(Rivera’s Note: Friends, this article is from the incomparable Tangerine Bolen, whom I am honored to call a friend. A deep thinker, a torch bearer, an incredible woman, Tangerine is a soul worth savoring, in word and in person. Consider yourself fortunate for a chance at either. She is struggling with a severe illness – and a lack of medical coverage. If you are inspired by her words, help her return to health by contributing to her medical fund: https://fundly.com/team-tangerine Thank you!) Thank you!)
“On True Radicals” -a guest post from Tangerine Bolen, Executive Director at Revolution Truth
True radicals don’t treat people with derision and contempt. They don’t bully those with whom they disagree, or reflexively assume, as a mantle, a moral or intellectual superiority that arises out of their ideology. In fact, true radicals constantly question ideology, constantly challenge themselves first and foremost, and choose to go on deeper and deeper quests, no matter the material or social cost. True radicals don’t necessarily “sound” radical; they are radical in that they constantly attempt to dissolve walls and to discover deeper, universal truths – truths that offer little earthly or social reward.
True radicals break with society where society is broken and unbending, but then they keep going, if they can, for to break with society is to become an outcast. It is to be rejected by most people and by all tribes. It is the only option – that, or to face adulation and constant projection of the sort that is flattering only to those who still subscribe to transitory rewards.
True radicals face being outcasts, discarded by their peers, rejected in power circles (that would otherwise greatly respect their intellect or sheer gumption), and misunderstood by the masses. They often face a life of monetary hardship.
True radicals are hard to find, by this definition. And perhaps, in truth, people are true radicals by degrees. For to continually choose to dissolve walls and walk on the margins is to be passively or actively rejected by one’s family or peers, when every single human being has need of connectedness. It is to walk the hardest walk of all: that of shattering and re-shattering all illusions . . . that of diving ever deeper into love. And for people who are radical by default; people who love life and this planet so, so much; people for whom our mass madness is daily excruciating, so much so that they have had no choice but to leap off of some sort of cliff, to risk all, to tell harder, greater truths . . . well, that leap can become a daily exercise in diving through bitterness.
I think so many promising people – people of truly great mind, heart, and spirit – take such a leap and find there is far too little providing air under their wings. The leap is long, lonely, and for some, increasingly hollow, despite its initial richness (and despite the knowledge that it is not, indeed, the truly hollow thing). Courage brings too few rewards, and perhaps too much loss. (“Truth has no friends”, a fellow said once, “only suicides”).
And in order to remain truly radical, and perhaps even to keep one’s sanity after making that leap, one must have the courage and the wherewithal to keep diving, ever, ever more. Beyond anything we could have dreamed, everything we ever feared, beyond all loss and all hope, to something we cannot yet know or name. People have done this. We have called them divine. We have called them mystics. And we tend to silence them, or to forget them, to turn our backs on awareness of the sacred. We turn our backs, in our distractedness, our fears or pettiness, on flight itself – the kind of flight that dives and wings and soars, and defies time and bodies and gravity.
One cannot know when one takes a leap off the metaphorical cliff if one will fall, fly, or die. Some fly. Many fall. Some die. But there is much grace to be found in the simple act of trying, no matter our defeats. (And great loss wishes to say to me, “are you telling me the truth?” And on my still days, even in its dying, my body forms a resounding “yes”).
I wish for air under the unfurled wings of each one of us. Air, and love, and courage, and hope, to keep diving, and winging, beyond our darkened skies, beyond any dawning.
If your heart is singing, please help Tangerine afford a proper diagnosis and treatment for her illness. https://fundly.com/team-tangerine