Revolutionary Suicide: Risking Everything to Transform Society and Live Fully

We need to commit revolutionary suicide. By this I mean not the killing of our bodies but the destruction of our attachments to security, status, wealth, and power. These attachments prevent us from becoming spiritually and politically alive. They prevent us from changing the violent structure of the society in which we live. When Huey Percy Newton, the cofounder of the Black Panther Party, called us to “revolutionary suicide,” it appears that he was making the same appeal as Jesus of Nazareth, who admonished, “Those who seek to save their lives will lose them, and those who lose their lives for the sake of [the planet] will save them.” Essentially, both movement founders are saying the same thing. Salvation is not an individual matter.

Crucifixion and the Blues

Some say the crucifixion is abhorrent—too bloody, too brutal, too cruel to contemplate. We have to shield our eyes and look away or—as in Mel Gibson’s blockbuster movie The Passion of the Christ, stare fascinated through our fingers at the spectacle. In either case, we avoid reckoning with the real power of the crucifixion, which is a blues power, a truth-telling power that not only holds a mirror up to the blood, the brutality, the cruelty that is our daily fare, but also opens up a way out of the carnage.

The Master’s Mehserle Can Never Dismantle the Master’s House

The emphasis on the conviction and sentencing of Johannes Mehserle, the BART police officer who shot and killed Oscar Grant, an unarmed black man, in Oakland on New Year's morning, 2009, is actively preventing us from addressing the real systemic sickness that led to this death and many millions gone.