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This Hero Didn’t Stand a Chance

Posted on Jun 20, 2011
Illustration by Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges

(Page 3)

“Generally in desperate times those in power do desperate things to hold on to their power in the name of order and security,” he went on. “That is when things have gotten really ugly in the localized examples of collapse that we have in history, whether they were economically induced as in Germany in the 1930s or environmentally induced as in Darfur. Rather than an opportunity for mass reflection, which it could be, where we could say we had this coming because of fundamental flaws in the way we structured our society, that maybe greed and competition were not the best values to base everything off of, rather than doing that, it is much more common in those historical examples to say, ‘Oh, it was because of those people.’ A class of people was scapegoated. The powerful said, ‘Those are the people who are causing our problems and if we take it out on them we can maintain order and security for the rest of us.’ That is when things get really ugly and dehumanizing.”

“We are starting to see hints of that already with the rather minor ripples that we have been having in the past few years with the economic situation,” he said. “Rather than admit the fundamental flaws, many of those in power have said, ‘Oh, it is because of those immigrants that are taking people’s jobs, or those Arabs, or those unions, whoever the scapegoat is, to try and vilify someone. What we are on track for are much larger ripples than we have had in the past couple years with the economic problems. If we go into that collapse with our current power structure and a world run by corporations, where we have ignorant and apathetic people who are afraid of their own government and think their job is to do what they are told, even if they think it is immoral, that is when things can get really ugly. If we go into that collapse with an awakened and educated population that views it as their role to create the society they want and hold their government accountable then we have the opportunity, whatever hardships we might face, to actually build a better world on the ashes of this one.”

“Our strategies must be to not only change our energy system and food system, but to change our power structures,” he said. “We shouldn’t be looking for the big corporations running the show to become a little greener and cleaner. We should be overthrowing those corporations running our government. Our job as a movement is not just to reduce emissions; while we still need to do that, we also have this other challenge of maintaining our humanity through whatever challenges lie ahead. This is much more abstract and foreign to this movement.”

“Civil disobedience puts us in a vulnerable position,” DeChristopher said. “It puts us in a position where we are refusing to be obedient to injustice. Civil disobedience puts us in a position where we are making a risk and possibly making a sacrifice to stand up against that injustice. It also puts us in a position where with that vulnerability we see how much we need other people. This is something I have experienced over the past few years as people have come out of nowhere to support me, to make actions more powerful and to help me personally get through this experience and grow from it. Appreciating these connections is one of the most important parts of resiliency. A lot of the unwillingness to take bold action is coming from a disempowerment that comes from a lack of connection. When we view ourselves as isolated individuals it does not make sense to stand up to a big powerful institution like a big corporation or big government. It is not until we gain the understanding that we are part of something much bigger that we feel empowered to take those necessary actions. This is a self-reinforcing cycle. The more we stick our neck out the more connected we become and the more empowered we become to do it again.”


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DeChristopher, who attends a Unitarian church in Salt Lake City, comes out of the religious left. This left, defined by Christian anarchists such as Dorothy Day, Philip Berrigan and his brother Father Daniel Berrigan, as well as Dr. Martin Luther King, takes a moral stance not because it is always effective but because it is right, because to live the moral life means that there is no alternative. This life demands a commitment to justice no matter how bleak the future appears. And what sustains DeChristopher is what sustained the religious radicals who went before him—faith.

“The connection to a religious community for me is a big part of the empowerment,” he said. “From talking with a lot of the old Freedom Riders and other folks in the civil rights movement, it was in the church community that people found the strength and the faith that, no matter what happened to them when they sat at that lunch counter or got on that bus, there would be another wave of people coming behind them to take their place and another wave behind that and behind that. And that is part of what is missing from the progressive community today. Part of my belief system is an appreciation of our connectedness to the natural world, the interconnected web of life of which I am a part. I am not an isolated individual, and this understanding is what empowers me, but also in a more direct way in that I am connected to the church community who I knew would support me. Sitting in that auction when I was deciding to do this I was thinking about whether anyone would support me. The people I knew would have my back were in the church. That helped drive me to action.”

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By TAO Walker, June 20, 2011 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

What if that singular lack of “moral legitimacy” (noted in Chris Hedges’ last
paragraph above), which is so universally characteristic of ‘dominance’
paradigm-derived institutional set-ups (like the U.S. judicial system, for just
one among myriad examples)), is merely one among many similarly debilitating
symptoms of an actual disease process ‘at-work’ in Mother Earth’s Living
Arrangement?  What if the really devastating deficit here/now is, rather, that of
The Living Virtue of Organic Functional Integrity among the “individual”-ized
masses of the virtual (and Virtue-“deficient”) sub-species homo domesticus?

