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Oscar Grant, Audre Lorde, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and the Question of Loving Our Enemies (guest post)

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It’s summer, and that means it’s the season for guest posts to give me a little time off from writing. Here’s a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Katie Loncke. Her blog, Kloncke, is dedicated to “social and spiritual liberation.” She’s a great writer and a beautiful soul.

An update to this post: the verdict came down yesterday in this case. Johannes Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Oscar Grant.

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Oscar Grant, Audre Lorde, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and the Question of Loving Our Enemies

by Katie Kloncke

July 6, 2010

Cross-posted at Feministe. As the verdict approaches, I find myself thinking more and more about the relationships between state violence and intimate violence. In what ways our focus on state violence, and mechanisms for resisting it, jive and don’t jive with methods for dealing with intimate violence. Aaron Tanaka made a wonderful comment on the original post — as always, Aaron, I’m truly grateful for your insights and questions, and their organic connection to the great work you do.

Just yesterday, only 20 minutes after a conversation about police alternatives, as my friend Noa was dropping me off at home, we found ourselves in an impromptu cop watch. Four officers were arresting three men on my block — two of whom I recognized as regulars on the corner, and one with whom I’ve tossed a football across Hyde Street traffic. When I saw the cops lining the men up against the fence, I just stepped out of Noa’s car onto the sidewalk and inserted myself. After one of the officers attempted to intimidate Noa by calling in her plate number (we’d been stopped and talking in the car inside a red parking zone), she drove around the block, parked, came back and joined me for the next half hour as we watched these three men get yelled at, cuffed, and loaded into a police van.

I’ll maybe write up a full summary tomorrow, because the effect of our intervention on the cops’ behavior was pretty interesting, as well as the conversation we struck up with two male officers. For now, here’s my Feministe piece from Sunday.

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[Trigger Warning: discussions of sexual assault and deadly State force.]

Love your enemies.

For feminists, is there any phrase more terrifyingly reactionary?

Love your enemies. Even the one who assaults you in private and reaps accolades as a brilliant community organizer in public. (One of my mom’s former boyfriends.)

Love your enemies. Even the ones who throw cherry bombs at you in the school bathrooms. (My dad’s fellow students at Yale, in the 1950s.)

Love your enemies. Even the one who tells you women should be seamstresses, not lawyers. (Opa — my mom’s dad.)

Love your enemies. Even the one who tells you, as a child, to bit down on your lower lip so it won’t grow too big. (Grandma — my dad’s mom.)

Love your enemies. Even the white police officer who shot and killed you while you were lying helpless, face-down on the ground with another officer’s knee on your neck. (Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Black man killed Jan 1, 2009 in an Oakland subway station.)

Jury deliberations began yesterday for Johannes Mehserle, the Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer who fatally shot Oscar Grant. All of Oakland awaits the verdict. Both police and non-profits are making preparations to quell the “violence” anticipated after this “deadly lightning rod” of a trial.

Deadly? Violence? According to CNN’s coverage, not one single person was seriously injured in the 2009 protests following Grant’s death. Nobody injured, let alone killed. Windows were broken; dumpsters set afire. Is this violence? Sounds more like property destruction to me.

Whatever happens, whether riots flare up or not, things will once again settle, and the ordinary state violence will resume as usual. After all, there’s only one individual on trial — not an entire racist police force armed with deadly weapons. Not an entire patriarchal, militaristic, anti-immigrant, plutocratic (ruled by wealth) law enforcement system. Not California, the US state running “the largest prison system in the Western world.” That won’t be standing trial anytime soon. So what are we supposed to do?

Love your enemies.

What an injunction, huh? Just how are we supposed to achieve this? And why?

The “how” I’ll leave aside for now. Let’s focus on the why.

Why should we love our enemies? Why not hate them? Or at least get angry?

Audre Lorde, one of my all-time favorite feminists, has one answer. With hatred we harm ourselves, and anger only takes us halfway to where we need to go. From “Eye To Eye: Black Women, Hatred, and Anger”:

Read the rest of this entry

The Two-Thirds World (guest post)

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I’m happy to share a guest post today by Jap Hastings from his blog Zenducation. Jap is a writer, poet, songwriter, and Zen practitioner living in Pittsburgh, PA.

The Two-Thirds World

by Jap Hastings

The terms “Third World” and “developing country” are ripe with notions of inferiority. They imply that every country with a low gross domestic product (GDP) wishes to adopt Western models of economic development, which simply isn’t the case. For instance, Cuba has chosen not to adopt Western economics, and despite being labeled “a developing country” due to a low gross national income, has a lower infant mortality rate than the United States. Another example is Bhutan, which despite having the lowest per capita household income in the world has the eighth highest gross national happiness (GNH). The United States ranks twenty-third. Bhutan’s leaders achieve such high levels of citizen happiness not by focusing their policies on achieving GDP, but by following “the four pillars of GNH: promotion of equitable and sustainable socioeconomic development; preservation and promotion of cultural values; conservation of the natural environment; and establishment of good governance.”

Because so-called “developing countries” are often rich in local knowledge, systems of compassionate justice, cultural diversity, and preservation of the natural world—practices which are vital for sustainability—I propose using Madhu Prakash and Gustavo Esteva’s non-ethnocentric terminology of these countries as The Two-Thirds World. These countries, after all, compose the majority of the world’s population. We must rid ourselves of notions of superiority and realize that we have more to learn from many of these cultures than we have to teach them. It is for this reason that Prakash and Esteva argue for an initiative of:

creating solidarities with communities and groups suffering the most marked and vicious discrimination of our times—imposed by the educated as professional assistance, aid, or help upon the three contemporary [lower] castes: the miseducated, the undereducated or the noneducated, who constitute the majority of people on earth, the Two-Thirds World.

They argue in their book Escaping Education: Living as Learning within Grassroots Cultures that Western education and promises of professionalism destroy communities and local knowledge. This occurs by imposing the employment, high mobility, and economic growth of Western life. These pro-education Westerners, despite often having good intentions, neglect the fact that if everyone on the planet lived like an American, we would need five earths to sustain us.

Furthermore, Prakash and Esteva assert that human rights activists, supporting “the universal human right to health, employment, modern medicine, sewage, roads, and other social services” impose unneeded Western values on a people deemed inferior due to their non-modern lifestyles. Protect Tribal People by Contributing to Survival International Those who are well-informed about the twin crises of global warming and peak oil know that our modern life as we now know it is coming to an end. As we look to our post-carbon future—what some call our ancient future—the lessons we have to learn from The Two-Thirds World are infinite. Unfortunately, our industrial society is not only trying to convert The Two-Thirds World to our way of life, we are destroying the last surviving indigenous cultures. Driven by blind desire for natural resources, industrial multinational corporations are consuming what remains of the natural world and the people who inhabit it.

Luckily there are activist groups, such as Survival International, working to save Indigenous cultures by educating Westerners about the relevance and need for their cultures, notifying struggling tribes of the survival tactics of other tribes, and campaigning to governments, banks, and corporations to protect indigenous homelands. The importance of tribal cultures will become more evident to the masses as the effects of global warming and peak oil are apparent in the collective consciousness, but it will take the foresight of ecologically-concerned Westerners to support tribal people while we still can.

[Please watch Survival International’s “The Real Avatar: Mine – Story of a Sacred Mountain” and support Survival International by acting now.]
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