Category Archives: environmental pollution

         A short “report” upon returning from another MDS (Mennonite Disaster Service) volunteer stint, this time near Lone Butte (100 Mile House) in the Caribou country of British Columbia, Canada.
This was MDS’ first “contract” in the area.  The reason we were so late starting was due to the roads having been closed because of the fires and it took a while to get the “all clear.”

Thanks to precautions by the owner, such as spreading fire retardant around the buildings and having a sprinkler system going fed by the solar panel array as the power grid was down, some of the buildings and animals survived the fires.  The dogs and horses did not survive.  Though many buildings throughout the fire area were saved that way, the ranchers lost over 30,000 heads of cattle, many of whom had to be put down having their hoofs and legs burned from running through the wildfires trying to escape.
Wildlife, especially the smaller rodent populations that provide food for the larger carnivores, was decimated.  Hungry cougars and other large predators are now roaming ever closer to remaining winter feed lots and even homes.   Children have to be driven inside vehicles to school bus pick-up points though you can see some daring lonely souls, who probably do not have the luxury of a parent at home able to drive them, walking along the roads.  One does not have to wonder long what would happen if they were attacked.
The goal of our 5-man crew was to get as much of the replacement house covered, laying up of trusses, sheathing and if possible, installation of the metal roofing.  We got as far as the tar paper and strapping, which will ensure the building stays relatively free of snow and rain on the inside, barring whatever blows in through doors and windows as yet not installed.  With the onset of winter up there, about 300 miles north of the border, or from Chilliwack which is where I live (practically on the 49th parallel) we probably will not be returning until after spring breakup.  By then there should be several more projects identified and contracted for by our project managers.

Following are some pictures I took the time to snap as the work progressed.  Couldn’t waste much time off the job as the days are short up there – it reminded me of the Peace River country in northern Alberta where I was raised, if a bit warmer and wetter and the mud not quite as sticky as our great plains gumbo.  If the pictures appear fuzzy, it’s because they are greatly reduced from their original format.

Images and captions:  This is the house we worked on.  It may seem large but it has to accommodate a large family.  IMG_0169

House againIMG_0170

… house…IMG_0154

Solar panels and power house.  Behind is the log cabin the family is now using as temporary abode. IMG_0166

…angle consultation.  The man in the black cap is the owner. IMG_0184

This is part of the area the family calls “Elizabeth’s Pond” IMG_0175

A bit more of “the pond” and the “floating fence” which sits on several feet of soft peat and is often under water. IMG_0180

Close up of “floating fence” and edge of pond.  I was told that if someone ventured here they’d sink over their head in peat and mud. IMG_0164

Children’s play area (one of several!) IMG_0153

Log playhouse. IMG_0152

Burned area near the homestead/ranch, and a small lake.IMG_0194

More of burned area – close up.IMG_0189

… and more… IMG_0200

My faithful companion van and mobile tool box,  properly “decorated” with high country mud.  Individual patiently looking out and waiting for me to take my pictures along the forest road is my friend, Vic Janzen, one of MDS’ project managers and project leaders.  We rode up together on this particular project.

IMG_0196

A month ago, this is what our sun looked like at high noon here, 300 miles south of the raging wild fires. IMG_0006

I must say that, as much as I enjoy giving away time and resources to help others it never ceases to amaze me that as a nation people willingly let their pathocratic leaders blow off tax dollars on destroying people and the planet and fail to find it offensive that there is “no money” to help the very people who pay the taxes used to build the military hardware; the military machine and to pay the inflated “salaries” of rich, elitist rulers.  How can a supposed intelligent species be this dumb?  This uncaring?  This unfeeling?  This crass?  This ignorant?  This stupid?  How many of “us” is there for every one of “them”?  Yet we claim to be democratic societies.  Is this what we really want?  If not then why is it that those who propose change are always spurned, scorned, distrusted or even “elimitated” so the sharks can continue to have free range over the planet?  Surpasses my understanding.

