Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Indigeny & Energetics" - Primary Literary Supportive Texts:

Healing Wisdom of Africa - Malidoma Some'

Introduction to African Civilization - John G. Jackson

God Is Red - Vine Deloria, Jr.

Voice of Indigenous Peoples: Native People Address the United Nations - edited by Alexander Ewen, The Native American Council of New York City

Recovering the Sacred - Winona LaDuke

Original Instructions - Edited by Melissa K. Nelson (Bioneers)

Dreaming the Council Ways - True Native Teachings from the Red Lodge: Ohki Simine Forest

Secrets of the Talking Jaguar - Martin Prechtel

[Ward Churchill book(s) removed from list, 6/12] ]

In the Absence of the Sacred - Jerry Mander

The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe - Hilda Ellis Davidson

All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life - Winona LaDuke

Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent

Cultural Survival Quarterly

Columbus and Other Cannibals - Jack D. Forbes

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Modernity In A Minute

If human history was lived out in one day,
modernity will have existed for about a minute -
on which we now base our uncertain future.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Trees breathe out what we breathe in. We breathe out what trees breathe in. We should do more to preserve the life and safety of trees.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Eagle and the Condor in Prophecy: Where Does Columbia Stand?

A number of sources point us to the prophecy of the eagle and the condor, in which and when the eagle of the north (the capitalist, intellectual, technological, brain-based USAmerica) will fly the same skies, in harmony with the condor (the communalist, wholistic, spiritual, heart-based indigenous cultures of the "south", South America). This is an important and telling prophecy that comes from the spiritual awarenesses and visions of peoples that hold life dear, that hold people dear, that hold nature and Spirit dear. This is a prophecy that has seen unity not only of just the "north" and "south", of the United States of America and South America, but of all peoples in a world showing deep rifts between technological globalist corporatocracy and indigenous and marginalized (people taken from their land/spirit/culture-power-base).

Problems with engaging this beautiful prophecy, if even the eagle north is willing and able to see the necessity for unity, change and wholistic harmonious life, come up simply in the popular notion that indigenous peoples hold no real and functional wisdom that the capitalist, modern, digital-technological world can and should learn from and thereby enact change because of. Repeated, constant, persistent disrespect and devaluation of indigenous ideas and cultural practice, the infantilizing of modern "noble savage" is a deadly pattern that stands in the way of the capitalist north fully embodying the medicine of the eagle.

Current review of pagan writing, dominated by Europeans (and understandably so, but oftentimes the obvious must be stated) speak of a connection to the goddess Columbia. Hellenist blogger Cara writes the following:

"From the beginning, when Columbia was first revealed as the Goddess of this land, She was seen as a guardian of freedom and a generous granter of plenty. In early depictions of Columbia, she wears the cap of freedom and holds a cornucopia. The eagle and the rattlesnake are sacred to Her."
Simple questions arise here. What's inside that cornucopia? Where did the bounty come from? Who harvested it, this bounty from "America's" bosom? What does the eagle mean to her, to her adherents? Is the eagle's medicine the same as that as revealed to the Native peoples who revere the eagle with more sacred knowing than the colonists old and new who would destroy the eagle's populations and habitats? If Columbia (reportedly named after Criminal Columbus) is a guardian of freedom (though reportedly named after Criminal Columbus), why has she been so silent in the throats of those to whom she revealed herself in defense and liberation of the Native Americans and Africans who would be crushed under the weight of the nation that claims her name in its capitol.

What troubles me about the above quote and the continuing article is that it implies a pagan (indigenous?) perspective that allows itself to join the politically disintegrative, destructive energetic of the USAmerican colonial imperative, laying itself over the indigenous Native American cultural dynamic that is primary here in this land, a sort of paganized manifest destiny. It seems that Cara and other pagans are joining the "this land is your land. this land is my land" chorus while merging their spiritual ideology with USAmerican capitalist and colonial ideology. This is not to say that some Native Americans haven't joined that ideological thrust for their own survival or through their own blind complicity born of the same political violence and disrespect that has energetically affected us all. Africans have done this, too. The European populace has done this in spades and continues to walk the earth of Turtle Island as if they are actually in ownership of it. I am saddened by people who say they love "America", but haven't spent even a day walking on its back in harmony with its sacred energy.

A Blackfeet chief has said, as from the book, "The People: Native American Thoughts and Feelings":
"Our land is more valuable than your money. It will last forever. It will not even perish by the flames of fire. As long as the sun shines and the waters flow, this land will be here to give life to men and animals; therefore we cannot sell this land. It was put here for us the Great Spirit and we cannot sell it because is does not belong to us."

This is deeply instructive to us, especially as Indian Country Today Media Network has this year reported on how and w
hy the Lakota persist in refusing the billion dollars being offered for the sacred Black Hills.

"Sioux Forgo $1B, Continue Fight to Reclaim Black Hills" (ICTMN Staff February 15, 2011"


The BBC also covered this story stating:

"Why the Sioux Are Refusing $1.3 Billion

Members of the Great Sioux Nation could pocket a large sum set aside by the government for taking the resource-rich Black Hills away from the tribes in 1877. But leaders say the sacred land was never, and still isn't, for sale."


This continued, indigenously informed Native American perspective speaks to the embodiment of the condor consciousness and challenges directly the idea that the capitalist and mercenary ideology of USAmericanism is a foreign concept to this land, Turtle Island, and its people, those who have been here longest and best (do we really still need to say this out loud?). It also points us to a fundamental dissonance with some of the stated dynamics of the engagement of Columbia and how her adherents are patriotically supportive of the exploitative politics of the state that has overlaid its politics, culture, religion and people over that of the original inhabitants.

Cara goes on to state the following:
"From the beginning, when Columbia was first revealed as the Goddess of this land, She was seen as a guardian of freedom and a generous granter of plenty."

Which and whose beginning does she speak of? Who was Columbia revealed to and have they heard her spiritual message clearly? This anwers are up for brisk debate. I can only imagine what the Native peoples might have to say about this. Neither Cara nor the other pagan writers except for Galina Krasskova (who has recently and not so recently leveled similar critiques of this confusion) has even mentioned the presence of importance of their relationship to indigenous peoples of Turtle Island.

It is clear that even the rank and file "(US)American" is unaware of the deeper symbolism of eagle medicine and how it calls us to higher, clearer and more spiritual understandings of ourselves and our relationship to Spirit. "(US)Americans" veritably pimp the conceptual eagle as they destroy the energetic, living being. The USAmerica populace is still struggling to get to a place where it can even live out the prophecy of its eagleness fully, though as far as I understand the prophecy and how it's been communicated, the indigenous people are being remarkably kind to those who carry this allopathic, symptom-submerging "medicine" of the northern eagle of this hope-filled and powerful prophecy.

If the northern eagle is going to fly - respectfully and harmoniously - with the condor of the south, of the indigenous world, then it must engage the eagle in its fullness, not in the narrow, patriarchal and militaristic bravado-machismo that dominates pop culture. The people of the capitalist world must also learn something very important and seemingly very difficult from the condor. The condor (interestingly enough, still holding on here in the north after having been decimated in numbers to only sixteen birds at one point) is a bird that represents and embodies the medicine of purification and transformation, a powerful relationship between life and death, the physical and spiritual worlds. The condor looks death in the rib cage and pulls its sustenance from the rotting carcasses of that which, if left alone, would only spread illness and imbalance. The condor plunges is head into all that scares "(US)Americans" the most - that which must change for the good of all life, mortality and death itself, the visceral connection to Spirit that brings radical self-appraisal and transmutation of disease-state thinking and behavior so as to create new beings and lifeways in which imbalance and injustice are destroyed.

USAmericans in general and some elements of the pagan community in particular are still in dire need of understanding the nature and needs of the land upon which they stand, of the people who have sustained and maintained the sanctity of the land upon which they stand. There is little, but growing understanding of how people's behaviors are affecting the health of the earth and of nature and her human inhabitants. Even with all this northern, eagle knowledge and data technology, USAmericans seem to be blinded to the dynamics of their own presence, their destructive behaviors and ways of thinking and speaking. White privilege seems alive and well as USAmericans allow their government to opt out of and derail international agreements on climate change. It is alive and well as indigenous people come under arrest for protesting the Tar Sands oil pipeline (along with Darryl Hannah, James Hansen and other Europeans) and as they chain themselves to heavy machinery to halt the destruction of sacred forests and as they fight in courtrooms and boardrooms for access to Ancestral lands, waterways and mountains (like Mount Graham, attacked by the University of Arizona and vatican so that an astronomincal observatory could be erected).

The condor, the heart-centered indigenous energetic would call us all to do something else that is hard for modern people to do freely - to feel. There is a message of empathy and deep, reconciliatory observation and contemplation here, exemplified in the winged stillness of the condor on the rising thermals. There is a message, a call to see and feel more deeply, more fully here, to feel with fullness that which is of us and not of us, that which is physical and that which is spiritual, not just the data-driven religiosity that seemingly ignites the destructive nature of the DC40 predatory fundamentalist christians that have raised the hackles and fears of the pagan community in this current spate of activity and self-advocacy.

