Posted by: terrapraeta | May 24, 2010

Trial By Fire

Janie’s got a gun
Janie’s got a gun
Her dog day’s just begun
Now everybody is on the run
Tell me now it’s untrue.
What did her daddy do?
He jacked a little bitty baby
The man has got to be insane
They say the spell that he was under the lightning and the
thunder knew that someone had to stop the rain

Aerosmith, Janie’s Got a Gun

I am surrounded by amazing, beautiful people.

Is it surprising that the most amazing of all, are people that have endured horror and violence and depravity?

Perhaps not.

I spent the morning talking with a friend, a becoming dear friend, about her early life. The depravity that was her father, the cowardice of her siblings, the sadism of her ex-husband. I have no experience to compare. The violence I have overcome is Disney, hers is snuffer porn. I ache for her and others that have seen such terror.

And yet, here she is now. Vibrant. Free Spirited. Caring, compassionate, affectionate. She sees the people that surround her and allows them to see her. If only there were more like her in the world.

Yesterday a dear friend moved across the country. Son of man that gave ten percent of himself to his family, while the other ninety percent went to drugs and mistresses. Thirty years later, my friend gives up everything that is his life to live near his children: children that he had joint custody of until his ex wife decided to play fast and loose with the truth – behind the facade of a bought and paid for attorney. So he steps up to be the bigger man, uproot his life, and refuses to entertain the notion of taking his children away from their mother even once they are old enough to decide for themselves. I made him swear to me, before he left, that if I called him some day and told him to head for the hills, that he would pack up his children his ex and her new family and hie them all to wherever I am. I fear there is not enough time for his children to fully grow up before the end of life as we know it. And I won’t let them be lost to us.

And dearest of all, beaten and abused as a child, a runaway at sixteen, married and divorced before he was old enough to sit in a bar, and now battered by the legal system and the weight of small town opinion…. yet he carries the weight of guilt for people that, like he, got caught in a web of police maneuvering and stand to suffer for it. As if he could have prevented their troubles, when they, too, knew the fine line that they walked. But he was there so he picks up that burden and carries it, in hopes that some day he can make amends.

And so I sit here looking back on my own family, my own experiences that have brought me to this place. I have no horror stories to tell. Perhaps I am Ally Sheedy in Breakfast Club. My folks never hit me. They never called me names. They were supportive in many ways. But emotion was rare. Affection virtually non-existant. It occurs to me that there is a coldness in the chaste kiss on the mouth, when compared to a simple hug. Oh, how the hug amazed me when I found myself in a group of huggers in high school. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. But let me clarify, I never felt that loss when I was young. It was only years later when I saw how different things can be… long after my mother came to me in tears and apologized for my childhood… after I had raised my son from infancy to adolescence, that I really began to understand. If it had been sooner, I would have done better, myself. But at least my family life was far more affectionate than my childhood had been. I did the best I could and I am proud of my son even if I sometimes regret not giving him more.

But all this brings my thoughts to my parents. My father was… not exactly cold, but logical. Visions of Spock being the best explanation I can give. He was away a lot. Working. And I honestly believe that is all it ever was. He is a good man. He grew up in poverty, in Southern Baptist land. Yet the church was dead to him early in his life. He worked hard. He escaped. As a young man he divorced his first wife and endured a scathing condemnation, hell and damnation, from his brother, in response. I never knew about that until recently, but now I understand why I barely knew his family. Beyond that, I still don’t know his story.

My mother was the opposite in many ways. Very emotional. Yet now I know it was not so much emotional as depressive. She would be very practical and utterly… ordinary… most of the time, until the depression hit. Usually in concert with a little more to drink than was good for her. She would get a grip and get off the booze for a while. Then return to social drinking for a good long while, then anxiety would take her again and she would swim through the shame spiral. I was in college when I finally found out why. And today as I pondered I finally came to understand it.

When she was three, her sister only two, my grandmother divorced their father. Small town Wisconsin, 1940. The girls were sent to live with other family while my grandmother found a new husband. There was perhaps some bitterness in my grandmother at that time: over being saddled with two young girls and alone. I’m sure she never said such a thing to them, but children are far more aware than we acknowledge. Even if that was not the case, the extended family was certainly shamed by my grandmothers divorce, and whether they meant to put it on those two little girls, I am certain that their position as evidence of that shame was palpable. They were sent from relative to relative for a good year or more until my grandmother re-wed. The man she married: my grampa in every way that matters, was an incredibly good man – but she didn’t marry him for love. She married him for security, for her girls, and perhaps for her honor in the community. Yes, my mother felt unwanted in her earliest memories and that has shaped her entire life.

