I want to be an anarchist. My daughter came to visit this weekend. We start to engage in deep conversations, for she is wise beyond her years. We had a lovely evening of talking and went to church this morning with a friend. I had put on a pot of soup the day before and was looking forward to our visit. Listening to my daughter talk, and hearing what she was saying about accepting yourself, being comfortable in your own skin, and having something to contribute to the world, made me think about how rare this quality is...this quality of congruence in who you are. It is anarchy.
Making things is also anarchy. There is the simple fact of our living in an exchange-value, capitalistic culture. But make something yourself...gather your yarn from a local farm, spin your own yarn, create your own garments, and you have committed an act of gentle anarchy. If you weave your own fabric, take your time to work through a process, sew your own clothes, make anything with purpose, you have committed an act of anarchy.
Renate Hiller, a dear woman to me for I spent four summers learning from her at Sunbridge College, says of the fiber crafts: "I feel I am experiencing my inner core because it is a meditative process...you have to find your way, you have to listen with your whole being, and that is a schooling that we all need today. Because we are so egocentric, and this makes us think of what is needed by something else, so we are, in a way, practicing empathy: empathy with the material, empathy with the design. I think this practicing of empathy that we do in the fiber crafts is paramount for being healing for our world, and it is a service for the divine that we are surrounded by. " Listen here:
Wow, fiber crafts as a way to develop empathy, and empathy as an act of service. Sounds like pure anarchy to me.
It's true that in this day and age, empathy is most certainly anarchy. This morning, I took my daughter to St. Stephen's, a very energetic and lively church. The sermon this morning fit right in with the concept of empathy as an act of service. If you have been in church, you might remember the story of Joseph, who was cast off by his brothers and left for dead. Later, he was put in a position of power to help his brothers, but would not help them unless they brought back the youngest brother, Benjamin. He made them "reach back" for their brother. In the ultimate act of empathy as anarchy, Joseph then helped his brothers. The pastor characterized what Joseph was saying as this, "Yes, I know you are haters and I know you are no good." and then he recognized, "God sent me before you to preserve life."
This was the ultimate act of anarchy on Joseph's part. Here his brothers had tried to get rid of him, and he had every reason to spurn them and withhold from them. But he recognized the bigger picture, and gave to them. When when THEY had the power, they deceived and left him to die. When HE had the power, he gave and saved their lives.
It was funny because the pastor quoted a verse about hypocrites: "If you bring a gift to the altar, and remember your brother has something against you, leave your gift and first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24 paraphrased) In other words, be an anarchist. Have good character. Let your words and actions match up.
In some Buddhist traditions, bodhisattvas vow to not add to the suffering of the world. It's different than preventing, or ending, or fixing suffering. It is not adding to the suffering of the world. Sometimes this is all we can hope to do...to not make someone else's life harder or add to their burden, especially when we have done so in the past. This is an act of grace in anarchy as well.
Ok, please bear with me as I offer one more video, another short TED talk from an anarchist that is worth the four minutes of inspiration today:
Empathy, service to our fellow man, spinning, weaving, speaking your truth, making things, growing things, and a pot of homemade soup. I am inspired to cultivate anarchy. Won't you join me in finding our inner stars and following them?
In a world full of haters, love is the highest anarchy.