Written by Kesh Brown
Subvert The Dominant Paradigm
I tried, but failed, to find the origin of this phrase–“Subvert the dominant paradigm”– but I remember first learning it, some thirty years ago, as a sort of motto, or perhaps war-cry, of the EarthFirst environmental movement. At the time, it meant–for me at least–that if you cared about the earth and the life upon it, you should take action to keep the dominant forces of the culture–the patriarchy, capitalism, and industrialized civilization–from destroying it all in pursuit of the almighty dollar.
Back then, there were about 5.3 billion humans on the planet, and they were taking quite a toll on the rest of life. Today, in 2018, the are about 7.6 billion of us, and the growing toll we continue to exact is rushing life headlong towards total collapse. And if you can’t see that then get off my blog and go back to whatever mind-numbing form of entertainment you’ve used so successfully to keep you in blissful ignorance. I’m way past the point of trying to open stubbornly closed minds. I’m seeking to address those of us who have awakened enough to look up from our phones and see what is actually happening to our only home.
Still with me? Great. Please read on.
Welcome, like-minded human!
Civil disobedience, acts of resistance, or subverting the dominant paradigm. Three ways of expressing the same idea, all working toward a common goal of somehow shifting both the consciousness, and the everyday actions of the dominant culture away from injustice and the constant destruction of life, towards a more just and sustainable harmony with life.
It takes millions of actions, both great and small, by millions of individuals, armed with whatever gifts and talents they can bring to the struggle for the good of all life. It takes direct-action warriors on the front lines, and networks of people to support them. It takes people willing to donate time, energy, and/or money to support the cause, people willing to use their voices and the power of their words to effect change, and always, people willing to make changes within their own lives that are in alignment with their cause.
You can’t drive a hummer to a rally organized to fight drilling for oil in the arctic. You can’t rail against destruction of the world’s remaining rainforests and continue to eat meat at every meal (more on that in a minute), you can’t bitch about all the plastic trash that’s killing the sea life in the Pacific and elsewhere while still not even bothering to bring your own cloth sacks to the grocery store.
Hypocrisy, at some level, lives in all of us. But if we can’t be the change we want to see, as Gandhi urged, then we’re not going to make it as a species in this world. We’re simply not.
At first blush, the actions listed below may not seem like acts of resistance. But look deeper and you will see that these actions go against our current cultural norms, and serve to shift the consciousness of humanity closer to living in harmony with the rest of life.
In this wired & wireless world of ours, we have the greatest opportunity we have ever known to effect large-scale changes, and it starts with each one of us, moving out to our families, our friends & neighbors, our Facebook groups, our Instagram followers, etc. until it reaches the hearts and minds of so many people that the tide begins to shift. Think #me too!
All of civilization plays a role in feeding the destructive forces that are now pushing the world toward global collapse. Therefore, it is up to each one of us to do what we can to reverse the killing machine that industrial civilization has become, and work to restore balance & harmony for the benefit of the planet and all life living upon it.
Put another way… Get off your ass and join us. There is work to be done and the hour has grown late!
So with that in mind, here are five things you can begin to do today that, when done by enough of us, can shift the balance back toward sane, more sustainable choices about how to live rightly on this, our only home.
Five Acts of Resistance You Can Begin Today
1. You can choose to fall back in love with the earth.
2. You can choose to eat less meat.
Much of the destruction happening to the world’s rainforests is done in support of cattle ranching and soy plantations used for animal feed. You can learn about that on our link page covering deforestation.
We’re not asking you to go vegan, although we think it would be awesome if you tried it. But we are asking you to consider reducing the amount of meat you do eat. Many folks eat meat with almost every meal, mostly out of pure habit. Is it really necessary? Of course not. The culture has conditioned you to it. But you do have choice here. You are consciously, or even unconsciously choosing to follow this part of the dominant paradigm.
You can always choose differently. It’s that simple.
You can argue that simply because little old you forgoes meat a few times a week, it won’t really make much difference in the grand scheme of things. And on some level you’re right. But what if you get your whole family to do the same? What if the neighbors hear about it and decide to give it a try as well? What if your community celebrated and supported, at your urging, the idea of meatless Mondays, or whatever? At what point does it make a difference?
When Gandhi began his famous march to the sea to collect his own salt (a resistance response to the ruling British monarchy who preferred to tax the Indian people for their salt), he had only a small band of followers marching with him. But as they stopped in town after town along the way, and shared their tale of resistance, others joined this band of resistors, eventually tens of thousands of others, many of whom were willing to be jailed for the cause. In the end, what began as an act of civil disobedience against injustice, ended in sovereignty for the nation of India. Just saying!
Important point to remember always: In a capitalistic culture ruled by money, Supply & Demand is the golden rule. If the people act to reduce the demand, the corporation no longer has an impetus to produce the supply. Basic economics.
Think about it over your next steak or burger.
