Gray Walking: The Art of Transforming Militarism into Humanism
“The man who can face vilification and disgrace, who can stand up against the popular current, even against his friends and his country when he know he is right, who can defy those in authority over him, who can take punishment and prison and remain steadfast—that is a man of courage. But do you need much courage just to obey orders, to do as you are told and to fall in line with thousands of others to the tune of general approval and the Star Spangled Banner?” –Alexander Berkman
“It’s a sad and stupid thing to have to proclaim yourself a revolutionary just to be a decent man.” –David Harris
You’ve probably heard of light working, and the light workers who practice loving energy and cultivate sacred spaces for such energy to flourish, but you probably haven’t heard about gray walking and the gray walkers who seek to maintain the tension between opposites and work at bringing opposites back in line with one another. They are the ones successfully getting in touch with their dark sides. It keeps them whole. They are amoral agents par excellence. They realize that the secret of alchemy is found in the intimacy of opposites. They don’t deny their shadow. They don’t shun the shadow for fear of being immoral. They play with it instead. They reconcile with it. They understand that shadow work is ultimately light work. They embrace the wise words of Carl Jung, “There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
Gray walkers have undeceived themselves precisely because they have made the darkness conscious. They realize that their inner-darkness is where their light needs to shine brightest, because compassionate empathy with the world requires a baptizing of our inner-shadow, lest we demonize the shadows of others. Like Loius G. Herman wrote, “By accepting the inevitability of our shadow, we recognize that we are also what we are not. This humbling recognition restrains us from the madness of trying to eliminate those we hate and fear in the world. Self-mastery, maturity, and wisdom are defined by our ability to hold the tension between opposites.”
The menace of the past was that men became slaves; the menace of the present is that men become automatons to corporations hell-bent on profits at any cost, to include destroying the health of people as well as the health of delicate ecosystems. As it stands, the State led military/corporate industrial complex is the Matrix and we are Neo. The question is: what are we going to do about it? Are we going to flounder around in the pink-goop of denial, or are we going to rise up, unplug ourselves, and really get some work done toward a healthier way of living for human beings?
One answer is to transform the militaristic mindset into a humanistic mindset. And gray-walkers are doing exactly that by blurring the lines between moral and amoral and working between the cracks of black & white, republican & democrat, socialism and capitalism, democracy & plutocracy. They subsume all polarities, mixing it all up in a bag of “fuck you I won’t do what you tell me!” and then pouring it out over the devastation that is the human psyche in order to fill in the cracks with a healthier way of seeing things: with a sense of interdependent humor. They are the ones lighting the beacons of hope towards the end of transforming militaristic mindsets into humanistic ones.
If, as Anais Nin wrote, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage” then the world is constantly expanding for gray walkers, because they are the ones stretching black and white comfort zones, breaking right and wrong mental paradigms, and flattening the rigid box the status quo so desperately tries to think outside of. Gray-walking is the epitome of being the change we wish to see in the world. It is the essence of transforming the fear of change into the courage to embrace change, because everything is a delicious middle-gray anyway. Gray walkers don’t fear change they change fear, because they realize that the only firm law in the universe is that things will always change. They ask: who among us will roll over and play dead under the tyranny of a fascist military-controlled state, and who will rise up with a full heart and courageously declare that our collective military mindset has crippled us into a heartless nation of sycophantic fools hell-bent on allowing the powers-that-be do whatever the hell they feel like in order to keep us “safe” and “secure” from the evil forces of “terrorism”? And they are the ones answering the call to the healthy civil disobedience and the non-violent action required to undermine the unhealthy, unsustainable system that is destroying lives and decimating entire ecosystems.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower
Gray walkers understand that militarism is instrumentalism applied to nationalism: it is the unprincipled rejection of eco-centric explanation, and so militarism is inherently anthropocentric – which is not surprising, since it regards parochialism as a virtue of being, rather than a vice. It also suffers from another fatal flaw, which is that it assumes the military has some sort of privileged access to the people it “protects” which they don’t want those people to have over them. Because of this there will continue to be a disconnect between human nature and Nature, until reasonable people begin using eco-centric strategies despite the egocentric world. Like Bill Plotkin said, “Most of our leaders represent and defend a non-sustainable way of life built upon military aggression, the control and exploitation of nature’s resources, and an entitled sense of national security that ignores the needs of other species, other nations, tribes, and races, and our own future generations.”
Gray walkers are willing to use ecocentric strategies despite the egocentric world, precisely because they uphold the Middle Way, the middlegray, the Golden Mean, and the Golden ratio that binds all things together. Instead of an established and stagnating society drowning in the tyranny of egocentric materialism, like the one we live in today; gray walkers are calling for an emergent and evolving society that flourishes in the freedom of eco-centric humanism. Just because we are born into, and conditioned by an unhealthy social system, does not mean we cannot take responsibility at some point and recondition our preconditioning toward a healthier way of being in the world. The same applies to religion and other forms of social control. Like Mark Caine said, “The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.” Gray walkers realize that dependence becomes codependence becomes independence becomes interdependence, but only if we work ridiculously hard at it. And only if we focus less on being right or wrong, and more on being healthy. The more we focus on being healthy, the more we’ll simply fall into being right.
