Editor’s Note: Technology has created a virtual lifespace for all: a lifespace that gives us calculated doses of dopamine and gets us addicted to it. The following piece urges us to remove ourselves from the technological world that we have unwittingly been entangled into and to place ourselves within the natural, real world.
Praise the Technology!
- 89% of Americans say they check their phones within the first 10 minutes of waking up.
- 75% of Americans feel uneasy leaving their phone at home.
- 75% use their phone on the toilet.
- 69% have texted someone in the same room as them before.
- 60% sleep with their phone at night
- 57% consider themselves “addicted” to their phones
- 55% say that they have never gone longer than 24 hours without their cell phone.
- 47% of people say they feel a sense of panic or anxiety when their cell phone battery goes below 20%.
- 46% use or look at their phone while on a date.
- 27% use or look at their phone while driving.
[“2023 Cell Phone Usage Statistics: Mornings Are for Notifications“]
After a Hewlett-Packard BIOS update fried my computer’s motherboard I had four-and-a-half days without a computer while the part was in transit to the neighborhood repair guy I found because of guidance in a dream from a Carolina Wren reminding me to look local; then Internet via cell phone helped find the repair guy.
The night before I had decided to go to Best Buy’s Geek Squad, and later on learned that they typically don’t replace motherboards.
I am not much adept with cell phone internet usage so without the habitual computer checking of email and news-hounding web-searching, I wondered: What is that habit, that urge, that compulsion that has so many people hooked to their gadgets?…hooked as if the gadget is the Oracle of Delphi and everyone doesn’t have a clue what’s going on or what the future will bring UNTIL they beseech the high priestess of technology.
Various online stats indicate that people check their phones anywhere from every three to twelve minutes! Without doing that, what else is there to check, to tune-in to?
How about: the natural world, meaningful symbols, mental exercises, deep listening, dreams, to name but a few.
Perhaps people too-often feel something lacking or the need to feel complete by having interacted with someone, or a message, news article, video, or game. Normal urges yet when obsessively habitual, I venture to say that there is the searching for such a tech moment so as to save one’s self.
But save one’s self from what? Boredom?
Or to riff the old saying attributed to Socrates, the examined life which makes life worth living?
In that case, the gadget becomes a lazy savior, but not an individual savior rather a conveyor of little techno savior moments which while temporarily satisfying, the feeling doesn’t last long so one must check the gadget again for another little savior moment, and again.
Some of the hooks of this religion of technology are: the promises put forth by the advertising merchants of veneer from their pixel pulpits; keeping up with the corporate news sports-style coverage of “perpetual war for perpetual peace,” as historian Charles A. Beard phrased it; an incessant need to be in communication with human beings, at the neglect of the non-human beings.
Little techno savior moments also lean toward mechanical, robotic and unemotional forms of communication, well, except for emojis and exclamation points!!!!!
(wow! he-she-they must really omg like me!!!!!)
Yet here I am scribbling with pen and paper looking forward to my computer’s born-again status so that I may type and share this missive with whomever may happen to read it.
Ay, there’s the rub, the to tech or not to tech rub . . . or how much to tech.
I can’t begin to address the big picture of technology usage as it is the backbone of global and local business transactions, plus personal interfacing, whether you can touch the face or not. So I simply address the consciousness of the usage as I see it playing out in society at large.
Little techno savior seekers move in lockstep with their electronic marching orders of selected, scripted, distorted or outright lies news-feeds; shop till you reach the top of social status clicks; assuage deep-rooted personal insecurities by amassing more ‘likes.’
Yet in the AI world, even the concept of a savior has been depersonalized and reduced to a drive-thru fast-food fleeting moment.
I propose that how we use the gadgets is one starting point for re-evaluation, the how being the consciousness with which we use them and a weighing of what we are not using enough: our feet, our hearts, our minds, dreams, intuitions, hunches, meditations, messages from our so-called neighbor the natural world and how those messages intertwine with the dreaming time that is beyond time, beyond rational thought, beyond click and ye shall find.
The good news is that all that good stuff is readily available inside you and outside your window if you’re willing to work for it, work as hard as a child working in an underground mine in the Congo for cobalt so you can have the facility to send an emoji that a new day is dawning.
And by “work” I don’t mean job for money rather the discipline and receptivity to serving something bigger than your ego, something bigger than appeasing your momentary fancy of a feel-good hook.
Bob Dylan sings in “My Back Pages”:
“In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach…
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now.”
And so I must dismiss any notion that this scribbling will save anyone, though I would like to think that it may tilt the scale of consciousness so that more people will be able to save themselves.
After four-and-a-half days with minimal gadget use, I am reminded that it is a tool and the manner in which humanity produces and uses such tools will determine their functionality or lack there of, with ever the questions: At what cost to habitats where massive mining occurs; at what cost to the well-being of the workers, too-often slave laborers; at what cost to one’s self and the natural world for the lack of selfless service to that very world?
In his book The Religion of Technology, David F. Noble cites technology as often spurred by a “masculine millenarian mentality,” often exhibited with the military and science frame of mind, along with a sense of religious redemption. Yet this sense of redemption is deceptively foolhardy.
