“It’s Civil Disobedience, not Civil Disturbance.” Ja had gotten into the Transcendentalists; he liked exploring what the Imperialists had done with the wisdom of the East.
“What’s the point of being disobedient if you’re not disturbing anything?” Tante was trolling Facebook, tossing Auntie Christ zingers around on the web sites she felt most offended the teachings of the Christ. Most of them claimed to worship him, it was really sad.
“The point is personal freedom. If laws are unjust, disobey them. You don’t have to create a disturbance. Besides, smoking weed is pretty much legal in this state Tante, it’s not like you’re some great outlaw out there bringing great social change by sitting around communing with the Ganja.” Ja’s fascination with weed had waned early on when Wind and Forest had made themselves known to him.
“In this odd culture, Dude, my entire existence is illegal, think about how fundamentally wrong that is in and of itself. I’m feral. There’s a cross in the Outback with my name on it, the only obvious remains of a baby that was born last year, only there aren’t any remains to go with it. I came into existence when your friend made the passport from the altered birth certificate, anybody who looks me up will decide that I’m a phony.” They’d taken Tante’s actual birth certificate, issued in Wilcannia, and simply changed the birth year from 2015 to 1945, the trick used by every person on earth who wanted to become someone else: find a “dead” child’s identity to steal. It was a variation of an old theme, one that messing with developmental genes gave birth to.
“And it is no doubt disturbing to a whole lot of people who hold a whole lot of really different truths from those that we hold, especially since we all came into this crazy country together.” Ja went on. “Refusing to pay taxes is one thing; challenging peoples’ fundamental belief system is something else, and scaring the crap out of a culture already terrified of damned near everything might not be a good idea”.
“All I’m challenging anyone to do is to actually examine what it is that their fundamental belief system is. I don’t know why; I just do.” And that was the truth of it. Tante did what felt right, and tried not to worry too much about it. Lying in the grass waiting to die can do that for a person.
“It’s just that there’s so much suffering in the world already, and we’re all so totally intradependent that compassionate action seems so much more powerful than rattling the dishes. The most fundamental nature of reality holds us all together so closely that pursuit of happiness can only be a positive thing, at least as long as you do no harm along the way. Loving creates love. Trusting creates trust. Being nice is just so fundamental to all those things we know are good, like sharing and caring and helping others.” Ja had also gotten into his distant cousin’s teachings. Tenzin was a really sharp guy; into science and art, an anti-capitalist, and totally open minded.
“Disturbance happens.” Tante sighed. It had taken her so long to come to peace with herself and who she was in the world that it was almost a chore to try to explain it to others. Some of them got it. “And as often as not, it’s violent.”
“But we KNOW that non-violence is the only valid approach to a more beautiful world. Violence only begets more violence. Judgement begets judgement. Love is the answer, it’s the way.” The Yeti passions were stirring.
“The minute we define something as unjust, we have passed judgement.
Judge the sin, not the sinner. I judge the lies of the woman. I judge the bigotry and hatred of the man. You might perceive my ways as violent, but surely you know their basis is love. I weep for the Trumpster, and for the woman as well. Is the storm violent, or does it simply rage? Is the sea lashing out against the shore when the tsunami hits, or has the rumbling of the earth set something in motion that cannot be stopped? Is social change so different? Do you suppose that Gandhi held no anger in his heart?”
“Yes, we do feel anger.” Yanaha had been listening intently. “And we feel grief for all that has been lost to the big White Machine, grief for Gaia as we share its suffering. Grief for all the species lost already.” She was starting to tear up.
“See? Even Yanaha cannot think about the destruction taking place without thinking of the white man, and she’s been married to one for fifty years! Juno the matriarch loves to point at the patriarchy, which automatically attaches gender to the ills of the world. Zeus blames the capitalists and Ja the tyrants and oppressors. Yin and Yang would ask those of us with lots of fire to cool down, and Ina seems inclined to point to our entire species, or at least an awfully big segment of Gaia seems to. Hari told me the other day it was the meat eaters who were to blame, and Alonso seems to have a very big beef with something called Monsanto. We have to stop blaming each other, look to ourselves, each and every one of us.” Tante was exasperated. “When I think of my father, I think only of the human being whom I love. I don’t think of him as the evil white one any more than I think of my mother as some more noble black one, I think of each as the special people they are. It’s a way of being that is to blame. The machine is not white or black or Republican or Democratic or Asian or Muslim or Mocoví. It’s a system. It’s a sin, not a sinner. It’s a system, not a person or group. And it’s a system that needs to be disturbed!”
