dangerous thinking

Okay, so I already got cracking with the sermonizing.  I had a lot of criticism in that post, and expressed a lot of doubt about our movements as they currently stand.  So what do I expect?  What am I asking for, other than hey, y’all, let’s all have feelings together, won’t that be swell, what that is of substance?  If I’m so sure things aren’t working, what’s my better suggestion?  How is vulnerability really going to change our movements and our world, other than to get us talking about all of our aches and pains?

I plan on being infuriating, and answering the question with a question.  No:  an exercise.  I think it’s time we go to class for a minute.  For this, I turn, as I often do, to one of the best teachers I will ever know for inspiration.  Two years ago, Alexis Pauline Gumbs published a piece called Wishful Thinking, one which I only let myself near every now and then because the first time I heard her read it I was in tears, and it is easy to get me there with her work ever since.  With her piece, she asks one of the hardest, scariest, most vulnerable questions of all:

Oh, come on, like I’m just going to say it.  It’s under the cut.  But I’ll tell you one thing in advance:  I think if feminism is an anti-sexism movement, it has already failed.

What do we really want?  Really? What is the world we’re trying to build?

In asking that question, I’m going to ask you to join me out here in danger and see what we can do with it.

I know it sounds easy at first. I’ve answered that.  I know what I want.  This is hippie cuddles-and-gumdrops bullshit. I know.  I’ll just blather on while you let it sink in that this is, if you’re asking it right, one of the hardest questions there is.

See, we spend all day surrounded by an advertisement culture, one that wants to sell us things.  And you can’t sell something to someone who doesn’t need it.  You have to create a need.  In order to get someone to buy what you’re selling–your nonfood, your gadgets, your idea systems–you have to convince them that they lack it and must have it.  And the easiest thing to do for that is to convince someone there’s a hole in them.  The trouble is, when you have enough people and images and companies constantly bombarding you with messages about tiny holes in you, they add up.  They add up into gaping hollow insides.  Empty people make the best consumers, after all–once you scoop out all of their own ideas about what they want and need, you can tell them to buy anything, and they usually will.  They need your machine, your weight-loss program, your fashion bag that costs a whole paycheck, your ideas about relationships.  They don’t need a healthcare system that cares for them and their neighbors–they need your insurance program.  They need your cocaine and your celebrity gossip and your latest TV drama that convinces them that torture works.  They need your new vacuum cleaner.  They need your salvation.  You can sell people anything, so long as you sell them loneliness first, and buy their hope up like foreclosed houses.

We purchase a very ugly status quo, where we forget about meeting our next-door neighbors, let alone building a supportive, nurturing community; where we prefer the chain restaurant to the local mom-and-pop place down the street; where we would rather buy an empty greeting card than honestly talk about either how much we care, or how much we really don’t, any more.  Where we get ours because we’ve been sold the notion that that’s the best thing, and we forget what we hoped for.

It’s a cliche for a reason.  Hope is very, very, very dangerous.  If you accept that things can be different, and not in the I’ll-do-my-hair-differently-tomorrow way, in the this could be a whole new world way, we are far, far less profitable for the people who already bought the lie and don’t know what to fill their emptiness with except conquest and profit.  If we are really aware of what is good and healthy for us, it is much harder to play us against each other or encourage us to ignore that decisions get made that starve whole continents and feed individuals despair to make them pliable.  We have all these piddling stories about little, nonthreatening hope, the feeling, that allows us to safely restore a status quo that was never amazing in the first place–but hope isn’t an emotion any more than love is.  Hope is an action.  Hope is a will.  Hope is an overwhelming power, and hope is above all a vector: a force, and a direction.

Hope is the first thing we are convinced to abandon, or at least dilute.  I “hope” for a raise.  I “hope” to go out to a nice restaurant for my anniversary.  I “hope” for enough of a reduction in housing and hiring discrimination that I can live a secure life.  I “hope” my wedding turns out pretty.  I “hope” my busted truck doesn’t break down before I can afford to replace it.  I “hope” my vote doesn’t get thrown away.  I “hope” they’ll stop hurting me so much.

