Derrick Jensen Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 44 quotes)
What if the point of life has nothing to do with the creation of an ever-expanding region of control? What if the point is not to keep at bay all those people, beings, objects and emotions that we so needlessly fear? What if the point instead is to let go of that control? What if the point of life, the primary reason for existence, is to lie naked with your lover in a shady grove of trees? What if the point is to taste each other's sweat and feel the delicate pressure of finger on chest, thigh on thigh, lip on cheek? What if the point is to stop, then, in your slow movements together, and listen to the birdsong, to watch the dragonflies hover, to look at your lover's face, then up at the undersides of leaves moving together in the breeze? What if the point is to invite these others into your movement, to bring trees, wind, grass, dragonflies into your family and in so doing abandon any attempt to control them? What if the point all along has been to get along, to relate, to experience things on their own terms? What if the point is to feel joy when joyous, love when loving, anger when angry, thoughtful when full of thought? What if the point from the beginning has been to simply be?
Let's be honest. The activities of our economic and social system are killing the planet. Even if we confine ourselves merely to humans, these activities are causing an unprecedented privation, as hundreds of millions of people-and today more than yesterday, with probably more tomorrow-go their entire lives with never enough to eat. Yet curiously, none of this seems to stir us to significant action. And when someone does too stridently point out these obvious injustices, the response by the mass of the people seems so often to be . . . a figurative if not physical blow to the gut, leading inevitably to a destruction of our common future. Witness the enthusiasm with which those native nations that resisted their conquest by our culture have been subdued, and the eagerness with which this same end is today brought to those-native or not-who continue to resist too strongly. How does this come to happen, in both personal and social ways?
It's no wonder we don't defend the land where we live. We don't live here. We live in television programs and movies and books and with celebrities and in heaven and by rules and laws and abstractions created by people far away and we live anywhere and everywhere except in our particular bodies on this particular land at this particular moment in these particular circumstances.
By deafening ourselves to the emotional consequences of violence we have become confused by its relationship to sex. We have come to believe that violence equals aggression, and we have come to base our model of sexuality on our model of violence... converting an act of aggression into an act of consensual sexuality.
One of the fables we live by is that some day the killing will stop. If only we rid ourselves of Chinese, white men will have jobs and white women will have virtue, and then we can stop killing. If only we rid ourselves of Indians, we will fulfill our Manifest Destiny, and then we can stop killing. If only we rid ourselves of Canaanites, we will live in the Promised Land, and then we can stop killing. If only we rid ourselves of Jews, we can build and maintain a Thousand Year Reich, and then we can stop killing. If only we stop the Soviet Union, we can stop the killing (remember the Peace Dividend that never materialized?). If only we can take out the worldwide terrorist network of bin Laden and others like him. If only. But the killing never stops. Always a new enemy to be hated is found.
Grades are a problem. On the most general level, they're an explicit acknowledgment that what you're doing is insufficiently interesting or rewarding for you to do it on your own. Nobody ever gave you a grade for learning how to play, how to ride a bicycle, or how to kiss. One of the best ways to destroy love for any of these activities would be through the use of grades, and the coercion and judgment they represent. Grades are a cudgel to bludgeon the unwilling into doing what they don't want to do, an important instrument in inculcating children into a lifelong subservience to whatever authority happens to be thrust over them.
Surely by now there can be few here who still believe the purpose of government is to protect us from the destructive activities of corporations. At last most of us must understand that the opposite is true: that the primary purpose of government is to protect those who run the economy from the outrage of injured citizens.
I wish that my childhood would have been different. I do not, however, regret what happened. This does not mean tht I would gladly go through it again. But mythologies of all times and all places tell us that those who enter the abyss and survive can bring back important lessons. I have no need to merely imagine the unimaginable. And I will no longer forget. I have learned that whether I choose to feel or not, pain exists, and whether we choose to acknowledge them or not, atrocities continue. I have grown to understand that in the shadow of the unspeakable I can and must speak and act against our culture's tangled web of destructiveness, and stop the destruction at its roots.
One of the problems with all of this is that not all narratives are equal. Imagine, to take a silly example, that someone told you story after story extolling the virtues of eating dog shit. You've been told these stories since you were a child. You believe them. You eat dog shit hotdogs, dog shit ice cream, General Tso's dog shit. Sooner or later, if you are exposed to some other foods, you might figure out that dog shit really doesn't taste good. Or if you cling too tightly to these stories (or if your enculturation is so strong that dog shit actually does taste good to you), the diet might make you sick or kill you. To make this example a little less silly, substitute the word pesticides for dog shit. Or, for that matter, substitute Big Mac, Whopper, or Coca Cola.
Question four: What book would you give to every child? Answer: I wouldn't give them a book. Books are part of the problem: this strange belief that a tree has nothing to say until it is murdered, its flesh pulped, and then (human) people stain this flesh with words. I would take children outside and put them face to face with chipmunks, dragonflies, tadpoles, hummingbirds, stones, rivers, trees, crawdads. That said, if you're going to force me to give them a book, it would be The Wind In The Willows, which I hope would remind them to go outside.
Does anyone beside me experience a deep sorrow that someone called a "Hero for the Planet" and a "star of the sustainability movement" is designing truck factories and Nike headquarters? Ninety percent of the large fish in the ocean are gone. Ninety-seven percent of the world's native forests have been cut. There are 2 million dams just in the United States. Once-mighty flocks of passenger pigeons are gone. Islands full of great aucks, gone. Rich runs of salmon, gone. Gone. Gone. Gone. The oceans are filled with plastic. Every stream in the United States is contaminated with carcinogens. The world is being killed, and this is the respond? Not only am I angry, not only am I disgusted, I am also deeply, deeply sorrowful. And I am deeply ashamed. We need to act differently.
This is the key to understanding the difference between indigenous and civilized warfare: Even in warfare the indigenous maintain relationships with their honored enemy. This is the key to understanding the difference between indigenous and civilized ways of living. This is only one of many things those we enslave could tell us, if only we asked: They, too, are alive, and present another way of living, a way of living that is not - in contradistinction to our God and our Science and our Capitalism and everything else in our lives - jealous. It is an inclusive way of living. They could tell us that things don't have to be the way they are.
To reverse the effects of civilization would destroy the dreams of a lot of people. There's no way around it. We can talk all we want about sustainability, but there's a sense in which it doesn't matter that these people's dreams are based on, embedded in, intertwined with, and formed by an inherently destructive economic and social system. Their dreams are still their dreams. What right do I -- or does anyone else -- have to destroy them. At the same time, what right do they have to destroy the world?