Actualizado: 25 nov 2019
All forms of violence are one violence
Violence, whenever it manifests itself, is unavoidable. It is also a failure because it means we failed to do otherwise, but it is an inevitable failure. Not allowing violence, or condemning violence, is an act that has violence. Meeting violence with violence can only create more of the same.
Something has drowned the human soul to the point where it needs to manifest violence.
Today, violence in whatever form is an unavoidable failure.
There are various manifestations of violence. Phsysical violence is only one of them. Inequality, injustice, human indignity are violence; and indifference to these is violence as well. In short, a society that excludes some of the people is a violent society.
Denying violence is in itself violence. To derogate others for feeling or thinking differently than one is violent. Refusing to actively listen, with heartfelt attention, to what another person wants to express, is also a form of violence. Monopolizing sensitivity, or solidarity, that is, the discurse that good human values only belong to a group of us the "good people", is also violence.
Photo of a protest in Iquique by Pablo Mardones
We need to give permission to violence because giving permission to all our feelings and emotions is the only non-violent alternative there is. You have permission, too, not to give permission to violence. I'm talking about a paradox: yes, I'm clear. In any case, we are all involved in this failure of violence together. It is a great failure and a giant paradox.
For this failure and paradox to be worthwhile and for us not to go back to the same thing, we must do something differently. Let us fail together permitting our violences. We will not get tired until we remember that we are all one: violence against "another" is violence against oneself.
Permitted violence is like a labor impossible to assist. When the contraction comes, there is nothing we can do about it but be one with violence. When the contraction goes, we feel the honor of meeting violence with peace. One breath at a time, one release at a time, we get closer to a new birth.
Let's say it like it is: no human being is made truly happy by exerting violence, simply because violence against another is violence against oneself. Therefore, we need not worry that meeting violence with unconditional compassion will continue creating further violence. Just like we need not worry that meeting the human ego with unconditional compassion will create further ego (see my essay on Compassion to go deeper on this point). On the contrary, unconditional compassion is the only strategy that changes the script.
The state of health of our civilization
Evidently, our civilization's state of health is awful. The diagnosis starts from the personal and emotional, and continues with the global. It has to do with what is happening with the beauty of life: how the urban spots are advancing over nature, how the radiant places of pristine water are disappearing. The diagnosis has to do with how social, political and economic crises are intensifying.
A single disease that is very close in our daily lives. Inside: that's where it bursts, that's where the opportunity is.
Violence is the fever, it is the symptom of how sick our humanity is. That is why it is unavoidable for true healing. Tylenol can lower the fever, but what good is it to lower it if the sick needs the fever to heal? Tylenol is the fear that fever, violence, will annihilate us. As a society, we have no choice but to accept the death of all our expectations. Hope arises from the death of all expectations.
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society" (Krishnamurti). In the narrow box of the possible we will find nothing new. There is no possible healing within the same disease: separation.
Changing the perspective. If we are manifesting the symptoms of the disease, like violence, confusion, despair and intense pain, it is actually because humanity is quite healthy. Having a disease, the healthy thing to do is to express the symptoms, all of them. An unhealthy body is one that lacks an inmunological response, that is, not fully expressing how it feels.
The disease is separation
What is intriguing is oneness: that everything is one. Thích Nhất Hạnh's concept of Interbeing states that everything is interconnected and we are all interdependent, which is perhaps easier to hear and maybe more inviting. But I choose oneness to make the point that it goes beyond what we imagine.
I am referring, perhaps, to the fact that on Friday, October 18, while the social revolt was breaking out in Chile, my daughter was bursting along with all of Chile in a neighing that was a great failure of violence for my entire family. What Chile lives is lived by my family, what Chile explodes explodes inside me as well. Two days ago, after "barricades" that our children set up in our own house, my 7-year-old son cried and shouted: "This can't go on like this! That's enough! This has to change!". I am proud of you son: "you don't have to solve or repair anything, it's not your fault, it's not yours". It is only enough to contain, to give permission to the expression. "Son, you feel how all of Chile feels".
“The universe is too promiscuous to abide faithful to any one conception of it” (Bayo Akomolafe)
There is no truth, or rather sometimes there is. It is elusive. We believe that we live in a physical reality, describable by logical reason, and that is false. Heartbreakingly false. However, I don't think, dear Chile, that you want to hear it. Tell me what you would like to hear.
The solution is very simple yet at the same time extremely radical. We need to give permission to all our feelings. We are all the same, human beings. We all come from the same place: the uterus of a mother, the dust of the stars, the big bang. We are all the same, we are made of the same. This is, first of all, a practical, tangible, close truth. And that is enough. You don't need religious or spiritual beliefs to understand, with the heart, that we are all the same.