As a final note, I saw the full glory of the Milky Way for the first time since leaving the Peace River country in 1964!  Prevailing winds must have “miraculously” blown the smoke away from the area where we bunked.  We seldom realize how much city environments create horribly polluted conditions until we find ourselves far enough up in the mountains, or far enough north that city smogs can’t reach there… yet.

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Western Leadership does us Proud

                  [thoughts from    ~burning woman~    by Sha’Tara]

“History is the fiction we invent to persuade ourselves that events are knowable and that life has order and direction. That’s why events are always reinterpreted when values change. We need new versions of history to allow for our current prejudices.” ― Bill Watterson, Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat.

    When I wax philosophical in mind I immediately look around, within and without to discover the source of the unease.  I learned over the years that thinking of a philosophical bent is neither natural nor normal.  It doesn’t “just happen” because, say, you were born with a penchant for philosophy.  There is no such thing.
What I suspect there is, however, is awareness.  What is awareness?  It’s that which most people have no concept of, no clue about and would consider a great inconvenience, much like discovering a conscience in an age of decadence and moral turpitude.
“Everything I like is either immoral, illegal or fattening.”  That was one of those “cute” sayings of the 70’s.  Looking back on it, it wasn’t a cute saying at all, but a prophecy of the coming end of civilization.  Since that time it’s been nothing but a mad rush towards the abyss of inhumane and inhuman proclivities, particularly for the western world.
The western world has been a leader in many great things, like banking; like income tax; like false morality; like the making and breaking of laws; like the invention of chemicals to maximize monetary profits in, well, everything; like propaganda and advertising to make lies into tools of success and entertainment; like weapons of mass destruction and endless war.
Particularly, the western world has been a leader in decadence and the making of waste as well as the amazingly successful invention of state and personal debt, putting every nation on earth into hock (including the inventors, but let’s not go there right now).
I was raised within that unthinkable world of applied discipline, meaningful correction, punishment for breaking home and school rules.  I was told never to waste food (and when you work on a homestead as a kid you learn what that means: that waste translates into serious loss which everybody feels – it isn’t loss transferable to unknown denizens of “darkest Africa” or Asian slave pools.  We were our own slaves, and the “plantation” that grew our food was all too real; all too “in your face” and all too ready to turn on you and leave you destitute from one bad move or a turn of the weather.  “Waste not, want not” was our motto.  We didn’t have to like it.
Then came the miracle of corporate propaganda and purchased elections and elected representatives.  Overnight, while almost everybody was sound asleep, all of the western world’s values turned over and were summarily dropped into a “Glad” garbage bag and dragged to the curb for disposal.  America and its satellite states turned into national garbage dumps.  Open waters no longer safe to drink.  Foods that fattened and killed.  Air that poisoned lungs.  Anthropological climate change.  Resource wars.
And, that was that.  A few more years and a Donald Trump sat on the American throne spewing out his bile at the entire world and the people so dummied down over fifty years of living a complete lie, too stupefied to realize what had happened, or what should, or could, be done about it.
So this short rant is all about leadership, you see, because without leadership we could never have accomplished so much, and been such effective trendy leaders.
Isn’t it amazing what we have accomplished?  And to think we’re hardly done yet.  We still have coal, gas and oil to burn.  Weaponry to unleash upon a shocked world.   Bigger lies to spew.  Legitimate regimes and governments to overthrow.  Women to exploit, rape, oppress and beat up.  Blacks to exploit, oppress, disenfranchise, jail and kill.  We still have loads of immigrants who can be used, abused, enslaved, mistreated and deported when no longer of use as field and house slaves.
I can imagine all sorts of ways the western world can continue to lead by example.
Yes, we’re the West… we’re the Shit, man!

