Chapter 8, Meanwhile, Back in the Department, Part II

Sayonara, Berkeley

Whereas it took Lynn a year after the Rose Garden declaration to get out of Berkeley, John and I were actually gone within two weeks. Since it was near the end of the semester, I wrapped up my course obligations and we took off, just ahead of the revolution, we thought–it was that final an event for me. We decided on Japan because of John’s occupation as a merchant seaman, which is what he had been doing just before I met him. He had done that for years, but had had to stop when he collapsed with heart problems. When I met him, he had not been to sea for some time while he recovered from surgery.

When we began to question our life in Berkeley, John explained that the way seamen got ships was to go to the union hall and throw their union card, containing information on when they had last been to sea, into a basket. Ships were assigned on the basis of who had the oldest at-sea date. He was certain that he could go to any union hall and get a ship immediately. In addition, he told me, there was an American union hall in Yokohama, Japan did not require American seaman shipping from there to have Japanese work visas and there were six-week trips to Vietnam that offered hazard pay because it was a war zone. The plan was that we could go there, I could look for work as an undocumented worker, he could get a six-week trip with hazard pay and that would enable us to try to establish ourselves there, perhaps permanently. Whether any of that was true, I cannot say, but I believed him at the time.

Once we had decided, we only needed to wrap up our lives in Berkeley and go. John had saved some money from the janitorial service he had started while recovering from his heart problem, I still had money left over from my grant, there were some donations from his family and we sold our car and other items to make up our grubstake. We stashed what was left of our possessions in John’s mother’s large basement and our apartment was rented on a monthly basis, so there was no lease to complete. I had no finals and only had to hand in a term paper. I did not even have to stay for finals week. Things got wrapped up rapidly.

The night before we left Berkeley, we walked to campus to say goodbye and to get one last nostalgic look at The Ave. We had to do it before curfew. It was one of those mental snapshots your mind takes and files away in the permanent file, the one that no amount of subsequent pleasant memories will erase. I have no way to describe it but to use a cliche. It really was like a war zone. The national guard patrolled with fixed bayonets at every street corner and it was nearly deserted otherwise. Windows were boarded up. I seem to remember barbed wire, but I am unable to document that detail. Everything looked desolate and strange. I remember thinking, “This is not the way I want to live and Berkeley will never be the same again.”

We flew to Hawaii the next day, dawdled there a week, then flew to Tokyo. I abandoned myself to John’s direction from that point forward, since he was the world traveler and, although neither of us spoke Japanese or any other foreign language, he seemed entirely at home dealing with all travel arrangements. Anxious to get out of the smog and urban sprawl of Tokyo, we bought a train pass that would enable us to go anywhere in Japan served by trains, get off anywhere and stay in a hotel or inn, then get back on the train without buying another ticket. We stashed a couple of suitcases at a small hotel in a beach town north of Tokyo, put backpacks on our backs, decided we would lie to everyone not in a position to see our passports that we were Danish and Ghanaian, and get as far away as possible from the Americans we saw all around us.

That turned out to be Hakkaido for a week or so, then—after making a circuit of Kyushu that specifically excluded Hiroshima—Kyoto, where John the Great Traveller met Mr. Fujita, the Great Lover of Americans, in the club car on the train. Mr. Fujita, who spoke fluent English and had adopted American style while rejecting everything Japanese, fixed us up with what they called an apartment in Japan but would have been a tiny bedroom in the U.S. He also found me a job teaching English, in the evenings, illegally, at a language school in Yokohama. I was not really teaching so much as I was providing Japanese new-English speakers with an opportunity to practice with a college-educated speaker of American English.