According to J. D. Bernal, quoted in the book:
“The cardinal tendency of progress is the replacement of an indifferent chance environment by a deliberately created one. As time goes on, the acceptance, the appreciation, even the understanding of nature, will be less and less needed. In its place will come the need to determine the desirable form of the humanly controlled universe.” (p. 175)
What this boils down to is if we as a species go the route of playing materialistic God . . . or are willing to play along with and be played by the Earth and the spiritual energies above and within Her.
While perhaps too cute or quaint or unbelievable to some human beings, the likes of little Carolina Wrens can show the way. But such guidance can not be bought rather is the fruit of relationship, as for many years I have put and let stay up undecorated holiday wreaths on my patio, keep them up even when they have dried from scented fresh woods green to brown.
Why? Because the wrens often sleep and, while I can’t scientifically prove it, dream in them.
Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) is a verbiage experiencer, in other words, he’s into etymology, writes about his experiences and to encourage people to learn from direct experiences, not just head knowledge.
He writes, small press publishes, and is the author of 17 books. Mankh travels a holistic mystic Kaballah-rooted pathway staying in touch with Turtle Island and the cycles of the Seasons. His works can be found here.
Photo by kaipong/Getty Images via Canva.com
Editor’s note: If you search the keywords renewable energy problems you’ll be snowed under with deceptive synonyms like challenges, opportunities or even solutions. Most articles don’t go into the depth of why “renewable” energy is continuing the ongoing environmental atrocities.
In Germany the buzz word is energy shift (Energiewende), which means we allegedly shift from a “bad energy” to a “good one”. But in reality it’s just a shift of our addiction from one “drug” to another, that is similarly contaminating. As Boris highlights in his article, only through a transition to a de-industrialized society will we live in a truly sustainable relationship with Mother Earth.
Why Renewable Energy Will Not Solve the Problem
By Boris Wu/DGR Germany
The word for world is forest. Long before humans existed, in the geological eras we now refer to as the Carboniferous and Permian, vast, dense swamp forests of ancient ferns, calamites, and the now extinct species of Sigillariaceae, Diaphorodendraceae, and Lepidodendraceae dominated the landmass of our planet. The high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere provided ideal growing conditions for plants and led to an overproduction of biomass that accumulated in the swampy soils of the primeval forests.
Over millions of years, parts of these swamps were regularly flooded by rivers and thus covered by sediments of clay and sand. These cyclical sedimentation conditions compressed and drained the swamp soils. Particularly in the Upper Carboniferous period, the organic source material was air sealed and compacted under high pressure and heat and thus finally converted into hard coal.
The other word for world is water. Alongside the primeval forests, nutrient-rich shelf and inland seas shaped the primeval landscape. Water is literally the source of all life, and even those of us who eventually left the seas in the course of evolution and learned to live on land still carry it in our blood. Our blood plasma contains salt and ions in a ratio remarkably similar to that of the oceans.
Our sacred Mother Earth, in her infinite love for all life, gave birth to an almost infinite variety of it. The primeval shelf seas were rich in life, with marine microorganisms such as algae forming by far the largest proportion of marine biomass. In the deeper zones, the dead algae were deposited on the sea floor together with clay particles. The low-oxygen conditions prevented the complete decomposition of the algal biomass and led to the formation of fouling sludge (Sapropel). The formations of thick sediment sequences with a high proportion of organic material, slowly accumulating and concentrating over millions of years, eventually became the energy source that made the industrialization of civilization possible: crude oil.
Ultimately, our planet has only one source of energy, namely the sun. All fossil fuels consist of millions of years of solar energy stored in fossil biomass. In the meantime, our holy Mother Earth, in her infinite love, created a further, almost infinite variety of life. The dinosaurs were followed by birds, mammals and finally the species that today quite immodestly calls itself Homo sapiens sapiens, the wisest of the wise. How wise it is to destroy the planet on which we live, however, must be questioned.
For the longest time of their existence, Stone Age people, who were primitive only in the imagination of the civilized, lived in harmony with ecological principles, until some cultures made a functional mistake: They cultivated annual grasses with nutritious seeds in large-scale monocultures. The surplus of easily storable and tradeable carbohydrates from grain monocultures led to unprecedented population growth, the construction of city-states with standing armies, patriarchal ruling cults, monotheistic religions, slavery and an endless wave of violence, war, colonialism and environmental destruction, in short, the form of culture we call civilization. Climate change is not a recent phenomenon.
The deforestation of primeval forests, the draining of swamps etc. for agriculture, mining, the construction of warships and other war machinery already had measurable effects on the global climate in ancient times, as we know from atmospheric data from gases stored in the no longer perpetual ice of Antarctica and Greenland.
In essence – and the essence is our relationship with the planet and our fellow creatures – there were and are only two human cultures: indigenous and civilized. While indigenous peoples live in harmony with biological principles, endless expansion, colonialism and overexploitation are the hallmarks of any civilization that eventually lead to its collapse. Civilizations have always displaced or destroyed indigenous peoples.
After the dominant Western civilization expanded throughout Europe and, after 1492, continued expanding to the Americas where it committed the greatest genocide on indigenous peoples in human history, in its endless hunger for resources it made a second, functional and fundamental mistake: it began to make use of the fossil fuels coal and oil, thereby increasing its destructive power to the extreme. Industrial civilization is civilization on steroids, and its steroids are fossil fuels.