I don’t feel anger. Perhaps a sadness for the things that shaped the lives of my family. Well, yes, perhaps anger toward the systems that created those situations: church, community opinion, closed minded bigotry. But compared to other families it is as nothing.

And so I come full circle, thinking of my adult life. Just once I allowed violence into my life. The worst part of all was the shame of admitting to myself that I had done so. The guilt. And it occurs to me today that for just a short time I began, myself, to lash out. I have never understand that particular reaction. Frustrated, so you hit someone else? Angry so you degrade one that you supposedly love? Hurt so you make those who depend upon you hurt as well? I have never understood that. It makes no sense to me intellectually, but even more so, I have never felt that desire, or fallen back on that behavior pattern. Except once I did. When I became accustomed to being abused, I turned it around and did the same. Not to another. Never to another. But when I hurt, I would verbally lash out at he who hurt me. I never fully realized that until today. Thank the gods it did not became a habit – I know I have not done the same to anyone else since.

Arriving back where I began, I wonder at the incredible people I know who have endured so much more than I can honestly imagine. They say that which does not kill us makes us stronger. I’m not sure those are the best words to describe it, but perhaps it is exactly the case that those will the strength of will, the indomitable spirit to survive the worst depravities of a system designed for the depraved — perhaps those individuals are an icon of what is truly possible in the human species. For all the horror, it suggests incredible promise for what we can be.

Posted by: terrapraeta | May 14, 2010

No Worries

Just a quick note… I’ve gotten a couple of emails from people concerned about my long blogging absence… but no worries, folks. This spring has brought about a number of changes and new people and new activities (or in some cases, old pasttimes) so my head has been in a different place as a result. But everything happening is good and eventually I’ll be ready to spend time writing about it all again.

Promise :-)

Posted by: terrapraeta | April 6, 2010

Manipulative Little B****

Someone told me once
that there’s a right and wrong,
and that punishment
would come to those
who dare to cross the line.

But it must not be true
for jerk-offs like you.
Maybe it takes longer to catch a total asshole.
but I’m tired of waiting.
Maybe it’s just bullshit and I should play GOD,
and shoot you myself.*
Because I’m tired of waiting.

Tool, Jerk Off

I am irritated this morning.

The details don’t mater at all… but last night I had a brush with one of those people that can best be described as petty. Every word out of his mouth designed to make himself look better to whomever he was speaking at the time, manipulative, jealous, shallow.

Mostly it irritates me because in some ways I really like the dude. Sometimes we have had really entertaining banter, joking and flirting and generally just having fun. But then there are the other times. The times when he is trying to get something, or wishing he could get something or bemoaning the life that he has and trying to pretend it is something else. Bull shit, in other words.

I think I have forgiven that behavior previously because it always occurred when he was very intoxicated. Last night, sure he had a buzz but I wouldn’t say he was out of control. Which just means that all his little manipulative crap was conscious and intentional. And because of that, I have to now look back and realize when he has played this game other times. And I have to be honest with myself and acknowledge that I have chosen to overlook it and so this is partly my own fault.

And so I am irritated. Now I just have to make sure that I do not vent my irritation in the wrong direction.

Posted by: terrapraeta | April 5, 2010

Not A Leader

We’re victims of sedition on the open sea.
No one ever said life was free.
Sink, swim, go down with the ship.
Just use your freedom of choice.

I’ll say it again in the land of the free
Use your freedom of choice, freedom of choice.

Freedom of choice
it’s what you’ve got
Freedom from choice
it’s what you want.

A Perfect Circle*, Freedom Of Choice

I’ve been planning to write for a while but my heart simply has not been in it. Hopefully today marks a change in my headspace and I am ready to get back on this particular horse. Writing is good for me. Therapuetic. Healing. It gives me a tool to explore my own thoughts and feelings in a way that I cannot do verbally, oftentimes. I almost think that when I stop writing it is a sign that I have stopped thinking for a time. Maybe I need that kind of vacation, but I cannot let it go on for very long.

