Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Changeseeker's Manifesto

If we are very fortunate as a human being, at some point in time, we reach a level of conscious awareness of reality. I do not use this word lightly, nor perceive it as a relative matter. Just because two beings are locked in mortal battle over a disagreement in perception does not mean that their realities are, in fact, different. One may see the matter as "red" and the other as "green," but the matter is either "red," "green," or whatever color it is, regardless of how either of them perceives it and no matter which of them wins the battle. I would argue that, however skewed the current paradigm on a given topic, reality is reality. Or as the Navaho put it, what is, is.

I believe that life is more important than money and that because of this, anything that prioritizes the production of capital over the protection, honoring, and sustenance of life on this planet is not only inappropriate and ill-advised, but insane. If we continue as a human race to sacrifice Life on the altar of Money, we will ultimately commit what Johan Galtung has called "mass, deliberate, collective suicide." Therefore, I seek ways to make this clear and to live my life on a daily basis rejecting as often and in as many ways as possible those principles and practices that maintain within me the continued addiction to consumerism, while placing those who "have" in a position of more value than those who "have not." And I do, thenceforth and forever, ally myself with those who work to live, rather than seek to destroy.

I believe that men and women are not gendered at birth, but that the patriarchal power structure that has been in control for thousands of years socializes us to perceive our Selves as specifically and particularly divided in characteristically stereotypical ways in spite of the fact that there is a clearly visible and widely-ranged continuum of sexuality that manifests itself in ways both bold and delicate. The idea that men are superior to women in any way, which is then used to justify male dominance and subjugation of women, is so couched in error and violence as to be maniacal. Therefore, I seek ways to make this clear and to live my life on a daily basis rejecting this definition of myself and others. And I do, thenceforth and forever, ally myself with all people who seek to present themselves as fully valid in their own personhood.

I believe that the socially-constructed, political notion of "race" was developed in the sixteenth century for the express purpose of the exploitation of people of color by those who inhabited the continent of Europe at that time and that this exploitation continues still--brutally, unapologetically, and with the realization of great wealth. As a person bearing the physical characteristics attributed to Europeans and European-Americans, I accept the responsibility of becoming ever more cognizant of this reality, ever more sensitive to its effects, and ever more committed to changing it. I do not perceive myself as worthy of particular benefits such as are bestowed upon me, often without acknowledgement or even awareness. And I find the pervasive nature of these benefits and the rationalizing forces used to suggest that they are reasonable both egregious and ignominious. The damage that has been done to and continues to be perpetrated against people of color is so unconscionable as to be unforgiveable. Therefore, I seek to make this clear and to live my life on a daily basis most humbly rejecting this system of White Supremacy and privilege in all its forms and manifestations. And I do, thenceforth and forever, ally myself with those who struggle against this system, regardless of what they look like or who they are.

I believe that all life is sacred and that not to honor it--in all its forms--is to disrespect and dishonor not only one's Self, as well as all that came before us and will come after us, but also the very Creative Source from which we spring. I believe that there are solutions to all human dilemmas presented at this moment around the world, once it can be established that life is sacred; that it is more important than money; that men and women and children are not roles to be played, but persons to be loved and respected; and that all humans--regardless of their appearance, their cultures, their differing levels of ability, and their socio-economic status--are equally beautiful, equally vital, equally necessary, and equally deserving of all the earth has to offer. And I believe that our survival is being threatened by those belief systems that do not recognize and codify these realities. I work to change the paradigms that are responsible for those threats. And I celebrate daily those who work with me toward the day when we can know that we are all--finally--free.
The Mara Berendt Friedman poster featured above is available from the Syracuse Cultural Workers collective.


animeg said...

Npr has a this I believe series. Maybe you'd want to show this to them

changeseeker said...

Sushil: Yes. Moving fast causes us to lose focus (on reality) and turns us into machines. Even when I'm feeling the "need" to give in to speed, I recall a Korean friend who once reminded me to "Hurry slowly."

Shannon: How incredibly lovely to find you here! I feel SO out of touch these days, SO hungry for my blogger "friends." I love the "I Believe" series on NPR and every time I hear one, I think, I should write something for them. But on re-reading my "manifesto" with that in mind, it seems as if it might not be conversational enough (some of the language is a little loftier than I normally use all in one clump). Maybe I should re-do it for the NPR series in the interest of clarity and "listenability." What do you think?

Professor Zero said...

It's a good idea. Show it to them first, though - they may like it as is?

Lynn Green said...

