Why We Are Walking

Our world is changing forever. At least, the length of time that it will be different from anything we've ever known is so much longer than civil history that we might as well call it forever.

That is enough reason by itself to warrant walking many miles; why not do a ritual that testifies to the colossal transformation that is engulfing us? Climate change is perhaps as near to seeing the overt power of creation, across all its scales, as we will ever witness. Who would not walk a thousand miles to see the face of god?

Yet, it is becoming clear that many of you are confused why we are walking at all. We are frequently fielding comments that question what walking has to do with raising awareness of anything, and how we will manage it and keep our home life intact. Others assume that no one else will care if we walk, that it is a waste of our time, that we must be doing it because there is a fatal flaw with our living situation as it is.

Of course, there is a fatal flaw with our living situation – that is, with almost everyone's way of life. Where the trouble starts is in our minds; people are challenged to know how to abandon our crippled lives and step out on the road, as challenged as if we instructed you to start living in five dimensions instead of three.

We have a Waiting for Godot society here on much of Earth, where the daily habits of our lives, our chores and responsibilities and entertainments, loom like outsize fetishes because we've been priced out of the larger rhythms, participating in the true freedom of our lives is beyond our pay-grade to understand; and, if courage won't take our hand and show us the way to save ourselves, then lives stage-managed by corporate design teams and focus groups will have to do.

This passive society dies on the altar of change, just the same. For a while, authority figures get to ply the “Silent Treatment,” choosing non-reponse as the most expedient way to clear the board of protest, resistance, debate. Big Business, working with government, has stripped away the inconvenience of having to give mind to the conscientious law-breakers who demand attention. But, they are multiplying their wealth under the shadow of the biggest inconvenience of all, forgetting that they too are naked to the larger scale of change.

Unfortunately, when we confront the aggression of our lifestyle with non-violent protest, we are reinforcing the Waiting for Godot society, because a key principle that underlies non-violent action is “Good things come to those who wait.” With patience, we believe that we can reflect the dignity and justice of our position.

Last night, I had a dream which wove all these threads together. Like the TV commercial of a couple decades ago, I saw climate activists inverting a ketchup bottle, and waiting for the contents to slide out. But when I look closer at what's in the bottle, I see it is not ketchup after all, but glaciers the size of Manhattan that are collapsing, spoiling into nothing. When it comes to climate change, very bad things come to those who wait.

Given the pressing advance of climate change, and given that our world is changing forever, this is not the time to resist greed with non-violent action. We haven't the time, the profiteers of the Waiting for Godot world haven't the listening, the physics of the world is not sentimental.

A better model for bringing the needed remedy to our crisis is Aikido. Aikido is a Japanese martial art whose guiding principle is the use of force to bring one's adversary into parallel viewpoint with your own. In other words, an Aikido student does not attack an opponent to cut them down; every action, every move is employed to redirect the opponent's energy into bring them into common ground with yourself. There are thousands of actions that involve violence to the machine of suicide that is driving our society which can be carried out with the Aikido principle of love and respect for our opponent.

Our walking campaign can be understood as an aikido action better than as an action of non-violent resistance – it will make more sense that way. We are doing violence to our own participation in the Waiting for Godot world, we are dismantling our own fetishized habits and assumptions. We are doing this publicly and on the road. We will go as far as we have to, until our own silent treatment and disregard of the planet is devastated, and we can hear the voice of creation again. It will tell us the next step to take.