In any case, a couple weeks ago, Dave wrote his Manifesto. It’s a pretty good statement of his self perception, at least at one moment in time. But there was something that struck me as flawed:

I am not a leader. I do not pretend to have answers, and I do not believe in hierarchy. We don’t need leaders and heroes cajoling and coercing us and letting us abrogate our own responsibility to discover and to do what we are meant to do. I am fed up with the rhetoric of leaders who would have us believe that they or anyone is or can be in control. What happens on this world is emergent and the collective result of what all of us do. We don’t need leaders to show us the way. We need facilitators, people who care, to help us work together in community and to remove obstacles and then get out of the way.

I totally dig what he is saying, but it occurs to me that he’s missing a component of perception and so he is fundamentally incorrect. He is a leader. I am a leader. Many of the people who write against civ and hierarchy and domination are leaders. What we are not is rulers.

I think this is a word we want to take back.

Lead:”to guide,” O.E. lædan “cause to go with one, lead,” causative of liðan “to travel,” from W.Gmc. *laithjan (cf. O.S. lithan, O.N. liða “to go,” O.H.G. ga-lidan “to travel,” Goth. ga-leiþan “to go”). Meaning “to be in first place” is from late 14c. The noun is first recorded c.1300, “action of leading.” Meaning “the front or leading place” is from 1560s. Johnson stigmatized it as “a low, despicable word.” (link)

Barak Obama is not the leader of the free world as it is often put. He is the ruler of the United States. And because he is the ruler of the US, he is unofficially the ruler of much of the western world. Not because other nations, other rulers, choose to follow him, but because the systems in place often force their compliance. And when their compliance is not forced it is still manipulated, cajoled, coerced. This we do not need.

What we do need is individuals with the personality, the character, the strength to travel paths that have previously remained untrod. At least in recent memory. We need people that will blaze trails into an unknown future with creativity, integrity, fearlessness. Not everyone can do so. But those that can will be followed by others, others that have made conscious choice to be lead. Other that have not the fortitude to go first, yet have the creativity and integrity to choose a new path once it has been mapped out. This is not something we should fear. Rather it is something we need to see for what it is rather than what civ would have us perceive it as.

There is no shame in leading, nor in being led. The shame lies in force, coercion, manipulation, giving up ones own choice, refusing to make a choice, pretending we have no choice.

* Freedom of Choice is originally a Devo song and I usually try to credit the writers. However, in this case, A Perfect Circle significantly reinterpreted the song with new lyrics so I chose to link their version.

Posted by: terrapraeta | March 30, 2010

Renewal

Fear in the air, tension everywhere
Unemployment rising fast, the Beatles new record’s a gas
And the band played on
And the band played on
And the band played

Eve of destruction, tax deduction, city inspectors, bill collectors
Solid Gold in demand, population out of hand, suicide
Too many bills, Everyone moving to the hills
People all over the world are dying in the war
And the band played on
And the band played on
And the band played on
And the band played

Ball of confusion
That’s what the world is today, hey, hey
Ball of confusion
That’s what the world is today, hey, hey
Ball of confusion
That’s what the world is today, hey, hey
Ball of confusion
That’s what the world is today

Hey Hey

Love And Rockets, Ball of Confusion

Wow guys. This month has been some kinda bizarre and crazy and hectic. I have some ideas for blog posts that I really am going to write up here really soon, but for today, let me give y’all an idea of where I have been recently.

I wrote about a month back that I had been fired from my job. It was a job that I really enjoyed and at certain rough points over the last couple years it was the one thing that kept me in this cute little small town that I both love and hate. That made it quite a blow to me on a number of different levels. If I had had more savings in the bank I probably would have simple packed up and left and been done with it. However, that was not the way things work and the last month has somewhat restored my faith in being here-now.