None of these is a hurricane or a revelation and none of them is a direction for all that hopeful force.  None of these really changes anything, not in a way that works for a community and not just one person.  They just maintain things as they are.  What do you really hope for?  I mean, what did you want for your birthday?  What did you want in your diary?  What did you want at sixteen years old?

How much of it did you get from TV?  A billboard?  A tired person telling you, look, that’s silly, but you could sort of have this if you buckle down and forget about all that?  How much of it was sold to you in advance, even if secondhand?

When was the last time you focused on a desire, a will to action, that would really move mountains?  You have it in you.  I know you do.  We all have it in us before it’s ground out.  When was the last time you looked in yourself, looked to a future that was more than a threat, were mighty?

When did you last give yourself a quiet moment to really, really feel a need, let alone nurse a dream unadulterated by the impulse to give away parts of it before you even begin?

It’s frightening to go out there that way, to accept how powerful you are every hour of every day.  Even in our activism we accept what we’re fed:  this is what we can have right now.  This is what’s pragmatic.  This is what people will listen to, and we’ll try and push it further later.  Their rights will wait until mine are advanced.  This is something we can think about when we have the funding.  Maybe in the distant future, but not in my lifetime.  Look at our focus:  the anti-racist movement.  The anti-war movement.  The post-colonialist movement.  The please stop calling my marriage a lie movement.  The please stop treating me like I’m not human movement.  The we need to stop destroying everything movement.  The please stop hurting me movement.

Anti.  Anti.  Anti.  Am I anti- sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism, classism, transphobia, war, environmental destruction, fascism, hell, can we just call it anti-oppression, anti-kyriarchy, anti-hate?  Oh hell yes I am.  I just think these are completely insufficient.  If feminism is about ending sexism and nothing more, it’s already been bought and sold.  It’s accepted filling that advertised hole as a priority over centering who it’s meant to uplift.

You can always find an enemy.  You can always find something you want to go away. I want there to be no more intimate partner violence.  I want class exploitation to stop.  But we run further and further into what we’re fighting against and we forget hope.  We forget what we’re fighting for, let alone in what direction.  We forget that thing we’re protecting, or building, because of the endless and often necessary distraction of everything that’s trying to tear it down.  Being against all of these oppressions and injustices is important, but I would like to propose a semantic shift as truly meaningful:  one where we define what we do by what we love, what we need, and what we hope for, where we center hope rather than the opposition when we talk about our ideals.

What if we could conceive of a post-colonialist movement that isn’t first defined by fighting colonizers, but affirming and supporting indigenous peoples, that isn’t post-horror but pre-liberation?

A movement that wasn’t first anti-homophobia, but pro-queer/LGBTQI affirmation and the growth of a society that holds love sacred no matter who is doing the loving?

A movement that wasn’t first about stopping the constant ableist bars to access, but one that centers building a fair, accessible world where every kind of body and mind is valued and given a chance?

A movement that can take a minute before fighting the endless waves of discrimination and violence directed at trans people to center the affirmation and celebration of gender diversity and the human right to self-definition and self-actualization?

A movement that got to talk about the value and strength and beauty of historic neighborhoods before it had to turn and focus on fighting exploitative gentrification?

I know this all sounds like silly technicalities or pie-in-the-sky nonsense.  I’m sort of saying the same thing, aren’t I?  I’m just playing word games.

But please, let it sink in.

When you engage in social justice–be honest–do you think first about the oppression, or about the oppressed?  Do you think first about the hunger, or the right to be fed?  The degradation, or the basic personhood being violated?  When was the last time we let our aspirations be bigger than wanting what we abhor to go away?  When was the last time we allowed ourselves room to conceive of a movement that was more and greater than make the hurting stop?

