The Activist Tao of Bruce Lee
Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
Oct. 19, 2015
Teacher: What is the highest technique you hope to achieve?
Lee: To have no technique.
I’ve been known to say stuff like this, a lot: “Rediscover the subversive pleasure of thinking for yourself.” Even so, it doesn’t make me immune to the soothing charms of a hive mind. It can be intoxicating to unquestionably believe we are right about something and to have like-minded folks surrounding us to confirm it all day, every day.
“Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system.” (Bruce Lee)
Of all the humans I’ve never met, it’s safe to say Bruce Lee has been the most influential in my life. My foundational perspective of challenging orthodoxy at every turn was constructed early on, thanks to the motivating power of Lee’s example.
“Set patterns, incapable of adaptability, of pliability, only offer a better cage. Truth is outside of all patterns.” (Bruce Lee)
Every now and then, I recognize the need to check myself and step “outside of all patterns.” This approach is far more arduous than settling into the “better cage” of groupthink… but infinitely more rewarding and enlightening.
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” (Bruce Lee)
As the years pass, I’m astonished and grateful to take stock in the wide range of individuals and groups I’ve worked with, interacted with, learned from, and taught. Each of them carried with them lessons but none more important than this: keep questioning, keep unlearning, keep evolving.
“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.” (Bruce Lee)
Every time I believe I’ve discovered the Holy Grail, the deepest roots of my quest and/or my truest personal essence, I am soon reminded of just how wrong I can be. These moments are disconcerting, of course, but they also number among my all-time favorite gifts.
“Using no way as way. Having no limitation as your only limitation.” (Bruce Lee)
Charismatic personalities, facile solutions, incremental compromises, an endless array of -isms and alluring comfort zones, etc. etc. etc. As activists -- as human beings -- we’re surrounded and tempted by those who’ve found “the answer.” Some of ‘em have done amazing work and have drawn powerful conclusions but none of that should ever usurp the subversive pleasure of thinking for ourselves. Contrary to popular belief, there is no guidebook or manual. There is no “right” way.
Mickey Z. is the author of 13 books, most recently Occupy these Photos: NYC Activism Through a Radical Lens. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on the Web here and here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.