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We Are the People Who Fear Nothing

There is a point where the soul has to disengage to endure. Jails are one of the places this occurs. Poverty is another. Rape is another. Once people have learned how to disengage their SOULS when being abused by the powers that be, the powers that be lose traction rapidly. Mix this lack of fear & righteous hatred of abusive authority, with some hopelessness & nothing left to lose, and you have raw power. This is the cocktail that Bush has brewed for the world.
We Are the People Who Fear Nothing
by Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)

There is something about righteous defiance. It has a power that is greater than the sum of its parts. As Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "When you are right, you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative." Or as Gil Scott Heron said, "If you don't stand for something, you'll go for anything."

As I feel the icy winds of the Bush administration and the crazy "Patriot Act" blowing down my back as an outspoken activist and independent journalist, I find I am becoming only more resolute in my beliefs and my strength to speak until they gag me. During my lifetime, I have witnessed many people risking their own personal safety for what they believe. I have also watched many of those people mowed down in senseless deaths early in life. But as Holly Near sings, "You can kill a man, but not a song, when it's heard the whole world round."

Near wrote that line in the 1970s for Victor Jara, the famous Chilean folksinger and activist. In 1973, Chilean President Pinochet's regime had Jara's hands broken in his final moments, taunting him in public to play his guitar with broken hands. But Jara then started singing magnificently, a song of the people's power, until the government machine-gunned him to death. Near continues in her song saying, "It could have been me, but instead it was you, so I'11 keep doing the work you were doing, as if I were two."

In the Winter of 1943, seven prisoners at the Nazi death camp Treblinka dug a tunnel from their barracks to the outside of Treblinka's first fence. The guards pursued the escapees, following their footprints in the snow. One prisoner did escape, but the rest were caught, tortured and hung. The last prisoner to die shouted political statements from the gallows. It is this lack of fear, right up to death, that haunts me when I fear risking my little bit of American safety and security for issues like world famine, war, the environment and free trade. I feel a responsibility to those who died without fear. So what if goons in riot gear paid by the state want to assault me for speaking out? I feel an obligation to go on, "as if I were two."

I watched Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. in jail. Both won Nobel Peace Prizes in the end. I watched the police who beat Rodney King on television walk free and the resultant riots that had to happen. I watch now as George W. Bush tears my country and the world to shreds. I have begun to feel that there is no room for fear as an American. Not with this blood on our hands. No justice, no peace. For real.

This is the time to be that metaphoric defiant and brave teenager, unafraid of your parents' threats and wrath. This is not about your personal safety anymore. This is about the safety of the world. This is about disease, pollution and the degradation of the Earth for a few rich families. This is about American gluttony and American cowardice.

Americans are afraid to take action. They are afraid to stand up for what they know is right the moment that riot police show up with big sticks and chemical weaponry. The powers that be know this--that is why they send the cops out there in the streets in that armor. The government also thinks it can scare people with threats of criminal prosecution, based on lies, and thinks it can scare Americans into silence with all its spying and legislation of civil rights violations based on 9/11. But for all their efforts at scaring us, when I see that militarism against free speech on American streets, it only strengthens my resolve. I only get pissed off and want to shout even louder and more often. And I am not alone.

I remember being a teenager and figuring out that the whole authority game had limits. For instance, once I was "grounded," meaning that I could not use the phone, do anything after school or see my friends. Kind of the type of thing that the government sentenced Sherman Austin to when he was in jail. Austin was/is "grounded" by the U.S. government with respect to his "anarchist" friends, even after out of jail, via the use of his computer and the Internet. So I remember being 16 and being grounded. My dad was twisted and enjoyed his authority. The phone rang in my bedroom while I was grounded. I was amazed that my dad had left it connected. I picked the phone up and discovered that he had left the phone intact but had taken out the part that you talk into. I could hear my friends, but they could not hear me. Twisted.

I remember thinking that I was already in as much trouble as I supposedly could be in. I was expelled from school; I was grounded. Then it hit me. If I snuck out and defied the punishment, all they could do, basically, was expand the grounding--which I was already defying! I remember thinking that they could beat me and kill me, but that was about where we had gotten to. If I did not mind them and did not follow their punishments for really stupid things, all they could do was laud on more meaningless punishments that I would not obey or escalate it to physical violence to try to control me. And the violence just made me hate them more. When my dad threatened to "beat me bloody blue, " I remember thinking, "You just go for it, you sick bastard." You cannot control people who are not afraid. You cannot control people who have replaced that fear with anger.
My mom used to say that the time to fear civil unrest is when the people have nothing to lose. That is very true. At this point in my life, I see the Bush administration's use of riot squads with machine guns in the streets to silence real free speech in the same way I saw my parents' ridiculous punishments for doing nothing dangerous as a kid. It does not scare me; it enrages me. And just like I realized that the worst my parents could do was beat and kill me, I realize the worst that the Bush administration can do is jail and torture me. Since I was raised in poverty and have little to lose, I can tell you that I am as defiant against the USA PATRIOT Act and Bush's vision for the world as I was against my groundings as a teen. And like my mom said, those with the least to lose are the most dangerous.