"The goal of DC40 is to effect “eternal change in our nation’s capitol so our elected officials can govern from a new position of uncompromising light and understanding as we change the spiritual atmosphere over Washington DC forever.” This effort is variously named DC40, Forty Days of Light Over D.C., and 51 Days of Reformation Intercession.

The change DC40 wants to make is electing leaders who fear the Christian God and “find that compromise is not the way” as it is impossible to “compromise with unrighteousness.” The “uncompromising light” refers to a statement released by Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network, which says God’s word should be the legal authority in the United States and Christians should acknowledge no other, “no power to purpose or accept any compromise of the promises of God, and we declare illegal in the earth any action or any people, Nation or nations that undertake what is contradictory to the Word of God.”


The pagan and the larger, more deeply developed indigenous communities have a valid reason for concern here, if only in the political realm. The pagan statements coming to the fore with regard to the DC40 initiative though are not ringing a bell of clarity and liberty in the face of the larger historical injustices created and sustained by people of European descent on and in the lands and cultures of Native Americans and Africans, those injustices that created the nation whose bombs now burst in so much of the air above this earth, whose amber waves of grain get traded off as economic and (im)moral leverage against neo-colonized nations and peoples hungry for food, clean water, sovereign control of their Ancestral lands and their own freedom and liberty defined their way as their goddesses and gods and spirits led them to define.

Europeans the world over, but maybe especially the ones now living in (spite of) Amerique (an indigenous term related by Jan Carew in his important book, "Rape of Paradise: Columbus and the Birth of Racism in the Americas", meaning the "land of the winds"), are challenged to get their minds and actions right, to look beyond the comfortable ramblings about red stated an blue state, beyond the minutia of conservative and liberal, beyond recycling and not recycling, beyond what level of standard of living they deserve no matter what effects that standard has on people the world over. Europeans, "whites" are in dire need of developing the will and ability to thrust their heads into the heart space, the failing rib cage structure, the rotting carcass of the nation they seem to think will last forever, the systems of racism, sexism and classism they seem to think will last forever, their modern lifestyles and lifeways that they seem to think will and must last forever even though they - mathematically, physically, spiritually, materially, ethically - can't. Other peoples who have followed this mistaken and misguided path of "unlimited growth", "better living through chemistry", destructive and short-sighted modernity have a similar task, though their path to clarity might have some different cultural dynamics in which to operate; their levels of cultural reconciliation may not be so abysmally deep.

Cara goes on to entreat Columbia:

I ask Her to guide us – our country seems to be at a crossroads and is facing difficult times. Our nation’s identity and ethics are muddled. "

On this I agree with her, but more than the nation, the people's identities and ethics are muddled. The "melting pot" and the "salad" have failed in their process of the amorphous unity they alluded or eluded to as they miss the very ground of unity that indigenous spirituality (energetics) helps us to understand. If we engage the spiritual dynamic of spaciality as Vine Deloria correctly suggests, we will have the ability to understand our environmental, ethical and social responsibilities. The Dagara inform us that it is the earth energetic that gives rise to our identity as indigenous beings in relation to All that Is. We can't ever assume to suggest that we "know" the land without the deep consideration and respect of the original inhabitants (who are still here) and how they have come to understand the land and how to live upon it. We can't ever assume to embark on political paths that continue to disrespect those upon whose lives and cultures the USAmerica has consumed and fed so fully, so gluttonously.

Columbia and those who revere her must reconcile themselves with the spiritual energetics of the land, still full of the Ancestral bones of the Native American nations and tribes. They can not place themselves in a position to alienate and injure their tenuous relationship with Native Americans and African by parading another, though more paganistic, symbol of manifest destiny over the bodies and cultures and histories and spiritual traditions and Ancestral responsibilities of the people who paid the highest price of survival here. The people of the north must embrace eagle medicine, must be clear about their lack of and hope for intellectual clarity. The people of the north must be able then to hear, respect and engage condor medicine, the winged path of the heart, the flight of the brave, able to come down to earth and plunge headlong into their own cultural shadows, that which must be changed into something else much less toxic to that which is and those around them.

"The earth was created by the assistance of the sun and it should be left as it was...The country was made without lines of demarcation, and it is no man's business to divide it...I see the whites all over the country gaining welath, and see their desire to give us lands which are worthless...The earth and myself are of one mind. The measure of the land the measure of our bodies are the same. Say to us if you can say it, that you were sent by the Creative Power to talk to us. Perhaps you think the Creator sent you here to dispose of us as you see fit. If I thought you were sent by the Creator I might be induced to think you had a right to dispose of me. Do not misunderstand me, but understand me fully with reference to my affection for the land. I never said the land was mine to do with as I chose. The one who has the right to dispose of it is the one who created it. I claim a right to live on my land, and accord you the privilege to live on yours." - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce ("The People: Native American Thoughts and Feelings")
Is the USAmerica, its people, the people of the modern north, the industrialized, capitalist world ready to engage the indigenous prophecy, the call to unity? Can these modern people see beyond their own privileged barriers to see a world that might look much different than the one they think they see now? Can the pagan community begin to see itself with much more spiritual and political clarity and use its powerful spiritual traditions to truly liberate itself from its own confusion and isolation? Is "(US)America" truly the land of the free and the home of the brave or is it actually the nation of the unwilling, the reticent, the narrowly-defined, the exploitative, the afraid?

What will become of the prophecy of the eagle and the condor...and where will Columbia - and her adherents - stand?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Letter to EWTN re: Doug Barry's "savages" comment on international television

August 22, 2011

Doug Keck

Executive Vice President


5817 Old Leeds Rd.

Irondale, Al. 35210-2164

Dear Mr. Keck,

On August 18th, EWTN’s Doug Barry made an impassioned and inflammatory statement about the targets of roman catholic evangelism on the live “Life On the Rock” broadcast from Spain, referring to these targets of missionary work as “savages”. Only seconds before this antiquated, reprehensible and patently racist statement, Barry rhetorically queried a guest on the World Youth Day show, “We have a whole world to conquer for Christ. Don’t we?”. This sort of language is clearly a throwback to the pathologically criminal acts of Christopher Columbus’ 1492, not that of an enlightened and professionally informed and progressive 2011.

Barry’s statement, though brief, was highly insulting and unbecoming of a supposedly educated and responsible telecaster. It was immature at best. One could expect nothing less than a formal apology and public retraction for daring to utter such a horrific statement about non-roman catholic peoples in a world still struggling for pluralism, tolerance, justice, understanding and compassion.

In 2010, a report was made to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues concerning the christian “Doctrine of Discovery” that validated the voyages and crimes of Columbus and other conquerors and their historical and current repercussions. That indigenous peoples were the object of those crimes brings clarity to the insensitivity and arrogance of Barry’s comments of August 18th. His statements come out of a history of oppression, privilege and violent coercion that are appalling and repulsive to an enlightened mind and loving and compassionate heart. His words are even more horrendous as they were uttered in front of thousands of young people, let alone the whole EWTN audience at that time. Because of the presence of the pope, the eyes and ears of the world were upon Madrid and sadly, possibly more so on your cable channel.

What is said in the confines of your rectories, churches, sacristies and board rooms is one thing, but the blatant disrespect and disparaging of huge swaths of humanity in front of EWTN’s audience is quite another.

Doug Barry’s comments are highly unethical, immoral and carry the verbal resonance of historical crimes against humanity. Clearly this is exactly the language that accompanied some of the most heinous of these kinds of crimes, many initiated by the works and likes of Christopher Columbus.

I am calling for a public and mediated apology for and retraction of his comments. Considering the deep insensitivity and lack of professionalism magnified by the international reach of EWTN’s broadcast, anything less would simply add modern insult to historical insult to colonial injury. If the vatican is to be considered a respectable member of the United Nations, its official and unofficial communicative functionaries must treat their international colleagues and other world citizens as though they are also due a substantive level of respect and consideration.

Additionally, the “Doctrine of Discovery”, from which Barry’s comments find firm foundation must be illuminated, engaged in media discourse and beyond and must be recanted and brought to reconciliation as was respectfully asked for by the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers in 2008 (who were, by the way, summarily dismissed by the same papal office from which EWTN implicitly derives its ideological, theological and moral mandate).

Women and men of deep, functional religious virtue and insight should normally need no external barometer outside of their connection to their own spiritual source and community to inform them of the error of their own ways. This letter is to serve as a reminder of the transgression that Doug Barry, the “Life On the Rock” production crew and EWTN already know was committed. Righteousness cannot be claimed where empathy and compassion and the possibility of genuine acts of contrition are not in evidence.

I look forward to your timely reply given the grave nature of the offense and to the quick and substantive engagement and resolution of these clear areas of conflict. Thank you for your time and principled consideration.

Yours in the quest for justice,

Ukumbwa Sauti, M.Ed.

