Our inward power, when it obeys nature, reacts to events by accommodating itself to what it faces–to what is possible. It needs no specific material. It pursues its own aims as circumstances allow; it turns obstacles into fuel. As a fire overwhelms what would have quenched a lamp. What's thrown on top of the conflagration is absorbed, consumed by it–and make it burn brighter still.
- Aurelius, Meditations, Book 4:1
* * *
A man who lived in a yellow shack in the woods of North Carolina, who sometimes lived in a mobile home in Colorado, who beat his ex-wife, who told stories of himself as a government agent, an art dealer, who crawled on his belly - commando style - and entered a Planned Parenthood facility and fired his assault rifle at random through the walls, sometimes taking aim, eventually killing three and wounding nine others and reportedly told police "no more baby parts" is just the most recent version of domestic terrorism, the most recent version of a lost man latching onto an ideology of hatred and violence and considered himself an avenging angel. He is the latest. He won't be the last.
A 17 year old black man, walking away from Chicago police is gunned down–16 rounds fired by one officer who began shooting within six seconds of arriving on the scene. This same officer had 20 prior accusations of police brutality and had caused over $2 million in payouts before killing this man. City officials sandbagged the investigation because of a re-election bid by the mayor, out of fear of the police union, because they could. The police union has started a GoFund Me page for the officer's legal expenses.
Is this not fuel enough for your fire?
* * *
To know and don't do is worse than not knowing. It is a betrayal of the life you hold in your hands. To be fucked is to be paralyzed with fear, with doubt, with the sense that nothing you could do would matter anyway.
Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.
The world around you is aflame with idiocy and fear, with a feral hatred born of desperation and xenophobic specters. It burns alongside daily life and is now becoming part and parcel of our daily lives making it invisible to those who would be deluded that it does not involve them, that it does not affect them, that it is too large a prospect and besides, maybe, you know, they had it coming to them. No more baby parts. That kid shouldn't have slashed those tires.
To be alive is to be involved, is to be part of the welter of voices calling out their names. The fucked claim a special dispensation to not get involved, to not claim responsibility for themselves, but to point to forces larger than themselves and say, "I would if I could, but my wife left me, my job was outsourced, my kid's on drugs, my dad hit me, my husband beat me, she broke my heart, what could I do, what do you want me to do?"
I want you to live like you mean it.
You don't have to block traffic on Michigan Avenue. Nor do you have to #shoutyourabortion. You don't have to be pro-choice in order to stand against terrorism. You can be the head of the Fraternal Order of Police and still reject officers breaking the law. Your actions don't have to take place on a broad political stage in order to be heard. You inward power is a moral compass that allows you to navigate your life and the times you find yourself in. But this compass is not handed down from on high, or from reading a book, or any such thing. It is bred in the bone. Aurelius noted when it obeys nature, not when it obeys others. Aurelius believed in the logos, an ordered universe where each was to give what was his to give and to let go of trying to bend the universe to one's will. This is the nature he is speaking of. What I am speaking of is something ancient in us: a memory we've forgotten, a certainty we've abandoned, a still, quiet voice we can't hear anymore but echoes dimly, thrums dimly, hums softly inside of us hoping we will hear it again, understand it again, come back to it again.
Collective unconscious. Courage. Fate. Faith. Logos. Creator. Quark. Dark Matter. Give it any name you wish, but listen for it. It will not resurrect Laquan McDonald, nor unshoot the gun in the hands of Robert Lewis Dear, Jr. It will not end the feral stupidity, cupidity and culpability of politicians who exploit tragedy for self-aggrandizement. It will not uncorrupt unions. It will not change the world. It will, however, change you. The obstacles of your pain, your loss, your fuckeditude are transformed into the way forward. The obstacle is the way when you understand that your life is not so precious that you should risk nothing, but is exactly as precious as the gift you give by your example.
* * *
It is easy to see the hinges coming off, to believe that the voice we were promised we had has been taken from us by oligarchs and has been replaced by the rants of fascists. It is easy to give up.
You must not.
Regardless of circumstance, you must not.
What you say and do has effects beyond your ability to reckon. The example you set will be incorporated by those close beside you. What will you have it be: acquiescence or resistance, surrender or subversion, mute delusion or vocal affirmation of an ancient memory that we are to be saved from ourselves by the courage to resist what is fucked in ourselves.
The choice, as always, is yours.
* * *
Resistance is not futile. It is our duty to one another. It is how we burn bright.