Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Tao of the Ninja Mennonite: II

Following on the last post, it's worth putting some time and effort considering the implications of the "yoked" terminology. It's a much more refined view than one hears from many "empowerment" camps--who might otherwise use terminology such as dispossession, or exploitation, or enslavement-- see, the term "yoked" is important-- as within Anabaptist tradition one realizes that the "yoked" animal puts its head into the harness willingly, and performs work against its own better future for the short term gain of a couple of handfuls of feed. 

The wisdom of this tradition is to understand that one has personal culpability in the bearing of a yoke.


See, personal responsibility is central to these people. There are no innocent bystanders in this world view. Sure, you'll find kids around the world in terrible situations, but in a lot of cases the fault for that child's condition and the villain can be capably lain at the feet of not only some oppressing elite class(a growing and currently favorite) but also the kid's parents, and grandparents, who stuck their head in a yoke and empowered the exploitative force by their own efforts to seek an easy handful of feed. And I think there's a good point, if not an absolute one, there: most people find themselves in the positions of "dis-empowerment" not by exploitation by others, but by selling out to them.

Cognitive Dissonance seems to me to be the critical flaw of most progressive movements I value: no wonder, our culture has high expectations of maintenance. Few are willing to carry the burden of remaining independent, and we have found that the most effective way of controlling a herd isn't bullwhips but to feed it well. (Alert! Feed sack is running empty, and bullwhips must suffice in such environments!) It's little wonder to me as to why we see such little progress being made-- using climate change again as an example -- of all these organizations "battling" climate change all the while "yoked" to funding, support, media access, even expectation of lifestyles--on and on, coming from sources that have absolutely the opposite goal in mind. End result? Losing ground, of course.

Look, let's be clear: there is no way to preserve "spotted owl" habitat and hunt Californian Perky-titted Golddiggers.  Any of us who would want to make a change for a better world will need to be damned careful in what we do, how we live our lives, what our expectations are, who we work for, if we're serious about getting some traction on the issues we care about. The temptations to stick one's head in a "yoke" are strong, and opportunities ubiquitous. It may in fact be that at the moment it's all but impossible to operate effectively within mainstream--or even semi-mainstream society-- and keep one's values and benevolence intact. I expect that's the case. This is an extreme moment in history, and I see very few options left but stepping aside, washing one's hands of the whole business, and living in quietude, separation, and independence as much as possible-- until the season changes. There's a message here, but the corn-fed don't want to hear it yet. Once the whips come down, I expect there will be a renaissance of interest. 

That's hardly powerless, after all. Enjoy the moment. Preserve your strength.

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