One of the most profound principles and practices I have recently been exposed to deals with the occupation of one’s identity. This came at a time when I was investigating the nature of occupation vs inhabitation – a concept introduced to me by a friend, poet/publisher Michael Annis, who was talking about Derrick Jensen and his discussion of that issue. Basically, occupiers are selfishly motivated and the result of their actions are exploitation of living beings and the land base which sustains them whereas inhabitors enter into mutually beneficial relationships with all of their surroundings – Mitakaye Oyasin (“All of my Relations” – for seven generations, baby!).
I was discussing this idea with my Michael – before the Occupy movement started – as I was experiencing an internal conflict over my external environment. The reasons for this are many and I may or may not get into them later. Certainly, they would be instructive but perhaps too revealing about my personal life which is unnecessary for my ends – as far as I can tell now. In any case, if there is some insight to be gained from my personal life I shall divulge what is necessary.
Essentially, what I was experiencing was a loss of identity based in trauma. In my case the trauma was from a death in the family – a normal course of life. What it bred, internally, was a conflict between the principles I believe and espouse vs my conditioned behavior – reactions and responses to external stimuli. That is to say, my practices and principles were not in resonance with one another and, in this state of dissonance, I experienced what can be considered [albeit, on a small scale] an attrocity producing circumstance. As one friend put it, “You got sick on your own medicine.”
In any case, I do believe that the conditions that led to my experience are similar to circumstances leading to atrocity producing conditions on a larger scale. That is, the trauma is not inflicted as a perpetuation of one’s own choices due to an irreconcilable situation that is part of the normal course of life. Specifically, discussing the plight of the Palestinians under military occupation and decades of violence, the trauma inflicted is carefully calculated as a means by which to occupy one’s identity as Jonatan Stanzcak, one of the co founders of the Freedom Theatre of Palestine said during an interview for a benefit concert I promoted:
“… the occupation is not only a physical phenomena, it is not only the checkpoints and the wall and the settlements and the military invasion, it is much deeper than that. It is a fear, it’s a sense of suspicion that is everywhere. It’s the occupations ultimate aim, the occupiers ultimate aim is to occupy the identity of the people. It’s to manage to inject fear into the core of society and to make people suspicious between themselves. In that kind of situation all kinds of coming together and challenging that fear is a form of resistance…”
Of course, the contrast between a calculated occupation of one’s mind in the case of the Palestinian peoples – as pointed out by Stanczak – vs. my personal experiences are quite different in the sense of the origin of the trauma and the magnitude yet, at the same time there is an important similarity between the two circumstances – namely, the occupation of identity can be a continuous presence as in the case of the Palestinian people and it can also be a cultural indoctrination that is invisible and works its way – like a disease – through the core of one’s being. Elucidating this inculcation – that is, psychically unravelling to understand how this indoctrination into a culture of denial and disconnect functions, one realizes that the goal of the occupier of one’s identity is the same as the goal of military occupation.
The fact is that we are not educated to understand who we are as free willed individuals. Rather, we are bred in ignorance and fear to serve something other than ourselves most often without any personal gain. In my case, which really serves as an example of a human living in a ‘free’ society, my servitude in the enchanted prison was less obvious – certainly to myself at the time. In the case of the Palestinian people, their enslavement is completely obvious to most of the so called free-willed of the world.
Some of the basic principles of conflict deal with will, desire and expection. I would add “need” to this this list as well. A first round of things to cosider is where do our will, desire and expectations come from. Are they driven from our core temperament or are they derived by messages from an external force who is out for personal gain (i.e. God and the State) by controlling our thoughts and actions. Cast these principles into the realm of reality (what is happening), possible realities (what could be), and irrealities (what can’t be, though we may have the will, desire and expectation to create such a reality depending on our level of delusion) and add to that the internal and external forces influencing will, desire, and expectation and you’ve got a very complex situation at hand.
Those of us who have experienced personal trauma and have worked our way through it understand the difficulties of drawing resonance amidst all of the competing principles, forces and messages we receive. Those stuck in an environment where the external forces are ever present and relentless in their tactics to control are, essentially, in an intractable situtaion.
Understanding the nature of the forces, principles and messages and how to manage them to transform and transcend this occupation of identity is to be a focus of this blog and, so, I will continue to elaborate on these ideas as I learn more and gain more insight into the nature of occupation carried out by a power structure that wants nothing more than to keep us in mental slavery locked up in the enchanted prison.
Listen to the interview with Jonatan Stanczak