Would it have killed you to have rice & beans or maybe a big old salad?
3. You can choose to be less reliant on fossil fuel.
You already know the immense environmental toll that our use of fossil fuels have wrought on the planet. You already know of the wars fought for oil. You already know the horrendous results of oil spills both on land and at sea. You already know how greatly the burning of fossil fuels contributes to global warming.
Yet most of us still drive our cars every single day. Even if it’s just to run an errand a few blocks away. And even though many of us could really use a little more exercise. And even when we may have a spiffy new bike sitting lonely in the garage. Not enough time, we say. I need to get there and back in a hurry! My TV show is on in a few minutes. Just running out for more chips. Sound familiar? Even just a little bit?
What about living closer to where you work? You could not only shorten your daily commute and reduce your fuel consumption, but you could get back a little more time in your life as well.
What about becoming a bike commuter? Get the same benefits as above plus the added benefit of improved health.
And if biking or walking to work just isn’t logistically possible for you… what about finding and then actually joining a carpool group?
You could ditch that lawn of yours (the one you’re forever cutting, clipping, raking, watering, and dumping chemical fertilizers onto) in favor of low-maintenance, low-water plants. Not only would that save you from having to run your gas-powered, two stroke lawnmower every week, but it also frees up more of your precious weekend time.
You can choose to buy locally as much as humanly possible. Besides supporting local entrepreneurs and helping the local economy, the bigger benefit, when enough of us engage in this practice, is that it can reduce the amount of big truck traffic normally used to haul in goods from all over the country. Maybe that sounds like a pipe dream to you, and maybe it wouldn’t work, or would only have minimal effect, but if we all at least try, it’s got to be better than maintaining the status quo.
You can choose to commit to not flying–other than for work or family emergency–for the next year, or two, or ???
4. You can choose to limit your credit card spending to emergency use only.
Buying on credit is the greatest concept ever invented for keeping the masses (you and me) enslaved to the machinery of capitalism. A big win for Mr. Banker and Mr. Corporate CEO and his or her major stockholders, but a (less than) zero-sum game for everybody else. And with credit card interest rates running in the 20-something percent range, it should probably be illegal, and probably would be, were it not for the fact that it feeds the capitalist machine so damn effectively.
Truth or Dare:
You can be honest with yourself and just admit here and now that a good chunk of what gets charged to your credit card(s) is stuff you could have held off on purchasing until you had the cash instead,
We dare you to go back over your last 12 monthly statements and see it for yourself in black & white.
Can you imagine what might happen if We, The People resisted the urge to buy on credit?
Yes, it would probably result in some degree of downsizing in the banking and credit card processing industries, which would be unfortunate for those who might get laid off, unless of course that loss became an impetus for those folks to go do something completely different, something that might feed their souls and fulfill their lives far more than what they’re currently doing.
But the greater effect, we suspect, is that folks would be buying far less crap that they don’t really need, stuff that, crap or not, still takes resources from the earth in order to produce, and still employs resource extraction processes that take a heavy toll on the environment, and still takes big trucks to deliver to the store shelves, and still contributes heavily to the decimation of the earth.
5. You can choose to become an activist.
Note that the root word of “activist” is “Active”.
Sitting around contemplating the issues of our times is certainly a necessary step in shifting one’s own consciousness. And talking about the issues is a necessary step in helping to shift the consciousness of others. But having a room full of enlightened thinkers doesn’t do a lick of good if there’s no action to back it up and move things in the direction your new found enlightenment tells you we need to go.
The earth and all life upon her is literally under attack on all fronts. Whether it’s rainforests being destroyed, oceans being over-fished, polluted with plastic, or turned into dead zones of fertilizer runoff, or Trump & Pruitt systematically rolling back EPA protections designed to save us from ourselves, in favor of their pollution-happy, climate change denying, fat-cat friends… LIFE is in big trouble!
So… pick a passion project and get to work defending Life!
You can help out with campaigns aimed at global warming.
You can write to your politicians–you know, those folks who pretend to represent us, but are actually mostly corporate prostitutes. Not all of them, of course, but I bet I can count the really good ones on one hand, okay maybe both hands, but that’s it–and tell them that if they don’t do what you want, then you, your family, and many of your friends are going to work to vote them off the corporate teat that has them so spellbound.
You can join the fight against Citizens United so we may return our country to some form of actual democracy.
You can use social media to spread the word about your cause of choice. Maybe even start your own group, eh!
You can show up for protest marches. Hell, you can start your own!
You can fight locally (or nationally) against those who pollute your water and air.
You can campaign against fracking.
You can commit to buying organic foods as much as possible and vote against GMO’s with your dollar.
If you’ve already got a passion project, and you like to write, please consider pitching us a post.
Bottom line… take some action, Jackson. Mother Earth, and all of Life, need you to care enough to spend some quality time giving back.
Thanks for indulging us this post.