Gentle Rebellion Class 1.01
How to make successful gentle revolutions happen?
Part I: values and attitudes.
It’s a pity, but expected, that no school teaches you ‘how to rebel’. But it is quite disconcerting to experience that schools mainly train you to be part of the system, that is damaging our planet in an ever faster pace. And with the big media in the hands of the corporations, those that schools train you to work for, it’s no wonder the global wake up call currently reaches way too few people. Take for instance the destruction of our ecosystems, let alone the Global Warming aspect of it. This essential issue doesn’t even get daily attention in the news, while the symptoms, effects and battles around it are happening daily all over the planet, our breathing home. We laugh a bit about the stupidity of the US Republicans who deem Global Warming a political issue, yet more and more scientists and citizens around the world are deeply worried. So how to stand up for what needs to be addressed? How to make a Gentle Revolution happen? Welcome to Gentle Rebellion 1.01.
What are you going for?
Without a clear objective, or obstacle that needs to be out of the way, nothing much will be achieved and certainly the amount of followers, helpers will stay very low. People need to the able to identify with the cause. So what’s your call to change, we should all go for? Here’s one that seems more and more pressing these days:
Stop the Corporate Wars!
The wars in the Middle East are more and more clearly the result of US interventions, to get their hands on the oil, to build pipelines. Many terrorists we now need to fear are creations of the CIA, Oil and Weapon industries. They angered nations and peoples, and they armed other and sometimes the same peoples and nations. And then pushed them to fight. So who are the real terrorists? We should not aid any American War no more. For whatever (made up false flag) reason. Say no to military taxes, say no to any order helping pipeline building across people’s lands, say no to pressure to report falsely on protests, say no to pressure to support any aggression against innocents and foreign peoples. We should rather help everything green and alternative that’s healthy for peace, people and planet. (Feel for yourself does this resonate? If yes, what would you work for? If no, what goes against your convictions? What would you improve and or offer as counter movement?)
So if we want to stop war with Russia, Iran, China, or any poor country with lots of resources refusing to sell out to American companies, what is it that we can do? If we want to save nature, bring democracy back in the USA, get corporate criminals behind bars, stop human trafficking, women’s rights endangered, or any other cause, what can we do? What can we do?
The lucky thing: when all seems dark, people automatically turn to the light! When your voice is authentic, your actions fun, your offer true, than people will sooner believe you, than a political guy promising whatever the other side doesn’t deliver. A few rounds of such guys in elections, and elections as a whole become discredited. If that happens, the work is of course, rather than become apathetic, to stand up and act.
Historic Context of successful shifts happening
Please study all the positive change miracles that happened in the 20th century. Aside from being a very violent century, many revolts and shifts happened without (much) violence. Read about the workers revolt in Poland, which led to the Fall of the Wall (read about that too). Study the Nelson Mandela and the End of Apartheid. Check up on Mahatma Gandhi and the End of Colonialism. Check how and why many South American dictatorships ended in voting. Check how the women got the vote. Check how the Zapatistas liberated their land. Also watch some video’s from the beginning of this century on the Arabic Spring and Occupy. People move and can make a difference. Yet, as you by now should understand the road is dangerous and you may fail. Fail because of strive within, because of successful counter strategies or running out of breath because the change took to long. Or even fail, because winning a revolution leads way too often to more of the same, just with different bosses with different titles. And it can turn ugly. Some powers fiercely defend their interests, using any means available to them, including bullying, lies, force and sadly murder. But as I believe ‘might doesn’t make right’.
Elements for successful shifts I. Attitudes
So what are the basic attitudes needed in a resistance?
Be free of outcome, be free of judgement, be free to play. Yes, you may be angry and yes you should act. But if anger gives you a red button, the button will be pushed and played against you. Being free from red buttons, the other side can play, gives you an advantage and the possibility to step out of damaging patterns. See this post (Foolkido) for more on this. You may become like clear water, untouchable, healthy and effective.
Free to play also means Humor. Humor is attractive, it’s liberating, it helps release (inner) steam and share the pain. Humor can pinch holes where others can’t. That’s why fools can get away with mirroring the king. With people like Trump there’s a lot to mirror. Use it. When people laugh there’s an element of truth, or as in many sick jokes, an element of release of pain and shock.