Rachel Carson’s 1962 book “Silent Spring” marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement. While indigenous peoples had always fought for the preservation of nature and thus their livelihoods, people in the Western world were now also beginning to gather and try to protect wild places and wild creatures from destruction by our civilization. Climate change only came to public attention in the 1990s, as scientists like James Hansen only began to understand in the late 1980s that the burning of millions of years of stored fossil solar energy within a single century, and the release of the carbon dioxide trapped in it, would wreak havoc on our planet’s climate.
Due to the unprecedented overuse of our planet on an industrial scale, we Westerners today have more resources and energy at our disposal than any previous human generation. Western affluence and the arrogance that comes with it have seduced the environmental movement into a very narrow public discourse that focuses solely on global warming and unrealistic technocratic utopias, and in which the most extensive, dramatic and rapid extinction of species of all time, which we are currently witnessing, no longer plays a role.
Global warming is only just beginning to have a serious impact on us. The destruction of the environment, the extinction of all non-human life, in short the fact that civilizations, and especially industrial civilization, are inherently destructive and overexploiting their resources. This by definition can never be sustainable and will inevitably collapse. Although the resulting fact that we should actually radically change our way of life, are a taboo subject in public discourse.
The functional error in the belief system surrounding so-called renewable energy is that the fossil fuels coal and oil are literally storage devices for millions of years of fossil solar energy. These “natural batteries” have a higher energy density than any energy storage system developed by humans. Diesel stores 46 times more energy per kilogram than the most modern lithium-ion battery. Fossil fuels are therefore incredibly practical because they are easy to transport, can be stored indefinitely and can be burned whenever needed.
The entire electricity grid infrastructure is built on these characteristics, although the term “grid” is inaccurate in more ways than one. Firstly, it is more of a network than a grid. Second, it is not a single grid, but hundreds of grids around the world, each supplying power to a specific region. The entire network essentially works like one big circuit that starts and ends at the power plants. Sub-circuits lead to individual households, companies, factories, server farms, hospitals, etc. Electricity still flows between the regions, but it is carefully regulated.
The wind turbines, solar panels and hydroelectric power plants that we summarize under the vague term “renewable energies” are not energies or energy sources in the true sense of the word, but technologies that can convert sunlight or the kinetic energy of wind and water into electricity. The terms used in public discourse, such as “energy transition”, “renewable energy” or “green energy”, suggest that we want to switch from one form of energy to another. This is where the error in thinking lies, because what we are actually trying to do is to replace fossil energy storage with modern technologies for generating electricity.
One of the many problems with this is that this additionally generated electrical energy fluctuates greatly, depending on the sunlight, the prevailing wind or the current. According to estimates, the modern electricity grid can only cope with up to 35% electricity from wind power and 12% electricity from photovoltaic, i.e. a total of around 47%, or just under half of so-called renewable energy, as these fluctuations can still be balanced out by conventional coal and gas-fired power plants.
High power fluctuations are not compatible with a functioning industrial power grid. Most household appliances can cope well with a voltage fluctuation of 5 to 10 percent, but modern factories, server farms and hospitals with their highly complex equipment and machines require precise, stable currents.
It is very difficult, if not impossible, to combine the intermittent, highly fluctuating power flows from thousands of wind turbines and solar power plants into a reliable grid voltage because there is no buffer storage on a grid scale (currently, conventional coal and gas-fired power plants serve as a kind of buffer, as power generation can be ramped up or down quickly depending on demand). The fact remains that the grid was not built for so-called renewable energies, but for fossil fuels.
But quite apart from that, even if ingenious scientists and engineers managed to convert the electricity grid completely to solar, wind and hydroelectric power, there is still the small problem that our civilization is destroying the planet. The hope of saving our civilization through modern technologies, which in reality do not help the planet but are themselves destructive in many ways, is just a Bright Green Lie. We cannot live on a destroyed planet, and it is long past time for a serious and radical discourse that addresses in necessary depth the highly dysfunctional relationship between our culture and our sacred Mother Earth, who brought us all forth in her infinite love, and who is our only home.
Boris Wu is a father of two, a Permaculture farmer, radical environmental activist and cadre for Deep Green Resistance
Photo: Stone Age dwelling at Kierikki Stone Age Centre Oulo Finland, Ninaras/CCBY 4.0
Editor’s Note: Language is one of the most significant elements of any culture. If a language goes extinct, the culture will go extinct within a few generations. Languages are not just a way of communicating, they represent a worldview. Relation to the natural world is a clear example. In the English language, natural elements are referred by a neutral gender pronoun, “it.” It is not a coincidence that the same pronoun is used to refer to inanimate or nonliving beings. On the other hand, many cultures (both indigenous and nonindigenous) refer to natural elements with a gendered pronoun, similar to the ones used to refer to a person. For anyone who is a part of the culture, the language that they learn shapes how they view natural elements. An English speaking child is more likely to view nature as inanimate, compared to a child whose language ascribes personhood to nature. In the following essay, Mankh explores the origin of the language and its relation to our worldview.
