“When people speak in dhammic terms about transforming spears into flowers, or harm and pain into wisdom, I think about the potential for queer black revolutionaries to convert the tremendous depth of their suffering into infinite compassion for themselves and all beings.”
I have been thinking about the quote above for sometime now, meditating on it if you will and what it’s implications are for my own organizing work. Fellow blogger, Klonke, posted this as apart of a longer comment on a previous post and I immediately was intrigued by the profound meaning behind those words. Often when we, as Marxists or even non-marxists revolutionary minded folk, talk about challenging capital we talk in very limiting terms of class warfare through labor struggle. And it is true, in order to challenge the system of capital that exist, in order to slay the beast known as capitalism, we will need to begin to develop dual power based in worker solidarity, however, I would submit (and I think it is generally understood just not talked about much) that this isn’t enough. The oppression and alienation we face doesn’t stem solely from capitalism. Racism, sexism, homophobia, and the like are the other heads of the hydra, all working in conjunction, all equal. Thus it isn’t enough to establish workers power, because we are not oppressed solely as workers. As a Black militant I see just as much value in organizing Black labor as I do in “healing work” in the Black community. I see the profound impact that racism ,coupled with other oppression, has had on the Black community in this country. The work of combating these others (racism, sexism, etc) is more abstract and I would dare say more difficult that labor struggle, because of the deep psychological nature of the problems. If we are truly to build as we break, then the fight for a new society has to be as much about labor struggle as it is about transformative thought.
So what does that all have to do with the quote above? One of the things I have been thinking about recently, and reflecting on is the way in which oppression directly affects the self. As alluded to in other postings, I didn’t have the most pleasant of childhoods and many of the people near me abused substances and when I come into contact with them in altered states I still feel immense pain. Both flashbacks of my childhood, anger at them, and anger at the material conditions that have forced them to use fill my being. Recently I had a small break down and repeated to myself how I just wanted to find a place of peace. This thought was contrasted with a simultaneous need to regain the energy needed to get out and do the work needed that would lead to the society we desire, the need to build. This pain that we experience as a result of life’s suffering may be, and is perfect to be, channelled into fighting power. That very power, molded into compassion and love, is key to battling the abstract. To helping our communities over come the trauma.