By Richard Falk
While reflecting on my prior blog lamenting the challenges of sustaining civility amid tumult and controversy, I came to appreciate my own partial captivity in realms of darkness. The negativities I tried to discuss are the shadow land of my blog experience, which is more essentially lived in the sunshine of new and renewed friendship, solidarity, mutuality, and the new emotional and spiritual resonances of our era, what I would call, in the absence of greater precision, the emergence of ‘digital love.’
What becomes possible, although there is no doubt that it produces its share of blood, sweat, and tears, are invisible communities of commitment to a better future for humanity, all of it. Such communities keep candles of hope flickering during an historical period of thickening darkness when even the will to species survival seems to be in doubt.
Why else would the world choose to live with nuclear weapons? Why else would political leaders turn their backs on the alarming scientific consensus as to the growing hazards and harms associated with climate change? Why else would the 1% be allowed to indulge super-luxuries while more than a billion struggle daily with the ordeals of poverty?
It is in this spirit that I write from an aspiring identity as ‘citizen pilgrim,’ not content with the way the world is organized or the way rewards and punishments are distributed, seeking of a better world as a bequest to the future.
It is not sufficient to be a ‘world citizen,’ which to be sure takes an step away from the privileging of identities of nation, race, religion, and gender, an implied acknowledgements of the primacy of ‘the global interest’ and ‘the human interest,’ but still tied either to present security structures built around territorial claims or tied to some project of political unification that succumbs to the seductively misleading promises of ‘world government.’
In contrast, the citizen pilgrim is more concerned with time than space, favoring the profound readjustments that would be needed if the human species is ever in the future to fulfill its spiritual potential as well as satisfy its material needs and take the sort of prudential steps necessary to stave off civilizational catastrophe.
It is a grand thing to be dedicated to such a vision of impossible possibilities, the sole foundation of hope in our time that is not built on illusion. Yet such grandiosity is irresponsible unless coupled with a willingness to take present suffering seriously. It is this ethical imperative of the immediate and existential that has led me to do what I can to challenge oppression and side with the weak, marginal, and most vulnerable in their struggles for emancipation, rights, and justice. While all of us are entrapped in the downward spiral of world order, many are denied the minimal decencies of life on earth, while others are allowed to flourish, either benevolently through their works and prayers, or dishonorably by stealth and by making the most of systemic corruption.
I have strayed from my original intention, which was to make amends for my lack of graciousness so evident in my tiresome complaints about the torments of blogging. I wanted mostly to thank all those whose warm words of encouragement and support have given me the confidence and stamina to persist during these two years, and more than confidence, feelings of gratification that in some small way enclaves of truth telling are being constructed in cyberspace while the rulers are sleeping, building sanctuaries for those of us who seek refuge from a corporatized media that plays with our minds to induce the wrong fears while stimulating our most destructive consumerist appetites. Without doubt it is this experience of digital love, new to this century, that is allowing the light to get through even on the darkest of days!
It is my belief that there are many flickering candles throughout the world that partake of the special energies of place, culture, and memory, expressive of an array of distinctive identities unconsciously conjoined by mainly unrealized and unappreciated affinities. I would like to believe that we are participants in the founding of a new world religion that dispenses with institutions, dogma, and metaphysics, affirming a semi-conscious network of spiritually resonant citizen pilgrims aroused to action by urgent end-time challenges.
Perhaps, just perhaps, ‘hope against hope’ (Nadezhda Mandelstam) is not yet an outmoded indulgence!