Limits and Inevitability, Environmentally Speaking

                  [thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

We understand “inevitability” don’t we?  We understand “limitations” don’t we?  A parking area designed for a compact car will not accommodate a motor home.  We know this.  So, what else could we know, if we wanted to?

Let’s look at our “global parking space.” 

As populations increase, so must, and will, poverty.  As poverty becomes endemic, so will famine follow suit.  With famine will come diseases.  With disease will come the draining of drug supplies and medical expertise.  There are many “planners” and would-be scientists who deny this, of course.  Science, this great god full of magical powers can always fix whatever doesn’t work, can’t it?  Evidence?  Who needs that when we can substitute faith.

Yes, faith.  Science can grow more crops, hence more food.  Science can make potable water from salty seas and oceans.  Scientific engineering can make more accommodations within expanding cities by building higher.  So what if science and technology caused anthropomorphic climate change?  We can now apply them to fixing it, better than new.  So, goes the thinking, science is what we need more of to solve our problems of overpopulation, famine and disease.  More highrises; more GMO crops; more vaccines, and consequently more “security” and militarism to control dissidents.

Let’s ignore the giant question marks raised by the previous claims and look at what our science cannot do.

Science cannot make the earth bigger than it is; cannot create more space on it; cannot produce more arable lands: agreed?  Since we’re still adding to the exponential population growth, and exponentially taking out of the earth more natural, or raw resources, and since earth is a planet, not a cornucopia, with a limited amount of such resources available without resorting to catastrophic scientific methods to extract these resources (heard of fracking anyone?) then obviously two things are in the process of happening despite all hopes, wishes and promises to the contrary: the damage being done to earth’s inner surface infrastructure and it’s surrounding ecosphere, or biosphere if  you prefer, is irreversible, and anything on it dependent upon potable water for growth and survival has already reached crisis point.

Yes, there are places where they are growing forests at the edge of the desert.  I’m not asking where the water to keep those trees alive comes from.  I’m wondering out loud if such efforts should be considered to be realistic in solving man’s food and famine problems and after wondering out loud, the answer is, pretty silly when superimposed upon the overall picture.  Basically, though a feel-good effort that can be touted as a great improvement, isn’t it a lot of fiddling while Rome is burning?

Should we, as an “intelligent” (say what?) species be looking at the massive deforestation currently taking place in temperate and equatorial zones rather than counting successfully planted shrubs on the north edge of the Sahara?  Have we all become “Marie Antoinnette’s” vis-a-vis earth, patting it on the head and sincerely saying, “Just eat cake.”  Hasn’t earth heard of Ronald Reagan’s trickle down theory?  While we gouge moon craters to extract crude from tar sands; while we burn thousands of acres of trees to grow cash crops in the Amazon basin and other places, surely those potato peels and lettuce leaves from our composting will easily take up the slack.

While I seem to have broached the problem of potable water and considered the processes of desalinization of sea water, is it politically correct to wonder, again out loud, just exactly what is being done with the salt being extracted?  If it’s dumped back in the ocean, will that not increase the salt content, endangering sea life in the area of the dumping before currents spread the salt more or less evenly again?  With enough extraction, will that not cause a global rise in salinization?  We could rationalize that it will be a “long time” before a deadly level of salinity accumulates, but are we going there?  The Dead Sea, also known in Arabic as the Salt Sea, has a level of salinity 9 times the norm.  Great for swimming on, but it’s essentially dead, devoid of plants and fish.  While it is rapidly drying up, is it trying to tell us something?

If the salt is being spread upon the ground, there is an old belief about salting the earth, and quote from Wikipedia: “Salting the earth, or sowing with salt, is the ritual of spreading salt on conquered cities to symbolize a curse on their re-inhabitation.[1][2] It originated as a symbolic practice in the ancient Near East and became a well-established folkloric motif in the Middle Ages.[3] Although concentrated salt is toxic to most crops, there is no evidence that sufficient salt has been applied to render large tracts of land unusable.”