Adjunct Professor, Cultural Media Studies

Initiated Dagara Elder


Bay State Banner

Boston Globe

Boston Phoenix

Huffington Post

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"...reconciliation..." (originally posted on " deep the water...", Jan.26, 2011)


...I sit here at a computer, projecting thought streams into a virtual world, terrestrium digitalus, one that gives deep homage to repetition, to sameness, that bases its very process, its very reason for being on only two numbers, nothingness and unity. Maybe those numbers point us to the essence of the world's diversity, to the essence of the world, the yin yang dance of complementary forces that call us into deeper question of our place within it all...and where we must someday more so be.

Outside the window, there on the other side of my digital portal is the actual world-wide web - of life, of experience, of feeling, of nature and Spirit and soil and bone and water and leaf, coyote, squirrel, hawk, raven and worm. Outside that window lies a frozen lake of tears, hiding a world's-age of memories inside the stone-cold casing that allows us to walk like that mythological ghost-man from Nazareth. Outside that window is everything we've ever wanted, everything we've ever feared and needed and destroyed.

But we play with that destruction, those fears, those wants and desires in our virtual worlds, echoes of what was once real to us as our bodies cry out for justice as we force them to live at the portal of the virtual. We carpally paralyze as our hands are made more for chopping wood, skinning rabbits, soothing babies and welcoming friends than diving into the shallow bay of repetitive motion, sending ones and zeroes into the constant scream of consciousness that may be merely beckoning us to do that act of modern resistance - to go outside and play.

My body finds in it a simple, but tenacious growth, a widening of the midsection that brings some of our deepest adolescent and uninitiated fears to bear in the pages of women's magazines and men's magazines and health magazines and late night infomercials, "as advertised on TV", our banner ads poking and prodding our waistlines and our now wasted minds left dormant because we forgot to keep them both engaged as we wallowed at the portal of the digitally unreal...or at the altar of televisual god, a nasty, vengeful, ubiquitous god. So we attack the midsection, battle the gut with wheels and electrocution belts and lipid-burning pills and life-system bypassing choke chains, melting creams, salves and solutions that send incendiary messages to the part of the body that is more the effect than the cause.

And at the altars of modernity, we lie in abject torpidity, tired-blood offerings to our own social pathological demons, beleaguered by what we think life is, or worse, what it was, raising inaction, inactivity, inactivism to new and lofty heights of deism that have never been seen before and would have been the very scourge of any sane and conscious society. But we wallow on, de-activating the brain in ever-quickening spirals downward, downward, downward because we can't actually fly, more so because we've forgotten our kinship to the crow than that our wingspan is insufficient to be carried into ecstasy on the breath of our Ancestors.

We watch our children, the innocents, the tender, beautiful ones, kill us. They break our hearts. We damn them for not knowing. We scorn them for not seeing. We malign them for not becoming. We report them for failing, for shooting each other with impunity and we impune them when they use the very tools we created for the purposes we made them. We scream at them, even in the silence of our neglect, to do as we say, not as we just did to them. We lock them up in prisons because they disappointed our expectations. We lock them up in schools because we've forgotten to trust, forgotten to divine that they already know what they need to remember. We lock them up in our faulty, dusty, moldy, rank and file expectations because we fear we will lose the life of that child within us, but who dies from that self-same prison imposed upon it by all of the children who drive cars and dig mines and build bridges and run stock markets and who brutalize motherhood who never grew up in the first place.

I see a vast wasteland of the bodies of what we would call, what we could call, what we should call women and men, mere and rotting echoes of the spirit within. They are the walking dead in the night of the living, crawling out of the shadows for their forfeited life-blood pacts with the Creator, slavering after the elixir of life at the jugular well. Our telescreens dance with images of the zombied and and the vampirical, the ones who can't live without the others, the last living things on earth, running from the light, from their own death, from that which will pass them into physical oblivion even though that is the only way life can continue. The sapling grows out of the cool humus born of old bark and branch. What kind of hell is it in which the tree of life eats its young?

True pathology is not born, it is made, even if it shows up in the twisted body-mind of a newborn terminator-seed baby. Atrazine cocktails, the insanity of pharmaceutical aquatic concoction, poison-water amalgams of experiments gone bad, but cheered in great pomp and circumstance like the naked emperor in his new clothes. What kind of twisted kool-aid have we conjured for the kids? Living lives of disconnected, not asked, not told fantasies of something long gone, but waiting in our hearts' shadows, beckoning the vampire to walk through its twilight and back into the substance of a new day. The crime of the centuries has been committed and the smoking gun will always be responsible to the one that forged the trigger.

And we've integrated the virus into our very lives. We have committed them to the eternal Inquisition, to the mawkish embrace of the iron maiden, chained her to the boiling cauldron of our own demasculinized machinations into which we daily commend her spirit. If she floats we will kill her. And if she drowns she has killed herself. She asked for it. She is mine. She is mined for the liquid gold of her tears, her fossil-fuel blood spilling, killing her children. She is raped in her ability to give life and we will sell her tears in the twisted, dime store narrative of our own tragic buffoonery, drink from her cup that runneth over with her own endless capacity for acceptance and the making of peace. We have walked on her moon and left upon it the garbage of our mechanism, the spawn of the ma(n)trix. Her pill will be blue and she shall consume it verily, thusly and without fail, without hesitation, without protest, without consideration. This is the word of the lord. This is the world of the lords.

The penis was never a license to kill or to blind oneself to the gift in the hand that fed you or to destroy the essence of that which gave you life with that spiteful, sybaritic, saline solution of scientific human blasphemy.

Reconciliation is not the dizzny-fictional apparition of glowing castles, awakened walking-dead princesses or Powhatans and Pilgrims both marked as savages. How dare we act like this is so! Reconciliation is not the psychic-trauma-insult to colonial injury of some so-called truth panel pseudo-Khosa-celebre that leaves the crime yet unpunished, wounds bleeding out into continued township bloodshed and the sustenance of gated cities within nations of disenfranchised warriors who thirst for water, arable land and sweet succulent quiet soothing healing living breathing justice. Reconciliation is not the feel-good process that requires us to close our eyes to reality or to the corporeal nature of our own regret, frustration and grief. Reconciliation is not shallow forgiveness. Reconciliation is not giving up...or laying down...or giving ground...or giving in.

Reconciliation makes things real. It requires us to realize with real eyes what is, what was and what must be. We must be able to reconcile the dysfunction of a society that places great importance on the sustenance of virtual realities and in those same instances is destroying the balance of the natural systems upon which all terrestrial life depends, forsaking the real for the virtual, the actualized for the fictionalized, the Creation for the manufactured, the body for the robot, the ghost for the machine, the baby for the bathwater.

Reconciliation unifies experience. We must be able to unify our concerns for our own looks, our waistlines, our health, our lives and that our lifestyles are creating our wasteful styles and broadening waists. Our bodies are not the criminals, but we have criminalized, to some extent, the clarity that brings us to bravery that brings us to enacting the kind of change in what we eat and how we eat and how we move and why we move so that the beautiful ways we look and feel and are and become are born of the beautiful ways we treat each other and grow and cook and nurture food and nurture and grow life within our homes and villages, communes and communities.

Reconciliation requires the bravery and courage inherent in the execution of human responsibility. Reconciliation requires us to love the children more powerfully, most powerfully, who take up our arms and kill each other, whether in the villages of Uganda and the Congo, the inert-cities of Boston, Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles or the quaint, peaceful, idyllic and idealized communities of New Hampshire and Colorado. The children, the truant students, the inattentive fifth-graders, the violent gang members, the pubescent mass-murderers, the disrespectful teens, the ignorant mall-rat vermin consuming our high-fructose commercialism are not the problem, but the symptom of our own inability to reconcile the history of the modern manufacture of commodified youth, the recipients of every neuroses and disease, social or otherwise, that we adults could blindly and sometimes not so blindly create for them. Reconciliation calls us to look our children in the face, beaten and bloodied by and with our own hands and weapons, and see ourselves.

Reconciliation is redemption. Reconciliation is the ability to put our own mistaken identities of childhood and adulthood into the solitary confinement of historical memory and to forge into a new relation with the child within and the child without. Why is it that modern culture refuses to consciously and compassionately initiate its youth into adulthood, that we leave them with cinematic visions of the back seats of '57 Chevies and six-packs of beer and HIV-free and nubile blanched bodies as opposed to concretized stories of bodies-become-battlefields and nations-become-decivilized-warzones and futures-become-forsaken-dreams of drunken fathers and mothers pimped-out for their thoughtless, thankless ability to love? Why do we not teach them to envision a world boldly beyond the confines of our own spiritual disability? Why do we not prepare them fully and courageously for the world that we have actually created, but for the one we still fantasize about, but don't tell them because we were too busy dropping them off at soccer, dance class or into the hands of the cult of surreality tv. We don't have time. We are busy. We create a vacuum of parenting, mentorship and elder guidance and direction and we will allow our children to be sucked into that vacuum, to fill it with their grief turned depression turned anger turned self-destruction turned destruction. Reconciliation requires that we stop "teaching" and start listening because we've learned to trust that children come into the world with things we need and we won't figure that out from the results of a bastardizing, standardizing test. A gift is a unique expression of the understanding of one life form to, for and on behalf of another life form. Children are a gift for us. Our communally responsible adulthood, our Eldership, is a gift we have kept from giving to our children as they require. We are the shit of the next generation and we can continue to be a toxic-body-waste or turn ourselves gently over in the cultural compost heap of history and allow the hope of future generations to be fertilized by the gift of our death and the gift of what then will have been a life of love and purpose, responsible to time and space, to the sublime, to grace.

