Dylan is 10 years old and has lived in a vegetative state since birth. Dylan’s parents, Eckhard and Barbara Gerzmehle, care for him around the clock and machines monitor his vital signs and health. Dylan is also cared for by his faithful friend Tascha, a 6-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Every morning, Tascha goes to Dylan’s room and gently pulls his blanket aside. She then tenderly licks his feet and snuggles up to him for a cuddle. Although Dylan cannot speak and cannot physically gesture, his family says that Tascha’s love affects him positively. They note that the machines next to Dylan’s bed always register a response whenever Tascha is around.
Now, because of so-called “Dangerous Breed” laws, the authorities are taking Tascha away. The dog is neutered, registered, has been through behavior classes, and has been rated as not being hostile in any way in behavior tests. Yet, in spite of that, they are taking this boy’s dog away.
I am an anarchist at heart and I have a revolutionary streak within me. It is just who I am. I like Liberation Theology, I cheer for the underdog, and there has never been a lost cause that I did not feel compelled to join. But every once in a while, I am forced to ask myself if I am doing it wrong.
Anarchism is not lawlessness. That is the common misconception. I do not believe in lawlessness and I do not celebrate chaos. The anarchism that I have always subscribed to is a bottom-up approach to governing. I believe in local Socialism that extends from the community up to the national structure, which has the main purpose of redistributing wealth and resources so that every local community has access to the same opportunity, as well to reflect and protect our corporate interests.
I’m not asking anyone to agree with that. I’m not asking for a debate about that. I only mention it to show how I get caught up in the wrong fight. I am an anarchist who believes in local Socialism but I often get caught up fighting national or global battles. I spend my time challenging the hegemony of Corporations and trying to expose corruption in government and business and trying to fight inequality and the mistake I keep making is that I do it on the big picture level of the national or global arena.
When Jesus was born, Rome was the most powerful force in the history of the world up to that time. I would make the case that Jesus conquered the Roman Empire. Yet, Jesus conquered the Roman Empire by never directly challenging the Roman Empire. Neither Jesus, nor His disciples, nor any subsequent generations of followers ever challenge Rome directly. They never led an army or organized a boycott or had a rally. There was no “Occupy Galilee” – they all simply lived.
Jesus lived locally. He addressed people locally. He healed, fed, clothed, ministered to, preached to, made disciples from local people wherever he was. He instructed them how to live locally and by a group of people living locally, all over the world, the Empire became a reflection of those local beliefs – the Empire became Christian.
So I sit looking at my Facebook timeline and see posts about this corporation and that business; I see posts about minimum wage; I see posts about the government; and then I see a ten year old boy who is helpless, who is having his dog taken away for no good reason other than she is a “dangerous breed.” And when I see it, I realize that that is the injustice that must be fought. And if we all keep challenging and fighting these local injustices, then the national and global injustices will wither away.
Jesus conquered the world and he never left home to do it! He stayed within Galilee and Judea. But what he did and taught in that small, insignificant region of the Roman Empire eventually changed the world. It changed the world because it changed people, and the changed people began to think and behave differently, and when they thought and behaved, they responded to the world differently, and when they responded to the world differently, the world was instantly changed.
So I don’t need to change the world. I need to change how I respond to the world. The second I respond to it differently, my little piece of the world is instantly changed. It is a bottom-up revolution just like my bottom-up government of anarchism.
I used to subscribe to the old saying that counseled: “Think globally; act locally.” Now I just subscribe to “Think locally; act locally; be where you are and live where you are the way you want the world to be.” It is the “wherever you go, make disciples of all the nations” part of the Gospel. It is not a command to “Go out into the world” but a statement of how to be: “wherever you go out into to the world…”
If you are like me, and you want to change the world, then change yourself. Make a decision to live in the world the way you think it should be, and live that way. Inspire others and teach them how to do it too. If we do that the powers of the world will be conquered without us ever having to confront those powers.
I can already hear the sound of Empires toppling…