Friday, October 10, 2008

Accepting Pain

“Any pain is bearable if it’s part of a story.” Isak Dinesen

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Pushing Boundries

I’m frustrated.

I have been following Ran Prieur’s posts about money and the economy. They’re amazing. A few thoughts come to mind after reading them: Most people never have or never will learn about this in or out of school, or if they do they will never see the value in it. As Ran says:

Specifically, I don't expect one in ten economists to agree that interest causes inflation, because interest is to economists as water is to fish. Because of their training, they are simply unable to imagine a world without it.

Another thing that I hear Ran saying is that the whole idea of borrowing money and being expected to pay back more than what you borrowed is one of the main problems with our economic system.

It's true that the payment of interest is now only a minor part of the growing money supply, but he misses the deeper issue: without the idea of interest, the custom that borrowers pay back more than they borrowed, banks would have no incentive to loan money, and banks as we know them would not even exist.

Can you imagine a world without banks?

I picked up my local newspaper yesterday. I rarely ever do this because I don’t have much time to read, and when I do have the time to read I’m either reading books or reading articles like Ran’s on the internet. But what I fantasized about before picking up the paper was seeing an article in the Readers Opinion column talking about alternative money systems like demurrage currency and the Brakteaten money system. After all, those money systems appeal to someone imagining a money system that is not driven by the idea of interest. To my mind, using those money systems would be one of many practical solutions to the economic and other problems we are facing.

Well, I didn’t notice any mention of the demurrage currency or the Brakteaten money system. Perhaps a lack of imagination is the problem. Maybe there was no mention of this because those alternative money systems are still blind spots to most of us, perhaps we need to shine more light on them.

That last thought leads me to an image of John Trudell in Trudell: The Movie sitting in a chair talking about how amongst us there is just not much clear and coherent thought about the problems we are facing. He’s right. In my day-to-day life outside of the internet no one really talks about the problems we are facing, and if they do the conversation doesn't last long. If we’re not going to talk about them we’re surely not going to think about them.

That's why I'm frustrated. I know a better world is possible but we're not close to yet.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Porcupines and Shadow Souls

The words conservation and ecology, as we use them in the Western sense, don't exactly fit what Indian people did or do with the land. It was their livelihood, which depended on reciprocity. Thus, the trees were not seen as trees, they were also seen as relatives. The trees are relatives and other species are relatives and they watched you all the time. It was a forest that looked at you to see how you were handling the remains of plants and animals."

"An animals shadow soul is alive for a long time after an animal is killed, and it watches how you treat the remains.
Dennis Martinez, pg. 93 Original Instructions

Ever since reading A Language Older Than Words I have moved close to fifty dead animals off from the roads near my house. The other day was no exception. This time it was the biggest porcupine I had ever seen.

Cory (My sister's husband),Tyler (My nephew) approached it. As we did Cory said, "Oh, that has been lying their since I went to work this morning." Cory has to leave for work well before the sun rises. As we stood there the sun was starting to set.

Looking at it I could see that it's quills were spread down the road roughly 25 feet. One side of its body was scraped clean from being drug underneath a car. It was severely bloated. Flies were swarming around it.

It was going about its day and got in the way of a car and lost its life.

I scooped it up and moved it out of the way of progress. I layed it to rest in a hazelnut thicket and faced it west. Its body will be able to decay and return to the earth with dignity. When the time comes I hope my body is treated the same way.


It's been months since I wrote that above. Looking back at what I wrote and the experience of moving the porcupine off the road reminds me of something Derrick Jensen said over at his discussion list. He said that in a documentary he was watching about serial killers there was a FBI agent describing that a serial killer has as much consideration for their victims as we do a piece of tissue paper.