Reconciliation is a river bed through which men will make fertile the sacred forest of their own desacration by the volume of their new-found tears. Reconciliation requires us to look deeply into the mythology, real and imagined, of masculinity, of the maleness, of men, of what they think and what they do. It requires of men that we be singularly and communally able and willing to hold our psychic phallo-weapon in one hand and embrace the body and soul of those victimized of rape in the other. Reconciliation requires us to see, in our mind's eye and in the flowering of our cultural expressions, at the same and simultaneous moment of plausible and achievable absolution our birth mother and our earth mother - that our birth mother is our earth mother and that our earth mother is our birth mother.

Reconciliation requires in all of us that we see the unity in our actions and inaction, in our thoughts and in our behaviors, in our statements and in our production, in what we say we intend and in what we see clearly that we have caused to come into being. Reconciliation requires us to make peace, but not simply take the privilege of power and tell the disempowered that they have access to power, but still make it ultimately and tragically impossible to live peacefully on the land or in a house or with people who love and understand them or drink clean water or grow and eat food that actually is alive and sustains life without selling your body and soul to a machine that does not know your name, but can map your DNA as if we were toys for genetic-rape, tools for patriarchy's prostitution of everything sacred and repositories for drugs so vile that we rob our children of their spirits, their childhood, the food from their lips so we could stay high for one more day.

Reconciliation calls us to write history books that tell the truth of the world that exists in reality outside of the pages.

Reconciliation demands that we tell and disseminate stories that have everything to do with not only the world that truly is, but also the world that we know must and can truly be.

Reconciliation brings us home to the realization that we can not espouse one idea and act in such a way that devalues and unravels, confuses and distorts that idea with dissonant behavior.

Reconciliation is the act of seeing something that needs to change and grow and heal and then creating and manifesting and sustaining that change, that growth, that healing.

Reconciliation behooves us to be honest with each other in ways that our modern, anti-cultural story says is dangerous, damaging and damn-near impossible.

Reconciliation means we may actually have to talk about religion, about religions and their place in our past, present and future and if they should have and hold that same place in our present and future.

Reconciliation will be the perfunctory destruction and dismemberment not only of the ideas and ideology of sexism, racism, classism, ageism and homophobia, but also the structural, social, political systems that validate, maintain and sustain these social diseases.

Reconciliation does not exclude the possibility that we must destroy something that we wish to not even fleetingly gaze upon for the deep, corporeal and earth-shattering emotions it engenders within us.

Reconciliation does not exclude the eventuality that the enslaved might have to set fire to the house of the enslavers.

Reconciliation does not eliminate the necessity for us to come out on the other side of the process slightly or wholly and fundamentally changed for all time.

Reconciliation will bring us to the realization that we ultimately and finally need each other - for everything.

Reconciliation is fucking hard.

Reconciliation must be understood, felt, touched, created, nurtured, created, remembered, enacted, made real, made now, made eternal.

Reconciliation is one of the qualities, one of the energetics, one of the sacred facets of the Spirit of water, Kuon, in the cosmology of the Dagara people of Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Ghana.

And so it is that reconciliation is yet another water story. The spirit of reconciliation is in the water. The hope of reconciliation, of peace, of unity, of clarity, the healing nature and spirit of who we are as humans becoming human as Spirit embodied - is in the spirit of water.

In the Spirit of Water...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Patterns of Privilege

The goal of this work is to address some of the challenges of privilege, inspired by the difficulty with which many people engage and make difficult the eradication of racist, sexist and heterosexist privilege and oppression. The dynamics presented below affect people deeply every day and affect also, deeply, on many levels, the lives of indigenous people.


Patterns of oppression reveal people of privilege who feel comfortable and called to raise issues about that oppression, 'play' with the concepts of that oppression and then retreat back into the dynamics of their privilege, no matter what the effects on people who have been adversely affected by their momentary playfulness. Their privilege is the ultimate hiding place and ultimate insult to those they purport to educate or support with their conceptual rantings.

There is a co-opting of terms, of language, of the loci, the geography of transgression, even the bodies of the oppressed. The privileged lifestyle, the repeated destination of retreat, is marked by seemingly universal access to cultural production, means of production, increased levels of affluence, means of communication, communal, regional and global, increased access to electronic and digital/mechanical technologies, education, no matter how narrow, and, most dangerously so, to the very populations, especially their children, that have been at the more difficult, knife-like edge of that oppression.

Too many times do well-meaning and not-so-well informed and empathetically empowered people attempt to raise issues of race, gender and/or sexual orientation from places of privilege and power without understanding the human cost of oppression, particularly to the oppressed nor their own part in sustaining and validating that oppression. It is one thing for people who share that social privilege and power to work out their necessary process amongst themselves, which has often been a suggestion of many marginalized populations. It is another thing for people of privilege and social power to project themselves into the culture of people who have been negatively affected by that privileged oppression without a clear idea of how their participation becomes a double-negative for the oppressed.

There are two elements that can help us to understand the complex nature of these relationships that obscure awareness of the simple, but often difficult ways of decreasing or extinguishing the presence and effects of privilege, if that is even the goal.

1) Discourse on privilege

Ignorant and insensitive discourse is a common way that people of privilege mistake their presence and possible eloquence for functionality. Having heard the stingy annual sound bytes of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech (or even having read a book about him, even if written by an African person) does not qualify one to innately and sensitively understand the conditions of the people for whom King was working nor the people who now still hope to reap the benefits of those who tirelessly continue to work on his behalf. "like"-ing King on facebook does not mean one can hold up their end of a conversation about race or class in the midst of people who have lived at the 'wrong' end of racism all of their lives. Even African, Native Americans or Latinas that live in large homes and/or "good neighborhoods" have most likely struggled, sometimes unconsciously, against the disempowering effects of racism and class expectations due to racial confusion.

People of privilege sometimes rightly wish to break down the structures and systemic behaviors and language. The way this comes across often displays an ignorance of the terms of oppression and a substantive lack of knowledge and will around what the dismantling of privilege actually means. Additionally, the oppressed have long asserted that those attempts are feeble, even when eloquent, and are not about a substantive restructuring in the first place. There is often leveled a charge that the privileged class will never give up, or better, share the instruments of power, access and control in a truly democratic and compassionate way, no matter how christian or spiritual-but-not-religious they claim to be.

This element of discourse on privilege is key as it often directs the actions and policies that people in power or who take power (as many oppressed people do and will always continue to do) exercise and enact day to day. The fundamental confusion of "reverse racism" and around "diversity" is an example of this. Again, talking about diversity does not create diversity unless the structures and systems of privilege are loosened, democratized or destroyed.

On another level, how people talk about race, gender and other issues is important for being able to engage people on multiples sides of the issues toward substantive change. Jokes about these serious issues are often unwelcome across the barriers of privilege and access and can continue to be harshly polarizing particularly when intended humor is not expected, appropriate, welcome or well executed. Creating effective context is necessary not only in the social relationship, but also to frame the statement as effectively delivered humor. Anything less is insult to injury or patent reinjury.

This reinjury is possible when ignorant, ill prepared and unempathetic people of privilege engage in serious debate with people from oppressed and marginalized groupings. First of all, there is a great likelihood that most people of privilege assume that everyone at the discussion table has gotten there under equal terms simply because everyone is present physically. They may forget or be blind to the closeness of oppressive energies to those locales. A woman may have just been eyed invasively, disrespectfully by men in the surrounding office. A transgendered person may have just come from the bathroom after cleaning the spittle from a born-again christian off their coat. An African woman may have just been stopped at the front door by a security guard assuming stereotypically that she was a member of the custodial staff. Obviously, much more pernicious events may occur in the lives of disempowered people, but the aforementioned are enough to raise the price of attendance for some and not for others.

While meeting at the table of social discourse, people of privilege often assume that their stories show up with equal energetic import as those that come from oppressed people. Their own privileged reactionism often send them running emotionally to conceptual safe havens, to talk of diversity without acknowledgement of their complicity with ethnocentrism and systems of exclusivity, to talk of gay rights without challenging their own fears, prejudices and participation in biased media portrayals in the simple, but profound act of supporting advertisers who sponsor anti-LGBT program narratives, to grand pronouncements that the discourse should or can not included emotions of anger or that the discussion is merely, but blessedly exploratory and non-binding on official structures. People of privilege often say good things and do no good things to challenge the systems and behaviors of their own privilege and power.