An interesting closing observation, to which it is more than tempting to add… “yet.”  Food for thought?  We exist, live, survive perhaps, on a finite planet, within a finite environment.  We can throw as much “science” at this ball of polluted and disappearing potable water, thinning sub-soil, sand, rock and molten iron and whatever else it may contain as we desire, or can muster, but “science” and “technology” aren’t bottomless sources of magic.  Every scientific/technological discovery or improvement has a material cost paid for by the world we live on, a cost that “greed-capitalism” has never allowed to be factored in its cost analyses.

More than interestingly, as a global civilization made up of a bunch of nation states, we are all indebted to some kind of black hole we can only sink deeper into.  For the USA, the stats are, $20 trillions for its governing apparatus, combined with $62 trillions of corporate and personal debt.  Grand total: $82 trillions.  That’s a loud “ouch” for anyone who can partially comprehend such numbers.  The “richest and most powerful” country in the world has by far the most per-capita debt.  What interests me in this is, how much “in debt” to the supporting environment is man’s earth in its current state of pillaging, raping and despoiling of its natural resources?

Make no mistake about this: there is a massive natural debt accumulated since the European-based empires set out a-conquering and pillaging the earth.  The momentum has only increased exponentially over the years and has reached an untenable, unsustainable, rate of “borrowing.”  Much of that borrowing became environmental pollution (smoke and smog, spills, garbage dumps, paving, cementing, and holding it all together, wars, wars, and more wars.)  This in turn has become man-made climate change.

Have we reached the point of no return?  Oh yes, as a civilization, we definitely have.  That is why the general thinking has become one of dumb acceptance.  If we can’t turn it around, why worry?  Be happy!

Instead of closing on this “happy” note, let’s introduce a question: logically speaking,  what kind of “tour de force” would it take to stop the pillaging and repay the debt we owe the earth, a collective debt that is about to all but destroy us?  Could we envisage such a global sacrifice in order to set in motion a livable future for those who come after us?  How would we go about this assuming we cannot use any previous method known to have NOT worked?

 

The Mob Wars

The Mob Wars
[short story from   ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

What do you think, when you look upon a mob?  Or worse, you encounter one?  That had been the lesson of the day and the cadets in the class, all five of them, 3 girls and 2 boys, could barely restrain their yawns.  They really wanted to laugh at the instructor but there were rules at the Academy, and laughing at an instructor was bad business.  Punishments varied but they weren’t something you wanted to think about.

“A mob is dangerous.” droned on the talking head instructor, a short dark-skinned female who spoke the lingua franca as if she’d learned it from a computer.  Hardly surprising since she had learned it that way.  She wasn’t from the Clayborne worlds but from another galaxy altogether.  Still, she was human and you could relate to her as long as you remained totally mechanical, never betraying any emotion towards her, or her course material.  “A mob has no leader, that’s what makes it dangerous,” she carried on.  “If you see a mob coming towards you, purposefully march in another direction and as soon as you can, find a safe place to hide until it passes by.  Any grouping of ten or more individuals walking together and sharing information, or making loud statements constitute a mob by legal definition.  It is your sworn duty to the Imperium to report any observed mob activity, noting its coordinates and direction.  Anyone who observes a mob formation and does not report it is de-facto part of a conspiracy and liable to a charge of sedition.  The penalty, as you know, is ten years in the mines, the location of the punishment to be determined by the courts but always outside your home worlds.”  

We may be cadets but we weren’t born last night, or even the year before.  The Claybornes, a grouping of three planets orbiting their sun practically equidistantly, thus making each world almost a mirror image of the others climate-wise, were a relatively recent addition to an expanding Imperium.  “Space, the final frontier” boldly claimed a cartoon character from a series of funny little anecdotes that had been transcribed upon holos and would sometimes be available for viewing.  The quaint language and costumes and the posturing would bring out waves of rollicking laughter wherever they happen to be projected.  Final frontier indeed: the abysmal ignorance and hubris of our ancestors makes us wonder that we ever got off the ground of our original world at all. Too quirky.

