01 February 2007

minor blog annoyances

sorry about the visual upheaval on the blog this morning. the blogger folks won't let us switch to the new blogger, but Sam has switched his account, and so this is annoyingly confusing. We thought our template might be the problem, but it wasn't. So here we are in green. enjoy.

I am mostly recovered from the second wave of loss of stuff we experienced in january--it comes and goes like a ghost: where's that picture of Sam making scones in the St. Paul place? or, oh, right. our super-cool chinese warrior lawn ornament. that's gone. and thankfully I have absolutely crap memory so the entirety of our Christmas ornaments going missing is just a kind of grey blur. Ah well. we probably lost a lot of stuff we didn't really like or want anyway. and it will fade into mere memory loss, like something misplaced that you might, someday, perhaps in the next move, run across.

Gandhi has this story in his Hind Swaraj about a robber, and what one should do when someone steals from you. It's a metaphor for colonialism, so not really applicable here, except in that Gandhi's view of the personal as political is, well, somewhat more thorough-going than other political theorists. But he does describe the escalation: you get angry at the robber and gather a group to attack him; his friends gather around him and ratchet up the robberies, expanding to your friends who rallied around you. 'Thus the result of wanting to take revenge upon the robber is that you have disturbed your own peace: you are in perpetual fear of being robbed and assaulted; your courage has given place to cowardice.' (p. 83--and this resonates, of course, with the culture of fear that the Bush administration and now virally, everyone, seems to be perpetuating.) certainly--in my small context--we didn't 'press charges' or even know if the robber was found. we did file an insurance claim. we didn't do what Gandhi advises: '...you argue that he is, after all, a fellow man; you do not know what prompted him to steal. You, therefore, decide that, when you can, you will destroy the man's motive for stealing. ... Instead of being angry with him, you take pity on him'. (p. 84)

I did have a moment of thinking: I truly hope that stealing my stuff helped whoever did it to get what they wanted or needed at the time. I hope they enjoyed my speakers, or used the money they got in selling them to help their parent or child or friend get a needed operation. And I hope that the person that got the speakers at a huge discount is a true music lover. In Gandhi's story, he advises that you should leave windows and doors unlocked. set out your things so that they are easy for the thief to take the next time he comes. this will confuse him. perhaps he will ask around about you, and your generosity of spirit will spread to him somehow. utopic? sure. Gandhi even says so on the same page. but I suppose it's about the energy we put out there and the actions that follow. for him, it's that 'only fair means can produce fair results...the force of love and pity is infinitely greater than the force of arms'.

I'm still locking my doors, I have to say. but I do argue that he or she is, after all, a fellow human being. what is the cause of the theft? how can I, in Gandhi's violent words, destroy it?

2 comments:

karl marx said...

capitalism is the cause of the theft. the only way to destroy capitalism is to go through it, whereby it will destroy itself under its own weight, so go be capitalist to the fullest.

ernesto laclau said...

karl is right about the cause of the theft, but his confidence in the supremacy of the structural in moving historical forces is misplaced, and the ideological hegemony of capitalism protects it from collapsing under its own weight. please read hegemony and socialist strategy and begin to resist.