, I think I will have to try to add quotes or case study type examples (short examples of techniques). It will take motivation.

[-] 1 points by therising (6643) 5 years ago

Gene Sharp should be added. Gene Sharp has much wisdom on this subject.

[-] 1 points by Middleaged (5140) 5 years ago

Okay, I added him to a list on a comment on my post about Logic, Search for Truth, Dialectic & Socratic method.

[-] 1 points by FawkesNews (1290) 5 years ago

Your Aikido analogy has substantial merit.

Often times in conversation, someone feels so strongly about what they believe that a forceful and matter of fact method seems appropriate to them. By allowing that person the opportunity to express frustration, you as a listener, are given the opportunity to find the similarities and the points you both have in common. When responding, it is critical to sympathize, while adding your own corresponding opinion to what that person is attempting to express.

For example, when discussing money in politics, many people are consigned to the fact that it has always been that way and that it is our collective responsibility to 'accept' such things as status quo. By reminding those individuals that voting requires an educated and conscious decision on the part of each voter, it is possible to bring to light the fact that if there were more conscientious voters, these conditions would never be allowed to ferment. You have now brought into question, the responsibility of the voter, and any further discussion can expose the lack of preparedness in that persons vote, thus removing their unconscious defense of the status quo.

Obviously, confidence and humor will allow you the retention of what is sensible, provided you do not condescend or insult. It is my belief that communication between individuals has a more profound effect than a crowd of screaming people blocking traffic or worse.

[-] 2 points by therising (6643) 5 years ago

You said: "By reminding those individuals that voting requires an educated and conscious decision on the part of each voter, it is possible to bring to light the fact that if there were more conscientious voters, these conditions would never be allowed to ferment.".

Such a great point.

[-] 1 points by FawkesNews (1290) 5 years ago

Thanks for noticing.

It has the capacity to place the onus directly back to the apathetic.

[-] 1 points by therising (6643) 5 years ago

We have to be strategic and relentless in speaking the truth out loud. Calm and polite but relentless.... " using words like the sea uses waves" to beat ceaselessly against the shore as James Baldwin put it. I think this is how we change the " tenor of the times": http://occupywallst.org/forum/we-have-the-power-to-turn-this-world-around-this-o/

[-] 1 points by FawkesNews (1290) 5 years ago

Often times it is of benefit to include people within earshot of a conversation, when dealing with a particularly resistant person. Many conversations are overheard by people who fear eavesdropping will offend the parties in the discussion, but if it is evident that the potential eavesdropper has something to add, by all means include them. Subtly, of course.

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 5 years ago

I was moved by Baldwin as well. I agree with the need for impatience, I agree with the notion that "slow progress" is not enough. I do embrace IT, and ALL progress though.

I see Occupy expressing impatience, and dissatisfaction at the slow progress, And that is right. I also believe it is right to build on "slow progress". It is the best way to get to quicker progress.

I believe we must identify the most guilty anti 99%'rs in power and work hard to remove them. THEY are the obstructionist to quicker progress.!

I believe we must identify any Politician challenging the 1% corp oligarchs and pressure them to move faster.

I submit any pol pushing even slow progress most be targeted as an opportunity to push towards quicker progress.

I believe we must:

replace all pro 1% conservatives w/ pro 99% progressives. THAT will speed up the progress.

[-] 1 points by therising (6643) 5 years ago

I think you're right on target. We can bring nonviolent pressure from inside and outside.

[-] 1 points by peacehurricane (293) 5 years ago

uh huh...All One WE...

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 5 years ago

"All One We...."? Please explain.

[-] 2 points by peacehurricane (293) 5 years ago

I am one in freedom worldwide and justice for all. Thank you for clarifying who you are you make it soo easy. I am WE...