The apartment was in Nagaoko-cho, a village near Kyoto accessible only by train. We had already decided that we felt most comfortable in Kyoto or, probably, that I felt most comfortable in Kyoto, so living only a few train minutes from there was quite acceptable. Yokohama was a different story. John would walk me to the train depot, where I would catch the Bullet Train to Yokohama and ride for maybe an hour to the Yokohama station, from whence I walked to my job. After work, I was on my own to walk back to the station at nearly midnight, and wait alone for the return trip to Nagaoka-cho, where John would be waiting to walk me home.

I began to notice that the Yokohama train station at midnight was populated by very scary looking Japanese men and no women at all. I had already noticed that Japanese men, in general, were overly interested in American women, especially blondes, and that I was accorded far less respect out in public than Japanese women were. When I was in John’s company, they confined themselves to simply staring openly and perhaps making fanning motions at my ass after I had passed, which I may or may not catch them doing, but if I did, they would then grin and giggle. The omnipresent ancient Marilyn Monroe nude calendars probably did not help much in this regard. I liked teaching English and was paid well, but the commute was definitely the downside of this arrangement.

The upside was that I was called upon to have no opinions whatsoever, nor make any decisions whatsoever. We were stared at, especially in the remote north, where we met people who had never seen a black man in person, and to a much lesser degree, in Kyoto and Nagaoka-cho. But, they got used to us in the village and we stayed near the temples in Kyoto, where the density of polite and reserved people was greater and I could feel much more relaxed as an American and a woman not following three steps behind her husband carrying the baby and the packages. All the Berkeley voices in my head were still gabbling away, but I was excused from reacting to them. I blessed the fact that I only heard English spoken from John, occasional young people we met on trains from the U.S., England or Australia, my landlady’s daughter and my students. Part of the apartment deal was that I would tutor the daughter in English and her language skills would benefit from occasional social visits.

The internal gabbling situation was relieved in a way that I would not have predicted. One day, as John and I walked around Kyoto, we passed a Buddhist temple a bit off the beaten path. No walls on three sides, just an expanse of woven grass floor mat under an ornate pagoda roof. It was empty except for one or two worshippers at a time. I watched the proper procedure as they left their shoes on the steps and went inside to sit in lotus posture facing a front I could not see and meditated, after which they would leave with no further fanfare. It looked like a very beautiful thing to do and the silence around me, the zen garden beside the temple, the soft “plum” rain, all made me long to do it as well.

I told John I was going to go in and asked if he would be okay waiting for me. He said he would be fine just sitting on a bench watching people. I went in. There was no one there but me, I thought, as I sat down cross-legged and faced the same way everyone else had. Then, I saw that the enclosed space by the single wall contained a short platform on which a priest sat meditating, facing outward, in front of a statue of Buddha. He acknowledged me in no way at all, but continued to meditate as I closed my eyes and attempted to follow suit. The voices were gabbling away, the violent scenes were repeating themselves, I was carrying Berkeley around complete, inside my head. Then, all at once, with no warning whatsoever, it was gone. There was nothing but peace and quiet inside my head. There was no thought, none.

The sudden silence was startling in its own way. I opened my eyes and looked directly in front of me, where the priest was looking directly back at me with an almost-but-not-quite smile. I knew that he had done it. I could not have done it on my own. He had zapped me. I looked at him for a moment, then closed my eyes again and went back to that healing silence in my head. Eventually, I got up and went back outside. Had I not had a thought about John, I think I might have sat there much longer. I thought I had only been there for maybe 15 minutes, but John, with no rancor whatsoever, said he had been waiting for me for an hour.

The time of pure peace was over, but the voices and the scenes were now controllable. I had been made aware of their dominance over my internal life and I had been shown the way to keep them from being dominant. And, I was now able to think of other things and make new plans. John went to Yokohama to put his card into the basket at the union hall, at least that is what he told me he did when he left me for a few days. He came back with a story that the Japanese laws had changed. American seamen could still ship out from Japan on a six-week voyage to Vietnam, but they had to have Japanese work visas. Our money was nearly gone. Our options were to spend our last on tickets home or spend it to go to Samoa and get work visas to re-enter Japan and continue with our original plan. We did not have enough money to do that, so I gave notice at my job and we bought tickets home.