Upside Down Ox Houses and Indigenous Place-Based Languages
“And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” ~ Genesis 1:26
What if Indigenous languages hold some of the keys to rectifying climate chaos, habitat destruction and the overall insatiable global commerce structure aka “dominion over…,” while English and other alphabetized languages are part of the problem, in fact they have been encouraging an upside down approach for approximately 4000 years?
Nowadays you can hear people comment how the world seems inverted, topsy-turvy, upside down. What if the roots of that go back to the alphabet. I have good reason to think that is at least part of the conundrum because the letter A is based on the picture of an Ox head, but upside down; at one point sideways, too, but eventually upside down.
Livestock are domesticated animals and one aspect of that domestication is that Ox are often castrated male cattle. “Oxen are thought to have first been harnessed and put to work around 4000 BC.” Estimates are that the alphabet began to take shape around 2000 BC, but of course the lettering system was based on previous experiences and lifestyles put into picture forms which then became the AlphaBet (Greek, Alpha Beta), otherwise known as Ox House, or more accurately, Upside Down Ox House.
“House” is from “B” representing an enclosed structure. The ancient Egyptian “reed-house” B gives a sense of organic architecture and Hebrew includes the nuances “container” or “vessel” – “the created world is meant to house within it the spiritual.” Yet the prevalent association with B is House. On your way to work, perhaps you drive by a temple Beth-El or “House of God.” The “B” from “House” is not upside down (though the Etruscans had it facing the opposite way) and has various spellings/pronunciations, including: Bayit, Beith, Bet, Beth, Beh, or Vet. Picture of Hebrew “Beith” ―
The AlphaBet is based on phonetic abstractions which have shaped the minds and thinking patterns of people worldwide. “An alphabet, being the most abstract form of writing, enhances left-brain values the most.” And more than that, “The alphabet-people’s god became indisputably male and he would become disconnected from things of the earth. He was abstract, nowhere, and yet everywhere at once.”
“It is no mere coincidence that the first book written in an alphabet is the Old Testament.” ~ Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet Versus The Goddess (1998)
While doing research for this article, the only possibility I found as to when and why the Ox shape became inverted was when the alphabet was being adapted from Phoenician to Greek and perhaps “the adapter didn’t seem to be certain of the orientation of the letters, because several were rotated or inverted,” also, changes with regard to “sound, name, letter shape and order.” Regardless of why it happened, this essay is putting forth that what the inversion represents rings true because the civilizations that followed have proved it so: The inverted Ox represents domestication and the ensuing dominion over “every creeping thing” ― which, by the way, reads as the precursor to the US Empire’s “full spectrum dominance.”
As a side note, mathematics got the Ox angle correct, but interpretations are up for grabs. “The ∀ symbol may look like the familiar capital ‘A’ written upside down, but in mathematics (specifically in predicate calculus), the ∀ is a logic symbol or universal quantifier. You can use it in place of ‘for all.’”
Speaking of universal quantifiers, along with the monetization of language (the first cuneiform wedges recorded transactions) was the religiosity, which when both of those (commerce and religion) merged with the mechanical, made for a world change comparable to the computer/Internet about 500 years later. The confluence of Gutenberg’s press, beginning circa 1450s, and Columbus’ commericalized colonization crusade, beginning 1492, cannot be overlooked. Along with Columbus on the boat came The Book aka Bible and the eventual franchising of religious concepts which have converted much of the world with the Word of God and the barrel of a gun, both foreign concepts to the Original Inhabitants of Turtle Island and Indigenous Peoples elsewhere.
And the book became a product to sell. The letters traveled, while Indigenous place-based languages stayed (you can guess it), where they’re at.
If you consider the upside down Ox as domesticated and the House as the modern emblem of success (think billionaires with more than one, or the goal of the average American to comfortably maintain one), then it becomes clearer how AlphaBet has and continues to shape people’s priorities as well as societal behavior patterns. Ownership of domesticated land and property is the key ingredient of predatory, colonized, commercial wealth. And domesticated cattle became the, ahem, cash cow of the fast-food industry.
Gutenberg’s press fostered a mechanical way of thinking and behaving, an assembly line of movable type promoting a book consciousness, the production format of which Henry Ford and then McDonald’s would ‘master’ ― the essence of the modern American lifestyle, faster and cheaper, a perfect storm of on-the-go religious colonialism mixed with corporate and state backing, or what I call “drive-thru theofascism.” The more recent propulsion of technology, gadgets, and AI (Artificial Intelligence) has exacerbated all that.
Now, flip all that upside down for the Indigenous perspective. Or for trying to navigate both the natural world and the mechanical world, be aware that excessive mechanical-ness dulls spontaneity, the ability to think for one’s self, and embrace the fact (yes, the fact) that plants and all manner of beings have spirit.
Some years ago on TV I saw a documentary, of which the title now escapes me, and it cited one of the roots of modern English as Frisian, a West Germanic language. What stood out to me was the following which I made note of – the language reflected the following characteristics: warlike; adventurous; greedy; religiosity/Christendom. If that’s not the essence of colonialism and empire, what is?
So the language of adventure that sought its jollies through warring, greed and enforced religion is at least some of the reason for our current troubles. In the film was mentioned a rather poetic phrase, “bone-house”… for “body,” yet many a con man has been known to have a smooth tongue.
