by Ananda Lee Tan
This is a fine week to start working on ways to dismantle the systems of those who wish to be Masters of the Universe.
Over this past year, they have caused much pain, much struggle, much hardship…….
……and the year also gave us much hope, much love, much gratitude and much bold, creative imagination of pathways to face the fear, the fires, the prisons, the floods, the droughts and storms coming our way…
From Chile to Hong Kong, from the frontlines of Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs stopping oil and gas pipelines on their un-ceded lands to mass mobilizations against fascism and religious fundamentalism in South Asia, we are witnessing some of the most powerful uprisings the world has seen since we last fought to evict colonial extractive empires from our lands.
Our humanity seems to have recovered from shock and stupor in the year 2019. Just in time to take a stand against the growing, unified forces of climate destruction, fascism, militarism and financial power.
And as we align our struggles in solidarity to fight this common enemy around the world, we need to build grassroots movements that are principled and powerful enough to shape change in the direction of a universal liberation, justice and peace.
Here are some reflections I’d offer – to help guide emergent strategy for this purpose:
Flip the Script: Indigenize Leadership
Start by acknowledging the leadership of those whose wisdom, culture and actions illustrate longest local, living knowledge of the earth, as communities of practice in defense and care of our common mother and all her children. Wherever you happen to be across Mother Earth’s beautiful global tapestry, stand with local Indigenous communities taking direct action to protect her lands and waters.
Turn Solidarity into Action
Just as the Rainbow Coalition of Revolutionary Solidarity served to align the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords, the Young Patriots, AIM, Brown Berets, Red Guard and many others in collaboration and direct action in the 60s and 70s, we need to start building our collective muscle in practice and service to the elderly, the poor, the ill and traumatized, those whose families and kids are under direct attack, those whose lands and waters are being destroyed.
Embody Action with Collective Self-determination
When we take mass, direct action in our streets, our communities, our worksites – we learn to practice democratic principles; and embodied knowledge of how justice, mutuality, solidarity, and service guide our practice in all forms of collective self-governance. For in mutual struggle, our hearts learn to seek universal emancipation, and our muscle memory finds ways to weave our mutuality – trans-locally across a global landscape, with threads of relational trust.
Self-determine Strategies to Sustain our Strongest Struggles
As movements are built at the pace of trust, we need to train our organizing muscle to be resilient in cultivating, growing, healing and caring for our beloved movement families. For short-term tactics to embody long-term strategies, we need to be rigorous in principled practice. This will mean navigating much internal conflict and contradiction, but where we find pathways to free us from false binaries and allow us to cultivate layers of complexity in our capacity for compassion and shared understanding, we can effectively decolonize our pedagogy.
Decolonizing popular education returns us to the first commitment – seeking local, Indigenous leadership, which means supporting the struggles of the poorest, most historically harmed among us. This requires learning local culture, song, art and ancient stories that deepen our ability to appreciate the creative beauty and purpose of the ecological tapestry around us.
Simply lean into this creative process of cultivating skills for future generations to continue building power with hope and love.