“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
~ Martin Niemöller
This is a time of discovery, a time of many uncertainties…a time when those we thought we loved (or even those we thought loved us) may not be who we thought they were. Times were authority and other institutions are increasingly showing their dark sides, their hidden agendas, or even their own limits to serve those they are suppose to serve.
There are many things I cannot talk about.
The Hacker’s Dilemma
I recall when I was a high school teacher, back when my credentials were not considered “foreign” …at that time I posted a question to my students, an ethical question as part of our research and ICT systems class:
“Imagine that you work for the NASA and you discover that an asteroid will hit the Earth soon. The institution decides not to tell the public to avoid panic and chaos. You know that if you say something, you are also giving people the opportunity to decide how, where and with whom they want to spend the last days of their lives…some may even have the opportunity to save themselves. What do you do? Telling will certainly cause chaos, riots, many will go crazy as it has happened in the past when people feel they no longer have to follow societal rules…many will suffer and die among this panic. On the other hand, many will have choices if you tell them the truth. Both options are terrible. What do you do?”
The question was part of a “what if” class, a piece of my “hacker” classes when I used to teach computer science and explored Linux with my older students.
We never reached consensus…all the answers were full of “right, but…” and “what if’s”
At the time, that was a hypothetical question. No asteroid was coming, we weren’t real hackers…
With my exploration of social justice, environmental issues and community resilience, there comes knowledge. With knowledge, there comes judgement (even if we want to be impartial and non-judgemental, compassionate and open). With all the above, it comes a time when we start clashing with those around us. When relationships are challenged to the core, a time when we are pushed to the wall, a time when we have to choose or die inside while fighting with our own nightmares.
All the above also brings new friends, new understandings and new ways to see life. T brings joy of seeing courage, commitment, true friendship and solidarity. It brings unexpected love and feelings of joy mixed with guilt and confusion.
I find myself at a cross-road.
When I was 19, I started exploring yoga, tae-kwon-do and meditation among other things. I recall going to a garden-home and visit an old woman known as Sister Mila. Being myself very young, I was eager to explore the world, travel, test everything, go for everything, I was very competitive, impulsive and ambitious…I had many interesting walks with Sister Mila. I recall she told me once:
“Silvia, joy is not in possessing a flower nor having the best garden. Joy is knowing that gardens have no owners and being happy because flowers exist. Joy is becoming the garden’s keeper knowing that you may never posses any of its flowers”
Both Sister Mila and the hacker’s dilemma have come back to me in strange ways…
“Carry a candle in the dark, be a candle in the dark, know that you’re a flame in the dark.”
~ Ivan Illich
This post is dedicated to all those who are in the dark, to all those who have crossed the line and decided to speak up and risk any comfort, to those who are quietly building a new world and to those like me who are still flirting with both sides of the line.
The garden belongs to us all.