When You Do Nothing, You Are Part of the Problem

Sarah J. S. said this in her facebook post, and then I responded. I just decided to put it out there – un edited – beyond facebook.

Sarah J. S. says:

“Unless you are loud and explicit in your outrage, I consider you complicit in every death at the hands of another white terrorist, every suicide by a transgender American, every black person killed by law enforcement, every Latino child crying for her parents, every Brasilian forest cleared, every Sri Lankan cabinet member who gets sacked or killed, every German protester who’s maced in the forest, every journalist assassinated inside an embassy, EVERYTHING. All of it.

IF YOU ARE SILENT, YOU NO LONGER HAVE THE LUXURY OF THINKING YOURSELF “GOOD.” You simply aren’t a good person. You’re a comfortable person, but you are not good. You are the silent German neighbor in the 1930s who watched your childhood friend forced onto a train. You are the silent American in the 1960s who watched your neighbor return from the hospital with burns on her face.

And if you remain silent in 2018, you have made the decision, however tacit, to support the venomous hate that is galvanizing killers and burning holes into the fabric of humanity.

If you won’t stand proudly in your values, and if you won’t stand with humanitarians on the right side of history, I no longer understand you, and feel no remorse whatsoever in outing you as an oppressor and forcing you to stand in shame in your silence. Your implicit endorsement of oppression does not merit the peace of comfort.

Those of us who feel and respond to the pain of the world have been forced to feel discomfort for so long, while you have made our job harder by “staying out of politics.” Well, it’s not politics anymore, it’s life and death, and if you can’t be woken up enough to support life, may you find enough delusion to sustain you when they come for you—as they certainly will—and no neighbors come to your rescue.”

I respond.

I met Sarah J.S. when we were both participating in the http://placetob.org during the Paris climate talks. everyone there, from all over the world, were either there representing their countries who had already been devastated in the years preceding by global warming; from parts of the world feeling the brunt of the loss of their land to water or victims of massive storms- which most of the Global Northern hemisphere have been causing because of their appetites and demands for energy and comfort. There were people there who have gone all over the globe to do things to help people to help themselves, to stand up to industries and recognize that their forests are worth more alive, than dead, etc. we are living in a strange lie, in which incessant building and focus on profit, continues to wipe out community, compassion, empathy, connectedness (to one another and to nature and other life). The world is a big place, so that unless you know someone who is victimized by losing their access to clean water and air due to fracking or coal mining or oil spills, it just doesn’t really impact you. I grew up eating meat, driving in cars, living in a spacious home, when the word extinction was not used, it was a far off idea. Now, we live in a world in which everything is continually commodified – and it’s been sort of backed up with Christian ideology. The cows and pigs are there for humans to consume. We are, so the idea has been, at the top of the pyramid. We displaced the native Americans (but kept their names of territories as a nice gesture) and basically eradicated them. Native American indigenous people traditionally used only what they needed, and saw their connection and relationship to all of life – as something to honor. Western man has cut off any recognition of how they are part of a much larger web, in which all of this is splendor and awesome, and of which, man is only a small part. But humans have become so obsessive about material acquisition and domination, that they are just absolutely killing the planet and displacing all the life forms. The talk of walls, a border wall, is the most loathsome thing as far as all the OTHER LIFE FORMS ON THE PLANET WHO ACTUALLY DON’T HAVE POLITICAL BORDERS – THEY ARE ANIMALS THAT NORMALLY ROAM. WHAT THE FUCK PEOPLE? WHAT THE FUCK? every time some new mall or Wallmart or Costco or housing development, or highway cuts through land, it is killing off all the species. the idea of ever continuing to exploit oil and coal, or mines are just destroying habitats. the idea of minding the arctic or antarctic or bottom of the ocean, to just take, take, take and build, build build…is crippling every other species. we do not need new updated iPhones and computers and whatever in shorter and shorter generations. we have the capacity to do much more with our minds and hearts, and we are just continually seduced and misguided by media, and beguiled, yes, completely misinformed and used by political leaders. the billionaires club. All other life forms, people, air, water, land…are not valued as something worth alive, and left to be in its best form. we are fucking everything up as we continually build, increase square footage of homes, plow down trees, wipe out communal spaces, privatize, obsess about making a profit, obsess about acquiring things, relying more and more on the automobile, on comfort, on ease..okay well, I thought I’d add a few words to Sarah J.S.‘s