Also, one could well say, all and everything that exists is made of spirit, of whatever it is that we call divine. Nothing is made of anything else. That is why we are all one. As I said in my earlier relief text: we leave no one out.
The practical exercise is to imagine oneself in the shoes of the one we see as an "other". Those that in one way or another, we exclude.
Be curious what it would feel like to have had the same experiences as the other, to have grown up in exactly the same circumstances, to know what he/she knows, and to ignore what he/she ignores. To think that, in the shoes of the other, one would be a "better" person is something clearly egotistical and absurd. Absurd and exhausting especially when we go on and on thinking like that.
In a society where we have separated right from wrong, we have obligated ourselves to do right (for more on this see The forgiveness and justice of oneness). A requirement to do right is to distrust oneself, supposedly having a "bad" part within. The natural response we have adopted for centuries is that of repressing oneself and others. Some repress with political power, others repress with speech.
The paradox is that in order to give permission to how we feel, we need to acknowledge that we exclude others. You need to live that emotion, that feeling, in order to release it. It is not about getting stuck in exclusion. This is our opportunity, it is the gift of this great crisis, of this great awakening: by releasing the emotions that exclude the "other", we free ourselves from excluding ourselves.
So, let us exclude. Let us exclude, but knowingly. To exclude means to say I do not give you permission to be as you are, that is to say "I judge you as a bad person. Just look at the number of harmful consequences of your actions. You the violent one, the looter, the one who burns". "You the repressive policemen, the militiamen shooting at us, the politician who, no matter how much he says he already heard, has not heard and only wants to protect the interests of power and will never care sincerely about people"... The disencounter is so extreme.
In conclusion, my sincere feeling has to exclude you, I have no choice. Your feeling too, has to exclude me. Let's feel the exclusion intensely. Just as I give myself permission to exclude you (at least now I realize that I am excluding you), I also give you permission to exclude me.
Let's imagine the best of our expectations with respect to inequality. Let's say that the minimum wage effectively goes up to three times what it is now, and let's say that somehow (I don't know how but it doesn't matter) we set a maximum wage of say 4 times the minimum wage. This is accompanied by dignified improvements and an end to profit in education, health and retirement. It is a beautiful dream that deserves my respect. Let's even imagine that we finally manage to eradicate greed and corruption, and free ourselves from all the exploiting forces of the people.
Even so, the destruction of the beauty of life and of life would not stop, simply because we continue to operate in the same system of separation. The only way that permanent and worthy social programs can be financed is with sustained economic growth, which is only possible if the transformation of life into commerce continues. But sustained economic growth is not possible, not even with the will to do so. The reason: there is not much of life left to monetize.
As it turns out, when economic growth is costly (see Understanding money), the economic system operates as the game of musical chairs and is an automatic generator of inequality. Every time music stops, someone is left without chair and a few accumulate all the chairs. In other words, the natural tendency will be to generate inequality over and over again.
In other words, why obsese with a utopian expectation if this expectation is not really the solution we urgently need. What we need is a way better utopia.
In my opinion, there are no feasible public policies to redress inequality, there are only those that mitigate it. The Nordic countries that we idealize for their dignity and economic equity, first of all as I understand they have high rates of depression and suicide (I don't blame equity for that). But more profoundly, as I see it, I do not believe that their level of equity is the result of their public policies, but rather a matter of luck. A matter that is mostly very difficult to explain, but definitely not replicable. It has to do with having been rich before, when high economic growth was easier, less 'expensive' than now. In my opinion, these are situations that are no longer attainable. And it's worth asking, is that really what we want to achieve?
I am not saying all this out of pessimism, I am saying it because hope arises from the death of expectations. I say that there is no solution, so that there may be. The solution does not lie in the obsession to modify external circumstances, as if reality had a control mechanism that must be enacted by force. "You cannot dismantle the master's house using the master's tools" (Audrey Lorde). You cannot dismantle separation by using separation, using control, exerting force.
CHILE WOKE UP
I heard "The biggest fear is that everything stays the same"... There are other fears that we have already overcome. We already know, from the bowels, that nothing is going to be the same.
Dear Chile, you woke up and you're hard to grasp. From being like a walnut, now you are a giant. You are everything. You were supposed to be a pinche dwarf country at the end of the world, and now, Chile, you are planetary.
I think that all of us who have felt excluded, feel that life owes us a reward for injustice. This reward has to do with the perpetrator finally having to accept, humiliate, give in and compensate. I am talking about a legitimate feeling. With the death of what we expected (the reward for injustice), separation dies. It is as if life asks all of us to be heroes, and the only heroism is where no one is more of a hero than the others. Heroes not in defeating violence, heroes in failing together.
In a world where all worlds fit, no human being is left out
Dear Chile, your true president is every Chilean being president of herself. Your true law is the Andes Mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Your true justice is your own freedom.