Friday, December 30, 2016

In Time, I Find Time

Back at the turn of the century I was single, built a new house, hunted and fished a lot, and made my living as a logger and handyman. And in that time I also developed a habit: I used to visit The Ishmael Community multiple times a day. It's Daniel Quinn's official website. There you'd find, and still do I might add, close to a thousand questions he'd answered from readers, multiple essays and speeches, things for sale, recommendations, and a guestbook that he'd sometimes visited and commented on. I knew close to nothing about authors back then, and I hadn't been on the internet but a couple of months. In my world authors were up in towers and didn't interact with their readers, but here was Quinn doing the best he could do to make clear to his readers what he was saying in his books. In other words, he was a passionate teacher. So I took in as much as I could. I couldn't get enough of his teachings. I still at times find myself going back there. Oh, I forgot to mention another reason I was attracted to the community.

A guy by the name of Michael Time. Here was a guy that took to hitchhiking across the United States partly because of Daniel Quinn's work, and he'd post frequently on the guestbook about his adventures. I was fascinated. A guy that I presumed to be close to my age was going against how I thought a young and responsible adult like myself should be living their life. I really enjoyed his writings. Shortly after that I took to the road in my own way. I quit my job, locked up my house, pulled some money out of my bank account, and went and did whatever the hell I wanted to do. I followed my nose. Looking back I'm glad I did it. But sometimes I wish I would've been a bit more bold about it, sort of like Mr. Time.
Over the years since then I've often wondered what happened to Michael Time. Yesterday I visited Daniel Quinn's Facebook page, like I periodically do, and noticed he posted a short essay by a friend named Carl Cole. The essay (posted below) was really good. Out of everything I've read surrounding the resistance at Standing Rock this piece of writing really resonates and sticks out from all the rest. It gets to the root of the problem. After reading the essay I had to find out who this Carl Cole guy was. A google search later I learned he wrote and published a book titled: Feasting on the Breeze: A Memoir of Hitchhiking America at the Turn of the Century.

I found Michael Time.

Here is the essay by Carl Cole (aka: Michael Time):
 "If we go on as we have, with this understanding that the world was made for humans to conquer, then we will eventually conquer it. The planet will be broken, bleeding, and unrecognizable as the life-support system that made it possible for Australopithecus to evolve into Homo Hablis 2.8 million years ago. The same gently nurturing planet gave room and allowed for the evolution of the Homo genus to ancestors 400,000 years ago so similar to us we had to call them Homo

10,000 years ago, in a world that was basically a Garden of Eden, one culture in the Fertile Crescent adopted a totalitarian agricultural strategy whereby they took a piece of land, plowed under every living thing, planted only human food, denied competitors access to this food, and figuratively began eating at the gods' own tree of knowledge, deciding what deserved to live and what should die. This gave them great power as they took control of the land and resources, creating a surplus of food, a surplus of population and shrinking space for all this people and food. They began to conquer, enslave, or assimilate the cultures around them, eventually spreading into the Americas in the late 1400s.

If we continue to eat of this fruit of knowledge of good and evil then we will surely die, as a species. IF humans are living on this planet 100 years from now, it won't be because they figured out a better way to extract and ship oil, it will be because they are living in a fundamentally different way than we are now with a fundamentally different view of the world. If humans survive as a species on this planet it will be because enough of us spit out the vile fruit of knowing what's good and evil for the life of this planet. Enough of us will have changed our minds that we can no longer accept that humans are masters of this planet and more important than all the rest of the living biosphere.

We're not just fighting to stop this particular oil pipeline (Dakota Access), the fight is really against a worldview that allows for the destruction of everything we need as biological organisms in favor for the technology and mindset that allows for and condones the destruction of the planet as our greatest work.

Should those fighting for this most important cause abandon the technologies of the conquerors? Should only those who don't care about the destruction of the planet be allowed to use cars, cell phones, and computers?

Personally, I feel this battle to change the minds of those who choose to not see is of the greatest importance to the future of this planet and my children's ability to survive here. Any and all weapons we can muster in this conflict for how people view themselves and understand their place in the world should be used.

