Many of the world’s issues come from ignorance. Indeed, that is what the Buddha was to have said according to the Buddhist religious doctrines. The self, the world, suffers due to ignorance. The self, itself, is also the world because of it being ‘one’ (interconnected realities). In this sense, I would like to link this perspective on social change and social justice, with postcolonial and post-structural frames of mind and action. The structures through which we find ourselves living, are largely followed and we navigate in some way, shape or form, through the maze. We resist, we dominate, we proclaim, we reflect, we pause, we run, we build, we destroy. Every moment is like this.
I feel that we must pay attention more, to what we discard and ignore. In a more intense way, I would like to put forward that our laziness in our middle-class wanna-be (or are) ways of living and goal-setting, we oftentimes don’t have the capacity to realize we set ourselves in boxes. Furthermore, the boxes can be realized, seen, and felt, and that we can step to places outside of a certain box, into other boxes eternally. There lies the significance of thinking and imagining with a certain intent.
In most first-world, wealthier countries, we have been taught through our schooling and through contact with the world, that there is a truth of things and that we can access. Usually, however, we don’t realize that these ‘truths’ are political. No matter how lofty in principle, this truth that we attempt to access or ignore, interrupts and disrupts life and we beg to struggle with how it acts upon us and through us, against us and with us. So for social justice and social change matters, it may be helpful to look at the mechanics of box-making, or to put it in other words, to look at our our processes of making truths and certainties and categories, identities and structures that cohere together and seem real and isolated and true. If not, we just re-create the issues.
To make it more complex, I feel that as we begin to want to ‘deconstruct’ and to understand how deconstruction may work in the world, we must confront the fact that there is no ‘outside.’ Many spiritual people approach the world through the idea of ‘transcendence.’ Indeed, the enlightenment project of the western world in the colonial period, has continued to emphasize this mode of expansion and conquering and overrunning as the modus operandi of capitalism and globalization. I, for one, love contact with difference. However, not all of whatever we contact, is pleasurable, desirable, and/or necessary. But in normal US American, European and Japanese worlds, touring and co-opting others’ ways and other countries is a given. It is a privilege. It has never entered our mind that the locals do not want us there.
Our assumption of eternal identities and histories, and of ethnically and racially categorized nations and cultures, is in fact, a dangerous and very limited way of living and seeing and judging. Cultures are not static. Cultures move and change and grow and adapt. There are some that move faster than others. Movement, is not always positive. In the first world, movement and change is a hidden tactic of domination. As this kind of thinking dominates, then actions such as displacement and destruction are normalized. It is ‘normal’ to move and change. We say things like ‘get over it, it’s time.’ Or we get tired of a certain place and we move and say ‘it’s time for a change.’ Just for the fun of it. When we were infants, we did not say these things. We have learned to say and think these things in particular cultures. Then we assume it’s ‘human’ and ‘good’ and ‘natural.’ Just because something is familiar and forceful in our lives, does not mean it is good or having to do with human nature. Just because many or even most people think and do it, doesn’t mean it is ‘human nature’ and therefore ‘good.’
The map of the world that we live in today, is politically structured through centuries of violence and subjugation. All of the strongest nations were built through some form of slavery and exploitation, marginalization and destruction of pre-existing cultures and peoples. There is no ‘prettiness’ about it. Our beautiful buildings and cultures and things are, in fact, based on blood and fire and mutilation, tears and grief and the labor of others. The people who enjoy the fruits of the most beautiful things on our planet have done the most exploiting.
Europe, the United States, China, Japan, the Middle Eastern and Eurasian regions, the African continent, and Latin American regions, are fraught with tensions of memory and displacement. Many people around the world think that this is because brown people are ‘by nature’ more violent or troubled or poor. However, more and more people have begun to wake up to the historical roots of our maps. They are fictitious and based on violence. Anyone who has visited Latin America, the Middle East, Transcaucasia and Eastern Europe, China and the African continent, and who have studied and have spoken with elders and the young, will understand the tension and troubles that are the present. These tensions and troubles are from the domination of foreign and local links that have visited them through history.
We have asked for peace and yet peace seems far. There cannot be peace unless our maps begin to dislodge themselves from the intention of maps and map-making. Linked with control and boundaries, isolation and manage-ability, coercion and exploitation, these maps are just continual reminders of the fictions that the most dominant elites of the world, want us to proceed from. It is no wonder that others want to violently destroy the figures drawn on these maps and the separations and hierarchies forced upon them. Our imagination of ourselves and the world are castles of ignorance.
For us to move into new realms of cooperation, compassion, wisdom, ethical actions of difference, new forms of education based on the ignorance-eradicating processes in continual modes (because life continues and so must its processes), where will we begin the path toward it? In what ways? Of course there are many who are already doing the work toward this. There is no one way or one action. Indeed, ideology is a huge problem. Not everything is an ideology. Some have claimed that ‘freedom’ is an ideology. If this is the case, then we know our road ahead will be clashes of ideologies. If we do not think in terms of warfare and universalizing ideology as some natural force, where can each of us begin the work. First we must understand that we must do individual transformation. But this cannot be something that we rest on. We must do our work in communities and movements.
The map of our minds, the map of our communities, and the map of the world, must shift. We’ve gotten ourselves here–from our ancestors to the present. We can move out of it. How long will we live in exile from ourselves, each other? That is what colonialism and nation-states have done for us. Some of it has been good and necessary. The processes, however, of mutilating our pasts and our communities, have been unnecessary. What forms of self-governance must we construct? Painstaking it may be, but what are the choices? What are you living for?