Reflections on the Future of Activism + Music Video: “Let Us Shine” by Kate Kheel and Amber Yang
This past week, I stayed with my dear friend Kate in Maryland, who I met through an organization she co-founded, Safe Tech International. We spontaneously created a 5-minute song for our movement that plays off the classic: “This Little Light of Mine.” The lyrics are in the description of the video. And the song starts at 0:54!
Of the many issues our organization explores, we raise awareness on the dangers of the technology that serves Big Tech, transhumanist, and military agendas. We also educate the public about the grave health and environmental risks from the unprecedented expanse of untested wireless radiation on land, in space, and in the ocean. Here’s a little excerpt from our mission statement:
Safe Tech International seeks to end the implementation of technologies that are incompatible with health, wellbeing and life. We bring people and organizations together to share strategies and insights about responsible and safe technology — Technology that enhances life without compromising health, freedom and the environment.
The evolution of our species towards a transparent dialogue about the true impact of technology on health, the environment and personal freedom has been hindered by political and industrial motivations and strategies that benefit Big Tech at the expense of others. We aim to fix the disconnect that has served to accelerate technological development above reason and sound scientific assessment of environmental impacts and health.
Someone watched our music video and said, “This is cute and all, but it isn’t going to stop the elites from wreaking havoc on the world.”
I would agree that our amateur music video alone would not produce direct change that would address the corruption we’re working to transform. Yet I believe our objective serves a more subtle, less “doing” approach to change. Collective Evolution is a media platform that explores a similar intention. Here’s an excerpt from their mission statement:
What do our current events say about how we operate as people? Do our societal structures and common issues say something about our level of thinking (consciousness) and what type of ideas we’re bringing to the table? What if the solution to the many challenges we feel we face today is actually in changing how we think, relate to one another, and even relate to our world?
We feel this is one of the key missing factors in mainstream media, alternative media and traditional societal discussions today, and therefore we create our content to inspire personal transformation and the expansion of collective consciousness.
In creating this song and music video, we wanted to invite in the type of activism that heals, bridges divides, reconnects with the natural world, and foregrounds visions of the world that we ultimately want to live in. Corruption, cover-ups, and injustice of all kinds are often analyzed and talked about with a great deal of polarization and anger while delivering content. Hatred, blame, and dehumanization are directed towards dysfunctional aspects of our institutions and agencies. Many of us often believe we’re better than people who believe and perpetuate a narrative outside of our own.
This approach to activism by itself often leaves us emotionally dysregulated, stuck in fear and illusions of separation, and confined to our own corners of thought and belief. The culture wars occurring in our news systems, government, schools, social media, and all other spheres erode our sense of shared humanity and possibilities for creative ways of addressing complex issues. As Loretta Ross says, “when people think the same idea and move in the same direction, that’s a cult. When people think many different ideas and move in one direction, that’s a movement.” To the extent that we remain divided is the extent that deeper corruption can continue right in front of our eyes, since we’ll be too distracted blaming and cancelling each other.
This approach to activism also keeps us limited to functioning and surviving within oppressive systems and structures, as opposed to creating parallel societies of our own communities of interest. This reminds me of James Corbett’s rich conversation on “The Anatomy of the New World Order” with Julian Charles on The Mind Renewed podcast:
I’m intrigued by the idea that we’ve been given false templates to follow in terms of solving our problems—one being to “fight our enemies”—templates provided for us through so much social conditioning and the media. Here, the idea is that we must find the heart or the head of the organization and somehow kill that person or that group, or whatever it is; eliminate that, and everything will magically turn to the better!
I think what’s needed is a more fundamental revolution: not of overthrowing a specific instantiation of this idea, but of overthrowing the idea altogether. And that can only come from building up an alternative system to which people actually want to apply themselves.
So what would the alternative system look like? Examples are everywhere, from co-op cities and sharing cities, to democratizing social media in supporting division-resistant politics, to the rise of the digital commons in all its forms, to community wealth building strategies such as communities who are building their own internet systems.
The more creative states we arouse to bring meaningful change, the more we can build a future that makes sense, as we reassert collective independence from abusive systems of control. As Jonathan Larson, American composer and playwright says, “the opposite of war isn’t peace. It’s creation.” As mythicist and storyteller Michael Meade states, “the purpose of conflict is to create.”
So with this little music video, we wanted to call in the power of art and music as a form of creating the world we want. I’ve shared Toni Cade Bambara’s famous lines a billion times, and I’ll keep doing so: “art makes the revolution irresistible.” In its various forms, art captures the collective memory of a society. Art is a creative extension and expression of our values, thoughts, and experiences. With art, we engage in issues on a more personal and emotional level, sparking full-body participation and allowing us to engage in social issues with all of our senses. A recent article discussed the importance of singing in activism:
We live in a consumer-capitalist society that trains us to be purchasers and observers, rather than active participants, with regard to the production of art, music and other forms of culture. This is a departure from the norms of almost all ancient cultures, which relied on people to produce their own music and art. The shift has negative effects on social movements, and on democratic society as a whole.
Movements require unique and meaningful art, history and stories. They need people capable of creating and sharing forms of expression that strengthen subcultures not represented in the mainstream. We can’t rely on the centralized corporations in Hollywood and Nashville that churn out pop commodities to sustain the types of culture needed to further struggle and change.
Getting creative together invites a sense of responsibility for being a part of the solution, and not the problem. And what is the thread that holds all of our activism and calls for change together, across political and cultural lines? Maybe that’s the place we can connect, the place where we understand that we belong to shared realities more than we think, including with the natural world. And that it would behoove us to start learning from, cooperating with and listening to each other and our environment. To build emotional regulation skills as we face uncertainty and societal breakdown. To increase our capacity to hold complexity by being willing to have our thinking challenged, as we challenge the thinking of those around us.
One of the things I imagine myself doing in the future is participating in efforts to convene and facilitate spaces for conscious dialogue around political, controversial, and divisive issues in my community. Yet I also imagine these spaces to not just be about that, but about building community and integrating arts, music, play, community service, storytelling. Maybe integrating all of this with things like Disco Soup Day. I believe that democracy and collective genius can only emerge alongside our growing capacity to actively engage across our differences.
Hope you enjoy the music video!
Source: The Hive