There is truth in the tome that the path to hell is paved with good intentions. And that path is paved also with bad intentions and poor execution of intentions. Africa is replete, if not complete(ly overrun) with predominantly European christian missionaries who televise images of impoverished and dying African children, having traveled there from some amorphous and abysmally high "ethical" road, without even a nod to humbly and correctly dismantling the colonial systems that created that abject poverty and third worldism upon which those hellevangelists now feed. Less continentally, roman catholic schools make bold assumptions that education and salvation can come successfully bundled along with white jesus, racist textbooks and a faculty that may not look anything like the student, internally or externally.

Likewise, discussions of abortion, sexual harassment, rape or feminism/women's empowerment in general easily become reactionary, retorted to with misplaced and injurious jokes, social references and out and out ignorance to the quantitative and qualitative effects of sexism and patriarchy's intimate proximity, frequency and ubiquity. When one realizes at a particular point in his life that all the women he knows have been sexually assaulted in one or more ways, shapes and forms, it should not be assumed that that might be an isolated occurrence. This kind of awareness illuminates another facet of discourse, getting out of the way and listening.

Privileged people live in a society where their stories, message and philosophies and ways of processing information are dominant. Televisual and cinematic entertainment features far more stories of people of economic means by percentage than those people actually exist in society when compared to oppressed, poor or marginalized groups. This dynamic may, in fact, be a good partial definition of what it means to be marginalized or on the other side of the barrier of privilege. This access to and control of popular culture bleeds over into the societal culture in a way that leaves discourse on privilege largely unfulfilling and unfulfilled. Stories of or by people in poverty, grounded narratives of or by women and their socio-political challenges and of or by the LGBT community are more difficult to interject into and hold in the mainstream as space is not frequently made for these stories, partly due to persistently negative economic consideration and when they do, they are often filtered through the minds and sensibilities of people in privileged positions, gatekeepers, rendering those narratives co-opted and off the mark.

Likewise, even personal and group conversations can be hijacked by the larger mediated conceptual forces and by overvaluation of even particular communication modalities (why African parents have often disciplined their children to "speak right" when in the non-African community...would Obama have been groomed as such and elected if he had spoken just as eloquently in "ebonics"?). Privilege empowers the privileged to speak and speak often, again with the dust of the elusive ethical high road all about their wingtips. Privileged people feel very confident, if not called, to set the tone, define the agendas and guide conversation. In deed, they most likely own the building (or city) the meetings are held in or run the organizations sponsoring the gathering.

People who have experienced trauma, disrespect, oppression or systemic disenfranchisement are often keenly aware of where they are, sensing quickly whose house they are in or where their feet are. Body language, vocal tone and the temperature of the inner environment often communicate powerfully and quickly who is in charge. There can be a simple, but complexly executed solution to this discursive power disparity. Privileged people must be able and willing to listen, to get out of the way, to forego their fantasies of social eloquence and functionality to allow for the voices, narratives, ethics and actions of the oppressed to come forward, if indeed that is the goal.

Privileged people often take umbrage to that suggestion, overestimating their global self-worth and undervaluing the globally liberating power of something that they clearly do not know enough about, but could if they only took the time and space to truly build empathetic skill in this area. A particular online discourse revealed a man of European descent and a certain level of access to productive economic industries, to be markedly discomforted at the suggestion that much could be gleaned, learned and advanced from his simply being quiet, being in a place of receptivity, merely allowing someone else to have a turn to speak so that a new, unfamiliar voice, to him, could be heard. His reaction was not surprising and was sadly familiar. He was in a place of discomfort and related it to censorship, however distantly. If he had been willing to entertain more than the thought of that suggestion, and he wasn't, he might have entered into a powerfully cathartic experience moving through that discomfort that is just the barest breeze compared to the constant buffeting hurricane winds of oppression and multiform violence, to enter a rite of passage through his own self-maintained portal of privilege that may have opened not only his ears, his eyes, but also his heart.

The narrative of oppression and the narrative of privilege and power are particular stories in the larger narrative of humanity creating its next great fruition. The imbalance of privilege and power exerted by well-intended people is a tremendous block to the process of not only substantive enlightenment, but to the practical manifestation of liberating ideas and behaviors that will ultimately bring peace, respect and real empowerment to those that some of the people of privilege are perceived to care about so very deeply.

2) Emotional blockages

The second element that reveals the challenges of privilege yearning for change comes in the area of human emotions. When people of privilege get challenged to face and hopefully transform their imbalance of privilege, invariably emotions are raised, ranging from anger to anxiety to fear to sadness and embarrassment. They can also feel pressured, pushed, squelched, dejected, isolated and hurt. These emotions and feelings and often contextually new sensations are important to face, move through and strive for clarity and deeper empathy with. What many, if not most, privileged people fail to realize is that they are simply beginning to tap into the range of emotions created first and foremost by the systems, structures and behaviors that they have recreated and continue to sustain. Privilege, born of racism, sexism and heterosexism, is a wholly dysfunctional and devolutionary energetic way of being that is destructive to all humanity.

Secondarily, and importantly, the responses and emotions of the oppressed are subjugated, reviled and repressed by people who were trained to think that their reality is fundamental and primary, a fallacious premise at best. As stated earlier, privileged people usually subordinate the narratives and actions of the oppressed. Additionally, privileged people are resistant to learning, understanding and deeply taking into their consciousness that they are just beginning to see and sense the tip of the iceberg or, better, volcano of emotions and feelings that oppressed people have lived with all their lives, missing and misunderstanding yet again, their emotional relationship with the oppressed and constantly presuming the level to which they expect the oppressed to be required to care for them in those instances.

The oppressed are not required and should not have to be required to attend to the burgeoning emotions and stories that are bound to, duty bound to come from the minds and hearts of people of privilege. Neither should marginalized people be constantly required to tell their stories of violence and oppression, reentering that emotional nexus, simply to help privileged people get to their next level. Again, being open to that message, patiently and compassionately, can help reveal those stories in the best interest of the oppressed (which privileged people must learn to realize, and this is fundamentally important, is in the best interest of everyone).

There are many, many marginalized people who respond with abject anger and disdain at the suggestion that privileged people are having "some feelings" about learning about oppression, their complicity in it or the feelings of the oppressed toward them. This is bound to happen. Why should they be required in any moment to care for an attacker who seems penitent, but still holds the weapon in their hand? History reveals this to be an old and tiring story.

Also, there are many recipients of oppression that feel called and make the choice to hold space, to witness the transformation of privilege to a deeper humanity. This cannot be required of any person or it will turn into yet another privileged power play. Additionally, powerfully, there are those that will actively engage and support people of privilege in their necessary process of transformation, renewing, redeeming their relationship to humanity and themselves as a whole. These, generally fewer, people have made a choice not only to move forward on the decidedly difficult path of privileged people, but also to own and hold their own stories and integrity as they do so. The privileged must understand this, that these people have chosen, powerfully, to do this double-duty and, to some degree, take on the slings and arrows of a dysfunctional segment of society that most likely became dysfunctional while slinging arrows at them. Their openness and willingness and human ability to assist in this process may be limited and often requires them to advance into the larger world of growing consciousness where they necessarily might need to reengage their own process, yet again, but with people who truly understand them and can support them to the fullest possible extent.

So, in retrospect, oppressed people may have, at least, these three responses to the awakening consciousness of privileged people coming into a more deep and full humanity: 1) anger, revulsion and disdain ("I don't give a damn what they feel. They're on their own."), 2) a passive witnessing or space-holding presence ("I hear you, but I don't want to get into with you. Now what movie are we going to see?"), 3) open, active support and engagement ("What can I do to help? Let's do this the right way."). All of these are possibilities, options and choices for oppressed people and any one person or group may go through this range of responses at or through any given time. It may be completely safe, wise and productive for people in conditions of social and economic privilege to assume that their path to a deepening humanity and more compassionate human relations will not include the direct help of oppressed and marginalized people.

Heterosexuals should be about the business of first finding other heterosexuals who are expanding their awarenesses. They should be willing to search farther and longer and wider for those educational resources, books, videos, documentaries, podcasts, speeches and lectures that will bring them new clarity in their search for new meaning and new sensitivity to others' and their own sexual orientation. They may not be invited into the LGBT inner sanctum, if you will, and if they are, they should be grateful and realize that their lives and the way they live them must necessarily change.

Men should be about the business of finding other men who are expanding their awarenesses and have some substantive facility with the real, grounded issues at hand with regard to sexism, feminism, patriarchy, chauvinism and misogyny. They must be willing to avail themselves of the great body of academic, anecdotal and historical work on these issues, giving way to the easy attachment to the gender status quo, an illusory safety that affords real power to no one since it subverts real power from so many. Men may not be invited into the inner sanctum of general or specific womyn-space, but they should be grateful, humble if they are and appreciate the opportunity to come into a deeper manifestation of their wholeness.

