The Ends or the Means

Among various other interesting topics in this interview, Derrick Jensen discusses the mean justifying the ends or the ends justifying the means (he prefers the later). The discussion revolves around this quote by Ward Churchill:

What I want is for civilization to stop killing my people’s children. If that can be accomplished peacefully, I will be glad. If signing a petition will get those in power to stop killing Indian children, I will put my name at the top of the list. If marching in a protest will do it, I will walk as far as you want. If holding a candle will do it, I will hold two. If singing protest songs will do it, I will sing whatever songs you want me to sing. If living simply will do it, I will live extremely simply. If voting will do it, I will vote.

But all those things are allowed by those in power. And none of those things will ever stop those in power from killing Indian children. They never have and they never will. Given that my people’s children are being killed, you have no grounds to complain at whatever means I use to protect the lives of my people’s children. And I will do whatever it takes.

This is a subject that Vavrek and I were mulling over a while ago, in relation to Sean‘s statement that “Ideology will not stand against the Truth”. Initially, I agreed with Vavrek about there being no absolute truth — that it’s all subjective reality. I have no reason to think that my idea of freedom or any of my ideals are any more correct than anyone else’s (Contradiction? The reason I’m against sean’s new path is because I feel that my ideal of not forcing others into my culture is somehow superior than his ideal of forcing his version of freedom). This is the same justification I have against violence. What right do I have to say that another man should die — or be locked away in a nut house — because he thinks or acts differently than I? Yet now, I do think there is some kind of Truth out there. I think we all agree on the same utopian ideal of a peaceful, sustainable, comfortable existence.

Vavrek “still maintain[ed] that truth is inseperable from a point of view. Everything is connected.” He continued, saying “the great mistake of our recent past was the imaginary division of all things into individual parts. It came with the invention of the clock, thinking that everything works in seperate gears and wheels. On the surface, it just might seem this way. You can’t see anything without the seer.” He disagreed with my idea that we all have the same end in mind.

Bringing this back to the ends or the means, I continued my train of thought on Sean’s statement.

I disagree with Sean in that I no longer believe that the ends justifies the means. The path you take to this ideal is equally, if not more so, important as the end, because the end is just that — an IDEAL. As such, I believe it’s unattainable. We’ll not reach it in this lifetime, nor in one hundred. You can kill people for the Truth all you want, but, at the end of the day when you’ve not attained the unattainable, what have you done? Killed people. For nothing.

With this, Vavrek agreed.

After listening to Derrick’s interview, I’m rethinking it all over again.

It’s obiovus that his idea of the end is more practical and reality based than my abstract concept. Partly because of this, I think our two ideas are compatible. The ends is equally important as the means.

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