Let us for the moment imagine a true social science, which is not only scientific, but which is also artistic and spiritual; that is, truly holistic. How would such a science function? Where would one learn it? What would its practitioners do that was different from the main stream?
These are difficult questions, and real answers would take far too long. For the moment just consider the possibility that the document now in your hands is from such a social scientist, one who has managed, at least to some degree, to combine within the soul the impulses to reason (science), imagination (art) and devotion (religion).
Herein follows some general holistic observations, which are necessary in order that the other material (parts 1-3) have the essential context in which to be placed.
Modern humanity lives under the sign of social chaos. Everywhere, but most obviously in the industrialized West, the forces of tradition have broken down and the individual is no longer subject to those influences in the same manner as was true in the past. Church, family, school, community, government - these social forces no longer have the same significance in the life of the individual. We could say, with a great deal of truth, that at present the impulses to individualism are stronger then the forces of community.
Many understand this, at least superficially, and find it disturbing. Many see this, but only in certain realms. For example, some see social decay only in the lives of the poor, and assume that the same is not true for the rich. The fact is, however, the same is true everywhere; for this social chaos is a reality transcendent of material circumstances. The rich, just as much as the poor, experience their individuality as stronger than the traditional forces of community.
What we also think we notice is immorality. Drugs, violence, greed, selfishness - the list is nearly endless of the decadence into which a human being can sink. The reality is that these failings we believe we have noticed are only what happens when the traditional loses its grip, and the individual is forced to decide for him/herself what is right. The perception of, say the family values crisis, is not a perception of immorality, but rather the perception of the receding into the background of the forces of community morality, and the movement into the foreground of the forces of individual morality. There is no change in whether people are moral or not, only a change from finding the moral compass in the community to finding the moral compass in one's individual judgment. We are moving from "do the right thing", toward and through "do you own thing".
Moreover, many business people are righteous, and some poor people are thieves and scoundrels. Material circumstances, as well, have nothing to do with the relationship one has to one's conscience.
In these facts, if we step back far enough and observe their historical approach (they did not just arrive off of the boat, yesterday), we will realize that Western Civilization is dying and has been dying for sometime. This death is why traditions have not the same power any more.
We also might notice, that there is a law which operates here, which also operates in Nature, and in the inner life of the soul. Every death process is a necessary precedent to a new birth. The new can only come when the old has passed away. Spring only comes after Autumn and Winter. So it is with civilizations.
What does this mean for the future of the poor, the homeless and the disadvantaged?
When a civilization dies, a world view dies as well. Modern social conditions owe a great deal to ideas first hatched in the 19th Century and before. Ideas of economics, ideas of the nature of the human being, ideas of the nature of societies, ideas of the nature of Nature - here is another endless list. We could call these ideas, their relationship to each other, and the means by which they are taught and transmitted from one generation to another - we could call all that we have just named - culture.
When a civilization dies, in order to become something new, so does the culture which inhabits it. In the difference between the cultural impulses of Europe (high art, music, drama, literature etc.) and the cultural impulses of America (television, film, the popular shallow novel, rock and roll) can be seen the culture of the Old World dying, and the culture of the New World being born.
However, just as the Old World (western civilization) had qualities in which tradition was stronger than the individual, so the New World (the successor civilization) will have qualities in which the individual is stronger than the community. Culture, as it evolves in the New World, will be born out of the individual, from the bottom up so to speak. The Old World idea of culture as the province of elites no longer is valid, and if we look at New World culture, we see just the opposite of this older way.
All the truest modern generative impulses to culture come from out of the people, and then are adopted by the wider social order. Folk music, rap music, the creative impulses are all in the individual. Once they are institutionalized, and are commercialized, they die. Modern Rock and Roll is just a huge commercial enterprise, and it is, for this reason, no longer "culturally" alive. Vatican II happens to the Catholic Church because of these laws. Everywhere individuals overwhelm community traditions, and then the traditional community tries to adapt, not understanding what is happening, which then leads to internal chaos.
What is the culture of the poor and the homeless? The terms poor and homeless, in the sense of the meanings of the present, are terms whose meaning is derived from Old World culture. These terms need to die. As to New World cultural views of these realities, they do not exist, yet. The new meaning is to arise from those who find themselves in these social conditions. They can refuse the old meanings, and reinvent themselves in the process.