We are using the "This I Believe" book that is based on the NPR series as our book study at our church. We pick a different book each Leten season and meet on Thursday during Lent to study and discuss. Last Lent we studied Jimmy Carter's book,"Our Endangered Moral Values."

Lynn Green said...

BTW, I have started another blog. This one is specific to my school, but you are welcome to read it and make a comment if you like. It is entitled "Marshall Matters" and can be found at

Clampett said...

"I believe that life is more important than money and that because of this, anything that prioritizes the production of capital over the protection, honoring, and sustenance of life on this planet is not only inappropriate and ill-advised, but insane"

Music to my ears.

I'm not taking 18 hrs anymore. So, I've have resurected USA#1...liberating her from the claws of PRC based spammers thanks to a few boys from GA tech.

fyi, I enjoy the manifesto.

Anonymous said...

This is very articulate and beautiful. Thank you for posting it.

changeseeker said...

Please forgive my absences. I've been preparing for a writer's conference on top of everything else.

I visited your school blog tonight, Lynn. It looks pretty useful. I hope you're making the rounds of the appropriate blogs, so teachers will find out about you. You know that's part of the blogosphere process, right?

Clampett: Wow! A voice from my past! Greetings and thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you like my manifesto. ;^)

phoenixandtree: Thank you.

Lynn Green said...

Thanks for your comment on my teaching blog. I will take your advice. Do you have some you could recommend?

billie said...

your manifesto is music to my ears! i didn't think twice about the language but i don't exactly know who your target audience is either. perhaps it was a bit lofty but don't we need to be lifted out of the dirt once in awhile? :)

Anonymous said...

One may see the matter as "red" and the other as "green," but the matter is either "red," "green," or whatever color it is, regardless of how either of them perceives it and no matter which of them wins the battle.

BTW this catches my eye and a version of it is in your profile statement, too. Some time, it would be interesting to hear an expansion: I say this as one who has been perhaps overexposed to postmodern theory, not always in the best versions, and who enjoys the relief of hearing: yes there is a reality (a "ball") out there.

Paul said...

In the US, capitalism has basically become as rigid an ideology as communism. The idea that "the market" will take care of all ills is a firm belief, all evidence to the contrary not withstanding. Personally, I think it's more like a pretend ideology used to justify greedy actions to the masses.

Coffee Messiah said...

Simple and to the point.
There is "no" argument about any of this.
Very well done and Thanks for a great way to wake up this am! ; )

changeseeker said...

Lynn: Sorry, I really don't know websites about teaching, but google for them and they'll come up. Then follow the commentators from one to the other and you'll soon find a cadre of kindred souls. Bon voyage!

betmo: Lifted, yes. Out of the dirt, I'm not sure that's possible, though I know exactly what you mean. I argue with myself about language sometimes, though. I want to communicate to a wide-ranging bunch of folks, but many words are in my head and they all come. My high school civics teacher used to tease me by snatching a word out of my language and over-using it for a while until I would use another for him to zero in on. While I knew he liked me and I played right back at him, the fact is that I've always felt "different" because of my brain or my vocabulary or something. And I don't feel superior about it at all, just different sometimes. Maybe that's why I'm so sensitive to it...

PZ: You and me both! Expansion...hmmmm...

Paul: The business professor whose office is right across the hall from mine and who has developed a friendly bantering relationship with me often declares (as a joke, supposedly) no matter what we're discussing that "More free trade is the answer!" I fear he isn't kidding. Welcome to my house, by the way. I went over to your blog and was a little overwhelmed, though I am profoundly spiritual in my orientation. I'll return, I assure you, at least when I have a bit more time.

Messiah: Thank you. I know how I love to wake up to something that gives me a little boost of joy. And to really work, it has to be unexpected, huh? Thanks for dropping by. I hope to see more of you.

A reflective voyageur on the Anisotropic Road said...

Just a great, great post - so nice to find ideas that resonate with depth beyond the simple "sides" so commonly chosen.

Rockin' Hejabi said...

Beautiful. You have written the essence of what every "seeker" seeks, in my experience!


Rockin' Hejabi said...

As I read your profile and look at your picture you look familiar. I used to live in Tampa as well..... are you active in WIB? Peace protests? Or maybe I saw you at a solidarity event to help Sami Al Arian?
I once organized a fundraiser with WIB in St. Pete at a coffee house, which featured the band Loud Zoo. Maybe I saw you there:)

changeseeker said...

JJ: Greetings and welcome. As you probably know by now, I visited your blog and linked one of your posts to a peace blog I visit sometimes. You bring me hope. A lovely gift. :^) Thank you.

