I am often astonished at well-meaning, spiritual people who advocate
beaming light toward world leaders, who scold activists for expressing
anger toward authorities or police, who define compassion as loving the enemy -- but somehow lose sight of the need to love our friends, our allies, and those who suffer at the hands of the perpetrators. I really don't feel much call to beam love and light at Bush or Cheney or the directors of the International Monetary Fund. Whether or not they
suffer from lack of love is beyond me. From my perspective, they suffer from an excess of power, and I feel called to take it away from them. Because I do love the child in Iraq, the woman in the favela, the eighteen-year-old recruit to the Marines who never dreamed he was signing up to bomb civilians. I can't love them, or myself and my
community, effectively if I can't articulate the real differences in
interests and agendas between "us" and "them" -- between those who have too little social power and those who have too much.

To equalize that power means changing an enormous system. And systems don't change easily. Systems try to maintain themselves, and seek equilibrium. To change a system, you need to shake it up, disrupt the equilibrium. That often requires conflict.

To me, conflict is a deeply spiritual place. It's the high-energy place
where power meets power, where change and transformation can occur.

Part of my own spirituality is the conscious practice of placing myself in places of conflict. As someone in the Pagan Cluster said after the
February 15 [2003] antiwar rally in New York, which was seriously harrassed by the police, "When everyone else was running away from trouble, we were running toward it." I run toward it because I generally believe I can be useful there -- sometimes de-escalating potential violence, sometimes just holding a clear intention in the midst of chaos, sometimes just as a witness.

-- Starhawk

You should never have your best trousers on when you go out to fight for freedom and truth.

-- Henrik Ibsen

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

-- Robert Kennedy, in a speech in South Africa, 1966