I was writing about that line, the final frontier.  Even now with everything we’ve discovered and learned, most of it at great cost and unnecessary loss, we still cling to our ancient xenophobia and bigotry.  Once we “know” a thing, we believe that we’ve found the truth, or at the very least, some truth, something we can hang on and build upon.  Our awareness, our ideas, we believe, can be stacked up one upon another, like the modules we fabricate then build living units or space ships with.  It’s as if we choose to forget that no matter how long these modules fit together they must eventually disintegrate, starting with the oldest ones, but we don’t notice the rot and rust, and we keep on building on top.  There comes a point of attrition and entropy and whatever is, soon is no longer.  Simply put, the base collapses.  We accept that but we never see to apply the obvious lesson in it to our interaction with what can only be called the nature of things.

Which brings me back to my story about the mob.  Whatever the Cirillian teacher says about mobs, she really knows nothing at all about them.  But we Clayborners do know about mobs.  Our own societies were basically evolved from a mob mentality.  You see, the Claybornes were chosen by the Imperium as a dumping ground for all sorts of individuals who could not be coerced into the herd mentality, or group-think that serves the Imperium’s aims so well.  We are recent descendants of “deplorables” and “undesirables”  Our grand parents were those who could not be cured.  Many were anarchists.  Some were judged with criminal mentality because they openly defied and called down the Imperium.  And oh yes, we had more than a sprinkling of lower class criminals, the murderers, rapists, bank robbers, psychopaths.  As a fourth generation myself, I say good for them.  It’s here, on our own Clayborne world which we call Armistice, that you can really see the evil that is the Imperium. 

I discovered subsequently that the Imperium had hoped we would not only “break” open these worlds and extract every ounce of resources that could fuel their space economy and finance their Earth-based economy, bolstering ever-expanding wars of conquest, but that once the worlds were bled dry, that we would destroy ourselves, with a little destabilizing help from Imperial guards. Considering the make-up of our local civilization, it seemed inevitable that we would destroy each other when times got tough, a time when the resources ran dry and the Imperium ceased supporting us with the necessities of civilization that could not be manufactured locally.

Even early on in the colonization of the Clayborne worlds, that is exactly what happened.  Unwisely, to say the least, the Imperium representatives gave the game away too soon, when dreams of independence rode high in the minds and hearts of the colonizers.  Conflict ensued.  But at first it wasn’t against the Imperium.  That seemed too big a slice to tackle.  In anger and frustration, various groups, and towns led by gang lords, armed themselves by whatever means, mostly clubs, compound bows and arrows, long handled barbed spears and long knives or machetes, as well as agricultural implements which had reluctantly been allocated to them, and began to attack each other for control of the worlds.

That wasn’t according to plan since by now little or no effort was being made to mine the planets.  Everybody was too busy strengthening their defences and protecting their fields and other food supplies while attempting to lay waste to “the enemy’s” fields and food supplies, transports and storehouses and stealing resources and useful labour and women.

We could almost hear the screams of anger from stock market and “trading houses” all the way though space from an incensed earth, home base of the Imperium, as resources from the Claybornes’ came to a quasi-standstill.  Fortunes in speculation were being lost by the month, the week, even by the hour.  Action was demanded of Arch Imperator, Junes Kohlmadir.  She did what her kind do best: responded by massive force of arms against the wayward planets.

