Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Day!

Leap Day Action

2008 is leap year -- a fantastic opportunity to leap into something new. Are you gonna to use your extra day like you use so many other days -- toiling away at your job to make the bosses richer? Using up more of the earth's resources while the forests, the oceans and free communities are being killed? Watching it all go on around you -- an "information consumer" -- feeling helpless to do anything to resist it?

Life is far too short to spend days, weeks, years just getting by -- getting treated like an object. How much of your life do you really get to control? How often are you really fully alive and free?
If you wish things were different and dream about a better world, you're not alone. Vast numbers of people from all walks of life realize that life as we know it isn't satisfying our real needs and has to change. But hoping and dreaming isn't enough.

Lots of people have developed and articulated ideas for how life could be transformed. We need to love each other, take care of each other, share and cooperate, live with the earth instead of destroying it, and embrace diversity, not hatred and violence. Social structures that promote power and inequality need to be dismantled, and arrangements that promote freedom and sustainability constructed in their place.

So if things are to change, how can each of us be part of creating these changes? Most people feel like they're too isolated as individuals to really do much of anything effective against a massive, entrenched system. This collective feeling of individual helplessness and inertia is a self-fulfilling prophecy -- but it isn't real -- it is just a collective illusion.

Those in charge encourage feelings of isolation, helplessness and passivity in a million ways. They want everyone to individually conclude that nothing very big or important can change -- that the big things have to be the way they are. They love cynicism, resignation and isolation. They fear community and discussion about alternatives. But most of all, they fear action -- the moment when individuals take matters into their own hands and stop just hoping for a better world.

Anyone and everyone can take action. Taking action means moving from wishing things would change to changing them -- in your family, in your neighborhood, in your workplace, in your school . . . in your own mind. Change in your mind is the most accessible change and yet often the most difficult -- we're all embedded in deep patterns that hold us back from building change out in the world. We've learned to feel powerless and take for granted lots of fucked up power relations. Working on changing our internal mental state goes hand and hand with taking action to change the external world. As we take action in the real world. we help liberate the parts of our mind that hold us back. Each new experience with action -- creating change ourselves -- helps open possibility for even more action and change.

Action in the world can mean living differently yourself in a variety of ways -- the way you relate to others, the way you communicate, the way you eat, the work you do, the way you move around, etc. And it can mean organizing with others to build new ways of living -- building community gardens, cooperative houses, alternative businesses, and revolutionary decision-making bodies. And action also means rising up to fight those who dominate power and try to prevent change -- joining protests, sit-ins, riots and strikes. The historical dates in this organizer chronicle all the amazing ways people have taken action through the ages: non-violently and violently; on a local level and on a global level; alone and together in every year across every place on earth. When you take action, you are far from alone! The key is for each individual to make the leap from hopelessness to action in as many ways as they can in any particular moment.

This leap day *February 29* imagine everyone who feels smothered living a mediocre life within the current insane system rising up to resist in whatever way they can. Take leap day off work and live life like it really mattered. Spend the day as a free and whole being. Maybe that means spending time alone, or maybe it means with friends, or with your whole block, or even the whole city. Maybe it means tearing down the forces that seek to force you back to work and back onto you knees on March 1. Maybe living free for a day means spending the day creating new structures, new ideas, new forms of cooperation and a whole new reality which make you happier and freer. You don't have to wait for tomorrow, and you don't have to ask anyone for permission.

Leap for it!
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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

There is a Difference Between Life and Survival

Whatever medical science may profess, there is a difference between Life and survival. There is more to being alive than just having a heartbeat and brain activity. Being alive, really alive, is something much subtler and more magnificent. Their instruments measure blood pressure and temperature, but overlook joy, passion, love, all the things that make life really matter. To make our lives matter again, to really get the most out of them, we will have to redefine life itself. We have to dispense with their merely clinical definitions, in favor of ones which have more to do with what we actually feel.

As it stands, how much living do we have in our lives? How many mornings do you wake up feeling truly free, thrilled to be alive, breathlessly anticipating the experiences of a new day? How many nights do you fall asleep feeling fulfilled, going over the events of the past day with satisfaction? Most of us feel as though everything has already been decided without us, as if living is not a creative activity but rather something that happens to us. That's not being alive, that's just surviving: being undead. We have undertakers, but their services are not usually required; we have morgues, but we spend most of our time in office cubicles and video arcades, in shopping malls, in front of televisions. Of course suburban housewives and petty executives are terrified of risk and change; they can't imagine that there is anything more valuable than physical safety. Their hearts may be beating, but they no longer believe in their dreams, let alone chase after them.

But this is how the revolution begins: a few of us start chasing our dreams, breaking our old patterns, embracing what we love (and in the process discovering what we hate), daydreaming, questioning, acting outside the boundaries of routine and regularity. Others see us doing this, see people daring to be more creative and more adventurous, more generous and more ambitious than they had imagined possible, and join us one by one. Once enough people embrace this new way of living, a point of critical mass is finally reached, and society itself begins to change. From that moment, the world will start to undergo a transformation: from the frightening, alien place that it is, into a place ripe with possibility, where our lives are in our own hands and any dream can come true.

So do what you want with your life, whatever it is! But to be sure you do get what you want, think carefully about what it really is, first, and how to go about getting it. Analyze the world around you, so you'll know which people and forces are working against your desires, and which ones are on your side... and how you can work together with us. We're out here, living life to the fullest, waiting for you-hopping trains across the United States, organizing political protests in French public schools, writing beautiful letters at sunrise in Bangkok. We just finished making love in the corporate washroom a minute before you walked in on your half hour lunchbreak. And Life is waiting for you with us, on the peaks of unclimbed mountains, in the smoke of campfires and burning buildings, in the arms of lovers who will turn your world upside down. Come join us!
Reprinted from