Europeans, caucasians, Whites must be about the business of finding others who are expanding their awarenesses around issues of race, culture, class and privilege. There are growing numbers of organizations dedicated to exploring the real, historical, political, spiritual and emotional dynamics of being and projecting whiteness in the world. There are numerous Europeans who are doing the necessary work to deepen their concepts of themselves and their identities in the interest of being equal players on the stage of human development. Privileged whites, Europeans must be willing to hear hard stories, difficult narratives and be willing to move with and through their own possible guilt and hurt in a new way, beyond disrespect and reinjury of the oppressed and/or people of color toward a new socio-political maturity that includes a necessary gutting and restructuring of particularly entrenched systems and practices that have previously afforded them great, but impermanent benefits and fortunes. History books must be rewritten, history not revised, but truth finally and powerfully told without the insecure, immature filters of the quasi-mindset of privilege and imbalanced concepts and systems of power. Europeans, Whites, caucasoids may not have doors freely flung open for them into the inner sanctum of the rich and varied cultures of those we call people of color, even if they are Harvard anthropologists with more Ph.D.s then common sense. But Europeans should be highly grateful when those doors are opened, no matter how narrowly or briefly, as it affords them a rare look into the greater totality of the human experience and allows them an opportunity to step more fully into their own humanity, previously seriously squelched and limited by the false sense of superiority and a thousand other pathologies that racism foments. These particular people of privilege must ready themselves for fundamental change they've never seen the likes of, actively, constantly formulating and manifesting with or without them like the fires mysteriously broken out in the kitchens of the plantations of chattel slavers. This change will require massive, difficult, but refreshingly liberating restructuring of social, political and economic systems and behaviors and relationships that have become horribly entrenched through centuries of human folly and particularized myopia.

People of privilege have a lot of hard work to do and deeply. The necessary nexus of most of that struggle may be in their own circles. It is after that time and work that currently separate circles of human culture can truly combine, conjoin and unify. Their expectations must change. Their behaviors must transform. Their willingness to accept and validate the experiences of those on the other side of their privileged barriers must develop into a deep, vital part of the total necessary process of the destruction of their patterns of privilege toward the creation of a new social paradigm of unity, harmony and true respect and freedom.


Frances Cress Welsing and others on White Supremacy

The following 3 videos are of Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary on Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome:

(The above videos are parts 2, 3 and 4 of 19 videos. I skipped part 1 as it was mostly the introduction of Dr. Leary. Please consume all of these videos)

Chris Hedges: African-Americans and The Failure of The White Liberal Class:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"working very hard on a pretty little song of love"

This line and these lyrics are from a song on Hugh Masekela's "Black to the Future" cd/release. Though the lyrics are beautiful and intention and clearly positive in nature, I am most engaged by that line, "working very hard". I feel that phrase very deeply as I attempt to look out of the confines of a limiting and myopic dominant cultural context through filters of confusion, illusion and delusion to a future now of enlightened human community engaged in its own process of spiritual, emotional and socio-politcal validation as empowered beings on an earth spoilt by a temporary, but fundamental break from sanity. I can relate to the writer's suggestion that these beautiful, necessary and essential projections are difficult, that there is hard work involved in the process, not only of the song, but the living out of that content and context of love and harmony

One might even suggest that these lyrics represent a "pie in the sky" attitude, an air of ungrounded liberalism and a negative connection to "idealism' (I love/hate how capitalist corporatocracy jerks its knee to the very idea of ideals!). If we are to look even a breath beyond the re-grounding of indigenous social and spiritual strength on the earth, the inevitable destruction of rampant patriarchy, sexism, heterosexism, racism, classism and machine-culture (and the inevitable failure of the "inevitability of 'the singularity'"), we would be able to see the harmony, peace and love that this song projects and that each of us has the ability to envision even from within some of our most limiting and limited perspectives. Even the seemingly insane assertions of the recent failed rapture predictions seem to be born of a deep desire to be in a state of harmony, peace and love with the god and saved-ones of their narrow-minded choosings.

How that played or plays out is not so important in this moment as this one phrase that speaks to me, speaks to us of sweat, of toil and frustration, even in the midst of the sonic and reverberant beauty of the song as moves through the air and into my water-based being. It is very telling that even this song is difficult, that coming up with one that the "whole wide world" could sing is a difficult proposition.

It's important to remember the context of the creation of this song. Hugh Masekela is the son of indigenous traditions in a nation, not so different from the United States of America in its intentions and historical similiitudes. Hugh Masekela gave and gives voice to a people grounded historically and spiritually and ancestrally in a place upon which a new and destructive paradigm was violently placed, subverting the sovereignty and cultural power of indigenous peoples in a tremendously wide swath of geographic space on a continent upon which this sort of tragedy was not unfamiliar. Hugh Masekela has given voice to a struggle in a place where even the indigenous name of Azania has become unfamiliar and foreign. So we can be clear, even though Hugh Masekela may not be a Zephania Motopeng or Mangaliso Sobukwe or Stephen Biko, that Masekela is aware of the grounded reality of the dire conditions into which his/our people have been thrust by the machinations of settler-colonialism and capitalism on a continent that Kwame Ture had always asserted would have developed beyond the cultural limitations of the capitalist context due to the near universal and deep cultural engagement of communalism and conscious interdependence.

That Masekela's lyrical songwriter is working "very hard" is understandable and behooves us to consider the hard road ahead as we look into a future in which we can joyfully and fatiguedly say good-bye to discrimination, prejudice, known well, all too well, in the Azanian context. When an Azanian says its hard to write a song of love that the whole wide world to sing - believe them. It also brings to the fore a need to respect that forward and positive vision of something beyond the destructive nature of the present ideological and structural regimes that dominate our unconscious and consciousness and clearly make it difficult to even see over those seemingly distant horizons.

There are trees that we are intimately in relationship with that obfuscate our enraptured view of the sacred forest of our human becoming. And that tree, the same tree that breathes out the very oxygen that we (need to) breathe in, is not in and of itself our enemy. It is our temporocentrism and geocentrism that prevents us from seeing beyond, through and in spite of the necessity to live amongst those ideas, beings and people that often seem to be our immediate, persistent and selfishly-defined vexations.

"I’m working very hard on a pretty little song of love

for everybody to sing

a song of love (for everybody)

for the whole wide world to sing

about love and happiness, peace and harmony...

for the children of tomorrow, the fishes in the sea

the birdies in the sky, for the creatures in the forest and the jungle...

good-bye discrimination...let the world be ruled by love and happiness

good-bye prejudice...good-bye"

It is no small thing that an Azanian is "working very hard" to create and sing that universal human song and it is informative that it is coming yet out of the struggle for liberation of an indigenous people.

And there was a universal song sung on the earth before this recent and temporary derailing of the indigenous world. There was a song sung in all of the forests, across all the plains, from each and every mountaintop, across each lake and river and ocean. There were constant, persistent and abiding songs of love and respect sung about the earthly and the spiritual reality of life and the concomitant challenges that that reality daily revealed. There was an indigenous human song that resounded clearly, mirroring the heart beat, the pulse of the Great Mother earth, having been borne of it, in it and in harmony and resonance with it. There is still a song of indigeny that lies within all of us. We are borne of it, in spite of the disrespect of it and with all wondrous and idealist hope and possibility that we can again be in harmony and resonance with it. There is yet a song of love, of peace and harmony that the whole wide world can sing precisely and simply because there was and remains a dwindling connection to a multiplicity of songs of love, peace and harmony that the whole world sang for the children of our Ancestors' tomorrows, for the fishes of the sea, the birds in the sky, the creatures of the forests and the jungles.

We ARE the children of our Ancestors' tomorrows.

When we (re)learn these, our songs of love and harmony once again, we will realize that our children will learn them quite quickly, so much so that we will come to the easy assumption that they already knew them somewhere in their bones, in their DNA. And as we sit with them, beaming with pride at the hope, power and wisdom in their voices, we will come to the understanding that the human Ancestral song in their bones, in their DNA, had to come through us. We will then truly know that we simply forgot to remember the songs still alive in our indigenous human soul, that we are carriers yet and still of those songs of harmony and peace and that they were, are and will remain songs of love.

May we receive sacred assistance from all directions to work very, very hard, again, on these songs, better still, the song of love that the whole wide world can sing.

(posted also as such at and on facebook)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Code Name "Geronimo": USAmerican Insult to Indigenous Injury

The recent killing of Usama (what happened to O-sama?!) bin Laden has raised many emotions and concerns around war, death, patriotism and faux-spirituality. As the media slowly reveal the many layers of cultural pathology, one particularly painful and troublesome issue came into the light of justifiable scrutiny. ABC news recently reported that the military operation that was launched to find and kill bin Laden was named after a prominent and important Native American, Geronimo, raising other, more grounded levels of critique, resistance and emotions around the continuing disrespect of Native American culture, history and tradition.

I took the opportunity to share this online report on my facebook page:

Some may think it a small thing, but it pisses me off, too. Why not codename McVeigh or Bernard Law or Washington, some real criminals?

From "The Note: Washington's Original and Most Influential Tipsheet"

Codename: 'Geronimo' for Osama Bin Laden Mission Angers Some Native Americans

"As the country rejoices over the killing of Osama Bin Laden, many Native Americans have different reactions: shock, dismay, hurt.

