this month’s #📚lostinplantopia is the next american revolution – sustainable activism for the 21st century by grace lee boggs, radical activist + scholar. i’m currently reading this book & taking my time with it bc i don’t want it to end. this book was published almost 10 years ago but everything in it is so relevant to what’s happening rn. grounded in her lived experience (she lived to be 100!) & understanding of fluidity + change, grace provides a manifesto for revolution in the times we’re living in. she analyzes society, historically + contemporarily, & shows us that the dysfunctional systems of consumerism, materialism, & militarism have removed us so far from our roots. she writes about how creativity & community are the ways to return, and about going inward to grow our souls & calls for a paradigm shift, focusing on education, moving towards respect, care, & liberation.
most of my life i’ve struggled with the awareness of existing deep inequalities + systemic oppression that reproduce the status quo. many nations, including what is now known as canada & america, were built on colonialism & violence. over time this has transformed into a capitalist + racist system which is so deeply entrenched in the way we live & think. i first found grace’s work during my phd when i started to feel hopeless due to life circumstances. i started to open my eyes + mind & realized that the value systems & goals i had been socially conditioned to participate in & work towards didn’t align with my spirit. when i left tkaronto in 2014 & moved to australia, i went through an existential crisis & questioned everything. living abroad provided me with the freedom & space necessary to peel back the layers & get in touch with my core. spending more time in nature, i felt myself coming to an unspoken understanding & peace that only the forest, ocean & mountains can provide.
largely a result of working on my phd, i found myself spending lots of time alone. while it was one of the hardest periods of my life, it was also one of the most important. having the privilege to slow down, be still, observe, & reflect is something that i value so much bc it allows me to shift the course of my life & focus my energy on transforming myself & others through compassion + consciousness. during this time, i felt a deep need to shut out the noise & continued my healing journey by meeting my shadows through my academic work & life experiences, which is an ongoing process. when i moved home i grieved bc i had a very visceral understanding that nothing was the same & it was sad letting go of who i thought i was & my old life bc i had hid behind it for so long. as painful as the experience was, i could see changes happening within & around me. i found contentment in simplicity. i cultivated community by deepening or making new connections with people who have stood by me, who have taught me, who have loved me, & i hope i’ve been able to provide that to others around me too. i also grew a beautiful indoor garden & have found community through plants. while i care for my green babies, they contribute to my well-being – a symbiotic relationship in ways.
as i’ve said before, this pandemic is exacerbating systemic inequalities bc while the virus doesn’t discriminate, the system & people do. the pandemic has made the reality that much of life is uncertain all too real – this fact is both terrifying & liberating. it’s liberating bc we are both powerless + powerful. we may not be able to control what happens around us, but we can control how we react & my hope is that more of us are who are privileged to stay home during this time are compelled to imagine a more conscious + sustainable future that isn’t dependent on the exploitation of our planet & people. we have to start moving towards a future where we need less because we are more connected to each other & mother earth. through these connections we have more meaning, we are more in touch with our true selves, & as such, feel less of a need to dominate + accumulate bc we are enough. we gotta be the change we wanna see in the world. but first, we gotta figure out what it is we want & that requires surrendering & going deep into the crevices of your being. never forget that small changes, even individual ones, affect those around us, rippling out until it affects the global system. the pandemic has exposed just exactly how interconnected we all are.
i’ll leave you with a quote from this book:
love isn’t just something you feel. it’s something you do every day when you go out and pick up the papers and bottles scattered the night before on the corner, when you stop and talk to a neighbor, when you argue passionately for what you believe with whoever will listen, when you call a friend to see how they’re doing, when you write a letter to the newspaper, when you give a speech and give em’ hell, when you never stop believing that we can all be more than we are. in other words, love isn’t about what we did yesterday; it’s about what we do today and tomorrow and the day aftergrace lee boggs, 2011, p.96-97
thank you, grace, for everything you have done, for dreaming, for your intellect, for your legacy, & for the loving + caring gifts you left behind. this woman is an inspiration to me, giving me hope on the daily, & her call for us to grow our souls is how i choose to live my life. i’m here for the revolution & the work in progress ❤
info on accessing this book:
if you’re interested in reading this book, please check out the national emergency library (https://archive.org/details/nationalemergencylibrary). with libraries being closed & many of us not being in a position to spend money right now, this is a great resource for people anywhere in the world with an internet connection. waitlists have been suspended until june 30, 2020 & digital copies of books are available to loan for free.