Wisdom. Sounds easy, or corny. Yet, if you watch the movie Selma, you see a lot of preparation into choices to make the march of Martin Luther King effective. Elders have it; they balance possibilities and look at perspectives beyond the direct issue. The wisdom of kids is often a honest direct truth and choice for what’s honest and fair (if they haven’t been to indoctrinated by whatever side they grow up in.) Wisdom is also self reflection: “How am I part of the problem?” Wisdom is also being able to have an overview? Look wider, look deeper! What is essentially going on? What’s the core of the issue? The other side often also has some very good points. Be able to see that. Or they can be talked to, like in South Africa and India.
Courage. Social Courage is needed and determination. Because the obstacles will be big and the journey can be very long. The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo have been rallying since 1977 and the founders were murdered. Harriet Tubman and millions others have been part of resistance movements to safe human life’s against brutality. And, as Gandhi showed, determination and courage can move mountains, or in his case the British Empire out of India. Currently those at Standing Rock show courage. They stand for something bigger than their own interests. Knowing that gives courage.
Social skills and charisma. If you can’t talk to everyone you meet on this journey, than you have lost before you started. Getting angry, being stubborn are all okay as long as you don’t go to far for, especially, your aides. Storytelling is a essential aspect in this. You move people with stories they can relate to. Old guy Bernie Sanders spoke so much better to the young than all all other candidates who started out in the US presidential elections of 2016. But then Trump had charisma too, and scandals, which the media loved so much more. They really helped vote him in.
Co-creation and collaboration. If you can’t work with others you’ve already lost. A shift happens because many people all add their bit. This needs to be organized. These people all must feel their bit counts. Thus working with others, rather than telling them what to do, is essential to get things moving forward. Unless of course people rather want to be bossed around. But then, your revolution will just end up being more of the same.
Mass. There’s power in numbers. When all women, let alone half of the female population would refuse to play by a certain rule, all at the same time, then there’s little to stop them. When the Danes all started to wear a David’s star in the second World War, the Germans backed down from arresting everyone.
Values. Keep your values high! The ends never justify the means. Dare even to confront aggressors within your own rank. Aggression towards the other side is tribalism. It’s ‘Us vs. Them’. And ‘they’ love that. They play that game way longer. Step out of that separation; it will lead you towards inclusive solutions.
Elements for successful shifts II. Strategies
What strategies might be applied and often combined for success?
Non violence. One of the most powerful and famous forms of gentle resistance is Non Violence. It works best when used en masse, or as with Rosa Parks on an unexpected moment stunning those that expect compliance. This field is a study in itself, but basically hitting peaceful people makes bullies look very bad. Yet be prepared to be hit or bullied or shouted at. And you’ll need all your inner strength to stay calm and free from being agitated. If you succeed you may find few people or foreign countries willing to support a government beating up unarmed people.
Stealth (read hidden resistance). If they know your plan, they’ll find their own strategy. The Arabic Spring drowned in blood, when the protestors got armed and angry. And if you investigate in Syria the rebels got armed and fired up to attack Assad, by the CIA. Police and secret services love to plant agitators in protestors ranks, to help them push over limits, that make them look bad, or help their interests, regardless of innocent victims. It’s not for nothing most protests have security too, protecting against agitators crossing lines, they don’t want to cross. Have a plan, have a core team, have crystal clear plans and make sure the other side doesn’t see it coming, let alone doesn’t have a strategy to tackle it.
Paradigm shift. When everyone grasps a new idea that sounds way better than the old, then it becomes easier to shift the paradigm. Take the war on drugs. The idea that drug addiction is a disease is gaining ground in the world. As a result the war on drugs is losing support and believe in it being effective. The eyes are opening to the inhumanity of it. This also made it easier to see how the whole ‘war on drugs’ was misused to imprison many black people for way too small offenses.
Shift through Wonder! Wonder? Yes, wonder! Use alienation. Make people wonder, start asking questions, to themselves, to the system.
Be present. Be a topic that nobody can deny, that must be spoken about in the media. The USA 2016 election showed the influence of being in the news a lot. Sometimes even when it’s bad. Also being in the news can really protect you, as you can’t disappear that easily. On the other hand you may be targeted to make an example. Conditions can differ very much. Having proof of your points spread all over the media is of course a very desired position.