That’s because the Navy SEALs used “Geronimo” as the codename for mission to capture or kill Bin Laden.

“It’s another attempt to label Native Americans as terrorists,” said Paula Antoine from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota."

Educator and friend (facebook and otherwise) Melissa Kagle responded, "Indian country is pissed" and shared the following information:

"Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs, on Behalf of the Haudenosaunee: This is a sad commentary on the attitude of leaders of the U.S. military forces that continue to personify the original peoples of North America as enemies and savages. The use of the name Geronimo as a code name for Osama Bin Laden is reprehensible. Think of the outcry if they had used any other ethnic group’s hero. Geronimo bravely and heroically defended his homeland and his people, eventually surrendering and living out the rest of his days peacefully, if in captivity, passing away at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 1909. To compare him to Osama Bin Laden is illogical and insulting. The name Geronimo is arguably the most recognized Native American name in the world, and this comparison only serves to perpetuate negative stereotypes about our peoples. The U.S. military leadership should have known better. It all brings to mind the August 13, 2010 statement by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg advising then Governor Paterson to “get yourself a cowboy hat and a shotgun” to deal with Indian affairs. This kind of thinking indicates little progress in a mature social development of United States leadership."


Please check the above link for more salient indigenous perspectives.

We have good reason to be pissed.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Energetic Rectification

The concept of energetic rectification speaks to the necessity for humanity to not only reopen their intimate relationships with nature and spirit, but to reconcile past indiscretions with respect to that traditional relationship, making energetic amends to Spirit, to nature and the earth herself. This is required not only because it is the right thing to do, but in that it is also that which will heal our indigenous soul and rededicate us individually and communally to living as though we are a part of nature, not simply a dominating and parasitic animal in the beautiful, delicate web of life.

Throughout our modern exploitation of nature and the earth, we have taken, stolen much energy from nature, from Spirit, from our animal relations (consider the numerous decades of mechanized livestock farming). Energetic rectification is the process of returning that energy based on the concept of reciprocity to make good our relationship with All That Is. This is a scientific concept as much as it is spiritual, ethical and social (for one or more of us to engage in energetic rectification benefits the larger society as benefactors of the empowered energetic balance of nature upon which we all depend). Energetic rectification can be created through ritual, through offerings, prayer, song, dance and other forms of intentional engagement within the naturo-spiritual context. Much of the work that the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers do can be categorized as energetic rectification as they are spreading knowledge and techniques that help all of us rekindle right relationships with Spirit and/in nature.

We must be willing to learn about people such as the 13 grandmothers ans so many other indigenous people, so many other people practicing indigenous traditions and technologies, what they do and how and why, what the effects of their intimate relationship with nature, informed intimacy, brings about so positively in the world and in their communities and hearts.

There are many stories alive in indigeny that educate, inspire and motivate us toward energetic rectification. This is one of them:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Singularity ≠ Unity

So-called "artificial intelligence" has been around in the popular consciousness for some time now. Without a need for deep clarity, this and many concepts float about in the information glut that we call modern mass media, particularly with respect to the information super-sidewalk (so named by me more so for how we use it rather than what it is). "AI", like these other ideas and physical/social processes often represent corporate/industrial initiatives that become part of the social lexicon without proper social and communal critique to discern with deliberation if we actually want to move forward with them as a major cultural element.

Singularity is one of these up and coming ideas that many say is inevitable. It deserves greater social engagement particularly with respect to indigeny and energetics as it challenges and devalues the bases of indigenous (and all other) relationships to the world and the cycles of energy that have kept humans alive and whole for eons. Modernity has revealed itself as an ideological and systemic challenge to indigeny in its insistence on supporting concepts of "better life through chemistry" as seen in post-"world war" II industrial society and machine-based processes and processing as being 'essential' to human life, inevitable and preferable to almost all previous ideas and processes. Consider the functionally symbolic metaphor of "artificial imitation processed cheese food" being called "American" cheese. In addition, ideas like singularity have the full support of the capitalist corporatocracy and the imperialist ideas and structures that keep it alive. Numerous indigenous perspectives have shown these larger ideas and structures along with the machine culture and the chemocracy to be ultimately flawed, fallacious and failing concepts with respect to humanity, nature, the earth and to grounded spiritual development.

In my cultural media literacy work, I have often "joked" about the possibility of whether my students will have to choose between having a USB or firewire port being installed into their newborn babies. I have done this to provoke thought and discussion and a deeper awareness of technological trends and the easy social acquiescence that seems to come along with these technological systems. We have a much more intimate relationship with our digital technologies, computers, internet-capable phones and game consoles than we have ever had and seem absolutely pie-eyed no matter what new gadget, communicative tool or digital panacea comes down the pipe.

During one of these conversations with my students, one of them informed us about a concept called singularity that he explained to be a technological ideology of that inevitable and even more fatally intimate relationship with human performance enhancing hardware and software physically incorporated into the bodies of humans. In a way, my hopefully provocative sarcasm in class was a low tech suggestion as people like Ray Kurzweil and Kevin Warwick assert that not only is it possible, but desired to place micro-chips and other computer-based, nano-technological, digital hardware into the brain and body, along with the assumed benefit of bionic prosthetics that would be even more accepted than cosmetic plastic surgery is now.

The presence and projection of singularity is disconcerting for a list of reasons that cut to the core of the rationale for engaging indigeny and energetics as a real and integral, dominant part of the human experience on earth. As a particularly clinical and corporatist endeavor, computer/digital technologies in their creation and use embody a system of thought that allows for manufacturing (I dare not say "creation") and marketing for the sake of manufacturing and marketing. This expression of modernity has an unclear air of technology, the machine, human hubris over nature in a way that has led to the domination, or better yet abuse of nature much to our own detriment. Even though the proponents of singularity project this inevitable trend deep into the future, it is an inherently short-sighted idea that assumes a built-in pathological inadequacy to the human being with no discernible discussion of spiritual concepts or ramifications.

Kevin Warwick, as interviewed by Socrates on September 26, 2010 for his website states the following:

“...I do see humans as being very, very limited in what we can do and the sooner we get into post-humanity and cyborgs and so on, the better, really...well I don’t know that I do want to save humanity (interviewer laughs). The sooner we get done with humanity and move on to something that’s a little bit better, so be it. And to me, the singularity is about moving on from humanity...getting humans living through the singularity as cyborgs...we come out of it as something a lot better, when we say bye-bye to humans unless there’s a few of them around that still want to live on islands and something and don’t cause any problems.”

It would seem immediately that Warwick has no sense...then clearly no sense of the energetic nature of the naturo-spiritual(-human) dynamic. The limitations he sees in humanity as a whole (if he even indeed sees humanity in a wholistic way!) are astounding even simply in the above quote...that tragic quote. What Warwick says is tragic for two key reasons. First, Mr. Warwick clearly has led such a narrowed, uninspired and disconnected life that he seems to have no faith in human nature, no faith in the resilience of humanity and no understanding of the depth of the naturo-spiritual dynamic within which humans, much like him, have been nestled warmly for millions of years (temporocentrism is a terminal ailment for Warwick). Second, it is also clear that Warwick is not a student of history (which can give rise to temporocentrism), at least not of the Zinn, Clarke or Deloria variety, and he has not learned any of the amazing stories that truly define the human indigenous experience.
[author's note: I clearly do not know Kevin Warwick personally and have never met him. I sincerely hope that he has never experienced the kind of personal or social/ancestral trauma that could cause him to feel so little hope for humanity, so little compassion for others and himself as to say what he has said above.]

What Warwick is suggesting, along with so many others supportive of the narrow-minded idea of singularity, is that the only way humanity can advance, that the only way we can experience progressive redemption is through an even more intimate relationship with computer-based, digital technologies. Keep in mind, Warwick and many others are suggesting that we we literally become the machine, so much so that we have them floating around in our bloodstream, our brain or that we have parts of us, million-dollar-mannishly, that are computer-based mechanical prosthetic technologies. While it is clear that these technologies are helpful to many of us who have terminal or chronic, serious diseases, physical conditions and disorders, it is not clear that these technologies are necessary to remediate the "problem of humanity". There is no basic and terminal, fatal flaw inherent in the human being nor the human becoming. No matter how deeply the christian ethic of original sin has become secularized in modern, industrial society, humans are no more flawed than the programmers and technicians who would be creating the hardware and software foundation of this singularitists', uber-geek fantasy. That said, what "flaws" do exist in humanity cannot be coded out of the process of manufacturing this virtually redemptive mistake.

It must be remembered that the idea of singularity comes out of the same capitalist, machine chemo-culture that created the pharmaceutical cartel that rushes poisons to market and refuses to test for the mixtures of its chemically explosive devices (read their warning descriptions recently?) and sits quietly by while reports come in attesting to the presence of said pharmaceuticals in the drinking water and reservoirs across Turtle Island - simply from the urinary tracts of the drugged. It comes out of the same non-indigenous socio-economic system that gave rise to a natural resource extraction and exploitation debacle that has brought humanity and many other species to the brink of extinction (if not over that boundary) and seriously thrown off the balance of many of the global and regional natural processes that keeps everything alive. It also comes out of the same system that gave rise to the computer glitch.