In Anne Cameron's Child of Her People, she describes leaving one's body to avoid letting the white men rape her soul along with her body. She describes that feeling I have felt and expressed, that the worst they can do is kill me. "She looked at them and knew she could only die, that was all, that was the worst thing anybody or anything could ever do to her. And if she died, so what? She only lived inside her body and her body was not her. If they killed the body, so what; she would become something else, or she would be or become nothing--it didn't matter."

There is a point where the soul has to disengage to endure, as Cameron describes. Jails are one of the places this occurs. Poverty is another one of these soul-disengaging situations. Rape is another. Once people have learned how to disengage their souls when being abused by the powers that be, the powers that be lose traction rapidly. This is the breeding ground for anarchy. This lack of fear, mixed with sincere and righteous hatred of abusive and brutal authority, is as old as humans. Mix that with some hopelessness and nothing left to lose, and you have raw power. This is the cocktail that Bush and his cronies have brewed for the world.

homepage: homepage: http://www.kirstenanderberg.com

Thanks 27.Dec.2005 07:08

spider

Kirsten,

Inspiring words, thanks for sharing.
nothing to lose but your chains
nothing to lose but your chains

Detachment is not a nice thing 27.Dec.2005 10:19

Man on the street

I've dealt with forced sleep depreivation, imprisonment, physical, and psycological attacks which where intended to and did break my spirit. People bounce back but only so far. The detachment takes a while to take effect. I do not laugh at torture, instead I pretend to keep that fear locked in a closet. The kinds of people that torture maintain this same sort of detachment. It is the detruction of our humanity. We lose track of our feelings and revert to the reptilian responces programmed into our DNA. The majority of my adult life I have been unable to have a relationship because I shut down emotionally. I've dealt with drug and alcohol dependancy because they help cover the deep emotional depression. Now I volunteer as an activist. I do not get a warm fuzzy feeling from the tactics used by DOD, NSA, CIA and other spook agencies. I will not stop speaking my mind, organizing and teaching others leadership skills.

i agree it is desensitizing 27.Dec.2005 14:53

kirsten

I agree that you will have scars, deep scars, from that extreme type of emotional withdrawl.
But I am not sure it is worse than the scars from not withdrawing in those situations.
It is not fun, either way.
We are talking about survival - which is about drastic measures for drastic times.
It is about making a choice between two terrible options.
I, also, would have preferred to not know these things.
But I do know them, so...
But yes, battlescars come from this kind of detachment for sure.
But cowering in fear is not the remedy. That only amplifies it.
I am glad to see your spunk, so to speak, man on the street, even with those heavy feelings and experiences.

Thanks kirsten 27.Dec.2005 17:55

Burro

Your strong emotions and feelings come through loud and clear in you posts. I thank you for them.

"There is a point where the soul has to disengage to endure." Unfortunately, most people's souls have become disengaged -- only to become re-engaged with their TVs!

Also: Bush's brews have been brewed during previous administrations. He's just been developing stronger brews. I think that most of us hate this inhuman creature so much that our focus is on just trying to get rid of him and his ilk. I feel that we need to stay focused on the bigger picture. See:  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/12/330958.shtml

A final note: I'm being picky here, but this issue seems to be bothering me more and more as time goes on. The following (with minor revisions) is a letter that I sent to Online Journal recently:

"Early on, in this "war on terror", I've had problems with some of the terminology exploited by both government officials and news reporters.

Congress passed what was officially called the 'Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001'.

Notice the incorrect separation between the letters 'A' and 'P'. I feel that we should stop utilizing this separation. The accurate acronym is: U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act or USAPATRIOT Act. What really bothers me is to see references to the 'Patriot Act'. Even the majority of alternative news sites tend to use this term.

This Act has nothing at all to do with patriotism! Using USA PATRIOT Act with the space, and worse, the 'Patriot Act', plays right into the hands of Republicans and other fascists.

Please, let us finally cease using these misleading and inaccurate terms."