Another linguistic reference to cattle and war is found in the Sanskrit, gáviṣṭi (गविष्टि) translated as “desire for more cows, desire for battle.” The only way one can desire for more cows is if they are domesticated. You can desire wild Ox, but to own them or go to war so as to control more of those four-leggeds indicates they are no longer wild.
Did faster language predict fast-food?
“The eye that can read is immediately caught by advertising and propaganda.” ~ Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D., The Rape of the Mind (1956)
Perhaps the seeds of fast-talkers and fast-food were baked into the language. Several examples of how languages became faster, turning into a kind of shorthand, give a clue as to how people may have been conditioned to talk faster, and eventually fast-food on-the-go, a reflection of industrialized assembly line speed with humans as active parts of the machine.“The invention of papyrus as a writing material gave the Egyptians a quicker way to record information than carving into stone.” & “Hieratics eventually gave way to demotic, an even faster way for Egyptians to write.”
From thirty years of sporadically studying and doing brush calligraphy of ancient Chinese pictographs, I have learned that the pictograph for Sun was originally a circle with a wavy line in the center (Large Seal – Ta Chuan, 1122-256 BC), which then morphed into a a circle with a dot in the center (Small Seal – Hsia Chuan, 221-207 BC). But then with Clerical Style – Li Shu, 207 BC-588 AD, a small rectangle with a horizontal line. I suspect this, too, made for speedier communications, though the following alludes to other factors at work:
The Clerical Style “evolved from the late Warring States period” and “The Warring States period was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation.”
Has not much changed since then? As with the above mentioned flavors of cuneiform baked transactions and Frisian war adventures, there appear similarities with the evolution of the Chinese ‘script.’ As to the most current form of “consolidation” along with warfare and bureaucracy, “The largest shareholder of 88% of the companies on S&P 500 is either State Street, Vanguard or BlackRock. And you can see their influence in defense contracts.“
While it’s tricky to pin down, a general progression of peoples and places that contributed to making the current AlphaBet is as follows: Egyptian, Ugaritic/Semitic > Sinai > Palestine and Phoenician > Greek > Etruscans > Latin/Roman and Slavic. The Latin/Roman dominates to this day, as English is made of some 60% Latin-based words. A significant layer of that is the influence of the Roman empire that lingers under the radar in our AlphaBetic consciousness. But more than that, it lingers in the US legal system and echoes the Old Testament, which, as mentioned above, was “the first book written in an alphabet.”
As explained by Peter d’Errico, who has “been involved with Indigenous peoples’ legal issues for more than fifty years”: “The sovereignty claim of ‘Christian discovery’ underpins the entire edifice of US laws regarding Indigenous land rights. It is a US claim of ‘title’ and ‘dominion’ over Indigenous lands. ‘Christian discovery’ necessarily underlies ‘LandBack’ campaigns because the doctrine is embedded in US property law. See Johnson v. McIntosh (1823).”
The language effects the legal system which effects the way in which we relate – or don’t – with the Earth.
Much of humanity doesn’t relate with Earth because of the concept of property and having been domesticated. The word “domestic” has roots mentioning “house, lord, property,” from “domo-” which is also the root of “dominate.”
“Depends on what you look at obviously / But even more it depends on the way that you see” ~ Bruce Cockburn, from “Child of the Wind”
AlphaBet was also a precursor (no pun intended) for the current screen-fixated world, as the AlphaBet is a veneer of the actual environment/land, because the letters are phonetic representations, the pictures of each which you have to study to learn. But how many people who talk, talk, talk actually know the basis for what they are saying? How many people literally connect the language with the land and activities in their immediate environment? Indigenous Peoples do:
“These Indigenous languages that are more at risk than ever — that will be almost extinct at the end of the century — are the most powerful languages, they speak of quantum physics and how to communicate with Mother Earth, and you can’t find them in libraries or on your computers, you have to live them.”
~ Tiokasin Ghosthorse (Cheyenne River Lakota), from keynote talk at the COP 24 Climate Summit, Katowice, Poland, December 2018
Instead of looking at an Ox, the AlphaBet trained people to see an A, as nowadays the screens train people to more so see images of the natural world rather than caring for the actual landscape! And while one could argue that various incidents of deforestation happened in time before AlphaBet, it’s helpful to remember that AlphaBet is a condensed product of those already existing cultures.
Breaking the yoke of the Upside Down Ox House
While reading the excellent book Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes Through Indigenous Science (2022) by Jessica Hernandez, PhD, the phrase “place-based” stood out to me. So I considered a flavor of that: The Inuit/Iñupiat identify many types of snow, and probably ice; according to a Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) friend, there are numerous types of Hawaiian rain or ua; the title of the book If You’ve Forgotten the Names of Clouds, You’ve Lost Your Way by Russell Means and Bayard Johnson tells me that the Lakota identify numerous types of clouds; a key aspect of Japanese haiku is kigo or season-word, a poetic-scientific format for identifying a specific time or moment of a season. The Haiku Handbook by William J. Higginson and Penny Harter identifies sixteen for cherry blossoms, including: “hana no hagoshi – [moon] through [cherry-] blossom petals” and “rakka – fallen [cherry] blossoms.”
