What if you are not an ‘activist’, then … what now?
You might have noticed that, lately, a number of young (and not so young) people — Greta Thunberg, Jamie S. Margolin, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, … only to name a few — and a number of organizations — Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future, Sunrise Movement, Global Climate Strike, Earth Guardians … among many others — are calling you to go down in the streets to raise awareness about the climate change crisis and put pressure on your governments to change business-as-usual practices.
But what if you don’t consider yourself an ‘activist’? What if you even have evidence that you are not an ‘activist’? You have never marched with a banner over your head in your life. You don’t sign petitions. You don’t make the circuit at dinner parties trying to convince your friends that they should fight for this or that cause. What if you won’t do any of this in the near future? What if you think marching in the streets has never created any real change?
And… what if you still want to do something?
Then, what now?
These next few paragraphs were originally written for the ones who — like me — did not join or do not plan to join marches in the near future. The purpose is to explore and propose subversive activities alternative to marching. This is not to say that marching is inefficient or ineffective. This is only suggesting that a greater diversity of subversive activity makes the (r)evolution and the (r)evolutionaries stronger.
And, if you are a striker, you might be surprised to find powerful new possibilities for your Fridays for Future Team.
A small group of people…
New options emerge from new distinctions:
- Subversiveness does not only have to be public. Being subversive can start in the privacy of your own living room.
- Subversiveness does not need to start with clever answers. Being subversive can start with the unreasonable drive to wrestle with unanswered questions.
- Subversiveness does not have to be about fighting the existing systems. Being subversive is also about creating a new systems that makes the existing systems irrelevant.
Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” What if, today, we don’t just have one group of thoughtful, committed individuals, but millions of groups of subversive individuals? What if you changed your mind and decide to be of those people? What if you already are one of those people creating your own subversive group to change the world?
AND what if you used the movements #globalclimatestrike, #fridaysforfuture, #zerohour, #ourchildrenstrust as opportunities to empower and substantiate your group’s effectiveness further? What if you and many others are already making these movements bigger than people think they are? What if your group and these movement combine to make an amazing opportunity in these crucial times? What if you take Fridays off from everything else you are doing to let more aliveness emerge through you? What if you took Fridays to ask the questions that you never asked before? What if Fridays are your chance to expand your non-marching subversiveness?
Nobody can be subversive for you. Nobody can figure out for you what you want to create to change the world. Nobody can bring together your group of people. However … nobody can stop you from doing any of that either.
How can I …
At this point, you might have a fire in your belly. ‘Yes! I want to do it!’ A few minutes later, your next thought might be ‘But how do I create this group in reality? Where do I even start?’
Here is the proposal: instead of going to school or work on every Friday when a global strike is planned, organize a day-long meeting in your living room. Give your meeting a name, for example ‘Team of Possibility for Planet Earth’, ‘Gaian Team’, ‘Global Strike for Climate — Team (name of your city)’. Invite the people around you who also want to figure out what they can do for Planet Earth.
On the first Friday morning, put chairs and cushions in a circle in your living room. You are the spaceholder. A spaceholder does not control the meeting and does not have to decide what will happen there. The role of the spaceholder is to hold the space because the space determines what is possible. For example, if your friends come to your house to get ready to go party, or if they come over to finish a school project, the results will be different. The results are different because the purpose of your meeting was different. The different purposes create different spaces. In that sense, the space determines the results and what is possible.
This distinction is important because when inviting your friends into your living room, it is important to declare the purpose of your meeting clearly. Otherwise, what you will create is simply a hangout place for your friends to do what you usually do together. The Friday meetings can have a different purpose.
Therefore when it is Friday morning, 9am, you could say something like:
“Good morning. (You can wait for them to say good morning back.) The purpose of this meeting is for this small group of individuals to make a difference in the climate and human crisis on Planet Earth. During these meetings we will keep informing ourselves by watching documentaries and relevant films. We will create and do experiments, go make expeditions that bring our purposes into action. This meeting is about sharing opinions, but about sharing actions that already are real change.”