Black Americans have broken this ground. In a remarkable act of cultural freedom they threw off the names: Negro and colored. This is just one of a whole range of seeds that are ripening and will blossom as the transition to a new civilization happens.
What is the true name of the homeless? Certainly it is not homeless, degenerate, vagrant, ...
The material that follows is a thought experiment in the realm of the cultural. It is also a pragmatic act of social science. It is an imagination of what those currently labeled "the homeless" might do, once they realize the potential inherent in their spiritual (cultural) freedom.
"Dear Friends, I am very grateful to speak to you today on this subject, which was the first in a series of social acts by ordinary people, whose consequence is the remarkable cultural movements we live amidst today.
"It is difficult to trace the exact moment of the beginning of these movements beyond noting that the first one seemed to be the formation of the Shadow Warrior Society in the summer of 1997, in San Francisco. And even the true roots of that event are hidden in a kind of mythological construction, which appears to have been intentional upon the part of the founders of that Society.
"Let us first look at the present day structure of the Shadow Warrior Society, and then seek to trace backwards, as far as we are able, its originating impulses.
"As everyone knows today, the Shadow Warrior Society is international in scope, although there are no structures of the usual institutional sort. Each Society is independent, and within any given locality there may be more that one Society. Although the original founders were certainly members of the then lower classes, at one time called "the homeless", modern versions of these social organizations include many individuals, who have under taken to show their solidarity, by becoming, to use their terms, voluntarily poor.
"According to some of the stories told within the Circles of these Societies, this "voluntary poverty" is, for many, related to a remark in the Christian Gospels, attributed to Jesus, that "the poor shall be with you always". Apparently these "volunteers" believe that they have no moral justification for living ways of life which are materially better then those of the lowest economic classes. Be that as it may, the effect of this has been to swell the ranks of these Societies and to give them an additional social power and legitimacy.
"Probably the most remarkable element of these Societies is their return to, or revival of (depending upon your point of view) oral culture. The whole Shadow Warrior Society way of communication is in the telling of stories. This is not to say, by the way, that these stories never get written down, or transmitted on the Internet, but rather that the standard which these
Societies work toward is a mostly oral culture.
"What is learned in one place is transmitted to another, by someone traveling and passing on the information in oral form and usually in the form of a story. Who has not seen one of these traveling story tellers, sitting surrounded by a circle of avid listeners, almost hypnotically engaging their audiences in the unusual richness of this newly created oral culture. All of us are becoming familiar with these stories. Who today has not heard: "The War Against the Grey Men", or the "The Black Magic of the Money Changers", or the beautiful and lyric "Signs of Spring".
"Another remarkable element of these Societies has been the support which has been given them by the environmental movement and by many native peoples, especially the American Indian. Reading the Manifesto explains much of this, for certainly there are contained there ideals to which these other groups would naturally be attracted. For my part I suspect the truth is much deeper. Even I have to admit that the romantic ideals of the Manifesto are personally very inspiring. Would that the world really worked this way, or that one could count on human beings to behave according to such idealism.
"What is strangest of all is all the imitators of the Shadow Warrior Society. All kinds of groups and peoples have taken to creating new social communities, based upon their own "manifestos", and creating their own oral culture. What is essential to notice in this, is that these Societies all originate from ordinary communities, from ordinary collections and associations of people, who, once having understood the powers inherent in new oral culture, have taken to these processes, like people dying of thirst in the desert take to water.
"There have been some attempts by institutions to imitate or co-opt these impulses, but in each case these attempts failed for the simple reason that you can't sell meaning to people who want to create their own.
"The newest manifestation of these impulses has been the summer gatherings of story tellers from these different communities. In the beginning the story tellers worked their individual communities, but soon each separate community realized that it wanted to know all the stories. So now modern cultural life has the two levels we have come to know. The commercial, largely electronic forms, television, Internet, etc., and the more personal, community oriented fresh oral culture of these new communities. People now have a real choice, to isolate in their homes, or to leave these places of isolation and go to the Circles, as the story tellers call them, and hear there of things which can be found no where else.