It’s understandable that we focus on it, because it’s going on and it’s urgent and it’s often life or death.  I get caught up in it, too.  But our ideals can be bigger than “make oppression go away,” because what do we do after that, after our we’ll-overturn-the-bad-regime revolutions and our once-everything-changes-we’ll-do-things-differently?  What were we building this whole time?  Did we encode the same oppressive tactics used against us into its foundations, because we had to beat the bad guy?  Did we get so focused on punishing malefactors that we failed to comfort those harmed?  Did we use everything we had to fight those trying to take from us, only to discover at the end that there was nothing left?  Did we win the war, only to discover that we didn’t have a plan for where we and our wreckage went next?  We can do better than this.  We can do better than being anti-sexist.  We can be pro-equality.  We can be better than anti-bigotry.  We can be pro-the support and celebration of shared and basic humanity.  We can be better than anti-poverty.  We can focus on the hope–force, will, direction, and action–for a new kind of world where everyone has enough to make it through the day.  Does that seem like too much, too ambitious?  If we never hope for it at all, we smother that future in its crib before it even has a chance.  Think about it like taking a trip:  does it go better when you say, I’m on my way to Oakland because that’s where I want to be, or when you say, I’ve got to get the hell out of this town, and you don’t have something better in mind than getting out? What’s more likely to get you somewhere good for you?

So, to that end, my question, and my exercise:  get out your pens and paper, or your keyboards, and tell me what you want, what you need, what you hope for.  And here’s the catch:  you aren’t allowed to use the words no, or not, or end.

Don’t write, I want racism to be over.  Write, maybe, I want everyone to get the same fair chance at life no matter where they come from or what they look like.  Don’t write, I don’t want malnutrition to continue in my community.  Maybe write, I want everyone to be decently fed, I want there to be fresh vegetables, I want there to be healthy children, I want a community where we look after each other.  Instead of writing, I want an end to war, try writing, I want a peaceful world where people find cooperative solutions to problems.  Light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

It seems like word games, but try it.  Keep writing out the list until it sinks in.  And then try it even more concrete:  make a list of your wishful thinking not in terms of what you look forward to, but as a description the world you want to build, what you want your efforts and energy and life to contribute to.  In the present tense.  What do you really, really want?  Not what do you not want–you are making what you are ultimately working for.  Describe it and let it be as real as you dare.  And keep doing it until you remember that this is what you and your movement and your work are reaching for, and you are either moving toward it or not, but this is what you are open to.  This is where your hope is.

It’s much scarier this way, isn’t it:

Everyone goes to as much school as they need.

My family is a healthy part of a healthy community.

Everyone has a say in how their government’s affairs are conducted, which is counted and listened to and given its proper account.

My children live in a safe world with clean water and clean air and peace.

I have the health care I need to grow beautifully old with my loved ones.

My choices about my body are respected and treated as valid.

Everyone is free to make decisions about their sexuality wherein their consent is valued and honored.

When someone falls on hard times, they know the people near them have the will and the means to give them aid.

Everyone gets a fair shot on an even playing field.

It feels dangerous to say these things, or dishonest, or foolish.  It’s a very vulnerable place to be, having concrete and positive ideals where someone might see, and tell you they’re nonsensical.  It’s embarrassing.  You can just feel that impending correction hanging over you, pulling all this down, saying, come on, seriously?  This isn’t difficult because it’s hard work to push through all the lies we’re sold and believe that things can be not just a little less bad, but actually wonderful–it’s just difficult because it’s silly, right?

We can do better than this.

It is possible.

It is happening.

We are ready.

Today is a beautiful day.

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27 comments for “dangerous thinking

  1. z
    September 16, 2009 at 2:28 am

    Okay, I’ll bite. Here’s my attempt.

    I want humanity to be about what we as a people can achieve the most of. I want humanity to be the smartest, the most compassionate, the most curious, the most tolerant, the most peaceful, the best that we can be.

  2. September 16, 2009 at 3:52 am

    This post would have been much more powerful and less annoying if you’d used “I” instead of “We”.

