A Memorial Prayer for Victims of Modernity

by Charlene Spretnak

from The Resurgence of the Real

Those who champion modernity like to remind malcontents that premodern life was full of superstition, persecution, and various irrational cruelties. This is true. Far from eradicating socially induced suffering, however, the modern worldview merely changed the rules of what was accepted and expected -- and upped the ante as technology enabled the imposition of increasingly devastating cruelties on an increasingly large scale.

Let us indeed remember with resolve and compassion the victims of premodern times: those who were mocked for being insufficiently pious, or ostracized from their medieval village, or required to live in circumscribed areas of medieval cities, or terrorized by threats of fire and brimstone, or stoned, or murdered.

But let us also memorialize the casualties of modernity -- those who raised objections that were crushed by the arrogance of the new worldview with its absolute certainties:

To all the women who risked their lives in the American and French revolutions, only to discover the patriarchal character of the Enlightenment, which was never meant for them,

To all the country people whose love for the earth and its cycles made them objects of contempt in the modern urban mind,

To all the native people who resisted genocide and forced assimilation, modernity's fate for those considered "backward,"

To all the victims of mass murder by fascist regimes using modern bureaucratic efficiency and disengaged, instrumental reason,

To all the people brutalized and murdered by Marxist armies and police because they resisted the "scientific theory of history,"

To all who fought to save their communities and livelihood from the callous control of giant corporations and cartels,

To all the parents who pleaded with officials of the industrialized nation-state to recognize the connection between radiation, or toxic dumping, and their malformed or sickly children,

To all the people who persevered in cultivating a spiritual life even though they were mocked as "irrational," and

To all those children who tried valiantly to hold on to their early sense of the world as wondrously creative and vibrantly alive, even as they were jammed into the grid of modern schooling,

We here declare that YOU WERE RIGHT.

You were right, and your suffering was not in vain. Your tears have fertilized the earth, from which now grow more resistance efforts than can be counted, more resilience than can be known.