“Uncomfortable” by Jessica Reznicek, April 2017 via pacis p. 1
Uncomfortable. We’ve got to get uncomfortable.
Discomfort births growth in human development. It provides the insight and clarity necessary to become the individuals we are meant to be. Overcoming challenges and fears gives us the strength to fight with love for justice. One of the problems I see among U.S. citizens today is that we are not too often forced into any situation of significant discomfort. Most of us can barely even bring ourselves to be human … to sweat, to shiver, be hungry, to cry, or to even feel at all. You name it, we seem to have mastered a way to avoid it. And so now here we are, suffocating inside this smoldering garbage heap we’ve all helped build, going to barely any length to clean it up, and to nearly any length pretend it’s not happening.
I began to really see the U.S. government for what it is, an oppressive regime, when I was about 12 years old. I spent most of my young adult years just angry, screaming at every front-page newspaper article I read, but too oppressed by institutions to really act … education, workforce, and debt. Admittedly, today I’m still screaming quite a bit, and while I believe passionately spoken words can send a powerful message, I’ve learned that actions truly do speak louder than words. The empire isn’t listening anyway, and these bloodthirsty, lying, greedy, fascist, violent oppressors are truly not going stop until they have extracted, exploited and then killed every single living thing on this planet. Unless we stop them.
My fight for justice has been a slow and agonizing journey. Early on in life, I was called a liberal, and then a radical; these days, if you ask the state of Israel, I’m a terrorist. Well, call it what you want, my journey has simply been about becoming more human. Learning how to be peaceful while creating a life I where I can live in noncooperation with the State I am working to dismantle.
An essential piece of my process in becoming more human is stepping mindfully out of my comfort zone. Because it is in these moments that healing occurs, and each fear I overcome leaves me a little less broken and a little more whole. Liberated. Real. And from the first moment I felt something real, I never wanted to know anything else. I realized that real isn’t pretty. It’s usually bruised, bloody, broke, malnourished and tear-stained. No, it isn’t pretty … it is beautiful.
Beauty and truth must be protected and restored. We must allow ourselves to grieve so much of that which they have already taken, and then get together, make a plan and take it back. I refuse to watch the earth and all of her inhabitants be crushed and destroyed. We must place our hands on the sacred pulse of life and allow her rhythm to guide us to action. When we do this Mother Earth tells us that death and destruction is near and that the time to act is now.
Property destruction, or as I prefer to call it, property improvement, is the only solution I foresee. Everything else we’ve tried just isn’t cutting it. Over the past several years I’ve attended hundreds of organizing meetings. I’ve petitioned, and written letters. I’ve barricaded roads, stood face to face with police lines, military lines, and riot cop lines. I’ve faced lines of live ammunition, rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray. I’ve seen hundreds of innocent people shot during peaceful protest. I’ve been detained in military prisons and deported from a country for planting olive trees in the West Bank. I’ve fasted, done line-crossings, sit-ins, die-ins, and of course, marched endlessly to … where? … for what? I’m not so certain anymore. These tactics, while still meaningful and empowering in many ways, simply are not dismantling the infrastructure in which evil institutions operate from.
I sit in circle after circle of two activists beating their heads against walls trying to decide what tactics to implement to effectively “shut it down.” We are failing to recognize property improvement as a legitimate, necessary approach we all need to be moving toward if we all truly want to shut it down. To shut it down most certainly is what we all want, but we all need to consider what an endeavor like this really demands. We struggle when we try to envision what the “shutting it down” process will actually look like. Why? Because we’ve never actually done it. And because it makes us feel uncomfortable. But lately I’ve been trying to imagine…
Property improvement I believe without a doubt will shut this corrupt system down. It is action laden with risk, sacrifice, and great discomfort. It is the tradition of the Catholic Worker movement, as well as in the spirit of Jesus. We are all feeling that urgency, and we’re feeling it for a reason. What we’ve been doing just isn’t shutting it down. We need to focus on dismantling this blood-sucking beast that is killing everything we love and honor. We all need to stand up together and begin the dismantling process, one piece at a time. In the spirit of love, compassion and nonviolence. Targeted and disciplined action, not random and without reason.
I’ve been feeling and acting increasingly from a spiritual place of obligation to act, these days guided by faith alone. I look to the Spirit for guidance and to Jesus as my role model. He was the one who overturned the moneychangers in the Temple. Why? Because he saw evil and refused to accept it. We all feel the evil around us, and it’s time to become a little more like the guy who showed us how to handle it. Jesus cared, and when I read scripture I can feel his passion. I want to also unleash that righteous rage and say NO! And if that means I have to look the beast in the eye and tell him to step aside, I’m ready. Oh, and Pontius Pilate, you’re fired, too.
Before I wrap up this article, I want to get real. People are dying, and we’re signing the checks. Blood is pouring through streets all over the world. Children, women and men all over the planet are dying. The Earth is dying. And the reality is that these things are happening, and will continue to happen because we are failing to do our job. I believe the days of marching past the infrastructure whose business specializes in killing everything and everyone who stands in its way of a dollar are over. It is time to dismantle the White House! And then on to our Statehouses and then to the oil refineries, and then to Monsanto. Tear it all down and rebuild a world of beauty. Let’s work through our fears and discomfort and understand what we have been called here in this life to do is something real. Let’s shut it all down. With love. With integrity. With a steady, peaceful hand the world can trust.
It’s time for us all get a little more uncomfortable.