make way for the positive day!" -- Bob Marley
"To oppose a thing is to strengthen it." -- Frank Herbert
The Rastas say that Babylon must fall. And they are right. But I don't think this is intended as a call to action, a call for revolution. I think it's just a statement of historical inevitability. Any system which systematically destroys its support systems is doomed. It is only a matter of time.
So there is no point in trying to destroy the system, it's doing that perfectly well on its own. And, more importantly, destruction necessarily involves the destroyers in destructive karma. Who wants that? Bob Marley talked a lot about revolution, but if you look closely at his position, he was not advocating violence or destruction or even direct opposition.
"I believe in a spiritual war, you know. Some people think when we talk about war, them think we carry a knife or a gun -- no. We're dealing with a higher divinity, Rastaman Vibration which is pure light and Earth created, because Earth come back for what it want. Government is trying to be as powerful as God." -- Bob Marley
So what can we do, if we are not to fight, if opposition merely strengthens that which we oppose? What do we do, when confronted with such awesome power of destruction and negativity?
Build something better.
When I say to organize, I'm not talking about organizing to "fight the power." The power is way better organized and better funded than we will ever be. Don't play their game, they have the deck stacked and a full set of aces up their sleeves. Play something else.
The trick is to be positive. "Rastaman Vibration is Positive!" Bob said. This isn't easy, and I too fall into the trap of negative thinking, of focusing on the problem rather than the solution. It is hard because the problem is so big, it can be overwhelming. Don't be sucked into that trap.
Instead, we must work to define, to articulate, to express, to enact, and to instantiate, a new vision. We must build our own system of values, of ideas, and of physical and social infrastructure alongside the existing system. It can be done. It is not easy, but it is possible, and we must reach out to pluck from the possible the golden threads of the new tapestry of life.
To me, it seems we must begin at the beginning, where it all started in the first place, and build a new society from the ground up. So where did it start? Well, the events I described earlier as the Babylonian revolution are, of course, what they call in history the "agricultural revolution." I wanted to avoid this framing, because it implies that the revolution was a revolution in technology rather than ideology, and therefore, by our standards, a good, progressive step. But it is important to look at the technology of agriculture, and see how we can do it right.
The gorilla Ishmael, in the book by that name, did not suggest we return to a hunter-gatherer society. That would be foolish, as there is simply not enough land to support us all, and we would simply destroy what wilderness is left in the attempt. He said, "you consider yourselves an inventive people. Invent something."
Well, we have.
I said that the Earth was made for the glory of God, and humans were made to love and care for and protect it. So how does this ideal translate into agriculture? Well, obviously it means our agricultural technique must look very different from the one commonly practiced in our culture, that's for sure. But what would it look like? Clearly, it would put back as much or more into the soil and other resource sources as it takes out. Clearly it would encourage biodiversity and ecological health. It would produce abundant human food, but in all other ways it would resemble a natural ecosystem as closely as possible. It would employ the creativity and power of human beings in a manner protective of the Earth to create a greater abundance of life.
Such a system has been developed, and it is called permaculture. Those of you who know me well know that I've been on about it for some time. It was invented in the '70s by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, a pair of paradigm-shifted former-takers. They reasoned that by studying and emulating natural patterns, agriculture could be made both more productive and more sustainable. In permaculture, the idea is to design a "food forest," a system very much like a natural forest which just happens to produce large amounts of human food and other human-usable resources.
Permaculture is not anti-technology. It can, in fact, be practiced at any technological level. It's not the level of technology, it's how you use it that counts. In permaculture, technology is used to nurture the Earth and encourage greater growth and health of food-producing ecosystems. Intelligent design is applied to create systems which are self-maintaining and sustainable and efficient and productive. These design principles apply to everything from architecture to energy technology to gardening to community design, and even extend into the social structural realm.
Permaculture is not destructive of existing wilderness. There is plenty of land out there which has already been devastated by taker agriculture. Permaculture replenishes and rejuvenates this land. It can even be practiced in cities. My best friend's father is turning Huston into a garden. It can be done anywhere.
Permaculture is not just an idea, it is also a movement, an organization. There are tens of thousands of people practicing it all over the world. They have institutes, they have communities, they have infrastructure and social networks and classes and books.
So if you are one of the many people I've talked to who understands what is wrong with the system, who can see how it is not sustainable and can never bring fulfillment and happiness to human beings and health to the Earth, but you don't know exactly what to do about it, my recommendation is this: take a permaculture course. Spend some time on a permaculture community. Buy a copy of the Permaculture Designer's Manual by Bill Mollison. It's expensive, but it contains just about everything you need to know to survive on this planet. Practice it where you live. Share it with your friends.
It's not just an agricultural movement, it's a cultural and political movement as well. To put it in political terms, it is an environmental initiative, a poverty and hunger initiative, an economic initiative, an energy initiative, and even a foreign policy initiative (people practicing permaculture don't use a lot of oil). Those who understand the principles of permaculture will naturally enact sustainable practices in their private and political lives. They will become involved in their communities, because permaculture is fundamentally community-oriented. They will work to preserve the environment, and to live in harmony with each other and with the world. Together, we can save the Earth, one square foot at a time.