In the second part of this two part series Sarah summarizes insights into the harm caused to mother earth and offers the reader sharp analysis regarding the dominant culture and what we can do to resist.
Featured image by Elisabeth Robson
Listen, I know Trump fatigue is real and people need time to recover from it. Trump fatigue was largely manufactured by mainstream media obsession. If the media had covered all of Obama’s terrible shit we would have had Obama fatigue too. Yes, Trump was BAD. But a fascist dictator? C’mon. If Trump was a fascist dictator then what do you call the president before him who dropped more bombs on innocent civilians than Trump did, deported more human beings than Trump did, who started a fracking boom? What do you call that prior president’s vice president (who is now President) who helped George W. lead the charge in invading Iraq? The U.S. military is the biggest polluter in the world! Biden has said he will INCREASE the already bloated military budget. If only Elizabeth Warren was president, she had plans to “green” the Military, lol.
There is no way to “green” industrial civilization or Imperialism.
To suggest otherwise is delusional. It’s like saying it’s better to bludgeon someone with a solar powered chainsaw, handcrafted by women in a remote African Village paid a “fair wage” than to murder someone with a gas-powered chainsaw.
Murder is murder.
Rape is rape.
Presidents are presidents: They suck. They do whatever they need to do to hold down the fort of Imperialism, including lying. Yes, Trump was unique in the number of lies he told (an average of 22 a day). This sucks because now anyone who lies less than him, like Biden, is seen as somehow honest by comparison. If it were not for Trump, Biden would be one of the most dishonest presidents ever! He lies in a similar way to Trump. In a way that the rest of us don’t lie. If they get caught in a lie, they lie more, they never apologize for the lie or the damage created by the lie. Biden has claimed he was against the Iraq war from the beginning, but records demonstrates otherwise.
“But Trump incited a riot!” you say, “He’s just SO bad!”
Biden’s Justice Department uses that riot as an excuse to rush a new “domestic terrorism” law; 14 states have moved to enact new Anti-protest laws, laws that will largely hurt groups like BLM, Indigenous water protectors fighting pipelines, and will stop “terrorists” like Max and Will. You cannot call Trump a dictator and then have Biden’s inauguration look like something out of North Korea! Biden’s inauguration speech was written by no one.
To have Lady Ga Ga come out and sing the national anthem was totally done to legitimize this presidency and this “democracy” as cool because most Americans view Lady Ga Ga as a counter cultural, trailblazing hero. She is a faux rebel. A real rebel, a real revolutionary, a real anti-authoritarian committed to real change, would have agreed to sing but when they got up there on live TV would have pointed out that the national anthem was written by a racist, slave owning, war hungry dude. The last verse of the Star Spangled Banner is now left out because of its racist content.
In the documentary about Lady Ga Ga she talks about dealing with all these high-up super powerful dickhead men in the music business industry. She recounted meetings where she felt totally objectified, felt like they expected her to be their whore, to which she replied…
“That’s not why I’m here, I’m not a receptacle for your pain. I’m not just a place for you to put it.”
Maybe try applying it to the MOST powerful men in the world that had you performing the Empire’s theme song like a trained circus monkey! It is easy to see Trump as one of those music moguls, but it is disappointing that Lady Ga Ga cannot see Biden as that kind of figure as well. Just ask Tara Reade. Or Anita Hill.
J-Lo, a person whose Puerto Rican bloodline no doubt had their land stolen by White Europeans, sang Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land is Your Land’. Currently 98% of U.S. land is owned by white people, mostly men, so to sing this song is the height of hypocrisy. Woody Guthrie wrote that song as a kind of parody, mocking the overtly patriotic song ‘God Bless America’, and as a response to all the poverty he had seen traveling around the country. It is not until you get to the last verses of his song, that you realize his affectionate patriotism was sarcastic:
“There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me. The sign was painted, said: ‘Private Property.’ But on the backside, it didn’t say nothing. This land was made for you and me.