    Because when you ask: When did you last give yourself a quiet moment to really, really feel a need, let alone nurse a dream unadulterated by the impulse to give away parts of it before you even begin?

    The answer is, er, this morning? And yesterday? And last week?

    If you don’t ever do that, then I’m sorry. If you don’t think other people ever do that, then you’re wrong. If you think the problem is that many people don’t do that, you may well be right: but can we at least hear if you’re speaking from your own personal experience, rather than hearing you tell me that you know I don’t dream unadulterated dreams, then go to work to bring them to reality?

    Sister, you do not know what my dreams are. And you do not know what I do to bring them to reality.

  3. Kristen J.
    September 16, 2009 at 5:51 am

    I hope, I wish, I dream of a world where each person sees each other person as having a value equal to their own.

  4. September 16, 2009 at 5:53 am

    “I” think that was a mean-spirited and petty response, Jesurgislac.

    Great post, Little Light. Lots to think about, I’m going to come back to it.

  5. Sadinotna
    September 16, 2009 at 6:38 am

    You seem to be unaware that value is relational. If I, for example, state that Canada is the best country, I have also stated that all other countries are inferior to Canada. If I merely say that Canada is a good nation then I have also said that there are “bad” nations, and it is not hard to figure out what nations are bad because those nations are the furthest from whatever I praised in Canada.

    All compliments are insults to things unlike the complimented. All praise is scorn to things upraised. If you say that we should favor a culture of tolerance then you are saying that 1) intolerance exists and 2) you want to destroy it. No way around it: creation is destructive and strengthening something is weakening something else.

    Positive and negative are categorizers that do not really exist, but if you must insist on one then it must occur with the other. Monopole magnets, after all, do not exist.

  6. September 16, 2009 at 7:12 am

    “I” think that was a mean-spirited and petty response, Jesurgislac.

    To being told what I think and I dream and I do?

    I thought I was being quite polite and respectful.

  7. brit
    September 16, 2009 at 7:26 am

    “I think if feminism is an anti-sexism movement, it has already failed.”

    Feminism is a women’s liberation movement.

    It has not failed in that because feminism, as a movement for women’s liberation, is a process. It is ongoing. It will keep going no matter how many distractions, no matter how many backlashes. As long as there are women actively involved in the process of working towards women’s liberation, feminism will not have failed, it will still be happening.

    Anti-sexism work is a tool that people concerned with human rights and the progression and evolution of humanity can use to help achieve aims identified by the women’s liberation movement, among others. To say that feminism equals anti-sexism is to miss these points, and to say that it has failed is to jump the gun somewhat, as well as a grave misunderstanding of what any of these things mean, and a depressing dismissal of all women involved in fighting in this movement, right now, ongoing, in whatever way they are doing so.

  8. Willow
    September 16, 2009 at 7:28 am

    I approach social justice issues from a liberation theology perspective, for the most part, which places the dignity of people, both as individuals and as communities, at the center of its worldview.

    The LT influence, in fact, is one of the reasons I am happy to call myself a feminist despite the very serious problems I have with the Feminist Movement (TM)–it *isn’t* just anti-sexism. Especially if you take a more holistic view of feminism as encompassing issues like access to clean water, health care and so forth.

    I really, truly don’t mean to be snarky, but–I’m just not sure how this is, well, dangerous. It’s certainly *easier* just to be “anti”-stuff, and it gets a better response from the media, but hard is not the same as subversive.

  9. Jadey
    September 16, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Thank you, little light, for this post and yesterday’s. Both have filled me with a sense of being alive and connected, because you have made beautiful things out of somewhat horrific material.

    I feel like there is space in my life for “anti”, if only because what I feel most strongly “anti” toward is what lives in my own skin, and my comfort in the past has often turned complacent. But this post has made me reconsider what sacrifices are made by being “anti”, and how I might go about preserving the hope as well. I think I would like to stay anti when challenging myself, but when talking with others, some “pro” could go a long way too.

