My white hairs were added over the following decades, but not by conflicts with police, politicians, soldiers, or even arms dealers, because, well, I just assume that such folks will sometimes say and do things that make our lives difficult.
For me, a more disheartening part of the struggle has been trying to convince some fellow activists that they shouldnt believe certain government puffs and lies.
One of our biggest challenges is to identify and break free from invisible myths that bind us, myths that shape how we think about ourselves and our government, myths like the idea that this country is a great global force for peace. We see ourselves through such cultural screens and its difficult to step back and remove the veils of deception, so that we can critique them. When immersed in our cultural programs, we take them for granted and become their prisoners. We cant see the biases that weve absorbed by osmosis, just as we cant hear our own accents.
This process is about cultural anthropology, which was my discipline in university, but its also mystical journey: an effort to unlearn the programs that obstruct a direct experience the world. By unlearning, or unbrainwashing ourselves, we remove whatever invisible illusions have been imposed upon us by the straitjackets of linguistic, religious, social or political conditioning.
Its an occupational hazard in our line of work that sometimes we end up coming into conflict, not with warmongers or arms merchants, but with nice people who are also struggling to oppose war and injustice. In short, we are struggling to radicalise ourselves and our fellow activists so that we will not be fooled again.