Purchase A Language Older Than Words
Read more

Excerpt from A Language Older Than Words

There Is Another Kind of Revolution (p. 286)

From chapter "Interconnection"

There is another kind of revolution, one that does not emerge from the culture, from philosophy, from theory, from thought abstracted from sense, but instead from our bodies, and from the land. It, too, is a part of this language older than words. It is the honeybee who stings in defense of the larger being that is her hive; it is the mother grizzly who charges again and again the train that took from her the two sons she carried inside, and that mangled their bodies beyond all but motherly recognition; it is the woman who submits to her rapist, knowing it’s better to be violated than murdered, but who begins to fight when he reaches for the knife, or the hammer; it is Zapatista spokesperson Cecelia Rodriguez, who says, “I have a question of those men who raped me. Why did you not kill me? It was a mistake to spare my life. I will not shut up . . . this has not traumatized me to the point of paralysis.” It is the indigenous Zapatistas, who declare, “There are those who resign themselves to being slaves. . . . But there are those who do not resign themselves, there are those who decide to be uncomfortable, there are those who do not sell themselves, there are those who do not surrender themselves. . . . There are those who decide to fight. In any place in the world, anytime, any man or woman rebels to the point of tearing off the clothes that resignation has woven for them and that cynicism has dyed grey. Any man, any woman, of whatever color in whatever tongue, says to himself, to herself, “Enough already!”.

* * *

It is not the attempt to seize power or the industrial “means of production,” but it is actions based upon the instinctual drive to survive, and to live with dignity.

This is not political theory. It is not philosophy. It is not religion. It is remembering what it is to be a human being – an animal. It is remembering what it means to love, and to be alive.

It is to learn the power of the word no. No more clearcuts, No more tumors on turtles. No more genocide. No more slavery, neither our own nor others.

So long as we, or I, continue to discuss this in the abstract, we, or I, still have too much to lose. Presumably the mother grizzly did not find herself paralyzed by theoretical discussions of what is right or wrong, and presumably the same is true for the woman who takes the weapons from her attacker’s hands. If we only begin to feel in our bodies the immensity of what we are losing—intact ecosystems, hours sold for wages, childhoods lost to violence, women’s capacity to walk unafraid—we will know precisely what we need to do.

Any revolution on the outside—any breaking down of current power structures—with no corresponding revolution in perceiving, being, and thinking, will merely further destruction, genocide, and ecocide. Any revolution on the inside—a revolution of the heart—which does not lead to a revolution on the outside plays just as false.
Anton Chekhov once said that he would like to read a story about a man who squeezes every drop of slave’s blood from himself. That is first what we must do. For when a slave rebels without challenging the entire notion of slavery, we merely encounter a new boss. But if all the blood is painfully squeezed away, what emerges is a free man or woman, and not even death can stop those who are free.