“Punished?” Alonso threw that one out there. His time among the Jesuits had taught him something about humanity, one of its not so pretty ways.
“I’m pretty sure we’re punishing ourselves pretty thoroughly already as we do damage to the whole. I’m not much into punishment.” Tante sighed again. It seemed to be what had replaced ranting and whining, perhaps it was the weed.
“In some cultures, when a person has done wrong, members of her tribe remind her of her good qualities and all of the things she’s done right.”
Alonso had used a lot of different approaches in the work he done at Zen centers. Many of the people who ended up in them had run through rough patches in life and needed that kind of love. “In some ways, reminding all of the people of various belief system about those fundamental truths they all share is the same thing, even if Tante is none to gentle in her delivery.”
“But you’re right, there is anger.” Zeus had been very quiet up to that point, thoughtful. “And Gandhi had anger, on that point history is clear. And he did indeed cause quite a disturbance. Non-violently. Of course there was violence committed against him. He stood fast, turned the other cheek.”
“Perhaps civility is the key”. Juno was treading carefully; her time in Mendocino had broadened her cultural horizons considerably.
“Ah, but what culture considers civil, another does not.” Ina was suddenly feeling some fire of her own. “My grandmother sometimes engaged in social discourse with a machete in her hand.”
“Interesting”. Baltha spoke up.
“What?” Tante was intrigued. Her friend so seldom engaged in their philosophical discussions that when she chose to offer input, it was usually pretty insightful.
“You’ve never said or done anything evil. In fact, most of what you put online is very much in line with the teachings of Christ, that’s why Tamminya had you read the book without a lot of input from anyone else, to let you choose how to interpret it. The only stigma you carry is your name.”
“And I am judged upon it, judgement of the sinner without any real obvious sin, based on nothing that’s real.”
“As you said though, the Auntie Christ isn’t even real, not in the roll books of the world we live in.” Ja suddenly realized that he wasn’t real, either. He was just as feral as Tante. “And you mostly judge yourself.”
“Just as you do, love.” Baltha’s term of endearment caused Ja to blush again. It really stood out against his beautiful white beard.
“Enough of your mirror gazing!” Zeus’ sudden outburst caught them all by surprise, all except Juno, who’d been trying hard to channel his growing anger into something a little more gentle. Problem was, she’d gotten turned on, which only amped him up. “And enough of sheep. I’m going back to Europe. I’ve got a flash drive that Haile left with me that calls out to be allowed to serve. Are you with me my love?”
“Yes, I think it’s time. I want to make a run to Portugal to delve into these ideas about ecosexuality. We’ve formed our networks here all, haven’t we?” Juno looked to the others for confirmation. Heads were nodding.
“Yes, and we’d like to get going with an antipodal network we’ve been strategizing. Alonso and I are headed down to Argentina, and Ina and Yang are off to Shanghai. In fact, it was something Haile suggested to us a few days before shutting down.” Yin had emerged as the front person for their family foursome.
“Haile apparently did a lot to make sure we’d be taken care of.” Ja welled up a little. “I’ve got a bunch of external hard drives to wade through, all kinds of wild encryption. Smartass made it a challenge for me.”
“Mendocino holds a certain appeal for me.” Ja looked at Baltha when he said it.
“We like it here as well.” She looked back at him.
“Yeah, the MTJ rocks!” Tante said it; it did it.
Arnold came up from the cellar with a few bottles of wine to celebrate the ties and confirm the bonds that held them. It had become a place of ritual.
“Tonight, we accept the gift of grapes from soil and water and the ways of the yeast that have fermented the sweet sugars gifted from sky and delivered by sun into the intoxicant that makes us merry! Gratitude and good cheer!”
Yanaha liked complicated toasts.
“To Intradependence!” Ja.
“To love!” Juno.
“To peace!” Arnold.
“To cooperation! Mutualism! Togetherness! Conjugation!” the foursome, in no particular order.
“To diversity!” the shapeshifter.
“To Civil Disobedience!” Zeus had his sights focused into the future, recognizing that only his actions or inactions in each and every now mattered.
“To disturbance.” Tante spilled her glass of red wine on the tablecloth as she rather too briskly set it back down after her toast.
Peace, peace, peace, peace……Arnold recited the mantra silently as he went to retrieve the salt and heat some water to clean it up. It was going to be a long summer.
The End is Near