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Accurately Perceiving Reality

The steps of liberation are

1. accurately perceiving reality,

2. setting a full range of goals (if you don’t have immediate ones, you don’t get off your dime1; if you don’t have long-range ones, you fuddle around2),

3. drafting and agreeing on policy,

4. communicating policy widely (organizing leaders, organizing groups, organizing allies).

We continuously think and act, and then discharge on the revealed blocks in our thinking (which are revealed by our acting and the difficulties we run into when we act). Then we think some more, act, and discharge.

Accurately perceiving reality is a crucial first step. We are not in a liberal world, an intellectual world, a middle-class world of illusion, where our good intentions will somehow inspire God to intervene and clean up the situation. That’s not reality. If God is there, she’s an aloof God who says, “I gave it to you; handle it, for God’s sake,” or something like that.

We are in a very real world in which, understandably, in the grip of patterns, we sold ourselves into oppressive class societies. Class societies act like pre-human life; they are about as intelligent as a sand urchin. They evolve in a crude caricature of Darwinian evolution until they collapse and a new society emerges from the ruins, with a lot of dead people left behind.

We are in a very positive world that is in danger of being ruined by the senseless operation of the latest, and I’m quite sure the last, oppressive society—the owning-class, working-class society—in which one motive transcends all other motives, as far as the society’s concerned, and that’s profit. Profit supersedes all intelligent considerations. This society is in the last stages of collapse, and in its collapse it is resorting to war, as all societies have done.

We’re properly concerned with this universal thrust toward war and with the extreme danger of a collapse that is armed with nuclear weapons. We’re not ninnies3 in feeling that this is about the most important issue. But we can’t solve it if we see it as separate from the total situation. It cannot be solved without handling the necessary transition to a non-oppressive society. The threat of nuclear arms, the threat of war, are not isolated phenomena. They’re simply an expression of the whole picture, of the reality that surrounds us.

Harvey Jackins
From a talk at the Peace and Disarmament
Activists’ Workshop, July 1986


1 “Get off your dime” means start moving.
2 “Fuddle around” means think or act in a confused, aimless way.
3 “Ninnies” are fools, simpletons.


Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00