If everyone who cared more about the water we drink and the air we breathe than the oil we use to facilitate our civilized lifestyle abandoned their communication devices, this particular argument in North Dakota today would happen in the same vacuum that allowed for the genocide of this continent hundreds of years ago.

No one saw the frantic smoke signals of the past as entire societies were crushed under the boots of the not-see's. But it was certainly much easier to justify the destruction and genocide when we didn't have to hear about it." -- Carl Cole

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas, Cards, and Colon

Amidst the chaos, clamour, and confusion of the Christmas morning present opening process I spotted it sitting there looking lonely. Its intended owner was already tearing the wrapping paper off another carefully covered gift. With my presents unopened and sitting next to my recliner I resolved to keep my eye on it until the wrapping paper settled, but I couldn't resist. The boy that used to ride his dirtbike out of South Hills Trailer Court to Orv and Wally's Grocery Store too many times to count, clutching pocket change for a pack in a sweaty fist pressed against his handle grip, had to ask, "Hey Hayden (7 yrs. Old), can I open your pack of cards to see who you got?"

Half way through the pack I find myself excitingly reading and talking aloud about Bartolo Colon (He's 42, my age), then I notice nobody is paying attention. I go back to silently reading stats and stories.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Culture and Law

Does culture shape law? Or does law shape culture? I say both. It's not an either/or scenario. People sometimes comment and ask this important question when learning about the rights-based Community Right's organizing and lawmaking strategy: You can make all the laws you want, but how are you going to make sure they're enforced?

My answer usually is that depends on the values of our culture. Here is an example, let's say you form a citizen majority and make a law giving a local river rights. If the majority of the people in the culture don't value the health and self-determination of the river the laws will mean nothing. It will eventually be killed or survive until this insane culture kills itself.

So I recommend to those concerned about the dance of law and culture my favorite two booklets available on the subject. They're the best tools that I know of to change both. Here are two quotes from them that I think offer us a good vision.

From On Community Civil Disobedience: "We can choose to be hospice workers to dying planet--seeking to ease its transition--or we can choose to be mid-wives to a different system waiting to be born." (pg. 49)

From The Book of the Damned: "Every creature born in the biological of the earth belongs to that community. Nothing lives in isolation from the rest; nothing can live in isolation from the rest. Nothing lives only in itself, needing nothing from the community. Nothing lives only for itself, owing nothing to the community. Nothing is untouchable or untouched." (Daniel Quinn, pg. 23)

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Family Past and Present

This morning the kitchen table family conversation shifted to pre-colonial contact tribal life compared to our current way of life, which is a heavy dose of liberalism and focus on the individual. It didn't take long and I headed over to the bookshelf to consult a dead guy. I grabbed "In Search of the Primitive." I knew Stanley Diamond had something to contribute to the conversation. I open it up to a quote that I find interesting and potentially useful when looking into our tribal past.

"In the white way of doing things, the family is not so important. The police and soldiers take care of protecting you, the courts give you justice, the Post Office carries messages for you, the school teaches you. Everything is taken care of, even your children, if you should die, but with us the family must do all that. Without the family, we are nothing, and in the old days before white people came, the family was given first consideration by anyone who was about to do anything at all. That is why we got along. With us the family was everything. Now it is nothing. We are getting like the white people, and it is bad for the old people. We had no old people's home like you. The old people were important. They were wise. Your old people must be fools." -- Words from a Pomo Indian, pg. 145)

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Outposts in our Heads

I find myself in one-on-one face-to-face conversations about the Enbridge pipeline expansion more often lately. One comes to mind from my son's baseball game a few weeks back. I get done explaining all of the horrors to the guy about the project. There's no place for him to go rationally except to say, "I'm against it. Sign me up!"

But he finds a way around it. "I used fossil fuels to get here," he says "so what can I say?" A long silence. We exchange parting remarks, then he moves on to talk with other community members and get as far away from me as possible. I wonder if I smell funny. Maybe have a booger hanging from my nose. Show signs of lepresy.

