Sunday, December 24, 2006

We live in violent times...

The first bombers flying their deadly charge over to Iraq for their presumed precision strikes passed over my garden. This is what I felt:


How many candles did I not burn for you
for peace
The engines on the flight path
of evil
in the corners of the room
cramp the heart
In the silence of the house
I learn the language
of a new general
with a word in mind
for death of every kind

Love and hope
are lost in smoke

I felt disempowered by the loss of so many lives. I felt horror at the dismembered children. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the soldiers allowed the looting of the National Museum in Baghdad, part of the earliest cultural heritage of mankind being carried away to be destroyed or sold to private collectors. The same feelings I have every time a species disappears, be it a plant short lived or 1600 years old or an insect, bird, fish or mammal… every time a part of our collective memory disappears. “Destroying species is like tearing pages out of an unread book, written in a language humans hardly know how to read, about the place where they live.” wrote Holmes Rolston III, professor of philosophy (1932- ). Landscapes and biodiversity are dying, being destroyed at an unprecedented rate, just as the cultures and livelihoods of indigenous peoples are being eradicated. Their fundamental human right to live as they choose or have to because of their tradition and the place they live, and our fundamental human right to try and live as far away as possible from the dollar economy is trampled. The unalienable rights of all are still just the rights of a few. Human rights are meant to empower, not the privileged often rich and heavily polluting but the voiceless who have to fight daily for the integrity of their body and mind and spirit.

What can I do, a woman, a daughter and mother, a sister, a friend? I can mourn. I can bear witness about the threat not only of one overheated loud heckler, but also to the violence done to all and all our relations. We must remember and remind, speak out, write. We can’t be standing at the sideline and be impartial. We must remember Wounded Knee, the Trail of Tears, the Long Walk, Dachau, Darfur, Chenchnya, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Dresden. We can’t forget the The Rainbow Warrior destroyed in the harbor. We should honor the Old Growth trees and those who risked all to protect them, felled for profit and left to rot in the clearcut… Don’t forget all lives in all that is. You are the universe and the plants are our relations, the water our sister or brother, the animals and the earth are part of you, are you being part of the universe. So what you think, what your culture thinks, becomes universal and no religion or cosmology is better than another. They are all tales to show a way of living well within a given place and time. Our age requires rules to be caring and non-violent, giving each man and each women and child their dignity as citizens. You have all the right to ask questions. Do think and question. Ask hard and difficult questions and try to be aware of the perversions of the language of power, a language, which in itself constitutes a violation of our mind and is in itself violent. The state owns or pretends to own the right to violence. It are the United States of America who have and use Weapons of Mass Destruction, it are the United States of America who launched a preemptive strike against perceived enemies or fabricated enemies and violated the international laws invading Iraq. Violence is also imposing the death penalty on thirteen-year-old children, on men and women and pretending to be pro-life. Violence is also the market economy, with its superfluous ugly, shoddy plastic consumer goods. Violence is also materialism barely hidden under a veneer of religion in which a god speaks directly to the ‘leader’ at the exclusion of all others. Massculture and monoculture are both an overexploitation of human and natural resources, driven by the unholy opposition of nationalism versus universalism, imposing our values and obliging others to produce what we need.

We are a small group and we walk in the margins of the big news stories. Yet we are many small groups working, writing and walking in many margins. Daily we are in the now of life and connectedness, longing for a just world with freedom, health, education, a decent livelihood, respect and caring for all and sometimes we are touched by love and light.

May there be peace on earth.

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