Through my gradual maturation, I have committed further and deeper to embodying a lifestyle which radically refuses to participate in our plutocratic, ecocidal, anthropocentric monoculture.
Whenever I find myself defending this path of rejection and subversion, there is one power word which has grown to become my favourite.
Defined as the loss of illusion, this term is a stance for people power and a ship for personal liberation.
The path that many of us are faced with is relentless and exhausting. We walk this road through a series of choices. For instance, I choose not to drive a car. I choose to be kind to aggressors. I chose self-directed education over Industrial tertiary education. I chose, and still choose, to have hope.
But the issue I take with being called 'idealistic' is the implication that by making a choice to stand up to the unfair and frankly idiotic power structures running our species into the ground is perhaps not a choice that I can make.
That is the fear talking, folks. And when you make decisions based on fear, you may as well have already surrendered.
Idealism is no failure. It is a first step, which takes courage.
The narrow path of integrity may come with extraordinary views, deep satisfaction and loving company but it is no less obtainable. The discomfort imagined by walking in such a tight space is in reality rather cosy and all the more clearly defined in contrast to the world of endless stimulation and distraction which we now face. The echo chamber has less reverberation, the outside noise is filtered to a manageable hum and steps are taken at will, not by force. There is a safe space to put our ideas into practice and see what works, or what behaviours surface through our misguided conditioning.
Compare this to the choice-less choice of participating in the matrix.
Your opportunities are determined by the affluence of your parents; your culture, caste, religion, education. Your government is determined by the competitive structure of power plays and longstanding values reinforced by corruption. Your diet is determined by government subsidies to corn farmers, seeds engineered by weapon manufacturers, scientific experiments performed in underground labs and the marketing programs employed to wholesale retailers. There isn’t really a lot of choice in any of it.
Truly an illusion.
Perhaps it is just this contrast which renders hopeful people as threats in the eyes of the skeptic.
The bright-eyed ‘caregiver’ (or we might distinguish these roles by adopting the term ‘fuck-giver’) requires us to confront the complete lack of control that individuals have over our most essential necessities.
This is particularly alarming at a time when we are learning how many of these decisions, made on our behalf, have violently unsafe implications — consequences which are manifesting in the rapid speed of one lifetime.
There are so many interrelated threats to our species at this point in time.
Simultaneously, there are countless organisations and communities dedicating their lives, their work, their resources and their minds to solving the key issues currently provoking a pan-species mass extinction.
The term ‘hippie’ continues to be thrown around without abandon, used to disarm courageous individuals and communities who dare to invent better systems of living on (and with) our planet. No doubt there‘s a story somewhere describing the marketing of using 'hippie' pejoratively.
In the era of sanctioned propaganda, it became far too easy for great ideas to be completely crushed and discarded by onlookers carelessly associating 'alternative' solutions with spaced-out freeloaders. But the hippie movement started over fifty years ago. It has thoroughly evolved since then— pragmatically; necessarily.
Those who recognise that our oppressive social and economic structures are damaging the whole for the short-lasting benefit of the few are ‘idealists’. Those who acknowledge that the earth is a complex living organism are ‘hippies’. Those who wish to ignore our invitations into an integrated and harmonious biological symbiosis, those who instead continue on the comfortable path of over-use and destruction are… well, what would you call them? The problematic label of all labels; ‘normal’?
The grey ship has hit the iceberg.
The captain threw all the life rafts overboard while a passing fleet of Versace pirates discretely held his crew hostage.
The only ship in the neighbourhood sea can be heard from miles away by laughter and song; it is painted creatively and fairy lights are strung along the bow. People are sharing massage and upstairs there’s an edible garden.
Are you telling me that you would resist climbing aboard?
We don’t all share the same exact ideals. Would that even be healthy?
Our species is as diverse as it is adaptive.
But at the core, I propose there are a few ideals that we might all agree on:
- It is worth trying to survive.
- It is important to have a choice.
- A functional society supports those who wish to improve life for everyone.
With this in mind, I encourage you to consider in what ways you may have suppressed your creative mind from exploring solutions to the sludge we are being served by our exploitative dictators.
It has been neurologically demonstrated that the very act of having hope will set our brain on a subconscious track toward finding solutions. So if idealism is the alternative to complacency, I refuse to receive this comment as a criticism.
We can do better. Perhaps not overnight, perhaps not everywhere at once, but little by little — if we dare to act. To test our hypotheses and fail quickly.
You might be called idealistic, but if you’re willing to prototype, to learn, to execute and to reflect, then that’s not the only kind of person you will be.
You’ll be someone who lives.