  10. September 16, 2009 at 8:53 am


    Sister, you do not know what my dreams are. And you do not know what I do to bring them to reality.

    Good! Then you don’t need to hear it from me. I prefer to be redundant when it comes down to it, and would rather these things didn’t need saying. I was asking a genuine question; if your answer to “when was the last time” is “five minutes ago,” that’s your answer, and it’s one that makes me happy to hear.


    Feminism is a women’s liberation movement.

    It has not failed in that because feminism, as a movement for women’s liberation, is a process. It is ongoing. It will keep going no matter how many distractions, no matter how many backlashes. As long as there are women actively involved in the process of working towards women’s liberation, feminism will not have failed, it will still be happening.

    Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely. That’s what I was trying to say. If we focus on the ongoing effort of women’s liberation, then no matter how many distractions or which sides the attacks come from, we’ll steer straight. My point is that feminism isn’t equal to anti-sexism, and that, as you say, it should be and is much more. I don’t believe it has already failed at all–hence the “if, then” in that sentence. I am fighting in this movement, too.

  11. September 16, 2009 at 9:10 am


    All compliments are insults to things unlike the complimented. All praise is scorn to things upraised. If you say that we should favor a culture of tolerance then you are saying that 1) intolerance exists and 2) you want to destroy it. No way around it: creation is destructive and strengthening something is weakening something else.

    I would rather encompass my anti-sexism in my pro-women’s-liberation than the other way around, and I am suggesting that keeping our eye on one side of the coin rather than the other is going to help our shared work succeed. I prefer to consider fighting against oppression to be a component of fighting for liberation–yes, a necessary and unavoidable one, but only a part of the work.

    So: every criticism, apparently, has a corresponding positive statement. How would you like to see things done?

  12. brit
    September 16, 2009 at 9:21 am

    “My point is that feminism isn’t equal to anti-sexism”

    I misunderstood your point then, I thought you were saying the opposite. Reducing feminism to ‘anti sexism’ and leaving out the pro woman, women’s liberation part of it, is something I see so often in the papers, in my life, in blogs, even those that profess to be feminist, etc, that it’s too easy now for me to see it even where its not. My apologies.

  13. September 16, 2009 at 9:33 am

    My apologies, too, brit, for not communicating my point clearly enough. I think we’re on the same page.

    So: what does women’s liberation look like, to you?

  14. brit
    September 16, 2009 at 9:49 am

    In a word, Evolution. I don’t know where to start on what that means or would comprise. I can do the antis- No capitalism, no money, no profit, no working day, no schooling, no bosses, no marriage, no beauty rituals performed to appeal to others (as opposed to cleansing rituals that just make us feel good cos we smell good and feel soft, to/for ourselves) no monogamy (meaning intentional monogamy, as opposed to accidental monogamy, the sort that truthfully just turned out that way, no pressure), no pressure to have or not have sex, no hierarchies. The end of medicalised and mechanised childbirth.

    The pros are harder because I don’t have the language for them, I have wisps of the idea but no concrete memory to refer to to find a description. I feel like we all need a lot of space to figure this stuff out but it’s difficult to make that space without people stomping all over it. Evolution requires exploration and exploration requires space to try things out and get them wrong and start again with a new direction. I feel that noone is allowed mistakes, and some of us are allowed even less than others. Women are not allowed mistakes. Politically or personally. We need space to make mistakes without being reduced to cliches and stereotypes.

    Women’s liberation looks to me like women having all the space we need to explore our humanity.