Before we left from Tokyo, however, I had one last experience in Japan that set the tone for the rest of my life. At the Tokyo main train station, in which we had a layover on the way to the airport, we walked out from a high floor onto a catwalk above a nightmarish five-way city intersection clogged with barely moving traffic. As we stood there, watching traffic being directed by an officer with a loudspeaker on a platform located in the middle of the intersection, the clock struck five and people began pouring out of the skyscrapers all around us. It was an incredible number of people, an incredible scene—the rushing, the noise, the cars honking, the tiny people moving in streams and eddies. I turned to John and said, “Ok, we’re going back. But we are never going to be part of a scene anything like this one or even close. We’re going back, but only for as long as it takes us to get pregnant, get the hell out of Berkeley and move to the country.” John said, “Fine with me.”

Berkeley, Take Two

Back in Berkeley, we stayed with family until we found, through my anthro contacts, an apartment share on what was widely considered the most revolutionary block in town, Channing Way, between Shattuck and Fulton. Many years, residents hosted a block party there, but I had never been to it. Next door to us lived two women who either were then or later became members of the Symbionese Liberation Army and were killed as a result. I never met them, and certainly would not have approved of their connection to such a violent organization, but their presence there is some indication of the neighborhood ambiance.

We took a room there not because of the block’s reputation, but because that was what we could find. We shared the two-bedroom apartment with another couple who had dropped out from Brigham Young University to become hippies and were expecting a baby. For the two or three months before they moved out, John and I watched in amazement as a steady stream of their relatives and friends came to visit, dropout hippies every one. It was a quite an education for both of us on counter-cultural values, social interaction, and general philosophy. Since my immediate goal was to get pregnant, I observed my housemate carefully trying to understand the mothering head set. It is through this couple and another one that I eventually landed in Humboldt County.

I soon discovered that getting pregnant was not as easy as I had thought. We tried all through Fall semester, but in December, I was still not pregnant. I worried that my longtime use of birth control pills might have rendered me sterile, so I began thinking about the implications of that. I was still in touch with my former Berkeley friends, so I knew what was going on on campus, which was nothing. No riots, no police, no confrontations. I began to think, “Well, hell, maybe its all over, maybe I could go back and finish my doctorate and there would be no more explosions.” At the very least, I thought, maybe I could just finish the two quarters left to get my M.A. I went and talked to Gerry, now returned from field work. If that is what I wanted to do, he said, he would get me halftime work and see that I was accepted for Winter quarter.

In January, I re-entered school with a quarter-time research assistantship for a linguistics professor and a quarter-time teaching assistantship for Bill Simmons, the professor who had caught the “mistake” of my initial rejection from grad school. So far, so good. I plunged into my special research project and my two jobs enthusiastically and things went so well for a while that I began to imagine that maybe I really could manage to finish my doctorate, grant or no. What was different? I was working halftime, but then, except for that one golden all expense paid school term, I had always worked halftime. Halfway through the semester, I realized that I was pregnant, but physical symptoms were mild and I was, perhaps unduly, optimistic that it would not interfere with my completing at least my M.A. There were various actions related to the militarization of the campus and efforts at a “Revitalization of the Campus,” meaning redirecting the curriculum and structure of the campus to supporting rather than opposing student political action, but I was filled with a steely-eyed resolve to keep a low profile until I got that piece of paper that said “Master’s Degree” on it. Then, it all exploded again.

The bombing of Cambodia began April 29 and lasted until July. On May 4, students protesting it were shot by members of the National Guard at Kent State in Ohio. Four students were killed and several were wounded. At Berkeley, a strike was called on May 5. Things happened very rapidly for me. Since my coursework that quarter consisted entirely of special study, there was no question of my not attending class and I saw no point whatever in striking against my coursework with Gerry. I was, however, a quarter-time teaching assistant for a huge introductory anthro course and was responsible for teaching two sections. There were perhaps 15 other TAs for the class.

