Part 4 – Beyond Reform to Revolution: A Whole New System of Justice and Well-Being for All
High and low, rich and poor, black and white, left and right – it is time for us to end our divisions, and create a world, not of unlimited growth for the few, but the well-being of the many — a level playing field where all of us, and all of life, can flourish.
Finally we are seeing that all that upward-striving, presumed to work for all, doesn’t work at all — a rising tide with no limits becomes like a tsunami, dishing out death and destruction. Its downside is as deep and destructive as its own disingenuous presumptuousness, for when there are no limits to the wealth and power of the few, it results in the poverty and the powerlessness of the many, and that cannot be sustained. Nature herself is revolting, no longer taking it lying down, and the people are following suit!
That illusion of perpetual “upward” progress, unlimited growth, hits its peak, and is ultimately balanced, as we see today, by downfall and collapse, or all of us coming back down to Earth and creating a new, even playing field — of cooperation, sharing, caring and reciprocity. In fact, we see both of these movements happening today – the downfall and collapse of the old top-heavy system, and an uprising from the bottom, the grass-roots, to bring in the new.
We need to remake the system, not just bring blacks equally into the system (or even poor whites for that matter) because it is a contradiction in terms. The capitalist, white supremacist, patriarchal system itself is built upon division, inequality and exclusion, the converse relation of privilege and deprivation; it is predicated upon the denigration and exploitation, in different ways, of the poor, women, blacks and people of color, even of nature itself. All of our crises today point in the same direction – that we cannot continue this way, that we need a whole new system, one that is just, sustainable, caring, egalitarian, one that serves the Whole — one that works for all of us, because we are all part of that Whole.
The Crises are Compelling Us to the Truth of Our Unity
We need a true world of liberty and justice for all, not just in name but reality – a true revolution, beyond rhetoric or mere reform, beyond mere accommodation to a system that is unsustainable.
Liberty is not unbridled freedom, unlimited greed or ambition, to pursue one’s own self-profit, to dominate others and do whatever one wants. It must be balanced by justice, the recognition that we are a part of a larger whole, and need to serve that whole. This is the essence of sustainability; if we don’t identify with the whole, and serve it, the whole will not sustain us. This is why a competitive system, with each pursuing his own self-interest at the expense of others and nature, is inherently unsustainable, doomed to its own extinction.
The racial crisis is essentially a crisis of justice, and we need that justice if we are to survive, make that leap in our evolution that will bring us to our true freedom.
It is only by realizing justice, balance, our true equality, unity, that we access our true freedom – the freedom to realize our highest potentials, not only as individuals but also as the Whole, our true boundless, undivided being.
The “Minorities” Are a Majority — They Just Have to Get Together
We speak of oppressed “minorities” but if we add together all of those oppressed by the system, in different ways, it is the vast majority – not only of people but other life forms on this planet. It is just a tiny minority that is at the helm of the system, and compel all others to bend to their will.
It is not “minorities” that are oppressed by the present system, it is the vast majority, of people from all walks of life, and other forms of life. Black people get the worst of it; that is why, if we are to truly recognize that all life matters, we have to recognize that Black Lives Matter first. If we can see it from their side, and put ourselves on their side, we can break the veil of delusion under we have been laboring, that we are separate from each other, that life itself is divided. We can see the truth of our being in its wholeness, that finally goes beyond, and brings together, all sides; and, with new eyes, rises up together for a better world for all of us.
If we look at the pyramid of domination in our system (white men, women, people of color, black people, nature and all its inhabitants, the whole web of life) we can see the base gets broader and broader. Though the power seems to be at the top right now, it is really at this base that the true power lies. If we can make a broad-based coalition, we certainly have the power we need to create another society, one that serves people and planet, rather than just a tiny elite at the top. The power of the Black Lives Matter movement is to catalyze this collective power, the larger movement to the true unity that is our birthright, and that we all so vitally need now to survive and thrive into our future.
Going to the Heart of Our Crises – They Are All Connected, and So Must We Be Too
The 11-year old daughter of an Indian friend of mine, when she heard about the racial crisis exploding in the US, asked her mother “Which is most important – this or the climate crisis?” and her mother said “I don’t know.” Then Isha said “I think this is more important because if we can solve this then we can all come together to act on the other crises.” I think that says it all. Nature, and the events of these times, are saying the same, loud and clear.
All the experts talk about the complexity of our intersectional crises, but I think Isha hit it right on the head: if we get the one thing that matters together – love for each other, and the greater life of which we are a part – all the rest that we need, in the healing and renewal of our planet, will follow. Black lives matter, the climate matters, our health and well-being matter – all of life on this planet matters, and we need all hands on deck now to come together and put that into practice.
There are layers to these crises and they must be uprooted together, or we will fail at them all. We must recognize and discern those layers, not to divide ourselves into contending silos and siphon off our energies in different directions — but so we can see the connections clearly, and uproot them, together.
If we are to act effectively, we have to see the connections, not just the divides, between ourselves, and between the crises themselves; not divide ourselves into different camps that disperse in different directions the energy we need to bring together, and then despair at our failure to garner the leverage needed. We have to get to the roots to the crises, and they are in ourselves, our divisive, black-and-white thinking. If we can get beyond these polarizations, and realize our true unity, we can come together to transform our world.
In fact, indeed, the Black Lives Matter movement is showing us how much all life on Earth matters – how deeply we affect each other, inevitably, for better or for worse… and that now is the time to come together to make it for the better. In this pivotal, decisive moment, it is serving as the turning-point, the turning of the tide.
Just to be clear — this is not to detract from the centrality of the racial crisis right now, rather, to the contrary. We should not let Black Lives Matter get lost in the mix of all the other causes, all the other crises, coming to a head now. Rather it is a pivot point, one that ties into, and can tie together, all the others, taking us beyond the divides of “black-and white” thinking, that have been our undoing, into action for our unity, at all levels.
To tie the different issues together — the racial crisis, pandemic, climate collapse, the rise of right-wing fascism — is not to deflect attention from the racial issue, but to support the kind of deep, whole-scale, whole-systems transformation, without which a real resolution of the racial issue is not possible. We have to tackle the crises together, in the widest possible context, and the widest possible movement, or we will fail to make a breakthrough on any of the issues. They are all connected, and need to be addressed together, and we need to connect with each other, to come together, to do that. We need the momentum of a wide-scale, multi-dimensional movement, and Black Lives Matter—because it goes to the heart of injustice and has stirred the hearts of so many – is at the heart of that movement.