I am not qualified to speak for Indigenous Peoples about their languages, but the gist I glean is that when a People have been in a place long enough to study and deeply experience that place in detail, the language, as well as the songs, reflect that – holding keys for the maintenance and sustainability of the place; the land speaks to the People and the People speak back to the land. This rootedness is the opposite (does that count as upside down?) of the AlphaBet that traveled in boats and made its way around the globe, and has been and continues to be an instrumental part of colonization and commercialization.
When a People have place-based knowledge and longstanding experience, those People are voted most unlikely to behave with “dominion over,” rather deep relationship with all the beings there and traveling through there, and whether those relationships are based on survival or love or both, they are still deep relationships. In my little suburban patio/backyard there’s a so-called weed that spreads and takes over; most people remove the plant. One spring into summer I let it grow and then one day I noticed a sparrow nibbling on and thoroughly enjoying something about the tiny clusters of miniscule pink flowers. I learned that those plants are called Pennsylvania Smartweed, yet I’d bet there’s a Native/Indigenous name because, for one, “The Menominee used [and probably still do] this plant to treat hemorrhage, and to aid in post-partum healing.”
Outside the Upside Down Ox House grows a weed to eradicate; for the place-based Native Peoples there thrives a plant-medicine. And therein is at least one of the keys to rectifying an inverted worldview too-often seen through an AlphaBetic mind-frame.
More upside down examples:
“The buffalo is first domesticated somewhere in the near-tropical regions of Asia.” The Plains Indians buffalo was wild and revered. But then:
“In 1800 there were around 60 million buffalo in North America; however, that would drastically change over the next century, changing the lives of the Plains Indians. This is partly due to individual hunters looking to make a profit on the buffalo hides, the government starving the population of the Plains Indians by killing off their primary food source, and the coming of the railroads. The buffalo, like the Indian, was in the pathway of civilization.”
Another upside down:
Man has evolved and progressed from a cave man to his/her/etc. current advanced and ever-advancing status. But then again:
“Because we humans arrived last in this world, we are the ‘younger brothers’ of the other creatures and therefore have to learn everything from them.” ~ Vine Deloria, Jr. (Standing Rock Lakota)
AlphaBetic technology and spirituality
Now that this essay has properly dissed the AlphaBet, a few comments about its usefulness. What a technological marvel! From twenty-six letters come a daily stream of news and articles along with the seemingly relentless publishing of books, (however, a modern form of deforestation but are e-books any better? Think e-waste dump sites). As a writer and avid reader I can’t help but appreciate the letters and books yet I’ve also come to realize their limitations.
Another aspect needing mention is a kind of eye of the needle of consciousness, as for example in Hebrew, the letters can have sacred sounds and can serve as gateways to other than physical dimensions; the Hebraic Aleph connects the above with the below, as the letter shows. In this case the original Ox horns were somehow rearranged.
Because the core of my path is mystical Kaballah in which the Ox is one of four sacred tetramorphs – in Hebrew the Chioth ha Qodesh (“holy living creatures”) – along with the Eagle, Lion, and Human Being, I had to reconcile this with the aforementioned domesticated Ox. My educated guess, based on how things have played out for some 4000 to 6000 years, is that: In a purer form, the Ox represents patience and productive hard work, and is a provider of many things (akin to how the buffalo has provided for the Plains Indians). However, the Ox’s domestication, castration, and AlphaBetic inversion has morphed into such modern horrors as mega-corporate, agri-business, mono-culture, so-called farming, and concentration camp treatment of animals for consumption.
In an impatient world where lazy entrepreneurs and slave-drivers seek maximum profit from the cheapest labor, I’m sticking with my inner, wild, not castrated, Ox. This Ox, however, is not restricted to being an Ox because the form of hard-worker can be a Buffalo, Horse, Dog, Goat, and so forth.
Although I’m stuck with AlphaBetic English as my main form of verbal expression, I strive to go beyond that barrier, getting glimpses of another perspective as seen through Indigenous and other languages. Because direct experiences often go beyond words, I pay more attention to music, laughter, love, physical exercise, ecstatic states of being, quiet contemplations, to name a few.
In my book Moving Through The Empty Gate Forest, which addresses topics related to this essay, I encourage people to:
“Go through the eye of the needle,
go through the empty spaces in the A and B,
move beyond the framework
the gatepost outlines of the letters,
every day move through the mumbo-jumbo,
the trickster spells entangling the mind and emotions,
the propaganda and lies,
move through someone else’s word of God,
move through someone else’s letter of the law,
move through someone else’s hierarchy of A to F to Z
unravel the bandages of your mummified consciousness…”
Because it is clear to me that Indigenous languages are essential for the well-being of the Nations and Peoples that know and speak them, and essential for the well-being of the Earth and us all, I close this essay with a quote, albeit in English, by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Citizen Potawatomi Nation), from her well-known book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants ―
“To be native to a place we must learn to speak its language.”
Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) writes, small press publishes, and is the author of 17 books. He travels a holistic mystic Kaballah-rooted pathway staying in touch with Turtle Island and the cycles of the Seasons. His website:
Photo by Isaac Chou on Unsplash
Editor’s Note: In order to deter the tribal members and activists from fighting for Thacker Pass, Lithium Nevada has sued them. Unsurprisingly, as a corporation, they have greater funds to sustain their legal action. We appeal for all who can to support in whatever way you can. The details for financial donations are at the end of the post.
