LIES FOR GOOD CAUSES: Mass Action and Political Honesty
Is mass action and its compromises acceptable? A phantasmorgia look at the subject. Reflections on Tillamook, and on an office occupation.
LIES FOR GOOD CAUSES
Mass Actions and Political Honesty
Lies I have told: The Trees
I had just gotten done asking the forest service representative at the bottom of the road if he had ever heard of the Gaia hypothesis, but now there was nomore timefor words. My head was in the dirt, and my eyes were in the clouds, as around methe black-clad shapes of cops in uniform, cops in clothing as armor, cops all dressed in black, the ones who had been waiting, pulled the linked-arm line apart the way that you'd pull weeds, except faster, stronger. For a moment I lay in the eye of the storm, arm muscles clenched, all else drifting. From somewhere far I felt the tugs on the line grow closer, until my arms were grabbed, and wrenched, and pulled. As I was yanked to a sitting position, I smelled the deep moisture of the air that told me the forest was near. I saw the blue of the sky, the green of the thick-draped moss, and around the road, the crouch-walk forms of the ones that no one talks about, in camo, with large guns poised, slipping in between the silent rays of sunlight.
We had just crossed two feet over the road closure line. We had broken through a bright pink plastic tape, which lay listlessly at our feet until we were hauled, some by our back-twisted arms, ten times as far as we had come on our own, to wait to be placed in the waiting vans.
For a time - perhaps while they waited for orders, or perhaps on their whim - they left the sixteen of us seated there, our arms cuffed behind our backs. From the other side of the line, our crowd pounded drums and roared. Some of the captured began to chant. "Save God's Valley! Save God's Valley!" I could not speak. I was not there to save anything. Life would continue. I was there because of how I loved the green push of what was there already, and because I trusted it to continue as it ought. What I loved was being silenced: the land of it, the air of it, the good clean breath of it. I had tasted the water going rancid in city pipes. I had choked all my life on factory air. This valley would go on in beauties not understandable to me if it were cut. The question was: would my species live through it?
Simply speaking, I act to save myself. I love because love is necessary, in ways that the sound byte, the monocrop profanes.
"Save God'sValley! Save God's Valley!" The police camera, noticing my absence, focused onto me. As I stared into its all-suspecting eye, my lips parted like a door forced, and I joined in a chant, which for me, was a lie.
"The People, United, Will Never Be Divided!"
There were arms pounding on the careful taupe walls, air hot with breath and sweat, and faces howling defiance into the policed-off enclave of the office. Wild life, big life, street life, faced off the tight-strung line of blue, behind which hid the executives, in suits as careful as the walls, and faces closed as doors.
We had invaded their space, and now we would dance. And while we danced, we sang. "The people, united, will never be divided! The people, united, will never be divided!"
But for four month I had lain in sickness while all of my activist friends went away. They saved the world and left me behind, with no choice but my bed and no company but my own. For three months after that I fought my way back to their level of being able to move independently, not ask too much, work, and plan, and play. Then it came out of my body and back into my conscious mind that he had hurt me, had held me, had raped. I watched the smiles on the faces around me crumble. I watched everything I'd built fall apart, in loyalty to powers greater than my own, than his. The strangeness that fell upon the town when I told my story played no favorites. Everyone's awareness of each other fell apart.
And perhaps we'll fall together again, like those punk kids that stopped talking the same way to me when they saw I looked good in a suit, but who came closer when I redonned my cuordoroys and patches. The point is that a secure unity seems blindness to me. "The people, united, will never be divided." Give me a break. There are only twoof us who aren't white.....
I have another patch that more fits the bill. It reads, "Life is ecstatic intercourse between creation and destruction." So for union and disunion, entropy and syntropy. Everything can break. Everything can be joined. Keep trying to fix the thing that is broken, instead of marvelling at the creation of the new, and... .you may succeed. Or you may spend all of your hourglass-time, tinkering, tinkering, in place. Material masturbation. But still... "Life is ecstatic intercourse... ." ... try that in a chant.
"The people, united, will never be divided." I sang it for the beauty of the hope, knowing that the literal verse was a lie. State repression, all those eyes and ears in walls, in phones, in computers, prying open our lives, and behind them, the latent threat of guns. Judi Bari was bombed. Joe Hill was shot. Rise too far and you may be sundered from your life, if not your legend. Those are just the sloppy ones. Who knows how many of the strong, the brave, the dissident, have swallowed the compellingly packaged seeds of despair and insecurity that the powers sow, and have fallen, disgraced and invaded? Infiltrated? Their lives may continue, but their legends crumble. We stand between these poles, shouting, "Here we are, despite you, damn you!" against sometimes invisible forces, which we must learn to distinguish from our paranoias. Today we have found the suits that buffer the CEO of a major destroyer. "Life! Our life!" we might as well be chanting, and so I do, although the words do not ring true.
The words are a deep lie. But someone has said something about staying true to the spirit, not the letter. We are all striving towards unity, whether or not we would be able to bear it if it were attained. Something we can't name pulls us. We are right,and what we are doing is good, because we are here, and the world doesn't make such a thing as trash. Or so I think, although my friends might argue me late into the night: mostly about semantics, and ideological grammar. Dumpstered fruit, and conversation, loudly: with laughter, with gesture... with spirit, with spit.
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