Bare Bones Biology 194 – Active Non-Violence

This past weekend, I attended a retreat led by Father John Dear and Roshi Joan Halifax. It was a blessing. A set of blessings that give us “something we can do” for human kind on earth. Something positive and sustainable, if we do it right this time.

“Be who you are.” “Be the humane, nonviolent, compassionate child of God that you were born to be.” That is an enormous blessing in this culture. But I took it further: “On top of that, who am I? How can I serve?”

140303-NM-ASC_8250RSsMy professional career as a woman in science at a recently all-male, Southern, military university, taught me to think like an activist, so I am (surprise) an activist. My scientific career taught me (no surprise) to think like a scientist, for me, to think about genetics and evolution, the Language of Life on earth. And I will repeat (as often as necessary) that I am not a technologist. Our human technologies are today being used by our human corposystem as weapons in its war against the Biosystem. Science, basic science, is not war – it is inquiry. It is the effort to understand the processes that make Life possible on Earth. This distinction is very important, because we cannot survive a fight against the Biosystem.

And so, about ten years ago I realized I must also learn to think like the Biosystem if my activism is to serve we-the-people. The Biosystem – the system of Life — is NOT primarily about survival of the fittest, nor nature study; it is not emotional. It is not responsive to human wishes, it does not have human values, and human technologies cannot change the Laws of Nature that maintain Life.

All systems are sets of functions that grew up or were created to sustain a unique core property. The core property of the Biosystem is Life Itself. The corposystem is a subunit of the Biosystem, The core property of the corposystem is the use of growth and domination to make money. This is not sustainable. Therefore, the corposystem cannot survive as it is.

140303-NM-ASC_8266RSsMost of us do not want to support the use of violence to make money, but we are caught now in the human system that requires it. We would like to change the system, but all systems are organized to prevent change; that’s what makes them systems; and we can’t change anything by doing more of what we don’t want done; for example, using violence to win – anything — does not reduce violence in the system.

Of course, there are many good actions inside the corposystem: educational, supportive, healing, legal. These are necessary and important, but mostly their function is to patch up the wounded. They are not sustainable and do not effectively change the orposystem — because they are part of the system. So our human tragedy is that all of us are working within the corposystem, and the Corposystem is waging war against the Biosystem. Therefore, like it or not, we are participating in a system that is destroying Life. “What to do?”

I believe Father John’s well-defined methods of active nonviolence give us a way to thwart corposystem violence from outside the corposystem so that the results of our work do have potential to change the very nature of our human presence on earth. And that, indeed, is a blessing. Number two.

For me personally, the third blessing popped into my head in the form of a book title: “The Corposystem War Against the Biosystem,” that explains my life of activism. The Corposystem doesn’t only use physical violence. It walks right into our minds with its violent value system, and emotional dishonesty. It will crash anyhow, because nothing human can win a war against the Biosystem. Why wait? We can start now to build a new human system based in sustainable human and Biosystem values.

Our fourth blessing is permission to mourn, because we will lose what we had in any case — and to rejoice, because here is a way to at least try to build something worthwhile out of the ashes. “Cultivate your grief and your joy; discourage the fear and anger.”

It makes good sense to me; all that remains is — do it right this time.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of and KEOS radio 89.1 FM in Bryan, Texas. A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at