Today it’s spring. There are little flowers everywhere, suddenly. The light is less hazy and stays for longer, the rain is warmer. I leave the window open when I sleep and I can hear birds in the morning, wind chimes, children shouting. Neighbors running their car engines. I go on long walks with my dog, to the park with the little daisies in the grass and the big doug-firs that almost, almost feel like the forest. Kinnikinnick stands with her face in the wind, eyes half-closed, and sniffs. And then she bolts across the grass, ears back, smooth like a little seal jumping in the waves. I call her and she makes a big arc, tiny feet flying so fast, and zooms back toward me, little fox-body flinging woodchips in its wake. So fast, she likes to think no dog could catch her.
I love my dog so much.
Yesterday morning I woke in the bright morning light to see that she had crawled up on the pillow and wedged her triangular snout against my cheek. Her clear brown eyes were so close to mine and I could smell her small dog breath. I fell back asleep and when I woke up she was still there, watching me. She is my best dog friend, my seven-pound luck-dragon.
We went and saw Derrick Jensen speak last night, Corinne and nik-nik and I. It was crowded and noisy and nik-nik was so good, sleeping on my lap or making friends with the strangers around us while Derrick Jensen talked. Derrick was wearing a sweater with a parrot on it that his mom had knit him and he explained mildly, in his Andy Warhol-like voice, that one way to stop the cycle of violence, as the potential victim of a rape, was to shoot the rapist in the head. He talked about the inevitable rise in violence against women that goes with the collapse of civil infrastructure. The collapse of civil infrastructure being, of course, imminent, he quoted a second-wave feminist in saying that women should “harden their hearts and learn to kill”. Then he talked about the Pink Saris of India, who travel the countryside looking for rapists, whom they beat.
Some people in the crowd were confounded by his talking, and at the end they asked stupid questions, like “but how do you justify fighting violence with violence” and “how do you know the difference between fine art and crafts.” I thought his talk was wonderful. I am no stranger to the fact that we live in an incredibly violent society, although if one is privileged enough, one can live in a way so as never to see the violence, in which case it is possible to pretend that the violence doesn’t even exist. And if there is no violence, then how can you justify self-defense against it? But there is so much violence. Violence against women, children, prisoners, laborers, forests, salmon and entire nation-states. All in our name, all of us complicit. And why does it make sense to fight violence with violence? Why does it make sense to shoot someone who is trying to rape you? Because right now, only two percent of rapists spend even a night in jail. And if rapists, lets say, risked getting shot, then far fewer rapes would happen.
It’s like the playground at school. If someone punches you, and you punch them back, they’ll back the fuck off. You don’t just let them punch you and punch you. Everyone knows that the adults aren’t going to do anything. You’ve got to show the bully that you’re not going to put up with their bullshit. You might lose recess privileges for a week, you might have to stand against the wall while everyone else plays four-square, but you know what, in the end, it’s worth it.
We are complicit in so much violence, and yet, as individuals, we are such cowards. And I can’t help but think that it’s because we are the bullies, and standing up against the violence would ultimately mean standing up against ourselves, against our way of life, against our manic consumer greed-fest, against our ignorance of physical reality and our deep, deep denial. We’ve got a white-knuckle grip on our privilege, and even though our way of life is destroying our water, air, planet, communities, and ultimately ourselves, we just can’t be talked into letting it go.
You can listen Derrick Jensen’s “Endgame” talk here-