"One wonders where this will eventually lead, for the upper economic classes have not embraced these new oral forms of culture, and have instead increasingly isolated themselves in their communities of physical security and electronic entertainment and communication."
(at this point the notes of the student deteriorate and the remainder of Professor Edwin's remarks on the origin of the Society could not be recovered)
Where societies, nations, states, religions, governments, businesses, others, act or make laws, or by any other process, stand in the way of my exercising these rights (which they most certainly do), they make war on me and all that are like me. I will not stand idly by in the face of this war upon my right to exist and thereby upon my dignity as a human being
With others like me I then join to form the Shadow Warrior Society, whose basic purpose is to acknowledge the brother and sisterhood of all those oppressed in this war. We are not homeless, or disabled, or mentally ill, or addicts, or useless, or any other term by which the larger societies may wish to define us. We are free human beings, and the only name that can be given to us, is the name we choose to give ourselves. The only meaning that can be given to us is the meaning we choose to give to ourselves. The only purpose that can be given to us is the purpose we choose to give to ourselves. And, finally, the only responsibilities that can be given to us are those that we choose to give to ourselves.
Standing, by the necessity of the acts of others, directly in the path of the War of the Rich against the Poor, the Shadow Warrior Society dedicates itself to wise action in the face of the reality of economic tyranny. We pledge ourselves to non-violence, and peaceful means of resistance. But we will not be silent, nor will we any longer tolerate the abuse of our human dignity by accepting labels or names which we do not give to ourselves.
Through self-education and community building we will create an independent culture of those who, although they are marginallized by society, will no longer submit to the prejudices and superficial judgments of others.
The Shadow Warrior Society takes part of its inspiration from the Native Peoples of the American Plains, whose Brotherhood of the Shields (as outlined in Hyemeyohsts Storm's book, Seven Arrows) is an excellent example of a Way of Community, which celebrates both individual freedom and mutual interdependence and responsibility
of the action committee of the first, San Francisco, Shadow Warrior Society.]
There is a movie called the Great Escape. It is a film about prisoners of war during World War II. In the film, all those prisoners of war, who had a history of escape attempts at other camps, were brought together in the same special, supposedly escape-proof, camp. As the prisoners' escape planning committee first meets, it decides not just to plan the escape of a few individuals, but rather to bring about the escape of hundreds, all at the same time, and thus confound and demoralize their captors with this courageous and outrageous act.
It is suggested by the committee for action of the Shadow Warrior Society, that our first action have qualities similar to the above film. We want to involve hundreds in this action, and not only announce our presence, but also reveal our power to organize massive actions when necessary. We suggest this not just because of what points we wish to make to the larger society, but mostly for ourselves. We need to stretch our wings, and feel our strength. We need to struggle with our tendencies to individual solutions, and respond to our need for community activities. We need a concrete process which brings home to us our collective capabilities.
A second matter, of equal importance, is security. An action of the nature contemplated must be kept secret, otherwise the authorities will anticipate our intentions and keep us from achieving our goals. This means that the following material must, at first, be kept in the hands of just a few individuals. It also means that the initial planning must take the form of mis-direction. That is, what most people will be told is only certain aspects of what we are doing. We do this so that those leaks which will naturally occur, will not contain information regarding our ultimate intentions.
Our ultimate plan is as follows: to occupy overnight, with at least one thousand people, including women and children, several buildings of the former Presidio Army Base. Our mis-direction, is to tell most people that the plan is to stage a sit-in a some suitable Federal Office Building in downtown San Francisco, in protest of the failure to make Presidio housing available to members of the Shadow Warrior Society, as is our right.
Below are certain necessary preliminary activities:
1) Formation of two committees, one the real committee which is overseeing the whole Presidio Action, that is the occupation and in all its attributes, and the other, the apparent committee, which will be planning the mis-direction, that is the sit-in. The majority of the membership of the apparent committee should be members of the real committee, so that there are no problems getting the apparent committee to act according to the needs of the real action.
