Occupy Radio co-hosts Rivera Sun and David Geitgey Sierralupe interviewed Pancho Ramos Stierle on radical kindness, Little Revolutionary Gardens (Jardincitos Revolucionarios), and fearless love in East Oakland. Listen to the podcast here.
“If you want to be a rebel, be kind.” – Pancho Ramos Stierle
Facing the severity of corporate-political domination and the wanton destruction of Earth, outrage seems the natural and logical response. Calls for rage and revolt circulate widely through social media networks. Even mainstream television seems to think (as they fan the flames of our anger) that revolution is inevitable and violence is our only option.
Yet, as Michael Nagler, the director of the Metta Center for Nonviolence says, “The problem with violence is that it is not radical enough for me.”
There is nothing rebellious about violence at this point in human history; it has been normal, accepted, and constant for centuries. Rage and violence are the status quo of a socio-economic system built from exploitation and maintained by cruelty, greed, and destruction of the planet. If we wish to truly rebel against a greedy, warmongering, fear-inducing, corrupt, controlling socio-economic and political system that thrives on keeping its populace isolated, competitive, and antagonistic towards each other and the rest of the world, that rebellion requires not rage or violence, but kindness.
Kindness cannot be equated with passivity, however. There is nothing kind about being passive when life-as-usual has become a march toward death. As lovers of humanity, we must admit that our leaders have severe addictions and abusive tendencies. It is an act of kindness – toward ourselves and our opponents – to stand up firmly and put an end to such abuse.
In light of these thoughts, Pancho’s phrase if you want to be a rebel, be kind takes on many meanings. Kindness is a force that draws us into action. Kindness is an act of rebellion in a culture of greed and hate. Kindness is a strategic move in the struggle to end systems of violence.
And, to everyone who takes on the heavy burden of tackling one of the most powerful, militarized empires in history, kindness is also a small gift. Our struggle is not easy. So, if you want to be a rebel, I urge you to do your fellow rebels a favor and be kind.