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Excerpt from What We Leave Behind

Baring Witness (p. 232)

From chapter "Magical Thinking"

First, “Baring Witness”: “On November 12th, forty-five women in West Marin County, Northern California dared and bared all in protest against impending war. Lying down naked on a field in the rain, they formed the word PEACE with their bodies, spelling out their convictions for all to see.

“The photograph of their protest became the shot seen around the world, once it hit the news wires and the Internet. It has aroused passion and inspired women and men nationwide to take action, speak their minds and express their frustrations at not being heard by those in power. Many of these new activists have never taken part in a protest before. Some have never written an e-mail to anyone about a political issue. Such is the persuasive power of the vulnerability of the naked female body.

“That power is seduction and it may be the deciding factor in creating support for peace. . . . As simplistic as it sounds, the movement can make our rulers stop and listen, even if only for a second. That one second could be the difference between their pushing the button and listening to their hearts.”

And more: “It is no accident either that women would choose to get naked for the sake of peace and justice. For Baring Witness is about using the greatest weapon women have, the power of the feminine, the power of our beauty and nakedness to awaken our male leaders and stop them in their tracks. [How insulting—and frankly pornographic—to suggest “the greatest weapon women have” is the “power” of their “beauty and nakedness” to cause the “seduction” of “our male leaders.” What about women’s intelligence? Courage? Fortitude? What about their ability to use their voices to convince? What about their ability to kick the shit out of oppressive motherf***ers? What about the guns they’ve been target-shooting at silhouettes of muggers, rapists, CEOs, politicians, and other oppressors? What about their gifts for painting, drawing, organizing, hacking, singing, bomb-building, lawyering, counseling, teaching, and so on? All of these are lesser weapons than their beauty? Help me understand how this is not the same old pornographic and patriarchal mindset that values women primarily for their bodies, and in fact also considers women’s beauty a weapon to be used against men.] In this way Baring Witness is about heightening the awareness of human vulnerability.

“By risking with our nakedness—our charm and beauty and vulnerability—in service of peace we are exposing the flesh all humans share. We are casting off the old dominant paradigm of aggression and restoring the power of the feminine to its rightful place as the protector of life. [If we’re going to picture a naked woman as an agent of change, what about a naked woman carrying an uzi? Or would that be too scary? Would that be too threatening to those in power (and more to the point, too threatening to members of the pseudoresistance)? Hell, if we’re serious about bringing down systems of oppressive power, and not merely causing the “seduction” of “our male leaders” (and reinforcing pornographic ideals), let’s just drop the nudity and keep the uzi.] It is time for women to deter the men in their lives from violent acts, as nurturers, as guardians of our families and as voices of reason.”

If you think taking pictures of naked women formed in the word peace will stop those in power from waging war (against humans or the planet), you might just be a magical thinker.

Evidently getting naked and taking pictures isn’t quite cutting it so far as stopping US military aggression, so these same organizers have raised the stakes in their struggle against war. Their new campaign (which of course receives lots of press) is about having orgasms for peace. On winter solstice, December 22, as many people as possible are supposed to have orgasms simultaneously, and this will, according to the theory, somehow stop or slow war.

From the website: “Our minds influence Matter and Quantum Energy fields, so by concentrating our thoughts during and after The Big O on peace and partnership, the combination of high orgasmic energy combined with mindful intention for peace could reduce global levels of violence, hatred and fear.”

Here’s what they’re aiming for: “To effect positive change in the energy field of the Earth through input of the largest possible instantaneous surge of human biological, mental and spiritual energy.”

But wait! The orgasms are not supposed to be merely on that day, but specifically at 6:08 a.m. (Greenwich Mean Time), which “means that Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Palestine and Israel get some choice morning hours. A gift with the intention of peace from Global-O.org.”

Iraqi men, put down your weapons and pick up your penises! Women, stroke your clitori! Whacking off will be far more effective in driving the invaders from your land than fighting back!

Yeah, right.

One last note from the website: this is the second year, because “Yes, after its overwhelming success in 2006, the Global O is back!”

Overwhelming success? I’m guessing the measures of “overwhelming success” do not include: a) whether the US war machine has been stopped from murdering people all over the world; and b) whether the industrial machine has been stopped from murdering the planet. I’m guessing that instead the measures of success include: a) how good their orgasms for peace felt; b) how good they got to feel about having their orgasms for peace; c) how much press they got; and d) whether they got enough additional foundation funding to continue their orgasm activism.

And finally, for those who find even orgasms too much work, there is the following:

“The Green Circle presents . . . The 9 p.m. Earth Watch.

“When: Every Night—Ongoing—Virtual Location.

“Where: Whately, Massachusetts.

“Nightly Meditation to Heal the Earth.

“Event Details: Meditate with us on Healing the Earth.

“Envision a clean, verdant planet with plenty of Oxygen and not so much carbon dioxide . . . healthy animals and plants, lots of tall trees, thriving rainforest, clean water, refrozen polar ice caps, reduced emissions, cooler temperatures and a long future.

“Feel the love for this beautiful home of ours coursing through you.

“Tell everyone of positive spirit who[m] you know to join in, too. [Lord knows we wouldn’t want anyone of negative spirit to crush our mellow, and Lord knows we wouldn’t want any anger to mess with our vibe.] The more, the better—if the minds are joyful and optimistic. [Baring Witness had this same stricture, writing (with bold face in their original): “We have the choice of continuing on the present path of destruction and dominance by a powerful few or, without blame, stepping towards a new structure. . . .” What is it with these people that they are so afraid of anger, and that they don’t even want us to assign blame to those who are blameworthy?] We can make this happen if enough of us join our vision and our wills!

“Don’t get too distracted by wondering how the healing will be achieved. [By all means don’t get “distracted” by silly little things like what we’re supposed to do about it or how we’re going to go about it: don’t get too distracted by the fact that you’ve got two feet on the ground and you need oxygen to live; don’t get too distracted by the fact that doing nothing won’t accomplish anything: gotta protect the mellow!] Just picture the end result desired, and as with our other magic, the path towards it will automatically be generated. It’s not too late, if we all take action. [Action? Is this the pathetic level to which our pseudoresistance has fallen, where now sitting on your ass and thinking positive thoughts is considered action?] Be the 100th Monkey! Help spread awareness of the devastating ecological disaster[s] that threaten our planet.

“So Mote It Be!

“Event Location: Your Personal Temple on the Astral Plane in Whately

“Event TIME Details: 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm Eastern Time

“Directions: Go to your favorite mediation place and sit or lie down. Try to be calm and focused. Enter trance state and rendezvous with us. Think of it as a psychic conference call. If you can make it, dial in. If you can’t, no big deal. Some of us will always be there, every night during this hour. Hopefully, more and more of us as time passes.”

In one form or another, nearly all of our so-called resistance consists of magical thinking.

It’s all about learned helplessness. The person perceives a lack of real control over an unpleasant environment. Except instead of being passive, the person engages in meaningless action under the false belief that the action actually affects the environment. It’s a way of coping.

The world doesn’t need for us to cope with our feelings of helplessness. The world needs for us to fight back.

In learned helplessness experiments, a minority of subjects manage not to become helpless. Some psychologists have attributed this to the ability of that minority to identify the source of the problem as outside of themselves. I think that’s what has to happen with magical thinking—people have to realize that actions are not the same as thoughts, and that the problem is not primarily inside of them. Otherwise the pseudoactions taken will just be mechanisms to displace responsibility.