The lecture was held in a gigantic auditorium complete with a stage. On the first day of the strike, the auditorium was filled with excited people. Bill met with all his TAs backstage to say that he would allow each of us to address the students and announce whether we would or would not be teaching our sections. I had not had time to confer with my usual advisors in political matters, but it was incomprehensible to me that, after all the strikes we had participated in, we would not also strike to protest the murder and mayhem committed on students protesting the war. I assumed all or most of Bill’s TAs would go on strike. Bill sent us out on the stage one-by-one and, to my great disadvantage, alphabetically. As has happened to me on many occasions in my life, I was, as one whose last name started with A, the first one to get whatever it was, good or bad.

I announced that I would be holding sections as usual, but that classwork would be oriented toward the anthropological view of the causes of war and in American culture in particular. This was a compromise position adopted by many TAs and professors on campus in the past, based on the “teach-in” philosophy, and one that I had previously discussed with Bill, who was ok with it. Were we or were we not on strike? It was a somewhat ambiguous question. We were certainly being insubordinate and the logical expectation would be that most students would skip section if it were not clearly related to passing exams but, technically, we were still teaching and it could be argued that we were not on strike. However, to my complete amazement and horror, of all the TAs who followed me with their announcements, only two either announced that they would be on strike and not teaching or took the route I took. I knew that, once again, I would be seen by conservative faculty as a ringleader, the first anthro TA to go on strike. No one would consider that I was only first because my last name was Arnold.

I did, in fact, attend the remaining few section classes in the quarter and there were students who did show up and we did discuss anthropological views of the causes of war. Normal final exams were held and I did grade them, which I would call an argument that I was not on strike. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that my unearned reputation for being an outstanding department troublemaker, an especially vulnerable one, was in no way diminished by my approach to my teaching job. And, I have no doubt that my unearned reputation fed into subsequent events regarding my degree.

The MA program in anthro had been started only that year, after anthro TAs and RAs complained that they were paid less than other TAs and RAs on campus because they did not have MAs. Graduate students were all working on PhDs. Thus, in addition to being the very last bustee out of Sproul Hall during the FSM, I was also scheduled to be the very first UC anthro student to take an anthro MA oral exam. Once again, my last name placed me at the head of the line to receive whatever was being offered. It was in that way unfortunate that I had not retained my married name, Samuels, when I got my divorce.

That little detail, the newness of the Master’s program, is of slightly greater importance than historical footnote because the way it came down is an illustration of just exactly how chaotic was the end of that semester for not only me, but everyone. My exam was scheduled a few days after the strike began. It being a new program, no precedents had been set for either students or professors, on the logistics or, really, even the requirements beyond the oral exam. Gerry said, “Pick out two professors besides me to be your committee, I’ll arrange a date when we can all do it and then we’ll do it.” He advised me not to bother with any special preparation, since he was sure I would be able to answer anything I was asked without it. So, with the campus and anthropology as a science apparently crashing around my ears, I picked May Diaz and Bill Simmons and went to the assigned place on the assigned day barely able to think.

I showed up looking only marginally coherent and wearing a black armband for those killed and maimed at Kent State. Gerry, Bill and Professor Diaz, all friends, looked at the armband, looked at me and then looked at each other. Professor Diaz spoke first. She said, “Well, I don’t feel much like doing this, either. Re-schedule?” And we did, for a few days later. The very last official thing I did before dropping out, as I believed, forever, was pass my Master’s orals with, as Gerry told me, “flying colors.”

But, there was more to getting my Master’s than passing the exam, as I soon found out. There was also an immediate problem with my requirements. That last quarter, I had had only one required course left for my M.A. Everything else was a matter of special project units under Gerry. But, that one course requirement was unfulfilled because, when I had taken it a few quarters back, I had received an incomplete. When the Third World strike took place, I was only taking one classroom course. The other two were special research projects, requiring only periodic conferences with the professor. There was no class to strike against.

