Note: When this diary was published Galtisalie was still a separate pseudonym from Francisco Nejdanov Solomin. Here's an explanation for the prior separate pseudonyms and the decision to discard the separation: http://www.dailykos.com/...
The thing I most appreciate about the Russell Brand of today, even more than his having found his political voice (while seemingly rejecting electoral politics) is that he is willing to try to be authentic to who he is and to who he thinks he should be--to his past and to what he sees as his duty in the present and the future to dedicate at least some of his mesmerizing brilliance and talent to helping his fellow humans to have a better world. Unlike Mr. Brand, I am not at all jaded about political participation, because I believe it is the peaceful and even beautiful way to effect change, but, like Mr. Brand and Reinhold Niebuhr, I too recognize the limits of democracy. Rather than rejecting democracy, my model is to demand more and more of it, and eventually all of it, making it enter and control the economic sphere of society instead of being cordoned off into the sphere of subjects deemed acceptable in the distracting game of culture wars and divide-and-conquer manipulation favored by the powerful capitalists who exercise great, but not complete, political power in my wonderful but highly imperfect country.
I like how at the end of the Brand interview, he makes it clear he is not asking for permission to speak or to demand change. Similarly, I too am not asking for permission to demand that democracy be real and effective, and take over the economic sphere. But unlike Brand, I also demand the right to not speak. On the introvert-extrovert scale, he is a near 10 I imagine. I am at the other end of the scale. For most of my life, I have struggled to be comfortable socially. I have often feigned an extrovert's smile and laughter. When I look back at photographs of me smiling and laughing, I realize that most of the time, I was acting a part.
I will no longer deny the alienation that my society creates, an alienation that has forced many members of my extended family to lose their lives to drugs, just like Brand nearly did, and just like Brand may still do if he does not maintain his sobriety one day at a time.
Now if I choose to smile or to laugh, I want it to be authentic and not responsive to an outward pressure to deny something authentic I cannot describe that relates to my past. I may choose to smile, if I smile at all, through a bowl of cherry tomatoes. The smokiness of the past sometimes is best explored in silence. By giving myself permission to be semi-silent, I give myself permission to not hurt others or myself with words.
And then sometimes in silence, good empowering things can happen, and this will authentically integrate with my political action:
If I am to be authentically myself and true to my faith as I understand it, my
religion is 100% socialized and focused on needs and not wants. I have learned
to love the desert of my impoverished soul. By learning to love this desert,
occasionally and gradually green pastures have begun to grow with tiny springs
and trickles of water that sometimes become more like small streams. I love this
place. The desert interspersed with sporadic gifts of greenness and water is my
home. I cannot keep any green pastures, springs, trickles, and streams to myself.
To grasp any of them is to see them disappear and to live a false life. I want to
share what I have with others. However, this is not focused on sharing my
religion, which is admittedly idiosyncratic and personal, but on sharing material
things that can benefit others, most of whom have different personal beliefs.
Whatever wealth I "have" is not really mine. I worry less and am richer inside
where it counts when I recognize my own poverty and seek to live it as a calling.
This is all valid for me personally. It is my faith. This desert has always been
with me, although I may try to ignore it with a false life. Now I know I am there,
and I accept that I am there. I have learned to be content with what I am, but to
work on improving my stewardship of whatever that is.
This type of faith is, I suspect, at least initially unattractive to most people. It
is grey, stark, and realistic, grounded in openness to all that is real, including
science and whatever resources happen to be available to humanity in our
material universe. Like the desert, these resources, which make up the earth, are
beautiful to me. I am responsible for doing my part to steward them
compassionately and wisely. In the desert, one must be resourceful.
I have learned to love and respect your desert too, whatever it is. I did not
create you, and I do not understand the mystery that is you. I can do my best to
give you deep and true freedom, economic as well as civil, so that within the
context of this freedom you will be in a better position to deal with your own
alienation. For some reason, helping you to have your material needs met and to
be less alienated also helps me to be less alienated. It is a humanitarian loop. I
think it is love between us. I love you now through my active socialism, whereas
before I was afraid of you. I may still get angry with you, but I am less afraid of
you. You cannot do as much harm to me as you did before.
But please do not harm others, especially children and those who are poor
and oppressed and unable to defend themselves or their rights. That is cause for
me to not be at all tolerant. I will, as I am able, rise with righteous action to be
on the side of Spartacus and not on the side of the corrupt wickedness of Rome.
I will be on the side of the North in the U.S. Civil War. I will be on the side of
the Allies in World War II, as was Orwell.
I will, as I have wisdom to do so, be against a war that will kill more
innocent people than it will save. The duty to have informed debate and to have
a democratic "declaration" of war as being just before it happens is important to
have a moral world. Where political democracy is available or reasonably might
become available, I march peacefully with Dr. King. Where political democracy
is not available and will not reasonably become available, I will, like Niebuhr and Orwell advocated, and Bonheoffer gave his life for, use any means necessary to prevent Hitler's genocide. ... I did not create this corrupt and fallen world, but I will not stand on the wayside while it is being further corrupted. I want to participate in the mess that is our world to the best of my species-being ability.
I realize that the positions that arise from my semi-silent authenticity will not engender unanimous agreement with other members of society. But if I cherish the shiny things that a materialist society says I am supposed to cherish, and laugh when it says to laugh, and smile when it says to smile, I am denying myself, including my political self, who can be one of the millions of agents of world system change.
Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 3:33 AM PT: After I posted this diary, I made a decision to turn the computer off all Sunday. As a Buddhist relative told me, "Abandon all hope of fruition"--I want to try to do the best I can and then not place ownership in any results. Thanks to those who have read this diary, and especially for the comments, which are insightful. I really appreciate them. Some I do not completely agree with on the details, just like I don't agree with Brand on all of his details, especially the prescription for not voting. I wish you all well. May we all be as engaged as Brand, each in our own way as we feel is right. I put a couple of additional thoughts below, especially in response to Tailgunner30uk. I am on the left side of what is possible, but I also believe very strongly in trying to drastically redefine the possible. Thus, I believe very strongly in GOTV, voter protection, etc., but I also believe we have to be demanding system change from democracy-lite. If we simply accept the status quo of democracy-lite, we are being dishonest to the magnitude of the problems and the extent of the human suffering going on all around us, every day. Peace.