Dangerous Compassions

direct action

direct action

I want to change culture, and direct action is part of my life.  I think about direct action of different kinds–symbolic, performative, solidarity.  Some acts of service can be direct action also.


Serving food to hungry people is a real way to help, but it can also be a statement.  Food Not Bombs says over and over, scoop by scoop, that food waste can be reclaimed through dumpster diving and other anti-capitalist methods.  People can organize to care for other people.  People don’t exist to create nation states that organize killing, domination, violence, and war.

Actions can be publicity stunts.  I think of dropping banners, pointed heckling, demonstrations.  Graffiti can be publicity.  It’s putting forth ideas that matter to us in creative ways, stirring up thought with a well-placed, pithy, artful statement.


Actions can change us inside and align the different parts of us.  Ritual does that too, which is what I love ritual for.  Its beauty and symbolism speak to all of me.  Ritual gets my body, mind, spirit, and intentions all on the same page.  The whole family showed up for dinner!  It’s a miracle!  Somebody take a picture.

Action can be ritual, like the prayer action of Nevada Desert Experience, the non-profit that Ming and I just parted ways from.  I will always be grateful for what I learned by prayerfully crossing the line in civil disobedience, including when Ming and I got married.


Actions can distract and possibly delay change.  Yesterday I saw the Honk for Peace professionally printed sign with geese on it.  It was made by Nevada Desert Experience’s previous executive coordinator.  It’s to encourage people passing by in their cars to do something, anything, to make a better world.

Honking for peace is performative and a good example of a low-risk, low-investment symbolic act.  It’s a tiny commitment.  I’ve never been convinced that honking for peace helps.

But it’s something to think about, as I stand there with my No Torture, No Drones or Nuclear Free Zone sign.  I haven’t vigiled in a while, but maybe in our new biome, we’ll start vigiling again.

pleasure to heal

It’s good to have many different approaches to changing culture and doing the work of love.  I like prayer alone, prayer in community.  Work alone such as writing this blog post in the wee morning hours, work in community.

As an outlier introvert, I’d like to do the vast majority of my work alone.  But I love people and being with people also.  I need the light of others’ ideas and consciousness shining on what I do.  Diversity enriches us.

Pleasure like swimming can heal us.  Pleasure can help us continue the work of direct action.  The geese on the Honk for Peace sign made someone smile, and a smile can be motivating.

Happiness shining in our hearts matters.  What keeps happiness shining in your heart?  Feelings matter, and I will feel mine today.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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