Within a week of becoming unemployed, I had an offer of very part time, seasonal work – I got up hours before daybreak in order to work a few hours of breakfast at one of the local vacation lodges for two weeks over Spring Break. I was not happy with the hours. I was not happy with the drive – or the snowfall involved in driving up the pass. I was not happy with the meager earnings involved. But it was work and it was enough to keep me going for a while so I did it. Good thing, too – one of the women that I worked with referred me to another place – one directly across the alley from my front door. As a result, as spring break began to slow down, I began another job working similar hours to those I had had for the last two years. Fabulous. However, that job was replacing this woman’s daughter in law as she was about to have a baby. So its good – but I am uncertain how long it will last. Certainly – probably – through the summer, but perhaps no more. Five days after I started work there, another friend recruited me to come work with him at another place here in town. I accepted that position – a few evenings a week to supplement my lunch shift – and started last night. So I now have two jobs, either of which may turn into a really good, long term position. And all of this in a town that is infamous for providing no work in the first half of the calendar year. Reputation is a good thing. (In fact, the lodge where I helped out has an open invitation to call me should they need occasional help and they have already expressed an interest in using that. My faith in me and my work has totally rebounded in the wake of the termination. :-) )

So that’s my professional life. On the personal side, my son came to visit and we spent a lot of time hanging out with my friends playing games and goofing off while he was here. A couple of the boys I know took him snowboarding, we visited my brother and his family, and generally we had a really good, inexpensive visit. Brilliant.

In other news, Eddie is back in town and that has added some unnecessary drama to my life. There has been a new guy in my life for the last few months, gradually developing into something that may become significant, and Eddie is now fully aware of it and none too happy. As a result, both me and my new beau have had a few evenings of trying to help him work through this, while simultaneously protecting ourselves from the worst of his excesses. There have been a few rough moments – more for Eddie and the new guy than me, but overall my levels of angst have been higher than I like them to be. I think we are all three starting to get a handle on the situation, but only time will tell.

Add to all of this – spring is in the air. We have had a couple of significant snowstorms over the last couple weeks, but when it is not storming it is spring. Thus my inevitable brain switch. I’m starting to think about hiking and sunning and communing and foraging yet I have not had the time, or quite yet the motivation to switch gears to summer mode. But I feel it rising in me and this will be a good thing. I just need to figure out how to balance everything going on in my life, what with my schedule, my personal interactions, and my budget all being in a completely different state than they were last fall. But I’ll figure it out and then things will return to some sort of state of normalcy. A new state of normalcy. And the band played on…..

Posted by: terrapraeta | March 23, 2010

Spring Break

Hear the drum pounding out of time
Another protester has crossed the line (Hey!)
To find, the money’s on the other side

Can I get another Amen? (Amen!)
There’s a flag wrapped around a score of men (Hey!)
A gag, a plastic bag on a monument

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
On holiday

Green Day, Holiday

Sorry I have been absent for so long: my head is starting to get back in line, I have a new job and I have my son visiting from out of town. In other words, the last couple weeks have been pretty hectic. However, next week I will be back on my game. I’m starting to write a little again, but I know I won’t have time to worry about it much until my visitor returns home. So check in next Monday and “business” should be back to normal. Cheers!

Posted by: terrapraeta | March 11, 2010

Time Well Spent

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to build up,a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

The Byrds, Turn, Turn, Turn

A recurring theme in the discussions of community has been time. Whether talking about JMG‘s Fraternal Lodges or Dave‘s polyamorous relationships, or anything in between, all relationship takes time to build, time to maintain, time to just be.

In our civilized culture, time is the one thing we never, ever seem to have enough of: and I think the biggest reason for this is that we have been taught a skewed sense of priorities. Ostensibly, our first priority is our family – but in practice, that usually translates to money. After all, before anything else we need to provide for our family’s basic needs: food, shelter, clothing. In order to do that, we need to work, to generate income, to participate in the dominant cultures prioritizing of things.

This has been going on for milennia.

In the last fifty years we have complicated this further with globalization, instantaneous communication and mobility. Before these recent expansions in technology and disconnection, we still lived in small communities (even in the cities we lived in neighborhoods). As a result, while we spent far too much time providing stuff, we still had only a small circle of people with whom we interacted. Whether at work or play, participating in social clubs or political activism, seeking a mate, or visiting with family we were always interacting with the same relatively small population of individuals. The importance of this fact cannot be overstated.

Spending time with other people: people you love, people you hate, people you might like to wed or people you might like to kill is the single biggest factor in building community. When we spend time with people they cease to be stereotypes and become persons. And when we see someone as a person rather than an idea, the way we interact changes. No ifs, ands or buts.