One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple, By the relief office I saw my people; As they stood there hungry, I stood there wondering if God blessed America for me?”
The original sentiment Woody intended does not go nearly far enough: “this land” was made for WHITE men, this land was stolen, and this country was built with the stolen bodies of Africans. The oppression of poor whites that the song speaks to was on top of the enslavement of blacks, which was on top of the attempting erasure of Natives.
The belief that land can belong to anyone is part of our colonized thinking.
We are meant to live as PART of Her, not own or use Her. The fact that ‘Lithium America’ owns the rights to the lithium there is insane. Bolivia is home to the largest lithium deposits in the world. Evo Morales, the democratically elected president was outed in a coup with the help of the U.S. Morales refused to cooperate with international corporations wanting access to that lithium. Morales wanted the profits made from the mining to go back to the people, so he had to go. (He is back in now).
Of course it would be better for the impoverished people of Bolivia to benefit from the selling of that lithium instead of further enriching large corporations. This argument keeps us from focusing on the bigger issue of stopping the extraction. Obama said Fracking is an essential “transition” fuel. The big corporation ‘Rio Tinto Group’ told Native Tribes in Oak Flat, AZ that the copper mine they want to start there will be fine. They have damaged Aboriginal land and communities in Australia with a huge copper mining project.
We are so deprived, neglected, separated from Mother Earth.
The violence and dominance over Her has been normalized, made to seem necessary for our survival when the opposite is true. We have been bottle fed the teat of Industrial Civilization, never given the chance to bond with Her, to know a nurturing like no other. It may be too late to fully bond with Her like our ancestors did. She and we are perhaps too damaged, we should still try. We can start by asking the most difficult questions. Can we bring ourselves back from the brink of extreme distraction? Can we at least have the courtesy of being present with Her as she nurses the wounds we inflicted on Her?
As Arundhati Roy asks in her essay
“Can We Leave the Bauxite in the Mountain?”
The Lithium at Thacker Pass will allow us to continue a lifestyle that prevents us from consciously feeling the pain of what is happening to Her and to our own bodies. We must FEEL it to heal it. Mining that lithium is not about “saving the planet”, it’s about saving ourselves from feeling the outrageous pain of what we are doing. It enables us to bypass guilt and grief, so we get to feel like we are doing something good. We want to be rewarded without the work, while our Mother is being mindlessly sacrificed.
It was not until I did my walk to the Gulf that I started to understand how much car culture has shaped modern industrial humans.
It has reduced and simplified our existence in ways that disconnects us from the complexity of life. Our immersion in this complexity means it is hard to see the consequences of our actions. When you walk along highways for months as I did, you can see the devastation much more clearly. You feel the exhaust building up on your skin. You see so much small roadkill that you do not see from a car: insects, birds, snakes, toads, lizards, mice, voles.
We feel bad when we hit a larger animal, but when the little guys bite the dust we do not notice. We do not want to see or feel this shit. Our avoidance causes even more pain. I read about one study where a rubber turtle was put on the side of the road and a significant number of vehicles swerved to hit it. We have a sense that there is so much stacked pain that needs grieving, we fear it. The irony is, refusing to feel the grief will destroy us, if we do not go there TOGETHER. Recreating a culture that FEELS together is crucial. I can count on one hand, the people who feel as I do and I don’t live near any of them.
Being alone when facing complex grief and trauma can take a toll on us, and since we have no intact culture of dealing properly with our emotions many of us do not start. Climate scientist Peter Kalmus, is a mess. His wife is sick of him (as many I’m sure are sick of me). He has no cultural collective to hold him, or me in this time. I have had long-covid for 10 months now, the symptoms are debilitating. Covid is an illness caused by industrial civilization’s attack on Her, as a byproduct of ecocide. I have spent significant time involved in environmental activism and grieving the loss of Nature. What was happening OUT THERE, is now happening inside of me. We have been trained by this sick culture to think that individuals are self-contained, like The Great Basin being a self-contained endorheic *watershed (*an ancient Greek word meaning “to flow within”). We live without the knowledge that our actions have far reaching impacts. It is beyond dangerous.
