There is a force that has gripped the planet for hundreds of years. It is the force behind every marching army, every man who raises a hand against his wife, every school yard bully, every iron-fisted leader. It is the force behind slavery, behind colonisation, behind prejudice. Let’s call it… subjugation.
Subjugation is a smug business man with a sharp suit and a white tooth crocodile smile. He is at the cusp of victory. It smells like petrol fumes and bush fire smoke, like the rancid sweat of unpaid labour and the stench of the bodies of endangered animals. It sounds like the fall of old growth forests, like the silent despair of starving children, like the self-righteous howl of empty politicians.
When I feel the rage of oppression subjugation comes to me. He whispers “things would be better if you were in charge.” He is ambitious, goal-focused striving, he is us against them, he is climbing the stack of bodies to the top and feeling like you earned your place.
When I feel scared and scarce he says “money is power.” He is inflated ego, pumped up alibi in being, he is teflon tough mask of confidence. He is macho predator feeding on weakness, exploiting insecurity, stealing your soul and selling you gold coloured plastic.
He seems impervious. No flicker of doubt in his oil-slick eyes, no hint of humility in his jumbo jet laugh, no cough of weakness in his carbon dioxide breath. And yet… His belief in himself is misplaced.
There is a force that has driven the planet for eons. It is the force behind every blooming flower, every complex system of soil and precipitation, every kind word spoken, every great healer, every evolutionary leap. It is the force behind cooperation, behind non-violent revolution, behind faith, behind love, behind courage. Let’s call it… life.
Life is an ever-shifting cloud of being, rising and collapsing, expanding and contracting. Life goes on. Life is. It smells like everything, like shit and sweat and blood, like perfume and honey and rain-wet rock. It smells like leaf litter, like ocean breeze, like flowers, like cut grass, like compost, like death. It sounds like the rhythmic sigh of traffic, of waves, of breathing.
You might think that these forces are opposed, at war. Subjugation certainly sees it that way but Life just smiles indulgently like a parent with a tantruming child.
“I contain you but I am so much more than you, your victory would be your end.” Suddenly the crocodile smile is dimmed, there’s a crack in the mask.
“What do you mean? I will have total control.” says Subjugation
“Will you control the sun?” says Life “the moon? the breath of life itself? You can’t. Even if you tried, you would kill it in the process, as you have already killed so much else.” together they observe the trail of destruction cutting a swathe through history.
Subjugation’s heart beats fast. He has no resources to face the truth of his ascendance. “I am powerful, I am in control, I am tough and impervious.” he insists.
“You are limited.” says Life “You are part of me but I am infinite.” Subjugation shrinks, his features age backwards, creases soften, scars disappear, a wide-eyed child stands in his place.
“I’ve done such terrible things.” says the child within Subjugation, eyes welling with tears, “I’m horrible.”
“I contain you.” says Life again. “I have room for you within me and you have a choice.”
“What do you mean? It’s so scary out there, if I don’t…if I can’t…what if something kills me?” says the child.
“If you die you will be reborn. All the parts of you will become parts of other things, there is no waste.” says Life.
“Okay.” says the child and Life embraces him, dissolving him into the all-that-is.