Monday, October 18, 2010

Knowing Thyself

“The more we sweat in training, the less we bleed in battle.” From this (super) maximum security cell it has become nearly impossible for me to pin down the name of the author who coined that phrase, but I recognize that this is a saying that I deeply resonate with. It’s very inspiring. Not only does it make me want to get down and do some “burpies”, but it also makes me want to get ready to face battle, ready for confrontation, ready for life.

There are many different kinds of battles in life. We battle to stay healthy, to stay sane, sober, to keep food on the table; to keep a roof over our heads, you name it. In these prisons and in these cells of isolation, we face battles nearly every day and for some of us, it’s these battles that help shape us into revolutionaries. We purge our fears and become guerrillas. We are engaged in a constant psychological battle; fighting off the long-term effects of sensory deprivation from being indeterminately isolated, while also fighting to maintain a sense of who we are and to keep a level of sanity as we are faced with constant madness and absurdity every day, trying to stay focused on greater goals!

Rather than just sitting here and eroding into the dust of nothingness, many of us use this time to train and prepare for the battles that await us – both the unseen and the foreseen – getting ready for whatever life has to throw at us, without fear or hesitation, because we have come to understand how conflict and struggle actually makes us stronger, gives us experience and helps us grow. So, we embrace these challenges, and we know that if everyday is a struggle, then everyday is a chance to gain strength, experience and insight.

For someone to sit in their cell and go on an endless search of truth and knowledge, as they study books and articles on things like philosophy, politics, strategy, psychology, science, religion, history and sociology, while taking a deep and analytical examination at their own life (past, present, future) and at life in general and at the universe, trying to figure things out for themselves, trying to find their place in this irrational universe and trying to know themselves; it’s definitely one of the realest things a person can do while being held as a prisoner in one of these cells.

A person who knows theirself is a real person. Having true knowledge of self is what distinguishes the real from the fake, and the determined souls from those who are just lost in the sauce, like dead fish: just going with the flow.

When we stop learning we stop growing and we stop living. We become stagnant, complacent and dead inside. Life becomes meaningless and mundane, and the mind goes blank and gets fuzzy, like static on a television screen.

So it’s important for our survival that we keep searching, keep training, keep learning, keep growing, keep living. Life is a beautiful thing, and the more we understand about ourselves and about life and the universe, the more we will appreciate, respect and enjoy life.

With a heart that’s solid and stout
And from someone who’s real,
October 15th, 2009

Here’s a quote that I would like to share with you:

“However, the oppressed, who have adapted to the structure of domination in which they are immersed, and have become resigned to it, are inhibited from waging the struggle for freedom, so long as they feel incapable of running the risks it requires. Moreover, their struggle for freedom threatens not only the oppressor, but also their own oppressed comrades who are fearful of still greater repression. When they discover within themselves the yearning to be free, they perceive that this yearning can be transformed into reality only when the same yearning is aroused in their comrades. But while dominated by the fear of freedom, they refuse to appeal to others, or listen to the appeal of others, or even the appeals of their own conscience. They prefer gregariousness to authentic comradeship; they prefer the security of conformity with their state of unfreedom to the creative communion produced by freedom and even the very pursuit of freedom.”

From the book “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed”
By Paulo Freire