Back in the day, I had a history teacher who was geographer enough to try to impress upon me, her recalcitrant pupil, how place inevitably figures in the determination of an outcome of some particular conflict. History could not be understood with less than such essential, rudimentary knowledge. She had her work cut out for her to convince this skeptic but I'm here to acknowledge: Mary (Black) Ethel Taylor was right: The side of the river on which the steeds of the army lie in wait matters, does make a difference. Knowing one's limits, choosing one's battles - these are important issues and decisions. Having thrown in the towel on more than one academic program in medias res, I am 'hear to tell ya' that suffering abuse is simply not healthy "for children and other living things" - as the 60's anti-war slogan put it. That is why I want to choose where I stand, to prepare for battle very, very carefully. That's why I'm here to say, Here's where I stand:
Is Arcosanti not my circus? Are not all we arconauts its monkeys? Are we not leaders among the minions apart from us who also appreciate how a 'pedestrian economy of scale' requires a revolutionary mentality, how an "automobile mentality" is, to all intents and purposes, ultimately a "prison mentality"?
Here's also where humility comes in handy. If you can choose your prison carefully, you count yourself lucky, right? If you have any doubts whatsoever about this, check out the recent documentary by Nadine Pequena on PBS about the 'prison' piece of the 'military/industrial/prison complex: there's a link on the bottom of this page. If you are not plagued by the dereliction of fathering mentors in the Homeland, I'll be surprised. (Moreover, if you happen to have been as lucky as I am, you're probably also aware your condition was not an overnight accomplishment.)
Whatever your condition, if you ask yourself if you could have achieved your present place, had you been thus handicapped, is it possible to say a person might never let personal handicap or personal history limit (or define) who s/he is, what s/he might become?
It takes adjustments to learn new applications, new techniques, new habits. No matter whether your handicaps are physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, material, or any combination thereof. No-one's done all the research needed, no-one's finished defining all the hypotheses, even. How do you build a laboratory to test the corpus of the pedestrian mind? When no-one's yet determined what its performance needs to be, when the whole show is going to be an exercise in improvisation, the first question you have to ask is who plays the players, who plays the audience? Where are the players, where are the audiences?
All these issues are really tough tests of the arcology thesis, that idea that arcology will make life better for all. It is imperative to ask, I believe, how the thesis gets tested, how the thesis must be refined and what the ramifications of the thesis are.
If the thesis holds, does it help us figure out sticky widgets like: Why don't we love all children as well as we love "our own"? Does it help us figure out How should we respond to people who blow themselves up in public places, who throw hand-made grenade-type bombs at children? Paolo Soleri himself was basically a pacifist. His idea of arcology as a philosophy made him posit arcology as the antithesis of violence. If we enact arcology, it becomes unconscionable to respond with violence to violence. Violence breeds violence. It does not solve problems. But how does 'arcology' as a mission help arconauts respond to injustice?
I don't have a stock answer to "What should be done?" when it comes to violence other than "NOT THAT" because I am me, I have to start where I am, with the question I ask myself. That is: What constitutes 'right conduct' under the circumstances?
"Restrain the expansion of the military/industrial/prison complex" seems right, for reasons starting with Because those with guns often end up using them irresponsibly, because that's the nature of machinery created for the perpetuation of violence. When destruction is what machinery is designed to do, how can it not do what it was intended to do, what it is made for? You may as well tell humans not to propagate, to refuse sexual intercourse forever, as Shakers came to do, as to tell a person with a gun never to use it for killing.
But even if you believe putting a stop to such killing is unlikely to happen at all, ever, much less soon, don't we still have to ask: How do we slow it down if we can't make it stop?
It's one thing to say We want what we see as 'obviously wrong' to stop. It's one thing to do demand that it does, because it should, for a thousand reasons, each a Categorical Imperative. Yet there is a larger frame. A perfection of Spinoza's larger perspective about maintaining Right Conduct, which we know as a Buddhist term; but how do we articulate how that vision can materialize a desirable resolution, since the immediate problem of ending the use of violence (as a means of exercising power and/or control) requires us to prioritize the revisions being made, without our consent, to the social contract.
What is essential is: Where and how we begin. Starting with ourselves. There's at least one elephant in the room with us if we remain stuck in our place. How do we keep the elephant(s) from rolling over in its/their sleep and crushing us?
How can we be sure that will not happen if we don't seek to raise our own consciousness? How do we raise consciousness?