Ferguson riots, Bundy Ranch showdowns, Occupy clashes? These events don’t concern Gray walkers. They are merely side effects of everything that is rotten about the current system and are merely symptoms of years of suppressed rage cooped up in an unhealthy system that simply does not work for human beings. Tyranny does not work for human beings. Tyranny is the antithesis to human flourishing. Tyranny is inherently unhealthy for a free human spirit. Gray walkers have already detached themselves from the tyranny of the state, indeed from the tyranny of all things. They are working on the periphery: neither in the wild nor in civilization. They are periphery keepers living in a world that doesn’t seem to understand that boundaries can be transformed into horizons. They are on the horizon working diligently to blur the fake lines the state draws in the sand in order to separate people. They are adamant about revealing deception. They are circumspect with power, especially their own, choosing to get power over power instead of hoarding it, and they are ruthless about mocking anyone who attempts to hoard it.
Gray walkers are the ones tearing down the fences of the outdated, unsustainable system. They are the ones transforming herd-instinct into rebellious courage. They are the one’s transforming debt-slaved sheeple into free people. They are the one’s holding up a mirror to the world and daring it to stare into its own soul. But they also understand the power of denial. Like Stefan Molyneux said, “Never, ever underestimate the degree to which people will scatter themselves into a deep fog in order to avoid seeing the basic realities of their own cages. The strongest lock on the prison is always avoidance, not force.” And so it is that gray walkers tend to be artists who use their art as a shaming mechanism toward the end of liberation. Shaming people into becoming healthier people is far superior and moral to using fear tactics or violence, which are inferior and immoral. Art is a shaming mechanism: Think the satire of The Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Think of the street art of Banksy. Think Charlie Hebdo. The shaming mechanisms of art coupled with ruthless civil-disobedience and calculative non-violence strategies are effective ways to get people to see the reality of their own cages, and it might even give them enough courage to break them.
In the meantime we have an ominous state to deal with, and gray walkers are the ones on the front lines mocking authority and shaming anyone or any corporation that believes it has the monopoly on power. But like Lord Acton once said, “Authority that does not exist for Liberty is not authority but force.” As it stands, the authority that exists in this nation (military and police) does not exist for Liberty and is therefore nothing but force; it exists only to keep the plutocratic regime fat, happy, and rich, and to keep the majority of people subservient to it. As for the propaganda the corporate media is puking up, remember the wise words of Henry A. Wallace: “With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.” And then think about who these fascist groups might be.
“To efficiently control the human farm,” wrote Stefan Molyneux, “you need a majority of broken, self-attacking, insecure, shallow, vain and ambitious sheep, forever consumed by inconsequentialities like weight, abs and celebrities –and a minority of volatile, angry and dominant sheepdogs, which you can dress up in either a green (military) or a blue (police) costume and use to threaten and manage the herd.” Well, gray walkers are saying fuck that! If you need violence to enforce your ideas, then your ideas are worthless. Like Tony Benn said, “If you can find money to kill people you can find money to help people.” Dominant sheepdogs are not the way to help people. They are a way to control people. But we don’t need to be controlled, we need to be freed. Like Jim Dodge said, “Anarchy doesn’t mean out of control; it means out of their control.”
A moral military/police force may be possible, but it would require its members to question authority to the nth degree, especially in cases where power corrupts. If we apply the same logic that Plato used when he said, “For a state in which the law is respected, democracy is the worst form of government, but if the law is not respected, it is the best” to the military, we might get something like this: “For a military where orders are respected, the chain of command is the worst form of leadership, but if orders are not respected, it is the best.” Basically stating that questioning authority is the first priority, lest power corrupt and absolute power corrupt absolutely.
“A nation,” wrote MLK “that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” And here we are, approaching spiritual death. Gray walkers are the ones who are attempting to pull us out of this spiritual death and into a new and healthier way of being human in this world. They are the ones forcing our head over the abyss of the human condition. They are the ones using skull clamps to keep our eyes open. They are the ones telling us, “You’re drowning in pink-goop, my friend. It’s time to liberate yourself, because we need more gray walkers in the world. We need more people blurring lines and causing a ruckus within rigid systems. We need more free men with courage in their hearts and fear beneath their boots. We need more Gandhis, more Thoreaus, more MLKs. We need you to undeceive yourself and join us in the middle way, where the golden mean connects us all, where the golden ratio binds the cosmos into an interdependent whole, where the middle gray blurs the boundaries between black and white, and everything is a washed out yin yang freeing us all. We’ll meet you between the lines, out beyond outdated notions of right and wrong. We’ll meet you on the horizon. We’ll be the ones writing ‘unfuck the world’ letters in the sky that read: ‘when freedom is outlawed, only outlaws will be free.’”
About the Author
Gary ‘Z’ McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
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