It’s pretty interesting to step back from the battle of the day (this piece of legislation, that nominee) and look at the two types of organizing principle that are arrayed against one another in this moment. I’d urge you to try it. Squint your eyes at the images and the soundbites and see what you see.
Here’s what I see.
The regime wears suits (grey, navy, black). It counts domination as strength, uses shock and force to try to overpower and shut down. The words that come to mind: profit-motivated, mechanistic, industrial, militarized. It is armored. It acts as though to win requires someone to lose. The regime works full-time and single-mindedly and it has a plan. Its images are monoculture: the line of officers in identical uniforms with riot shields and sun-glasses, the line of officials arrayed behind the podium.
The resistance reaches out, branches, entangles, like vines or capillaries. It is complicated, even partially contradictory, and redundant in places. It is colorful and multi-lingual. The resistance multi-tasks. It feeds the baby with one hand and paints the banner with the other. It grows food in the back yard after the day-job. The resistance is hand made. It argues with itself, and soul searches, and, at its best, it learns. The metaphors that come to mind for me: neurons wiring up in a newborn brain, soil regenerating after years of mistreatment, tendrils reaching out for each other. It’s hard to find a straight line anywhere.
To the extent any of this rings true for you, is there anything actionable that comes from it?
I think there might be in terms of our metrics of success. Looking at things this way suggests we should focus less on the tally of battles won or lost and more on the number of connections made and sustained and our capacity to work with our own diversity. We might also pay attention to the speed with which we can learn, the amount of joy we can sustain, the amount of food shared, and music made.
And a final thought: We already know which organizing principle will win out, at least in the longest time horizon. Life, earth, evolution is that messy, green, soft, growing, entangling, organic, redundant phenomenon. That is where the Earth experiment has come from and where it is going. Whether the human is part of the mix in a few hundred years we can’t know, but we do know that going forward the Earth will be an organic polyculture of complexity and interconnection. That’s just how she works. There’s a comfort in that, for me.