Back in 1981, I wrote a poem that meant so much to me at the time–an expression of the spiritual path I was attempting to follow as a social change activist. It is interesting to me to read it today–do I still agree with it or not? Since that time, I have been involved in several organizations working for change. I would love to change the system, and I grew to think much more collectively. But after many years, and seeing the backlash against so many changes we tried to create, there is some grounding in remembering that we are creating a new way, no matter how the larger system reacts. I am curious what other activists or spirit kin might think about it all. (I do still love the word kin-dom.) (And one can make a small pond by digging a hole and pouring in water–it will never be the ocean, but it gives me joy none the less.)
We are not reformers We are resisters We are not reformers with a cause We are resisters with a way A reformer is one who tries to change the system A resister is one who tries to change herself A resister does not try to answer the question of what the system should be A resister does not try to organize a new system A resister resists the system A reformer is like someone trying to make an ocean She digs a big hole and pours in water A resister is like a river A river doesn’t know what the ocean looks like But it knows the way to the ocean Now here is a mystery The organizers of groups try to organize people into organization which resist the system But only individual persons can become resisters Only individual persons can change themselves But when a person becomes a resister she finds a kinship with other resisters She becomes part of the kin-dom The kin-dom is always in the midst of the system The kin-dom is always in resistance to the system The kin-dom is not an organization to be joined It is the kinship with other resisters one finds when a person becomes a resister Only individual persons can change themselves Only individual persons can become resisters When resisters protest this or that evil we are not trying to change the system A resister protests to strengthen the change in her own life A resister protests to let other people know that there is another way A resister protests to invite other people to become resisters If everyone became a resister the system would collapse But a resister is not waiting or working for that goal The kin-dom is not waiting or working for that goal The kin-dom is at hand.
As I read these descriptions of “reformers” and “resisters,” one of my thoughts is: Can’t a person be both? I believe in personal, deep-down change, creating a better Way within myself, resisting the mainstream by striving to be gentle, slow, sincere, reverent, and connected to the earth. And I also believe in collective, organized action towards reform, which is often a great way to make broad societal change.
Side note: part of the personal, “resisting” Way, for me, is bringing softer, more feminine energy into life, and as I read this poem, I noticed how the word “sister” is embedded within “resister.” I kind of liked that. 🙂
I love your thoughts! Thanks for sharing them.