Said on the WBUR FM 90.9 webpage for their interview with Ray Kurzweil:
"Tiny computers in our brains, artificial intelligence, maybe even eternal life. It’s not science fiction, according to futurist Ray Kurzweil, it’s the future."

“They’ll go into our brains through the capillaries, interact with our biological neurons, put our brains on the Internet, give us vastly greater memory and problem-solving capability, keep us healthy from inside, augment our immune system,” Kurzweil said."
Ray Kurzweil is undoubtedly a technical genius, but his futuristic machinations leave a lot to be desired. His projections, though completely plausible on a materialistic level, are totally devoid of an embrace of the sacred, of an embrace of divinity in humanity and in nature. I wouldn't be surprised if he shared some of the basic philosophical tenets of judeo-christianity, but whether he does or not seems inconsequential in his quest to change the nature of the human energetic enough to filter its innate ability to sense and heal its own internal and external world through the sieve of nano-technology and microchips. It seems that Kurzweil has no inkling of the enormous capacity the human being has for self-regulation and self-healing (and communal healing!) when you simply take away the constant injurious nature of the modern socio-politico-pathological world. It seems Kurzweil does not know that the cancers and sicknesses and diseases that are plaguing even us entitled and privileged USAmerican patriots are created and, at least, exacerbated by the stresses and environmental disruptions and degradation of the last one to two hundred years of anti-life. The very social system that created these diseases also created the technologies and ideologies of the singularities. If Ray Kurzweil was possibly more interested truly in the redemption of humanity than his own notoriety, he might be more willing to support technological restraint along with a deepening spiritual and environmental engagement that would hasten and catalyze the creation of a liberating OLD world order, one that acknowledges the deep human connection to nature, the analog world, the world-wide-web of life incarnate as earth, water, blood and bone, branch and butterfly. It seems he would rather send alight a mechanical version of the variegated fritillary, complete with servo-controlled flight systems, than to be a humble part of sustaining a world in which butterflies, frogs, fish and osprey find vibrant support from the teeming abundance of a world ecosystem allowed to humbly balance itself without the deadly effects of excesses in mining, extraction, exploitation, contamination and infection that a computer-based modernity seems so completely empowered and emboldened to set in motion.

Singularity, as a social disease, can not be divorced from the capitalist concept of unlimited growth, yet another narrow-minded mistaken identification of the human as overlord of a simplistic, reductionist's nature. The modern misconception of a desacralized, violable judeo-christianized natural world is anathema to our indigenous lifeways, indigenous technologies that allowed for an abiding functional and practical respect for nature and other human beings so that all the interconnected systems of life could flow and grow freely, even with the high-tech levels of management that have recently come to life with regard to traditional Native American environmental stewardship (as referenced in Mann's "1491" and Outwater's "Water: A Natural History"). To date, I have heard nothing of Kurzweil's or Warwick's interest in any of these technologies, even though those indigenous agricultural/social/spiritual technologies have a much longer, better record of sustainability and for harmonious inter-relationship and integration with the humans that developed them. The resource exploitation and e-waste on the front and back end, respectively, of the medium-tech computer/virtual information industry should be evidence enough that singularity might not even have its one wobbly leg to stand on in proving to an awakening (or is it ensleepening into a virtual dream-world a la droid cinema and follywood movies streamed on wide-screen televisions?) techno-matrix-populace. Yes, the singularity is the blue pill.

And singularity is not unity. It is highly questionable whether the proliferation of cellular wireless "smart" phones, the internet and social networking websites has really helped humanity get beyond some of its deepest problems of alienation, disconnection and disharmony. Though we can access emails, images, videos, news, international and global events in split seconds, "connected" (now the modern mantra) to our loved ones, friends and family through persistent text messages, chats, tweets and rolling stati, more fundamental social and personal issues are just as persistent. Our reactionary fears of truly engaging the healing and sustenance of community, inabilities to invest fully and emotionally in friendly and romantic relationships and a deepening fracture between children, teenagers, adults and elders, more crippling and traumatic than the neat images of market niches would convey. Singularity is a terminal distraction away from that which holds the key to human social unity and spiritual harmony with sacred nature.

Jerry Mander, in "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television", asserts that it is the modern tendency to create artificial environments, ranging from office buildings to supermarkets to digital virtual realities, that is the danger of our losing our ways of knowing, our ways of organically sensing the world that not only has created us and our culture but, has been our teacher, our harmonious cosmological travel partner, our primary, if not only, home.

Mander says the following:
"Living within artificial, reconstructed, arbitrary environments that are strictly the products of human conception, we have no way to be sure that we know what is true and what is not. We have lost context and perspective. What we know is what other humans tell us." (pg.68)
Mander challenges us to recognize our natural environment as our primary locus of cognition, the primacy of the corporeal and esoteric world around us and within us as being a sort of epistemological ecosystem that is dependent upon all of its elements working in conjunction and in its natural balance, not filtered through the auspices of a mediated digital matrix. We are even behooved to consider singularity as an attempt to actually make us the medium itself. If we are to have computer-based nano-technologies inside of us or otherwise permanently conjoined to our physiology, we in essence and in function become a veritable medium of digital communication. We would cease to be humans (if Warwick had his way) and would become the media themselves, fused into the datastream (of course, a matter-of-fact factor of singularity) of bits and bytes, controlled by the whims of the servers' impulses and the programmers' caprice. The control/power deferential issues would be astronomical.

Neil Postman's "Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology" offers powerful insight to put the limiting concept of singularity into its correct perspective. Postman likens technopoly to to yet another controlling structure that allows for our continued persuasion and manipulation to the changing ideological requirements of an already oppressive socio-economic reality...or better, surreality. Postman supports Mander's projections of this kind of technological with relationship to the naturo-spiritual (-human) dynamic saying that:
"It subordinates the claims of our nature, our biology, our emotions, our spirituality. The computer claims sovereignty over the whole range of human experience, and supports its claim by showing that it "thinks" better than we can." (pg.111)
Postman, though probably not particularly talking about singularity in 1992, asks us soundly, along with Mander, to question the issue of singularity's inevitability and to revisit our commitment to being more fully human rather than more partially bionic.

This challenge to singularity, the questioning of its utility and projected function is clearly required. The self-serving nature of the technopoly and it's corporatocratic parents must be put, at least ideologically, in check so that we don't end up passively adopting a truly and ultimately invasive systemic being into our collective and individual human body. What singularitists say is unquestionable, for one, merely because it exists can not be accepted blindly and out of hand because skilled marketers and techno-pundits are able to put an effective spin on it for the gluttonous consumption by a melancholic public.

David T. Kyle, in his important book, "Human Robots and Holy Mechanics: Reclaiming Our Souls In a Machine World", outlines the path for a successful battle with the machine culture that is the progeny of the last 50o years of human (under)development. He, refreshingly, points us toward the defeat of the machine's dominance over our human and external environmental nature. He plants our feet firmly on historical ground as he states the following:
"If the Machine's culture is truly beginning to break down, perhaps our evolutionary step is really a returning to the archaic, to that which is call the primitive within us. Returning to this primitive (or original) part of ourselves would be a step into a knowledge and experience that has been hidden deep within us, a spiritual energy that has been waiting to be released at this time." (pg.166)
Kurzweil and Warwick clearly have no interest in this "original" human experience, other than codifying it in binary so that we can play it back as a saleable, controllable data stream. Their arrogance would soundly put our connection to that essential human legacy in serious jeopardy, compromising if, most likely, forever (IF they have their way).

Kyle goes on to broaden his perspective, relating the advance of Postman's technopoly as a serious breach of human development to its indigenous roots, its indigenous soul and the key nature of that root's role in the continued positive growth of human culture. Kyle states the following:
"The indigenous peoples of the planet may be the guardians, the holders and the releasers of this inward flow of connection to the consciousness of the species. To destroy the indigenous people with the Machine's all-consuming complexity would be to destroy the access to the potential knowledge that could awaken our awareness for radical change in behavior." (pg.166)
Though I might suggest that singularity would represent more of an oversimplification than a complexity, its effects would cut to the core of what it means to be truly human, to be truly
connected to the world-wide-web of life and, indeed, to our own particularly human ways of knowing, of feeling, of sensing the amazing, physical and spiritual world inside and around us. In deed, it would be a major disruption to the unity that indigenous and many non-indigenous people wish to sustain and advance with each other and with the sacred world in which we live and because of which we live. It is that unity and unity consciousness that is a major context for the healing that can and should take place within human culture. Our current, modern failings are showing us that we can not live with out it. And singularity is not unity.


Mander, Jerry, "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television", Quill, New York, NY 1978

Postman, Neil, "Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology", Vintage Books, New York, NY, 1993

Kyle, David T., "Human Robots and Holy Mechanics: Reclaiming Our Souls In a Machine World", Swan Raven & Company, Portland, OR, 1993