We are all car sick.
The Earth Herself is car sick. The answer is not developing new and better motion sickness drugs. The answer is to STOP driving. The real Road Rage should be focused on the development of roads themselves, the veins of the industrial beast. The Mother’s veins, rivers, roots, mycelium, are sucked dry. We will never be able to extract enough, buy enough, or consume enough to ever “meet our energy needs”, that’s just code for “pain aversion”. There are not enough resources in the world to ever fill the bottomless pit that has been excavated in our souls by industrial culture. Our values mean nothing if we do not act on them. Those delusional boneheads that stormed the capitol may be misguided but at least they were acting on their values.
Meanwhile, many of the people who say they care the most are sharing Bernie Mitten Memes. We cannot meme our way out of this. That insurrection on the capitol could be used as a model for actual real movements. What would happen if thousands of Mothers stormed the capitol in the name of their children’s fucked future. The 1963 Children’s march in Birmingham resulted in thousands of children being arrested and sprayed with firehoses. It causes a public outcry. It pushed JFK to pass basic civil rights laws. Some call this “political theatre” – creating a scene so terrible and shocking that the public says ENOUGH and the leaders are forced to do something.
I am scared.
We have become jaded, numb, with such a strong aversion to pain! The pictures of dead animals may not be enough to reach us. Nor was seeing children in cages at the border. Or seeing children in Flint, poisoned. Seeing Indigenous people at Standing Rock terrorized. Seeing the devastation caused by American Imperialism in Yemen, or Syria, or Palestine, or Venezuela.
We must help one another find the courage, strength and tenderness to ‘be with’ what is happening. We must figure out TOGETHER how to respond, work out together how to find the tools. Preserving and conserving is not enough. These terms have the word SERVE in them, as if Nature is here to serve us. This language promotes separation culture and a human supremacist mindset.
Activism needs to evolve.
We need to remember. Derrick Jensen reminds us of the etymology of the word remember: to become a member once again. Everything we do in this perilous moment must be about returning to our roots, about re-establishing broken relationships, about remembering…as in becoming members of the Earth Community once again. Her community is incredibly resilient but there are limits. Some of those limits have been reached. We must ask how can we become responsible community members once again? We must sentence ourselves to a lifetime community service. We could start by listening.
Deep listening used to be a common occurrence for our ancestors and for those who still live with and rest in Her (fading) bosom. I worked for many years at a Garden Center. It got to the point that when I was in there with all those potted plants (most of them refugees ripped from their original ecosystems from around the world, or frankenflora bred and hybridized to serve our aesthetics and needs instead of Hers), I could literally hear them screaming! It was a chaotic cacophony, like a symphony orchestra warming up before they start to play. I knew these domesticated plants would never get to play in Her beautiful melodic orchestra. To escape the noise, I would often go out to the woods behind the greenhouse and imagine being small enough to sit under the canopy of the lilypad-like Mayapples while taking in the concert being put on by a nearby band of white Shooting Stars (a spring wildflower), bobbing their heads to a rhythm we no longer keep time to.
The voices of the dominant culture are repeating themselves non-stop. I too repeat myself as I challenge the dominant narrative. My dear friends, there will come a time where the only thing that “helps” isn’t donating money, or sharing posts, but physically putting YOUR body between HER body and the warheads of Empire, as Max and Will are doing at Thacker Pass. Do not be fooled by the certified “green” stamps of approval plastered all over the missiles. Industrial Civilization does not use “friendly fire”, it is a warship that has every intention of going out with a BANG, taking as many victims down with it as possible.
The proposed “transition of the energy sector” is a lie, the real transition is happening outside the artificial life support systems. It is happening inside us.
A longtime environmental activist, Sarah lives in Ohio US, she loves writing and refusing to mow her lawn. You can read her article published in the Washington Post here.