Now many people I encounter online see the coming collapse as a return to a more agrarian lifestyle. But this ignores the fact that civilization was just as dysfunctional before the Industrial Revolution as it is now – the difference is of scale, not kind. Production took priority over people in the dark ages just like it does now. At a very fundamental level, I believe this is because throughout the history of civilization, even in tight “communities” there was another piece missing: and that piece is no less than the entire community of life around us. The land. The trees. The animal life. Gaea.

Dave asks How Many Relationships Can We Manage? but I think that is fundamentally the wrong question. Dunbar has already answered that, in strict numerical terms. The real question is how do we best serve the relationships that we have, or want to develop? And I believe the answer to that question is integration.

We cannot have truly vibrant communities, nor truly vibrant relationships until we have the ability to stop “spending” time.

This does not mean that we do not have intimate relationships that are vibrant already (at least potentially) – but rather that as we currently live, we forsake friendships for lovers, or lovers for friendships and usually forsake our participation in the greater community of life for both because in every practical sense we must choose one over the others.

But imagine a lifestyle, a community, a way of living where all of our time is spent in supporting these relationships simultaneously. Engaging the community of life in concert with engaging one another. Providing for our basic needs together in concert with the place in which we live.

I find the English language is very poor at expressing what I am trying to say.

You and your lover wake with the dawn. Snuggling in your cozy bed, speaking of the day to come. Sharing thoughts, plans, stories, as caresses remind one another of the feelings you share. Eventually, content, you rise to begin your day. You step outside, reveling in the sun in your face and greet your neighbors as they too begin their day. The robin sitting in her tree and singing, several community dogs playing in the open space before your home, another of your lovers, or perhaps “simply” a friend sweeping the stoop before their home next door. Several other friends, standing together planning the days activities – perhaps intending to collect a load of wood for the winter stores, or harvesting berries to put up a shelf of jam, planting a new garden space, or clearing rocks from a garden not yet begun. This evening there will be a bonfire. Storytelling. Music. An opportunity to speak your truth. Your lover steps out behind you, snuggles up for a moment and then goes to help cook breakfast, while you join the group chatting across the way. Perhaps several projects are discussed and you break into smaller groups, depending on your mood or your skills or your passions. But it doesn’t matter, really, what you do today, or whom you do it with, because tomorrow there will other projects, with other people. And in any case, later some will help with dinner, and there is still the storytelling and singing in the evening…

Posted by: terrapraeta | March 9, 2010

Feel The Way I Do

Meet me in outerspace
We could spend the night, watch the earth come up
I’ve grown tired of that place, wont you come with me
We could start again
How do you do it, make me feel like I do
How do you do it, it’s better than I ever knew
Meet me in outerspace
I will hold you close, If you’re afraid of heights
I need you to see this place, It might be the only way
That I can show you how, it feels to be inside of you
How do you it, make me feel like I do
How do you do it, its better than I ever knew
How do you do it, make me feel like I do

Incubus, Stellar

Last Friday I opened my posting saying that my head was all outta wack. I was… distracted and scattered and I had the sense that it was something external rather than internal. Sunday I got a request to talk about that a little more. Of course I’m always willing to field a question – its so much easier than just coming up with topics on my own! :-)

Different people have very differing opinions about psychic phenomena. Myself, I am skeptical, but not dismissive. I know, from personal experience that we are capable of more than the scientific community general accepts, I am, after all, an animist. But on the flip, the only “professional” psychic I have ever encountered was a fraud. Plain and simple. She put on a carnival show. As entertainment, that is all well and good, but I’m not terribly interested, for myself.

In any case, I learned a long time ago that I am an empath. I’m not saying simply that I am a good listener and can imagine others feelings. Rather, for those that I am very close to (and on occasion others), I actually feel what they are feeling. I wrote about this many years ago – my teenage experiences that led me to understand this about myself – in Can I feel You Up? I think most people have some bit of this in themselves. When I was younger, I would occasionally call my folks and say “what’s going on? Something doesn’t feel right.” And instead of scoffing, their response was usually everything is fine here, but we know what you mean. Basic intuition that something is not right.