  15. kb
    September 16, 2009 at 10:44 am

    All compliments are insults to things unlike the complimented. All praise is scorn to things upraised. -and this is one of the biggest problems I have with so much media analysis-no. They aren’t. There can be multiple variations of good, multiple variations of beautiful.
    and, while I agree that what you have said in this post is important to do-and one of the reasons I get so sad when I see people tearing down a movie or book that “pretends we’ve just solved racisim/sexism(the two I’ve seen) in a future world” we do need to-I agree that we need to think about what that would would look like. That’s the only way to know where we’re going. And doesn’t mean the author is pretending we’re there yet. And that’s admittedly a response to people on sites that aren’t this one. so moving on to the post.
    that said-I disagree when you say this is scary. No, really it’s not. Personally, to me not hoping is much scarier, not doing anything is much scarier. So this, and really the last post, just can’t resonate. It could be a function of privilege that wanting things isn’t scary to me-it probably helps a lot that being brought up non-poor and white make me believe that I can get things I hope for, that I can make them happen. And why is it scarier to write positive than negative? I really am trying to understand, but I haven’t ever felt that-I just don’t get it. I mostly prefer “i’d like everyone to have choice over their lives, and rulership over what’s inside their skin” That’s a form that you can write as a law, but other than that-not scary.

  16. Willow
    September 16, 2009 at 10:59 am

    It could be a function of privilege that wanting things isn’t scary to me-it probably helps a lot that being brought up non-poor and white make me believe that I can get things I hope for, that I can make them happen.

    Interesting thought.

    I grew up (and continue to be) unpoor and white as well, and it is not scary for me to want things for others. But due to multiple disability-related issues and the effects they have had on my life and future, I have a very tough time hoping for good things for myself.

    But I’m with you on “why is it scarier to write positive than negative.”

  17. kb
    September 16, 2009 at 11:09 am

    should have fixed my last sentence-I meant, that’s not a form you can write as a law “give everyone choice” is too nonspecific.

  18. peanutbutter
    September 16, 2009 at 11:17 am

    I first came across this general concept when I was a teenager. Best advice I ever got, and it grew over the years — I recognized it in the questions you asked.

    The advice I got was to ACCEPT a compliment with a simple “Thank you” instead of downplaying whatever I had been complimented on.

    It may be considered a trite or simple thing to “think positive” but in reality we are very strongly conditioned against it. And thinking of something in terms of its positivie, constructive aspects instead of its negative aspects (even though, as someone pointed out, they are but two sides to the same coin) results in a profoundly different way of looking at things, and devising strategies to cope with or fix things.

  19. bg
    September 16, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I want a world where human beings treat all other living beings with respect and see themselves as part of a whole that needs, values, and supports them.

    I want a world where I can be human without labels or judgments.

    I want a world where quality education is available to everyone.

    I want a world where people are the decision makers in their own lives.

    There’s a start…and I also have something to add – this truly isn’t meant to be petty or snarky – but why use the phrase “unpoor” when referring to socioeconomic status? We are so afraid of class that we even have trouble naming it. Or maybe we just aren’t sure where we stand between “rich” and “poor”. I am also middle class (wealthy by the standards of most people on earth) and white. I suppose privilege might have a lot to do with my conviction that good things can happen. Then again, I’ve seen a lot of apathy from privileged people (since the system benefits them) and a lot more hope from those less privileged by sex/race/class/etc. Hope is nonexclusive; I laud your conviction that we can change things.

  20. kb
    September 16, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    I said unpoor because in this case it’s not about being rich so much as it is about not being poor. middle class is included in the w/ economic privilege, and for this aspect I don’t know that I think it matters which you are. I don’t know-there are some privileges about what you are, and some about what you’re not. It’s not that I feel bad about naming class, but the privileges it gives you aren’t just limited to one particular class, so I feel that nonpoor was the best phrase for it in that context. There are others where middle class probably is.

  21. shah8
    September 16, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    I suppose I care enough about this sort of thing to respond. I vehemently disagree with this post. Hope is a baited poison to enhance all the troubles and travails released by Pandora. Treacly utopianism like what little light has posted is what it is because it’s all about the refusal to engage in mechanism, because it’s all about pretending that there is no scarcity of materials, labor, or will, because it’s also all about pretending that people wouldn’t try to create scarcity when there IS plenty. There are always going to be bad and worse choices, and there isn’t going to be enough *glint*Positive Thinking*glint* that will create an unpleasant alternative.