Lithium Nevada Corporation has filed a lawsuit against Protect Thacker Pass and seven people for opposing the Thacker Pass lithium mine.
The lawsuit is similar to what is called a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,” or SLAPP suit, aimed at shutting down free speech and protest. The suit aims to ban the prayerful land defenders from the area and force them to pay monetary damages which could total millions of dollars.
“This lawsuit is targeting Native Americans and their allies for a non-violent prayer to protect the 1865 Thacker Pass massacre site,” said Terry Lodge, attorney working with the group. “These people took a moral stand in the form of civil disobedience. They are being unjustly targeted with sweeping charges that have little relationship to the truth, and we will vigorously defend them.”
The lawsuit targets Dean Barlese, respected elder and spiritual leader from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Dorece Sam from the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, Bhie-Cie Zahn-Nahtzu (Te-Moak Shoshone and Washoe), Bethany Sam from the Standing Rock Sioux and Kutzadika’a Paiute Tribes, Founding Director of Community Rights US Paul Cienfuegos, and Max Wilbert and Will Falk of Protect Thacker Pass, which is also named in the suit.
They are charged with Civil Conspiracy, Nuisance, Trespass, Tortious Interference with Contractual Relations, Tortious Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage, and Unjust Enrichment.
As part of the lawsuit, Lithium Nevada has been granted a Temporary Restraining Order which restricts the defendants and “any third party acting in concert” with them from interfering with construction, blocking access roads, or even being in the area. The accused parties are not involved in planning further protest activity at the mine site.
Regardless, these allegations are alarming to the Great Basin Native American communities who believe their religious practices are protected by the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978. The lawsuit’s language places fear in the hearts of Native American people who want to pray and visit their ancestors’ gravesites.
The case references instances of non-violent prayer and protest that took place on April 25th, and a prayer camp named after Ox Sam (survivor of the 1865 massacre and ancestor of Dorece Sam and Dean Barlese) which was established at Thacker Pass on May 11th. On June 8th, that camp was raided and dismantled by police. One young indigenous woman was arrested and transported to jail inside a pitch-black box. In the aftermath of the raid, a ceremonial fire was extinguished, sacred objects were put in trash bags, and tipi poles were broken.
The American Indian Religious Freedom Act states that it is “the policy of the United States to protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise the traditional religion of the American Indian…including…access to sites.”
Dorece Sam, President of the Native American Church of the State of Nevada:
“I take my grandkids to Peehee Mu’huh to teach them to pray for our unburied ancestors whose remains are scattered there, to collect our holy plants, to hunt and fish, and to collect medicinal herbs. The ancestors who were killed at Thacker Pass have never been given the proper prayers for their spirits. Lithium Nevada is desecrating our unceded lands and our ancestors’ resting places.”
Dean Barlese, respected elder and spiritual leader from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe:
“The Indian wars are continuing in 2023, right here. America and the corporations who control it should have finished off the ethnic genocide, because we’re still here. My great-great-grandfather fought for this land in the Snake War and we will continue to defend the sacred. Lithium Nevada is a greedy corporation telling green lies.”
“Our people couldn’t return to Thacker Pass for fear of being killed in 1865, and now in 2023 we can’t return or we’ll be arrested. Meanwhile, bulldozers are digging our ancestors graves up. This is what Indigenous peoples continue to endure. That’s why I stood in prayer with our elders leading the way.”
“Lithium Nevada is a greedy corporation on the wrong side of history when it comes to environmental racism and desecration of sacred sites. It’s ironic to me that I’m the trespasser because I want to see my ancestral land preserved.”
“Virtually every single accusation against us is a lie, and of course the corporation’s leaders know this. But our actions have scared them, so they are lashing out against classic nonviolent direct-action tactics. And this is yet another prime example of why we need to dismantle the structures of law that grant so many so-called constitutional ‘rights’ to business corporations, like access to the courts.”
Max Wilbert, Protect Thacker Pass:
“Around the world, a land defender is killed every two days. Murdering activists is hard to get away with in the United States, so corporations do this instead. This lawsuit is aimed at destroying the lives of people non-violently defending the land. But we’re not giving up. There are millions of people opposing this mine, and this fight will continue.”
“I’ve been involved in directly petitioning the courts for two years to enforce tribal rights to consultation without success. Now Paiutes and Shoshones are being sued for peacefully defending the final resting places of their massacred ancestors. Lithium Nevada is just another mining corporation bullying Native Americans once again. This pattern has got to stop.”
Lithium Nevada corporation has been locked in legal battles since 2021, when four environmental groups, a local rancher, and several tribes sued the Federal Government to attempt to overturn the permits for the mine. The suits allege failures of consultation, violation of endangered species law and water laws, and dozens of other infractions. The most recent filing in an ongoing Federal Court case brought by three local tribes was filed on Friday, arguing that Lithium Nevada needs to halt construction while it consults with tribes about the Thacker Pass massacre sites. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California will hear oral arguments in other cases later this month.
The news comes as Lithium Nevada’s parent corporation, Lithium Americas, has been implicated in four alleged human rights violations and environmental crimes related to their lithium mining operation in Cauchari-Oloroz, Argentina.