The third class was taught by none other than Herb Phillips. When I went to him, probably at that time unaware of his spying, to see if I could arrange to either drop the course or complete it by writing a paper (which would have been much more work than passing the exams required), he had said, “If you miss even one of my classes, even if you ace all the tests, I will give you an incomplete.” It was get an incomplete or do not participate in the strike. I had opted to take the incomplete, on the theory that I would take the class later, hopefully from someone else.

Now, the course had not been offered during the two quarters remaining for my M.A. and it was unclear whether I would attempt to finish my doctorate, thereby having an opportunity to retake the class. The class was required for a PhD, but whether it was required for an MA, given that all unit requirements had been fulfilled was unclear. Unfortunately for me, such a decision appeared to be in the hands of the head of the Admissions Committee, Herb Phillips, the spy. Here was the very piece of minutia that would enable Phillips to score a small revenge on not just me, but Gerry, as well.

Having had the situation explained to me by Gerry, I headed off for what I was pretty sure would be a complete exercise in futility—trying to persuade Phillips to award me my Master’s with an incomplete on my record, on the expectation that the Master’s program was based on units, not course requirements, and the course requirement would be fulfilled in the future as I completed my PhD. It was a very discretional situation, the kind that could be bent for some students but used against others.

Like Rowe over my medical leave of absence from my grant, Phillips was having none of it. He made no effort, as we spoke privately in his office with the door closed, to conceal his delight at having me so at his mercy. He asked me, feigning innocence, what I thought about the Third World strike, now. He asked me other such questions, relating to my political activities, but I cannot now remember them. Then, he said that he would give me my MA in spite of the incomplete if I would put it in writing to the committee that I would leave and never again apply for re-admittance. Since I had already decided to drop out three minutes after I heard of the Kent State shootings, I was not overly dismayed by the “leave” part, but I did not like the sound of the never again reapply for admittance part. It did not sound legal to me. Could he really do that?

As I pondered, Phillips began speaking with me in a flirtatious manner, one I recognized from our earlier conversation during the Third World strike. Then, I had ignored it. It was a point in history before the words “sexual harassment” had been coined and I had fended off countless such attempts by powerful men to encourage me to sleep my way to the top in the past. Avoiding an incomplete was hardly worth it. Now, there is that same tone, that same body language, that same undertone so hard to present in a court of law, just ask Anita Hill. I cannot specify his exact words, but we both knew that he was offering me a way out, the same one he had offered before. Oh, so very much can be understood unsaid in such situations.

I favored him with a look that said, unmistakably, “You are so disgusting that I would never, under any circumstances, touch you with a ten-foot pole” and told him I would take the deal. I did reported the conversation to Gerry immediately afterward, but I did not report to him the non-conversation. It was not, at that time, an easy thing to discuss and I think I may have been overwhelmed by a great feeling of  “what’s the use,” as well as a desire not to cause Gerry any more distress on my behalf. I received my degree in the mail, having once again opted to forgo the pointlessness of a graduation ceremony in the absence of anyone who cared. Soon after, I received a letter from the admissions committee requesting that I inform them of my plans for the Fall quarter. I knew this was my part of the deal. On the other hand, I already had my piece of paper, what would he do if I reneged? Could they revoke it? But, in spite of myself, I still had enough reluctance to burn all my bridges that I wrote the committee a one-sentence letter, leaving myself a rope out of the hole, and told myself I was doing it under duress, therefore it did not count. I said, “I have no plans to return to UC Berkeley at this time.”

