Peace on Earth and goodwill toward all — in a world of conflict, tis the season of peace.
The holiday season is also a time of reflection and, for many, hope. I am curious about hope, however, and wonder if careful reflection will reveal it is time to give it up. This idea was introduced to me by the writing of Derek Jensen in his piece “Beyond Hope,” and the notion has stuck for some time now. I do not mean that we should be pessimists — rather very much the contrary. Hope means we are waiting for someone else to make things better. Hope is passive. It is time to join our peers of past and present and be the change. Acting means we do not have to wait or hope anymore — we can build anew within the shell of the old. When we act it will then not matter who is sitting in a position of power. In the words of Howard Zinn, “it matters more who is sitting in … pushing for change.”
During the “season of peace” it is prudent to remember that human history is full of moments of compassion, love, altruism and kindness. Most of us simply long for creative labor, safe communities, healthy environments and peace. It is important to remember this. There are of course drastic divisions across religious and political boundaries today, and at these indoctrinated boundaries violence tends to erupt. The liberated human condition, however, is one that longs for peace.
The old order is one of human suppression, wealth disparity, a command and control mentality, and most abhorrent an order of war. This order has existed because people are obedient to the rules and norms of power and influence. As we hope for a better tomorrow we allow coercive, pervasive violence. Defiance to these norms, dissent, social power and liberty all pay homage to a much higher moral law. The fact that such defiance has occurred all throughout our collective history should be celebrated. We have accomplished much in the face of such great aggression. We have built safe communities, we have worked to liberate our labor, we have built orders of solidarity. We have overcome hurdles standing in the way of liberty and democracy — we have moved forward.
Some have even taken very drastic measures to oppose war and oppression. Chelsea Manning is just a recent example that comes to mind. Many throughout human history have sacrificed their own personal liberty to call out the atrocities of war and all forms of aggression. Some have even given their lives to advance peace. We should all be very thankful for these actions – they are paramount to a free society. We need not always risk our lives and liberty, however, as dissent should be gauged by each individual. For free people have, do and will continue to change the world.
So, in the spirit of the season let us all decide to embrace peace. Let us no longer follow the whims of politicians or those who wish to command and control society. Instead may we labor to co-ordinate and cultivate the societies and communities we all wish to freely associate with. Let us labor for causes that are just and reject the notion of just wars and necessary violence. All to often power ignores what is just and enhances the very atrocities it sets out eliminate. One need not look past the history of war, especially in the past century, to see this. Let us, the collective, the individual instead labor for peace.