Violent revolutions do grow from frustration, sometimes well-justified frustration. However, there has not been a single violent revolution in history that did not lead to worse conditions than it revolted against, with the possible exception of the American Revolution -- and there's some debate about that.

Frustration results when expectations do not match reality, and one seems powerless to change the situation. So there are at least three sources of frustration.

Expectations can be raised unreasonably, as by the American media. Not a single one of us is going to have a perfect figure, white teeth, lots of friends, nice clothes and a fancy car on a diet of beer and candybars while doing nothing but play in swimming pools. Flashing such images constantly when 1/3 of the viewers are below the poverty line and another 1/3 are slipping toward it is bound to stir resentment. And that's in *this* country.

Reality can get pretty f*'d up. There are real problems -- mothers with small children being cut off welfare, while General Motors gets paid $1.6 million in federal jobs program money in the same year it cut a record number of jobs.

Feeling powerless -- that's really what the discussion on Democracy and the Internet is about. That's what a lot of the programs I'm involved in are about -- helping marginalized people have an effect on their own lives. It *is* possible.

My own opinion is that the message that you are powerless, that you must despair or start shooting, is one more scam from Social Control. Angry revolutionaries are really a lot easier to control than calm social activists who are simply getting programs done.

I am strongly reserved about "higher causes," myself Many activists end up abusing the people around them, and themselves, in the name of "humanity". I have personally explored almost every spiritual path from Jesus to chocolate, and I have repeatedly observed the cycle, 1) We want to help people, 2) We think up an idea to help people, 3) The idea becomes the goal, 4) We start sacrificing people to the idea.

I've mentioned before the Jewish rabbi's teaching, "If you save one life, it is as if you have saved the world." If you value humanity, you value individual human beings. You even value the bastards and the nincompoops. What makes your right to blow them away any different than their right to blow you and yours away?

I'm not an absolute pacifist. If someone was trying to kill me, or a child, or a loved one, I would make every effort to kill them first. I might make a complete blotch of it, because I weigh 180# and my main activities are reading, writing, and eating. But I would try.

But there's an awful lot of ground to cover before I get backed into that kind of corner. One of my assertions of personal freedom is that *I* control how I act toward anyone -- *they* don't control it. InOtherWords, even if someone is stupid, brutal, abusive, or just plain silly in speach or act toward me, I *will* act loving toward them. *Act*. Love is not a matter of feeling -- love is a choice. You can love your neighbor and still feel the hot lust to wring the idiot's neck.

Hey, I have a new quote! "Love thy neighbour means don't wring the idiot's neck." <g>

Homeless Columns ed. by Anitra L. Freeman