Some time later, when I told Gerry that I felt I had been politically harassed out of grad school by Phillips and, in part, because I was his student and therefore a pawn in his conflict with him, Gerry validated that point of view entirely. He said, “That is exactly what happened.” However, he said, “I wouldn’t go around telling people that because it could backfire on you professionally. You don’t know what power he may have over you in the future and you could merely be establishing yourself with whomever you are telling as a troublemaker.” I do not know if he would have said that knowing the sexual harassment part, but for many years I followed his advice and forbade myself to utter the name Herb Phillips in any context.

The sexual harassment was validated for me many years later in a very surprising way. At the pre-opening screening of Berkeley in the Sixties, which took place at the Garberville Theater in southern Humboldt County, California, before it officially opened in Berkeley, I was asked to give a presentation after the movie and answer questions. I had, by that time, received my doctorate from another university and, in spite of having my prize-winning dissertation published as a book, been repeatedly rejected for academic jobs. Whether that was because of the subject matter of my book, hippies, or because of my advanced age, I could not say, but it was clear to me that I had no professional aspirations that could be endangered by my speaking of Herb Phillips.

When asked why I had not returned to Berkeley when I re-entered school, I took the opportunity to say that I had been both politically and sexually harassed out of school by a man whose name I would only now utter in public, Professor Herb Phillips, and was not re-admitted because of it. After the q and a, I was approached by a woman I did not know, who said that she believed the story about Phillips because she, too, had been maneuvered out of the UC Anthro Department by him and in a similar manner. She had dropped out as well, believing her professional life was over, but, unlike me, had never returned to it. She said that while she was still there, two female grad students had brought harassment charges against Phillips, but he had only received a “slap on the wrist” reprimand from the university. I was not happy to hear about her situation or that the two other students had not received justice, but I was happy to hear that I had not been the only female student to have suffered at Phillips’, er, hands. It was a quite welcome vindication.

In May, I had my piece of paper, and I had my longed-for pregnancy, but as far as I could tell, I did not have anthropology. In a period of two months, I had learned that students opposing the war could now be shot with impunity, I had gotten sexually and politically harassed out of my chosen profession and I had learned I was pregnant. Once again, the antiwar movement had left me in a state of shock and fear. It had not, however, left me unopposed to the war or harboring any regrets about my participation in it.

This is how I feel about the antiwar movement in general. I think that we stopped the war. I do not know if we stopped the war as fast as it might have been stopped by some other tactical route, but I do not think the war would have stopped without the peace movement. I think that, in the long run, the peace movement was valuable. It not only stopped the war, but it set a lot of people to thinking about society in general, what American society is and what it should be. I think there is a lot more resistance to unjustified wars and war in general now than there would have been had there not been a peace movement during the Vietnam War.

I was vindicated on this position by at least one of my professional colleagues when I was a graduate student at Washington State University, Pullman. My graduate advisor had invited myself and some other of his graduate students to dinner at his house to meet a visiting anthropologist from Sweden. After dinner, loud and vigorous conversation took place in the living room over glasses of wine. The subject, inevitably, turned to the relevance of anthropology in the modern world. Everyone seemed to be agreed that there was no hope for applying the principles of anthropology or its knowledge towards the improvement of anything. This was quite shocking to me, since I had come to Pullman specifically to study with the anthropologist who wrote the book arguing that anthropology was the science best placed to address pathological modern culture.

Probably because of the wine, I cast all caution to the winds and gave a little lecture about what we used to call in Berkeley “copping out.” I ended with the statement that if the peace movement had not opposed the Vietnam war it might not have ended when it did. There was deep silence in the room following that statement, then a burst of spirited attack. The consensus seemed to be that the peace movement played no role in stopping the Vietnam War. I looked to my advisor for some protection on my flank but he was merely watching the show. Then the honored guest from Sweden spoke, producing instant respectful silence. He said, quietly, looking straight at me all the while, “Well, that’s certainly how it looked from Sweden.”

It was a conversation ender, though efforts were, to my consternation, quickly made to take me home on the theory that I might be somewhat tipsy.