The defendants are seeking attorneys to join the legal defense team, and monetary donations to their legal defense fund. You can donate via credit or debit card, PayPal (please include a note that your donation is for Thacker Pass legal defense), or by check.
Editor’s Note: We thank the author for offering this piece to us at the beginning of a new season. The opinions expressed in this article are of the author and may not correspond to DGR. DGR is a biophilic and feminist organization. Our stance puts us in conflict with religion many times, but we are not an anti-religious organization. The following article is published as a critical analysis of religion and capitalism, not to oppose any religion.
For further insight into DGR’s views on spirituality, read this portion from the Deep Green Resistance book.
By Paul Edwards/Information Clearing House
Is this, our lifetime, the critical moment when the survival of life on earth will be determined; or just another of the ongoing crises that have always defined human existence? For a great majority of people it’s the latter: a time like any other. To most people, beset as they are with daily struggles, the question doesn’t even occur. One of the mixed mercies of human limitation is their blindness to what threatens them and the capacity to ignore it.
But assume that it is. Assume that in our time the future of life will be decided. This idea, as Dr. Johnson said of the prospect of being hanged, concentrates the mind wonderfully. If we imagine this is where we are—that whether human life continues truly does depend on us now—then all would agree that it’s imperative to abandon the hypocritical bullshit that prevents us from acting to preserve it. Humanity has never had to face the certainty its actions will determine whether life continues, and has never had to make ultimate choices irrevocably. Suppose that now it does.
Beneath and behind the cowardly sophistry that has prevented humanity from acting for its own survival, there are two powerful conceptual anchors that support our refusal to accept the iron fact of finity and prevent our acting rationally. They provide both cover and tacit permission for our self-elected suicide.
The first—longest enduring, and deepest—is the absolutism of organized religion; not of one religion, but all religions, religion itself. We understand why they exist. Awareness of finity, that fear we feel of our inevitable mortality, in addition to the random miseries living entails, create a desperate yearning for protection, hope, and safety every human experiences. Since life provides no such dispensation, a magic answer had to be devised. All religion originates in this need and is an attempt to address it.
Humanity in the mass found relief in religion; it assuaged the eviscerating hopelessness and mollified the inescapable dread mortality imposes. It’s psycho-spiritual gift has come at great cost, however. In insisting upon godly direction of Man’s destiny, religion allowed him to obliquely offload responsibility for his actions onto deity. The notion that “Man proposes and God disposes” has been used not just to provide a fantasy heaven, but as an excuse for the horrors Man inflicts on his own kind.
The appalling tragedies Man has perpetrated on himself and the living world through the ages, have found ultimate excuse and explanation in the Will of God. Religions have provided historic justification for Man’s long saga of cruelty and murder of his own. This is not because gods are portrayed as malevolent, but rather as omnipotent and incomprehensible. Man is not ultimately in charge of himself and his actions. God is. Religion requires Man to conform to a destiny he is unable to understand. Deus lo vult!
Although science has so long and so thoroughly exposed all religions for the specious, infantile fantasies they are, weak Man continues to use God myths to justify his brutality, and to elude, in his own mind, responsibility for the disasters he has planned and executed that are leading him and the living world to an end.
The second categorical imperative of human policy is Capitalism. It has been said that it’s easier for men to envision the end of the world than the end of Capitalism. Because it has proven the best means to amass the wealth that insures power and privilege, it is the ruling economic system of the world, and all business of significance is conducted through Capitalism. It is absolute.
Economics—a “social science”—has no more relation to ethics than chemistry has to politics. It is simply the study of the way people contrive to exchange goods and services. Its “laws” or, more accurately, practices, are not subject to ethical strictures or regulated by social effects. Economic systems simply enable servicing of the needs and wants of Mankind, and Capitalism is one of them. There is nothing inevitable and numinous about its so-called “laws”. They are a human created collection of rules that serve the interests of money power; in other words, stories.
In spite of that fact, Capitalism, the most powerful engine of wealth generation in history, has assumed a mythic character of permanence, an aura of inevitability, that has raised humanity’s belief in it to the level of a sanctified religion. The fact is, that human-created economic systems work as money power wishes them to work, but are riddled with cruelties and failures, and are subject to change if and when humanity demands it.
For the same reason religions continue their hold on the vast majority of humanity, Capitalism is virtually invulnerable to honest criticism. It has been portrayed as somehow holy, and ultimately necessary for the survival of humanity. Nothing could be more false and ridiculous. Ages of lying indoctrination and relentless force-feeding of dishonest propaganda by the money power has rendered it unchallengeable as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The combined power and dominating influence of these forces—religion and Capitalism—which virtually all mankind upholds and fiercely defends—is rapidly destroying the physical bases of human life and the prospect of any possible future for Mankind.
To return to our premise, if this is the age in which survival of our species will be determined, which seems certain, then unless the tyranny of these deeply evil belief systems is broken there is no hope for Mankind. Perhaps, the sense that any possible future is ours to determine, if widely disseminated, will provide the moral strength to break free and live? The choice is ours to make.
Paul Edwards is a writer and film-maker in Montana. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Featured image by Paul Fiedler on Unsplash