As otherwise decent and well-intentioned (and even brave) as he appears here
to be, Tim DeChristopher still suffers from an all-too-typical ‘case’ of the
sickeningly “self”-serving I/ME/MY/MINE syndrome.  It is ‘written’ all-over the
quotes from him that Chris Hedges includes in this article.

Putting their “individual” Human birthday-suits at-risk of such “legal” sanctions
as CONfinement, and worse, is in-a-certain-way the epitome of “self”-ishness,
in the members of a species whose Organic Function (as a vital component in
Her immune system) requires them to BE in the Organic Form of (and to act
altogether as) Whole Healthy Living Human Communities.  Better all-around to
just get-over their “self,” and come TOGETHER as Natural Persons ORGANized
in The Tiyoshpaye Way….the ONLY Way to fulfill our given ‘place’ in HER
scheme-of-(The Ten Thousand)Things.

This IS, like-it-or-not, The Tao of Humanity.


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By TDoff, June 20, 2011 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

Tim DeChristopher precisely states the problems facing our corrupted nation, the corruption of which resulted in our present polluted plutocracy. However, the problems of avarice and amorality within the corporations and other powers-that-be, and ignorance and apathy among ‘We, the People’, do not seem readily solvable.

Until, and unless, the complete collapse toward which we seem destined occurs, and the poor are forced to eat the rich to survive, thus ridding the world of it’s major source of corruption, amorality, and greed.

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By clearwaters, June 20, 2011 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

Physical incarceration, in this country, has become an inevitable consequence for
any conscientious being in pursuit of an honest life.The truth will set us free,
spiritually, but will otherwise land your ass in prison.

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, June 20, 2011 at 8:51 am Link to this comment

The plutocracy has declared war on you, and will kill you, without any concern, that you have recourse against their actions. They will also kill, your children, and your grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

This year marks the 50th anniversary, of the spraying of Vietnam with Agent Orange, since that time nearly 4 million Vietnamese have died of its effects. This is a war crime, which should be prosecuted under the Geneva convention.  Soon, the 4th generation will be born, suffering from the effects of this Herbacide.

Agent Orange, is also used in this country under another name, it is pervasive, in the water supply in this country, and is commony found in the blood of pregnant women. It is also sold on TV in handy spay bottles that you can use to kill Dandelions.

Yet the cancer causing effects, and the mutagenic effects of this Herbacide are well known. Many of our Vietnam Vets died, as a result of exposure. Now this herbacide is spayed, on playgrounds and baseball Diamonds, exposing millions of American children.

The plutocracy doesn’t care about you, it only cares that it makes money, and since it owns the government, they can kill and maim with impunity, than includes your children and grandchildren.

So when someone stands up to them, he is a hero..Those that go against him are daming themselves.

Better to spend a lifetime in prison than an eternity in hell.

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By DEProf06, June 20, 2011 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

@surfnow: I had a similar experience.  A 19-yr-old was going to trial for a tiny amount of pot.  I told the judge that prosecuting young people for simple possession was an even bigger waste of my tax money than the “War On Terror”.  I haven’t been called for jury duty since.

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By Michael Cavlan RN, June 20, 2011 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges

There is an organization that has used your thought process. Civil Disobedience. To be used inside the political process. To delegitimize it.

They are called New Progressive Alliance.

You would be stellar in being a candidate for president

Check them out.

That goes for others who are tired of being lied to and manipulated by the one money -two wing corporate corrupted, pro-war party system. Which is masquerading as our pseudo-democracy.

Check them out.

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katsteevns's avatar

By katsteevns, June 20, 2011 at 5:59 am Link to this comment

“We shouldn’t be looking for the big corporations running the show to become a little greener and cleaner. We should be overthrowing those corporations running our government.” - Tim DeChristopher

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By surfnow, June 20, 2011 at 5:46 am Link to this comment

I was selected to be on a jury that was a drug case. I told the prosecutor and the judge that there was no way that I would find the guy on trial guilty since I believed the War on drugs was a travesty- and that all drugs needed to be decriminalized. I said that I couldn’t care less what the evidence was. The judge looked at me like I was out of my mind- I was disqualified.

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By thecrow, June 20, 2011 at 5:32 am Link to this comment

“The bribery that is intrinsic to the American political system has hollowed out every institution created to defend citizens against corporations, from the myth of the “freely elected member of Congress” to any form of agency enforcement of law — particularly regarding the environment.”

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By John Puma, June 20, 2011 at 5:15 am Link to this comment

“When our Founding Fathers created the jury system they called it the best
defense against legislative tyranny,”

And where is the defense against judicial tyranny?

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