For me, it is usually a little more intense than basic intuition, however. Most often I pick up on negative emotions: grief, despair, anxiety. The big three. Its a mixed bag because at first I just feel it. Then I become aware of it. Then I realize that it is coming from elsewhere. Before I consciously recognize that otherness it can be pretty intense and disconcerting. Once I realize, however, that it’s not me, two things happen. First it becomes less in a way because I know that it is other, while second it becomes more because I worry about the people I love and what is going on in their lives that is making me feel the way I do. Only sometimes can I determine the source. Or at least make a good guess. Occasionally, I later find out exactly who and why and wherefore. When I do its always a relief, even if the cause is of further concern.

Sometimes – and these times are fabulous – I pick up on joy. Or maybe I do it more often than I realize, but being a generally happy person, I don’t recognize that it is external. A few times, however, I have found myself amazingly happy for no discernible reason. Most of the time I do find out the reasons behind it eventually – people are much more inclined to share their joys than their sorrows. So I get the double whammy – first the joy that I feel, inside and then later, the joy I feel for my loved ones when they tell me the cause. Its a beautiful thing.

This summer, if not before, I intend to spend a lot of time and energy developing attention. Not to other people so much – I’m already pretty good at that and always working on it – but to wild nature itself. Building that animist connection that I have only occasionally succeeded at before. I suspect that once I really begin to pay attention that my inherent sensitivity to feeling will be a tremendous asset. I would like to think so, but perhaps it is different. Feeling is esay compared to attending. I’ll keep you posted as I explore this further.

Posted by: terrapraeta | March 8, 2010

Resistance is Futile

I can learn to resist
Anything but frustration
I can learn to persist
With anything but aiming low

I can learn to close my eyes
To anything but injustice
I can learn to get along
With all the things I don’t know

You can surrender
Without a prayer
But never really pray
Pray without surrender

You can fight
Without ever winning
But never ever win
Without a fight

Rush, Resist

Last week sometime I listened to a Derrick Jensen interview on WOJB: he does an interview with them every month but this is the first time I got to listen. He was a little off at first – his head was elsewhere, I think, but after a few minutes he got focused and it was an interesting conversation. A lot of that conversation focused on resistance. Now, a week, later, having read his most recent Orion article, I understand where that discussion came from.

The whole thing got me thinking a lot about recent discussions around the blogosphere. Dave has been writing about overt resistance strategies, Hacking Massively Complicated Systems and Throwing off the Shackles of Debt. Both intrigue me: I’m not sure yet whether his “hacking” approach can or will succeed, but I will be interested in following along as he develops these ideas. His commentary on debt is right on, but as it happens does not apply to me. Part of my simplification process has been to reduce my debt to zero – unfortunately (or perhaps not?) this has also reduced my assets to near zero. That means that my approach will have to stay in the low budget realm as I have no intention of taking on new debt under any circumstances.

Meanwhile, over at the Archdruid report, JMG wrote a series addressing The Costs of Community, Secret Handshakes and The Presupposition of Passivity. Underlying those essays was an accusation of laziness: that because current communitarians are not supporting organizations such as the Masons or grass roots activism, that this implies that we are not willing to pay the costs of community. I understand his point and I am certain that in some ways people have become lazy – or more precisely, docile.

But I think there is a different lesson in all of this.

I totally agree with Derrick that if we love this world, if we love the salmon, the wolves, the bears, the mighty oak tree – if we love then we must do something. Or many things. Give everything we’ve got. But at the same time, I think there is a fallacy in his argument – the same fallacy that JMG brought to light for me. (In my disagreement, that is)

Historically, change has been brought about by activism of some variety or another. The Suffragettes, the Civil Rights Movement, The American Revolution, local political organizations. But stop right there. Yes, the Suffragettes gave women the vote. A hundred years later, we are still fighting for equal treatment. We are overburdened by the double-income trap. We are looked down upon for any perceived interest in “traditional women’s work” (oftentimes even by ourselves). And the system as a whole? The civilizational system itself? More devastating than ever.

The same things could be said about every revolution in history. The details change. In that change, people feel better. Mollified. Proud, even, that they stepped up and made a difference. But that “difference” is a lie. Because when all is said and done, civilization is still destroying the planet. People are still being abused, exploited, killed. And the salmon, the wolves, the bears, the mighty oak – are still being hounded unto death.