At this point, you could invite each person to say why they came here, one speaking for a minute or so while the others listen. You speak last.
And the rest of the day…
Taking extraordinary actions in response to unanswered questions is powerful when the questions are contexted in a certain container. Doing new experiments together automatically creates your container. While taking uncertain or experimental , either individuals or the entire group might experience what we could be called a liquid state. When in liquid state, opinions lose their force and something else can emerge.
Here is a practical list of experiments you can try during your Friday meetings.
A few hints before you start. During the day, stay as much as possible off Facebook, Instagram and other Tumblrs….. Instead, stay together in one group, moving wherever you go like a one-celled learning amoeba. Keep talking while you cook and eat together.
— Watch the movie Learning from Ladakh (available for free on YouTube) from Helena Norberg-Hodge. Ask the question to yourself and the group: In what ways have I been unconsciously the capitalist patriarchal empire? In what ways is this group already ending that support?
— Watch the movie Schooling The World (available for free on YouTube) by Carol Black. Ask the question to yourself and the group: What would I have wanted school to teach me, to show me, to give me opportunities for? What skills would I have wanted to learn? What do I want to learn today? How can we learn them together today?
— Watch the conference talk Endgame by Derrick Jensen (available for free on YouTube). Ask the question to yourself and the group: What didn’t I know about this? What did I learn from this? What was the most shocking? How can these feelings move us into new kinds of actions together?
— Eat local together. Fix a budget/person for food. Gather the money in a pot and go buy only from local farmers, seasonal and locally produced food. Cook together a generous, tasty, and nutritious meal with only these ingredients.
— Go off-grid for a day. Do not use any appliances that are fossil-fuel dependent during the time of the meeting. That includes no electricity powered machine (except solar powered, etc..), meaning no phone, no computer, no television, no microwave, no oven, no fridge, etc… Things may take longer to do. Needed actions may be unfamiliar. Use the opportunity to grow closer together by sharing the experiences.
— Pick up trash in your neighborhood for no reason and join World Clean Up Day.
— Create a book club. Choose one book of the list at Go Explore. Read it together, one person reading out loud for a while. Whenever they don’t want to read anymore, they pass the book to the next person who wants to read. I recommend Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut Jr, High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them by J.F. Rischard, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach, Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, Secrets of the Talking Jaguar and Long Life Honey In The Heart by Martín Prechtel.
— Create a choreography on a well-known song that the activists marching the street can model. Video yourselves. Share it everywhere, and tag the activists so they get inspired.
— Sew your own outfit from scratch. Borrow a sewing machine in your neighbourhood. Ask for old fabric or use the cloth from clothes that you stopped wearing.
— Meditate together between 20 and 35 minutes. Exercise together between 20 and 35 minutes. I don’t recommend longer than that because meditating and stretching both stretch your different bodies, and you can only stretch them so much in one time.
— Get angry together about all the things that are not working! Let the anger speak through you to say exactly what each person can do about it together? Write your ideas down. These are the designs for your next experiments to try together.
— Each person writes down three questions that are important for them. For example: What do I want to change? What could I do to change that thing right now? In what ways do I have an impact in my community? What can I do about that? Then, go out as pairs or individuals, knock on doors or meet people in the street, and ask them those questions (change the questions in ‘you’ form). You can even make video interviews of these people thinking with you out loud about these questions for your own YouTube channel. You might be surprised by how people are willing to talk and share their own experiences and feelings.
—Try out many more High Level Fun experiments on the Possibility Team website: www.possibilityteam.org
— Play StartOver.xyz game together. You might want to start with those few websites: leadbyyouth.mystrikingly.com, everygeneration.mystrikingly.com, 4feelings.mystrikingly.com, riftwalker.mystrikingly.com.
Global Climate Strike may well be about taking back your own authority and creating what you really want humanity to look like. In a way, you are marching too, marching to your own true song, marching towards a new future for yourself and the people around you.