    I am not a buddhist, but this sort of post is, to me, precisely what is meant by the malevolence of desire, because it’s fundamentally rooted in a sort of willful ignorance and denial of what is. The belief that we can craft all of the sets of things and beings to our imagination, when they belong to themselves, even if they love you, even if they serve you, even if they are inanimate to your vision.

    So I refuse to write down these sorts of words, because I already suffer enough.

    Not to mention this little fact:

    If we’re just a little to obvious about dropping out (and inviting others to do so), we’ll invite our own destruction, same as the Albisengians, Canudos, any place where a minority is visibly successful, or even hippies now.

  22. September 17, 2009 at 4:15 am

    This post is amazing.

    I’ve been thinking on ideas that go in this general direction. I’m on the autistic spectrum, and lately I’ve been trying to get past “I am disabled in X ways because of my neurology due to society” and try to imagine what a society where I am /not/ disabled would look like-

    and coming up utterly blank.

    So I can’t phrase it in a positive way yet. I try and wrap my mind around it, but it’s just too big, too different. I can’t say what I’m looking for without using the words “not” or “without”. I want to not be… I want this to stop… I want to live a full life without… not, not, not. It seems so incredibly limited, so sad, so doomed to failure to only be able to wish for things to go away but not to imagine what I want to replace it.

    I want… I want… I want a world where difference is celebrated, is seen as that which makes us unique people in our own right whatever shape the difference takes, where support when those differences cause pain is matter-of-fact and considered the only moral thing to do.

    Anything more specific than that? Not a clue.

  23. lex
    September 17, 2009 at 7:47 am


  24. Jha
    September 18, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    shah8: We must be reading different posts. I don’t see it as a denial and ignorance of what is. I see it as an affirmation of what can be. I believe that the latter is worth every bit as much as the former.

  25. shah8
    September 18, 2009 at 10:54 pm


    I was wondering if I was too outspokenly harsh, but still, I feel this way.

    Anyways, the traditional response to posts like little light is “and I’d like a pony, too”.

    There is just a *very* rich philosophical tradition of attacking this sort of idea, mostly because the desires and ends are decoupled from the situational context, means, and genuine knowing of ends.

    For instance, I’ve got to get out of this town is often the only thing that matter for the people who flee a place. Where-ever they’d like to be is utterly irrelevant to the now, and often, being away is a precondition for knowing where you’d truly want to be. A great many jewish people died in the Holocaust for exactly this kind of reasoning. The lucky ones left however they could, and then decided they’d go to America, or Israel, or wherever.

    In another vein, Ida B. Wells would have as strong a negative reaction as Emmanuel Kant. In the context of violent miasma, placing a priority to keep on dreaming of a better world is despicable lotus eating. Someone has to go out and stop these people.

    We have so many wishgranter stories that illustrate just how dangerous monkey’s paws are in terms of just individuals. And applied to societies, such wishes are almost uniformly malignant–because usually, some other group of people suffer and die for your ideals. Because when the means, history, and context are left vacant, people place their worst traits there. Universal education? Underpaid, brilliant women structurally coerced to provide that labor. Democratic yeomanry? Native Americans gets treated like varmints lowering the value of land and exterminated. The monsters of human crafting gets pushed into the closet and under the bed during the daylight, and let free to terrorize the night shadows of morality.

    In fact, most public religions and state moralities encourage this sort of gap thinking. It’s easier to provide something if no one is concerned with how. It’s also easier to fundamentally isolate people in their little quantized shells when they are forced to imagine something they’ve never imagined before, and so must project a vague image of immediate dubiousness.

    I think I will stop here.

  26. zindzhi
    September 24, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    It makes me thinks of my Haiti . we were freed slaves, but mentally we were still slaves and treated each other as such. then we never really got past that so we found it normal to enslave poor children because it was all about fighting the evil french and not building a nation on love. So now we are trapped in mental slavery together. I want a world were we can all be free to be who we are , to be loved valued and cherished. I want communities based on mutual respect love and commitment to make a better world.

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