Regardless of the title I chose for today’s essay, I am not saying that we should give up. I am not saying that we should not resist. I am not saying that we should not do whatever it takes. But I am saying that we need to step back for a moment and look at what it is we are honestly trying to accomplish.

If we are trying to feel better about ourselves, feel like we are doing something good for people, for the planet, for the salmon and wolves and bears and oak trees, then by all means we should be doing what we have always done.

But if we are trying to actually make a change that matters then we need to step back and look at our efforts honestly and see if what we are doing is accomplishing our goals.

We are standing at a unique point in history. Civilization has overrun the entire globe and it is straddling the apex of its trajectory. We are facing opportunities and calamities that have never before existed. That will never exist again. How we each respond to these factors may have exponential effect: resounding through future history in ways that we cannot even imagine. So I figure we need to do two things.

First, we need to be creative, with integrity and conscious direction. In the nineties the big buzz was “out of the box” thinking. I say, throw out the box. Forget the box. The box is a trap. Envision possibilities completely beyond our current experience. Create something new. The past can be our guide, but only so long as we are looking at it honestly and recognizing the pitfalls that civilization has exploited for the last ten thousand years. Particularly those “opportunities for change” that have been co-opted by the system itself.

Second, we need to stop judging the efforts of others, whatever direction they may take. Some, perhaps most, will fail. But the more things we try, the greater the likelihood that some will succeed. Embrace the ten thousand ways. Not only in the sense of post civilizational culture, although that is vital, but also in the current application of resistance. Bluntly: stop dis’ing those that choose different paths! As Derrick keeps saying: we need it all. Yet we have been so well indoctrinated into this civilizational system that in practice, we fight each other far more than not. Support one another in seeking out paths that are not more of the same. Even when those paths would not be ours to choose.

Posted by: terrapraeta | March 5, 2010

Breathe Deep

Breath deep
The gathering gloom
Watch lights fade
From every room
Bedsitter people
Look back and lament
Another day’s useless
Energy spent

Impassioned lovers
Wrestle as one
Lonely man cries for love
And has none
New mother picks up
And suckles her son
Senior citizens
Wish they were young

Cold hearted orb
That rules the night
Removes the colours
From our sight
Red is gray and
Yellow white
But we decide
Which is right
And
Which is an Illusion

The Moody Blues, Nights in White Satin

I really wanted to write today… something new and thoughtful and all that good stuff. But I find myself in a weird headspace this morning. Not sure where it is coming from, but it feels external and I cannot calm myself enough to locate the source. This does not happen often, but it does happen recurringly. And I often never find out the source. We’ll see if today is any different. In the meantime, I have read a number of interesting things over the last few days… in several cases, they are things that I intend to write about or respond to in some way. For today, I’ll simply put them up to read and then when I am ready, y’all will be to. Or something like that.

Derrick Jensen’s last two pieces at Orion discuss resistance. First, 50 Simple Ways To Get Off, followed by Resistance Resisters.

My friend Willem Larson has written a couple pieces that I could not agree with more: Stop Hating Teens and Start Respecting Them, and Widening Conversational Scope: Identity. And if you haven’t seen it yet, Willem is currently engaged in developing and spreading Where Are Your Keys. Absolutely awesome.

Urban Scout posted a really thoughtful article this week: Hate Culture vs Rewilding. And he says his most recent book should be out any time now, so look for it.

Also check out a new blog: 29,0000 Acorns. Daniel is very well spoken (ok, written) and generally has interesting things to say and think about.

Meanwhile, there was a demonstration in LA yesterday at CSUN. Roughly 10% of the student body, 3000 people (in contrast to the medias claim of 300) stepped out to protest the ongoing dismantling of California’s educational system. Dr. Karren Baird-Olsen, Sociology and American Indian Studies Professor at Cal State Northridge was assaulted by a police officer in full riot gear, breaking her arm with a truncheon, stomped on her and moved on. Students assisted her in escaping the press and it is strongly suspected that several students were arrested because they assisted her. Karren Baird-Olsen is 73. The attack occurred when students “refused to disperse” — in other words, when they began backing up as ordered — but apparently not quickly enough. (BTW, my source on this is a friend of mine, close to Dr Baird-Olsen, in contact with her last evening and living in LA.)

Next week I should be back to writing… I think ;-)

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