I recently saw Amir Sulaiman perform some of his poetry so he's been on my mind. And since I've already blogged on him before, I thought it would make sense to share a larger sampling of some of his thinking. The following is from a piece of his called virtue vs. vice.
Freedom is in the soul, heart and mind. It is also in the limbs, land and wealth. The most important part of liberation is in the soul, hearts and minds of the people. Of lesser importance is the limbs, land and wealth of the people. If the limbs are free to move about as they like and money is available but the soul, heart and mind are still property of the oppressor then there is no hope for true manifest liberation. On the other hand, if the limbs are chained and the wealth is confiscated but the soul, heart and mind know and long for freedom then there is still hope for full manifest liberation. The freedom fighter needs only to fight to be free. Victory in any traditional sense of the term may come but is not necessary. The first gesture of revolt is a sufficient indication that the soul and heart are free from the system that oppresses. As all change, revolution begins in the soul as aimless nameless restlessness. Its energy works up until freedom condenses onto the walls of the mind. The intellect crystallizes it into the language of the people and all together like a mountain avalanche they come crashing down upon the gates of Empire.
It is faulty to think that the oppressed people of the world will enjoy manifest liberation by way of songs, poems, and letters to congressmen. The empire will not fall by way of hemp bracelets and long hair. The yokes will not be lifted by way of slogans and pamphlets. Manifest liberation will not be voted into office. Are we to think that simply because an oppressor received less votes than another that he will simply relinquish his power? The reason an oppressor is an oppressor is that he does not care for the beliefs and opinions of the people only the labor and wealth of the people. In the psyche of an oppressor, there is absolutely no occasion when he will willingly surrender his power. Throughout history, tyrants surrender not at the end of an open forum discussion but at the hot end of a rifle. They give back what they have taken only under the supervision of a sharp sword with its promise of retribution hovering above their neck.
It is equally faulty to think that the oppressed people of the world will enjoy manifest liberation only by way of bullets, Molotov cocktails and car bombs. Even if the people burned the White House to the ground tomorrow, the ills of society will not be rendered aright. Are we to think that a righteous society will be established by those with wicked ways? If the oppressed do not purify themselves of dishonesty, greed, lust, jealously, fear, envy and the other vices that plague the human family then there can be no real success. There may be a change of flag and a change of leadership but oppression will still loom over the heads of the powerless.
Often the oppressed adopt the maliciousness of the oppressor. When the oppressed do so, they help proliferate the oppressor’s agenda. The oppressed who have accepted the diseased ways of the tyrants spread the virus of mischief and corruption like a contagion. In a strange yet common twist of fate, the oppressed are infected with oppression by the oppressors and inevitably the oppressed oppress. Then those who are oppressed by the oppressed oppressors, once infected with the virus of oppression, seek out others to oppress. What this creates is an endless wheel of coercion that cannot be broken except with an individual, independent commitment to prefer virtue to vice and justice to tyranny. Very few will have the foresight and courage to do such a thing but they will do so because that is their destiny. These brave virtuous souls are what constitute a true liberation front. They are the precious invaluable vanguard of righteousness. This group is rare but always arises. Just as sure as oppression will raise its ugly head this vanguard of purified souls will be there to smite it off. These souls inspire other souls towards success as that is their reason for being. Once the people purify their ranks, even if they number few, they can expect triumph.
No matter the battle strategy and no matter the weaponry the unjust will not and cannot establish justice. No matter the leadership and no matter the number of followers those given to vice will not and cannot establish virtue. This is the irresistible, irrefutable reality of universal law. To try to transcend it is futile and to ignore it is foolish. There will be no freedom for the oppressed one who oppresses others. There is no dignity for the humiliated one who humiliates others. With virtue comes liberation as with vice comes oppression. This is the only way. This is not a new method; this is true way since the first to come from the loins of Adam and it will be the true way until vice is wiped from the planet Earth.
Liberation will come by way of the spirited songs and sharpened swords. It will come by way of the scholar’s ink and the martyr’s blood. It will come by the way of the righteous soul and the firm hand. For the one who truly fights for Truth and Justice, firstly and forevermore must know that high virtue is what promises victory and lowly vice is what assures defeat.