So many good-hearted people want to see change in the world, with an end to environmental devastation, social injustice, and exploitation of women; but aren’t prepared to face the full difficulty of righting these wrongs. Those in power do not enforce their policies of extraction, oppression, and domination by accident or through mutual agreement with those giving up their resources. Rather, to maintain their control, those in power use the persistent and systemic threat of force with judicious enactment of violence when the threats aren’t enough. Much of this is hidden: domestic violence usually occurs behind closed doors; we don’t widely discuss the enslavement of more humans today than crossed in the entire history of the Middle Passage; and corporations maximize their bottom line with governmental police and armies to enforce laws written by the corporations themselves.
On every front we are at war, under siege, and we have been since the beginning of agriculture and civilization. It’s scary to acknowledge this reality, as it has serious implications for how we pursue justice. If exploitation and this horrific imbalance of power are not accidents; if we can’t expect that asking nicely for what’s right will effect change; if we must expect those in power to inflict violence in retaliation for any truly effective action; then what do we do?
The answer to that question is not straight forward, and will be different for each person and each circumstance. But we must bravely face reality so that we can make grounded and informed decisions.
Will Falk writes about this reality in our islands:
Sitting outside the 10 by 20 foot makeshift tent that has served as my home for the last 34 days on Mauna Kea, I watch the tent poles shudder to the concussion of US Army howitzer cannons firing live shells at their training grounds below. When the wind blows just right, from the south, the rattle of automatic rifle fire reaches the occupation. There’s no denying it: A war rages in Hawai’i.
He discusses how this fact might affect the strategies and tactics of those fighting for Mauna Kea and for Hawaiian sovereignty, and what resisters should consider as they decide their course of action. These issues are relevant to all struggles for justice, and his essay is important reading even for those not involved in this particular battle. Please read Protecting Mauna Kea: This Is a War.