Stop what you are doing and listen. Listen to the darkness gathering around you
Because the universe doesn’t care what you think you deserve. It really doesn’t—and, by the way, the willingness of your fellow human beings to take your wants and needs into account will by and large be precisely measured by your willingness to do the same for them.
Last year, Kali, the Hindu Goddess of death, destruction and resurrection, appeared on the Empire State Building, projected as an avatar of conservation by the filmmakers of Racing Extinction, a documentary about the environmental catastrophe now upon us. At the time I was so struck by the image, I wrote an article about the apparition. This is the sign of the times, Kali Takes New York, I raved. On election night, as the results were projected onto the Empire State Building, all I could see was Kali’s fierce stare. This was déjà vu. This time, Kali took America.
Rampant inequality may define our world, but I hold firm to my belief about privilege. Let’s not mistake narcissism, entitlement, consumption, distraction, and arrogance for privilege; or self-pity, victim consciousness, manipulation, despair, and desire for a lack of privilege. These are all illnesses of the soul.
Few Americans under the age of 50 have a grasp of fascism or the history of fascist movements in modern history. Hitler and the holocaust mesmerize the culture with horror, yet a fundamental understanding of fascist ideology is absent. We believe that the election of Donald Trump, surrounded as it is by the primacy of corporate capitalism, emboldened by Tea Party ideology, mindlessly sanctioned by an uninformed electorate, and mirrored in numerous neo-fascist movements around the world, is a watershed moment in American history–in fact, the ideal combination of ingredients that is likely to result in a full-fledged fascist American state.
Not only does civilization cause depression, civilization causes the extinction of 200 species daily. Civilization threatens life on earth. And, still it seems, as my friend Max Wilbert says, that we could fit the number of humans on the entire planet willing to criticize civilization in one small building.
The story is etched in my bones. I remember its telling and retelling as far back as my early childhood memories. The details are blurred with the passing of time. No one who lived it is still alive. I would not know how to verify the specific facts. So I write this story to the best of my memory, knowing its truth in the deepest and widest sense.
Every now and then an event happens in our world that captures my imagination, touching something really deep within me. The Native American protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) at Standing Rock, North Dakota is just such an event. This has the feeling of a truly seminal, historic event in which we are all invited to participate. The peaceful protests by what are known as the “water protectors” against a multi-billion dollar corporation putting an oil pipeline through what the Native Americans consider sacred land, endangering the source of their water—i.e., of life itself—is a deeply symbolic event with real life consequences. In a very real sense, the protest is itself a sacred ceremony being performed on the world stage, being done on behalf of all of humanity – which is to say, all of us.