Be present through Art. Know how to attract attention. Like humor, here visual art can do a lot. Art also have the quality of being ambiguous. Many artists within oppressing situations hid messages of hope for the general public and criticisms against the ‘leaders’ within their work. Also, as we see the visuality of Burning Man made it such a global fest. The Anonymous mask is also a visual success, whatever you think of those using it.
Break through propaganda. I think that main stream media in the USA is allowed to lie is a travesty. You need to have access to as many people as you can. When they recognize the importance of your message it will spread, even when it happens through books learned by heart. But only, only if people recognize the importance and feel touched by the message.
Inclusion. Yes, approaches that include the other side in the solution get way better response. In South Africa it made the difference. The end of Apartheid was not removing all whites, but finding a new way on how to live together. Everyone wants peace, only the ideas on how that should be accomplished may differ. Rather than humiliating or beating the other side, peace processes work much better, when you work with the other side. this one might be the most essential one. Sadly it is always cast aside as long as somebody just wants to win and see the ‘others’ cast down.
Start! Yes, you can begin living in the world you desire as if it’s already there. No revolution is as attractive as a party everyone wants to join. :) Make the world you want visible. Show it can be done. Show how it’s done. Be the proof it’s possible.
Expose. Wikileaks. Anonymous. Investigative journalism. Alternative media. Independent voices. They all help us open our eyes and see. They all can help shift perception. If you have information that might make the difference, share it! But don’t spread lies to speed up things, because when the lie catches up, you’ll be the more damaged one and will have damaged your reputation.
Start with Innovation. Make them outdated. Especially when the Chinese or Russians all would get free healthcare and energy and the USA not. They wouldn’t like to be seen as backward. :)
Start bottom up. Yes, with modern media, if necessary totally encrypted, you can start with everyone who feels called to join. It’s okay if it’s messy. Follow the energy. Self organize, or swarm. That’s how the Zapatista’s got it working. Forget finding out who the leaders should be. Share, act, include, have lost of dialogues on what matters.
Use women and children. Use and listen to the weak. When women march the police are less inclined to beat up protestors. Even more so when their mother is there. “Son, I know you are one of the guys with a gas mask on, please be careful! Oh, and your grandmother wants to know, why you do what the crazy president of ours wants.”
Have a goal, especially good ideas how it should work when you win. The French Revolution. The Russian revolution. Two great examples of revolutions that ended up being more of the same. After all royals lost their heads the French got self proclaimed Emperor Napoleon and the Russians got their communist Tsar Stalin. Therefore test the objective and truly live it before it’s corrupted by new players entering the field and use it against you.
Education, last but certainly not least. Teaching is very essential. If children are purely raised to believe and participate in the old system, nothing much will happen. The paradigm must be shifted in these crucial years, whether you can do that openly or it must be sneaked in, depends on the resistance to your ideas.
Test everything you’ve learned in a protest near you, or start talking on a facebook group to people with a cause you love. Consider an issue that makes you burn within. Wonder what you think we all suffer from, left and right, and can do something about? Consider the bigger picture and then come up with a concrete action. Like no paying tax (or percentage that goes to war) until there’s peace. Leaving all plastic wrappings behind in the supermarket to protest plastics in the environment (both will only work when everybody or a very significant part steps in). Or is the action bigger? Occupy failed. Then what action might work, or haven’t we tried yet? I think such a conversation, to make people move is essential. Here’s a site of very successful action: https://www.letsdoitworld.org/ They got whole countries to clean up the mess. They even had several years ago 10% of the Slovenian population in action.
Good luck! May your Gentle Revolution become a party everyone, including me, would love to dance in!
Share your findings, adventures and successes on The Gentle Revolution on facebook.
Here’s the link to the Second Class of becoming a Gentle Revolutionary.
This post came partically out of the conversation with two incredible minds: Anne Marie LaMonde, who argued for the first two strategies and Anneloes Smitsman working on reconciliation in Bhutan. And Christopher Chase helped me remember the importance of inclusion.
More on both the urgent need to be prepared and on how to act is also shown in this short video by Naomi Klein.
Further reading (next to links already put into the text): “Blueprint for Revolution” by Srdja Popovic.