2) Most of the planning activities can be carried out by the apparent committee. However, of those which must be kept within the province of the real committee, the following are the most crucial.
a) Investigation must be made of the Presidio grounds. It has been suggested that these "scouting" missions be carried out by Society members who have had experience in "Indian Country" in Vietnam, if any are available. Our need for information of what goes on, on the grounds of the Presidio at all hours, is very important, an essential act of intelligence gathering.
b) Statements will have to be given to the press. The apparent committee will be drafting theirs, but the real committee must have one as well. Even more important is that statement which will have to given to participants at the last minute, advising them of the real action, of the real committee and the need for secrecy, so that they can have a choice as to whether to participate in the real action. Those who do not wish to participate, may choose to play a role in the "feint", that is the sit-in will still appear to being going on right up until it is no longer necessary, because the initial phases of the occupation have been successful.
c) As planning goes forward, it may be found necessary that certain "necessaries" will be found needed at the occupation, but not at the sit-in. The real committee will therefore have to see to these matters, for example will portable bathroom facilities be needed at either or both locations and so forth.
3) The main difficulty will be obtaining supplies, as we expect we will have to truck and bus, into the Presidio grounds, all the materials that people will have to use. We have to anticipate the actions that might be taken, once the occupation is under way, including termination of power and water and sewage to the buildings occupied. Do we need to bring in portable generators and so forth. This being the case, the question comes, how do we finance such an undertaking, when most resources are used up simply in shelters and soup kitchens. At this point the action committee has no recommendation, other then to state that obtaining funding is an essential requirement, unless, and this is a big unless, we want to go the other route, which is to place ourselves in some kind of harms way. This is especially crucial to work out in advance, because of the intention to include women and children in the occupation. If we do go this latter route, we may have to exclude children, and make doubly sure that when the time to choose to join the real action, that no coercion, emotional or otherwise, is used to induce people to participate.
We have to consider at every juncture in such actions, and in the building up of the impulses of the Shadow Warrior Society as a whole, that we will begin with what is essentially a limited amount of moral capital. We gain or lose to or from this initial resource, according to how we conduct ourselves. The more carefully we carry out our activities, the greater our power of social persuasion, because the greater is our moral capital.
It is the belief of the action committee, that this first action is the most crucial of all. It will set the tone for all that is to follow. The higher the road we can travel, the greater will be the heights to which we can later soar.
[this brief report, was apparently read at an early meeting of the Society, with the results that we all know]
Conformation and validation can only be found by such a science when those for whose benefit it is practiced can say: "Yes, what you have written is true. These things I feel, and I desire, and I have the will to do, and you have given names to them, which though temporary, confirm to me the directions I already want to go". If these ideas already do not live in the so-called "homeless", at least partially along the lines outlined in the material above, then this work is incorrect and should be ignored.
If, on the other hand, there is some kind of confirmatory response to this material, then its author makes himself available to be of whatever service those, in whose interest the above was written, might wish, and which the author is capable of giving.
A "homeless" person is not completely a victim. Rather, in many of the decisions made in the course of a life, they have chosen a direction, which may have the characteristic of rejecting society: rejecting the depersonalization of modern society, rejecting the loss of dignity many jobs demand, rejecting the loss of freedom, and rejecting the inauthenticity of the social masks which such ways of life require.
Such life decisions are valid. The wrong is not in the individual who finds him or her self in such circumstances, outside the mainstream, but rather the wrong is in a society, which lacks sufficient choice and wisdom, to accommodate its more independent minded, and perhaps more socially courageous, members.
The real issue for the "homeless", in the view of the author of these pages, is whether or not a sufficiently strong impulse exists to build community in this era of powerful individuality. To build community is to come together in true mutual support, and nothing is as powerful a resource, as is such mutual aide, by which to weather the tempestuous nature of the times.
I am certain, most of the so-called "homeless" understand that society may disregard certain individuals, but potential members of a Shadow Warrior Society don't have to agree with this, to disregard themselves or each other. Mutual solidarity is only the first step.
Human beings should not need to beg for places to sleep, food to eat, access to health care, or respect for their innate dignity. These things belong to them as a right. To the extent that a society prevents an individual, or a community, from finding the means to support itself, that society is morally wrong. The social and economic segregation of black people was indefensible, and the social and economic segregation of the potential members of a Shadow Warrior Society is equally indefensible.