The next day, I called John Bodley and demanded an explanation. To his credit, he was quite gentle with me in explaining that, to most members of the WSU Anthro Department in the 80s, I was an anachronism, a leftover from the 60s. No one cared about the Vietnam War or the peace movement and most historians believed the peace movement had nothing to do with ending the war. I asked him, inevitably, if that is what he believed about both me and the peace movement. He said, “You know I don’t believe that.” It was true. From other conversations, I knew that if he thought I was a leftover from the 60s, that was of great value to his research and mine. Only a leftover from the 60s could do the kind of research I was doing on the counterculture. As to the Vietnam War, we both knew Gerry’s role in the antiwar movement and Gerry had sent me to him as a surrogate for himself. This was Bodley trying to save me from myself, warning me to cool it, at least in Pullman. And, I had the opinion of the highly respected visiting Swedish anthropologist who had saved my ass.

Off the Pig in You

Late in the 60s, there began appearing on the walls a graffito that said, “Off the Pigs.” It probably coincided with the rise of the Black Panthers and the shift away from non-violence. I did not like it. I did not like the stereotyping of police because I did not like the stereotyping of anyone, but I also did not like name calling one’s perceived enemy. How was this different from calling the Vietnamese “gooks?” I certainly had no love for how the police were being used to repress us and how some of them seemed to take great joy in it, but I was not ready for “Off the Pigs.” One day, I saw that the graffito had been altered to read, “Off the pig in you.”

Like many of my friends, I did not at first understand the alteration, though I did suspect it had been done by hippies. I was at first offended. Who was less of a pig than me? How can I be accused of the same kind of violence and bigotry displayed by the police who have insulted, humiliated, beaten, shot, gassed, wounded and killed peaceful protesters and even peaceful bystanders? Then, as I was more and more drawn to the counterculture, I began to understand it. It was variation of the words of Christ, “Let he who is perfect cast the first stone.” It fit into the peace movement in that we had been shown what the reaction of those in power will be to our efforts to stop an unjust, imperialistic war. We will be crushed.

In that place and time, it certainly appeared to me that resisting the war the way we had so far resisted it might be a hopeless task. What had happened in Berkeley, and certainly other college campuses was escalating oppression and there was no break in the war, no sign that it had or would slow. Faced with that observation, some of us went through a period of intense personal recalibration. I thought, if I can’t stop the war, what can I do? The hippies were telling us to manifest, to make our own reality, to not participate in the reality with which we were presented. I was not the only one on the road to dropping out under the pressure. I came to see that “Off the pig in you” was another way of saying, “you start with yourself.” If everyone located those tendencies within themselves that collectively lead to war and changed them, there would be no more war. I have since had reason to tweak that philosophy with ecological considerations, but it made a lot of sense to me then.

I abandoned, for a time, direct collective action in favor of reconstructing my own life to reflect peacefulness. I told myself, what I am responsible for in this life are my own actions and I did what I could do to stop the war. All I can do now is life every moment of my life as if I am creating a new society in which there will be no war, in the company of many others who feel approximately the same way. Being part of the peace movement and trying to stop a particular war brought me to a certain realization about war in general. When I came to that realization is when I stopped pretending I was a revolutionary, in the traditional sense. Because if you stay in a traditionally revolutionary head, you will never change the causes of war. You can only change this particular war, if that. I did not want to go and stop just one more war. I wanted to stop them all. I wanted to stop the whole cultural trajectory that leads to war. I wanted to stop the whole military-industrial complex and the whole idea of consumption and the whole technology that sets everyone on a route that will create war. I wanted to stop whatever it is that requires a war to maintain the economy. And the only thing it appears that I have any control over is stopping those tendencies in myself that contribute to a society that requires war to exist. For me, pondering the meaning of “Off the pig in you” led directly to the counterculture and its dictum “you start with yourself.”

© Jentri Anders, 2016


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