Here's what I wish I would've said after his paralyzing proclamation of powerlessness: "Who cares if you used fossil fuels to get here. You didn't set this system up. You didn't make us totally dependent on fossil fuels. Why do you need to take responsibility for what is not yours? Just because you drive a car that gives them right to bury this thing under every major watershed in Wisconsin and Washburn County? What about the right to our health, safety, and welfare? What about our inherent and inalieble right to self-government that's been granted to us in every major governing document?"

They have outposts in our heads.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cell Phones and Science Fiction

News from home: This morning my teenage son openly wonders, "Isn't there a rare metal in cell phones?" I proceed to pick up my smartphone and google "rare earth metals in cell phones". We find an article put out by PBS (Public Broadcasting System) titled: "Where to Find Rare Earth Elements." I then take the liberty to read it aloud. I get about three-quarters of the way through and come across this paragraph about those in power's (I had written "our" here) insatiable appetite and search for rare earths:

"Many countries, including the U.S., Australia, India, Brazil, Vietnam, and Russia, are looking for new deposits of their own. Japanese scientists found large amounts of rare earth elements in mud at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and similar studies have shown they’re also in mud in Jamaica. In the far future, we could even turn to the Moon, which is unusually rich in rare earths."

He stops me, and with wide-eyed disgust says, "My god, it's like a horrible science fiction novel come true."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Monday on County Road M

The kids and I moved a dead fox snake (Elaphe vulpina) yesterday. It was lying dead on County Road. M where the south fork of the Bean Brook flows under. My grandpa, while we were driving to a logging job one day, told me when he was a kid there used to be a lot more that would cross and die there. This particular snake now rests in the forest facing west covered with grass. At least until the crows that were picking at it on the road find it.

While moving it five Washburn County dump trucks passed by. Four going south and one going north. I didn't notice which way they were going loaded and vice versa. I did notice that I felt uncomfortable. Why? I had three school aged children moving a roadkill during school hours on a Monday morning. This time of day and week fathers are suppose to be at work providing for their families and kids are suppose to be in school.

Oh well, not this father on this Monday morning. There's room for both ways of being, at least in my book.



Sunday, May 22, 2016

Will There Be Whippoorwills?

News from home: We sit down to the dinner table last night. May's full moon rising above the tree tops in the eastern horizon. We say thank you for the pork chops and the rest of the food we're about to eat. And Daniel (16 yrs. old) asks if anyone has heard a whippoorwill yet. None of us have. 10 minutes later we hear the whippoorwill's song through the screen of the storm door.

This morning, while everyone else is sound asleep, I open up the book titled, Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save The Planet for inspiration. Here's how chapter 6 starts: "What is at stake? Whippoorwills, the female so loyal to her young she won't leave her nest unless stepped on, the male piping his mating song of pure liturgy. They are 97 percent gone from the eastern range." (Pg. 239)

I want my children to grow up hearing the song of the whippoorwill. This is why I support a Deep Green Resistance and Direct Democracy.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Let's Not Prepare Our Children For Extinction

Back to blogging again. I usually just post my short writings on Facebook. Simply because I have such terrible internet service out here in rural Wisconsin that it's a pain to download what I write onto blogger. Here is what I've been up to today.

News from home: I was talking with a friend yesterday. She is also involved in the Community Right's Movement. She mentioned that she is reading The Invisibility of Success, by Daniel Quinn. So I sat down this morning and read a few essays out of it. I personally think Quinn's work should be a teaching tool in the CR movement. Anyway, this paragraph out of Preparing our Children for Extinction really spoke to me:

"We absolutely must stop sending our children out to save the world armed with the undermining belief that humans are inherently toxic. Because if they truly believe this, then they will truly be prepared for extinction. We must be on guard against teaching our children--even by indirection--that the very best thing that can happen to the world is the extinction of the human race." (Pg. 89)

I agree with this profound statement. I have since I read it well over a decade ago. Once our children are convinced WE are humanity they go from a world full of possibilities to a world of scarcity. Their souls are blighted. The world is no longer sacred. And they end up wishing away their time awaiting their entry into heaven.