I am not a consumer. I am not, as my friend Jerry Michalski acerbically puts it, “a gullet who lives only to gulp products and crap cash”. I am not here to use stuff up. I measure myself by my ability to live light upon the land, to consume as little as possible in the process of living, comfortably, sustainably, responsibly, joyfully, sufficiently. If I consume more than I must to live this way, then I am failing in my responsibility to all-life-on-Earth. When you, politicians and corporations, measure how much we humans collectively produce and consume, you are measuring the collective failure of our species to live responsibly and within its means, not its well-being.
I am not a user. A user is someone who is addicted, helpless to stop, at the mercy of pushers. I see you, the politician, the lackey, the monger, the lawyer, the marketeer, the corporate stooge, as the seller of lies and of endless shoddy, worthless junk. And I am not a junkie. I am not buying it, not any more. You are a perpetrator of misery and suffering, and you should be ashamed. You are desolating our planet, and you should stop.
I am not a debtor. I do not owe you or anyone anything. You cannot control me, or tell me what to do and what not to do. Your laws are not, as you assert, means to keep order; they are means to oppress, to subjugate. I am not your subject. I will not be bullied, cowed, bribed, intimidated, or propagandized. I do not recognize your or anyone’s authority over me, or over my freedom to be who I really am and do what I am intended to do.
I am not an employee. Common law defines an employee as a person in a ‘servant-master’ relationship to an employer. I have no master, and I am no one’s servant. The word “employ” means to fold in. I am not pliable, ployable, or employable. I do what I choose, what I know is right to do. Do not tell me, or ask me, to do otherwise.
I am not a resource. You cannot use me, or use me up. I am not a product. I am not my labour. You cannot consume me, or my interest. I am not a factor in production. However you want to gauge or measure my ‘productivity’ means nothing to me.
I am not an owner. Your ‘ownership society’ is a fraud, a grotesque deceit to convince those who live modesty that they should live more rapaciously, that they should hoard, that they should fight to acquire and protect mere stuff that you produce and peddle to us as a distraction from your ownership crimes. “Own your copy today,” you say, and then you tell me that I cannot sell, alter or duplicate “my” copy, that this violates your ownership and property rights. How stupid do you think I am? We do not have rights to own anything, we are merely entrusted with the collective stewardship of the land in partnership with the rest of all-life-on-Earth as our sacred responsibility. We belong to the land, not it to us. I claim ownership to nothing, and I do not recognize your ownership of anything, nor your rights, no matter how much you and your armies and your enforcers and your sleazy lawyers threaten me with your pathetic and abusive laws.
I am not a leader. I do not pretend to have answers, and I do not believe in hierarchy. We don’t need leaders and heroes cajoling and coercing us and letting us abrogate our own responsibility to discover and to do what we are meant to do. I am fed up with the rhetoric of leaders who would have us believe that they or anyone is or can be in control. What happens on this world is emergent and the collective result of what all of us do. We don’t need leaders to show us the way. We need facilitators, people who care, to help us work together in community and to remove obstacles and then get out of the way.
I am not a believer. There is no -ism that you can attach to me that will stick. Nobody knows anything, including me. We all just look after the needs of the moment. We do what we must, then we do what’s easy, and then we do what’s fun. Ideology has nothing to do with any of it. We are no closer to a global consciousness than the slugs, for all our human arrogance. Don’t tell me what to believe, or what you believe. Tell me what you care about, what you love, what you have passion for, and then show me, don’t tell me, why. Show me what you know how to do, that’s useful. Spare me your clever and useless rhetoric. I don’t believe in ideals any more. Look where they’ve got us.
I am a complicity and I am a part. A complicity of the creatures that make up what I singularly call ‘me’, and a part of the complicity of all-life-on-Earth. My ‘self-interest’ is a lie, a story that has been propagandized and instilled in me through cynicism, manipulation and fear, to keep me, and all of us, distracted, obedient. As I learn, finally, to scrape off all the gunk I acquired when I did not know better, and discover who I really am, nobody but myself, I discover that I have no self-interest. I am just a part, here to act as part of this amazing planet’s great circle of life and learning and love.
I am just the space through which stuff passes, a part of the unfathomably complex dance of all-life-on-Earth. And my role — my only role — is learning to improvise which of that passing-through stuff to touch, and which to just let go. It’s not a choice, so much as a knowing, a collective and connected knowing, an instinctive and sensual knowing. “Ah, I know how I can make this better, or clearer, or more interesting, or more useful, or more innovative, or more fun — there!” Like the expert who just knows, from practice, where the puck or ball is going to be, I’m learning, perpetually, to be there, to do that stuff I do that helps just a little bit, to know what to do and to have fun doing it. The wild creatures whose world I increasingly share understand this well, and it will take a lifetime of practice to become half as wise as they are in the arts of living, and making a living, and being of use, and being happy, without even trying. Just being the space, and touching the right stuff in just the right way as it passes through.
That’s who I am. Not a consumer, a user, a debtor, an employee, a resource, an owner, a leader, a believer, an -ist. So stop calling me these names. Understand who I am, and you may start to understand who you are as well. And then you will be free of all the names that imprison you, make you everybody-else, make you who you are not. I will see you then.