Rockin' Hejabi: I visited your blogs, as well, read some of your posts and looked at all your photos. I've had Muslim friends for two decades now and well know they are just as vastly varigated as any other people of any--or no--faith. Still, as I pored over the sweet and happy faces in the photos, I kept thinking how different it must be to be a woman in your space. Then, I would think, "Not different at all; wives and mothers are wives and mothers. A happy, healthy woman is a happy, health woman in any manifestation."

My heart aches that there is distance between humans, instead of the joy of celebrating difference. I love a mixed bouquet. I love a mixed world. I greet you, my sister. And yes, it's possible you saw me somewhere around. I'm subject to pop up in all those types of places. And I taught at a local community college in 2005 and 2006, too. Hard to say. Give your lovely children a hug from Auntie Changeseeker. xo

Writing on Board said...


Beautiful post. Come over to my blog and post. I've opened up comments. Everyone has posted anonymously so far.

Dark Daughta said...

I appreciate you taking the time to reflect deeply, to claim what you saw and to commit it to this blog. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Changeseeker, I happened across your blog while searching for news about Paul Dawson from Louisville, KY. Good Lord! you have a bunch of crap in here about race. All this bleeding heart crap about oh, how black people have suffered, and we must struggle against the system and change people's minds, make the world a better place, blaaaahhh blaaaahhhh blllaaaaaaaaahhh.

The only thing you're doing, unfortunately, is helping to perpetuate the black / white race issue, by continuing to acknowledge it.

Neither my black friends, my white friends, nor I could care less about whatever injustices (and I do acknowledge that there were indeed terrible injustices) have occurred in the rather embarrassing history of our country. You see, my black friends didn't suffer under the whip of a slave owner. They didn't have to use a blacks-only water fountain. They have never, as far as I know, borne any scars or received any permanent damage from insults hurled at them, physical or psychological, and are all successful and happy. Neither my white friends nor I have ever brandished a whip at a black man. We've never denied employment to anyone because of race, religion, or nationality. And we have never, as far as I know, borne any scars or received any permanent damage from the insults hurled at us, either.

If I call a black friend a nigger, he doesn't feel the need to organize a demonstration. He doesn't contact the NAACP for support. He simply calls me a cracker or an asshole, or says, "I'se sorry massah!" Then we have a laugh and I buy him a beer while we check out tits and ass from across the bar. If I get called a whitey, redneck, Jethro, or honkey, well, I'm sure you get the idea.

Anyway, race has turned into a trump card, ensuring that any black person who plays it automatically advances a level while the white oppressor relieves some guilt over transgressions he personally had nothing to do with. If you disagree, then tell me, why is Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth famous? What are her qualifications that have extended her 15 minutes of fame far beyond its stamped expiration date? Oh, if only Asians and Hispanics had it so good. And all the while, my beloved white Anglo-Saxon Protestant wife has no "You poor, suffering, oppressed white girl. Here, go to college" scholarship available to her. When she or I apply for a job, the HR Equity and Diversity divisions don't add weight to our applications to ensure they have enough white people employed.

But who ever said life was fair? Fuck it. My wife took out a student loan, we pay for it, we pay our mortgage, we both have dependable jobs because we have turned in resumes and applications to as many places within our career tracks as possible. And we couldn't be happier.

I guess everyone needs an outlet. Apparently trolling blog comments is mine. Good luck with that tempest in your teacup. I'm gonna go see a nigger and personally make up for centuries of oppression.

changeseeker said...

Writer: Well, apparently, I missed the window of opportunity to make it into print over on your space. Hmmmm...That's what I get for being lax over here on MY space. Sigh. Anyway, while I was over there tonight, I read your recent posts. You are one unique individual. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. I hope you are well and that whatever made you shut off your comments again wasn't too crucial.

Dark: I visited you tonight, too, and Mama, you're at least as unique as Writer. My world is just full of wonderful unique people and I love it so much I can hardly stand it. Welcome to you here (though I know my welcome is horribly late) and welcome to your new baby boi, as well. In fact, blessings on everybody over at your place.

Steve: Whatever.

Anonymous said...

Re sushil yadev's comment about emotion, and your post regarding objective reality: this is the Dalai Lama's Facebook post from yesterday (Nov 23, 2010):

If you have peace of mind, when you meet with problems and difficulties they won’t disturb your inner peace. You’ll be able to employ your human intelligence more effectively. But, if your mental state is disturbed, full of emotion, it is very difficult to cope with problems, because the mind that is full of emotion is... biased, unable to see reality. So whatever you do will be unrealistic and naturally fail.