I have ranted on a number of occasions on this blog about the consequences of our modern obsession with busyness, of the constant need to be doing something. We feel driven to achieve more, to influence more, to build more, to buy more. And all of this busyness, all of this doing, is overheating us as individuals, society and even the planet.
Even doing something in the name of counteracting someone else’s wrongdoings is still doing. We see this in the righteous indignation of the increasingly polarised groups online. It still overheats us, it still overheats the system, it still overheats the planet.
I am currently reading Rest Is Resistance by Tricia Hersey. Based on the experiences in America of her enslaved ancestors, and her own experience of modern “grind culture” she argues that the way to counter the toxic effects of “capitalism and white supremacy” is to do nothing, to lie down, to rest.
It feels radical. It feels irresponsible. But that is because we are all infected by the cultural norms that she identifies. I put “capitalism and white supremacy” in quotes as they are her words, and when I started reading the book I winced as I saw myself as potentially part of that white supremacy. But as I continued to read I realised how much I have been affected by these twin toxins. My need to be good enough, to do enough, to prove myself. Let’s face it I grew up in central Scotland the son of an elder in The Church of Scotland, the stomping ground of Calvin‘s mate John Knox!
My circumstances haven’t come close to the challenges Tricia faces, and that her ancestrors faced, but her aim is to free all of us, to allow all of us to identify the deep seated hooks that “the system” has built into our psyche from birth. If we don’t all unhook it is a pointless exercise. Unhooking ourselves, and helping each other to unhook, is going to feel risky. We are going to have to be brave. But it feels worth it.