The Imperium intervened  with iron fist and jack boots.  Martial law and a general ban on every sort of weaponry was declared.  Walls around fortified towns were dismantled, sometimes with explosives, more often with slave labour from those arrested for disturbing Imperium-mandated peace; those that is who hadn’t been publicly executed in the first reactionary wave of the new military dictatorship.  They executed thousands of individuals, including women and young children – as an example.  As any thinking person would know and expect, more violence ensued, now directly aimed at the Imperium troopers and subsequent governors sent to negotiate and re-establish a working peace.  Adding insult to injury, the Imperium representatives decreed that any existing facility that could produce a space-faring vessel was to be utterly destroyed, not simply mothballed.  The Imperium set up its own space station to repair and upgrade its own ships.  All merchant ships had to have (and pay for) a complement of Imperium troopers on board, and an Imperium representative to accompany the captain at all times whenever it landed on one of our worlds.

This is the tipping point, where the Imperium, instead of subduing us, only succeeded in uniting the entire planet against the Imperium.

These people, my people, learned through bitter and bloody experience to hate the Imperium with passionate fury and vowed never to let the predators get their resources as cheaply as they had in the past.  We vowed to fight the Imperium to the last man, woman and child on our world.  There would be no free interference in our affairs.  Autonomy or death, was our slogan and war cry.  In the morning the call to arms and resistance would show up, painted on walls, fences, and even on the side of Imperial armoured personel carriers and tanks.  So the people began to organize; to create larger and larger political groups and legally challenge the Imperium’s manipulations.  We lived in wave after wave of bloody crackdowns and brutal repression but any talk of surrendering resulted in another body hanging from a pole, or tree, for the troopers to cut down and dispose of.  We would no longer be the Imperium’s “hewers of wood and drawers of water” forever, or until our worlds became unable to sustain life due to heavy extraction of natural resources and unchecked man-made pollution and we were abandoned to perish in the depths of space, with no hope of ever seeing rescue transportation off our dying rock.

Whenever the Imperium landed a detachment of Guard troopers, mobs formed and there was the inevitable bloodbath.  It is said that half of the population of Armistice died in the anti-Imperium “mob wars” that had already lasted two generations when, at sixteen, I found myself fighting for freedom.

So, ask me, do we know what to do if we encounter a mob?  Sure, if it’s from our side, join in.  If it’s from the enemy side, slink away and report its movements to our side, then form our own defensive counter-mob and attack.  To hesitate is to loose.  Now we are solidly united with our own spilled blood against the Imperium.  There would be no quarter from our side, for we are the legitimate people of this world.  

“Let me repeat:  a mob is a leaderless group of ten or more people bent on destruction and murder.  Report any mob to the nearest Guard post.”  Yes ma’am, thank you ma’am and why don’t you pack up your stupid course materials and return home by the first shuttle, with no due respect, ma’am?  Take some Star Trek holos back with you and base your next history course on them.  Maybe your students won’t turn into zombies on the first day. 

Meanwhile, what’s the real mob? There can be but one answer to that: it’s the Imperium.  The real Mob is always the largest, most powerful predatory group, for a mob takes what it wants because it has the power to do so.  Smaller groups, or “mobs” serve but to justify the real Mob’s oppression, or to do some of its dirtiest “wet” work.  Think “terrorists” as the vanguard of the Mob.  Oh yes, I have read quite a bit of the home world’s history to understand why here, on Armistice, we do what we do, and why we call our world by that meaningless term.  A mob, leaderless?  Never, no such thing.  The “leader” may not be a human being, it may be injustice, hunger, oppression, enslavement, but oh yes, a mob always has a leader.  In fact such a leader is the most powerful and motivational if it isn’t human, but an irresistible force, when choice is no longer choice.  Where, or when, anger and hate fill the collective vat of despair and feet begin to walk; hands grab sticks, stones, anything defensive or offensive, and charge down the street.

There came the inevitable bloody clash between Armisticians and troopers.  I was wounded in it and captured.  I was then seventeen earth years of age.  I am now an old but still strong woman from the hard labour I have performed my entire captive life.  I survived the mandatory torture and gang rapes, solitary confinement, sub-standard food fare and damp, cold, filthy accomodations.  Today, from my life imprisonment cell on Rebus, one of several Imperium prison planets, I write this for the “counselors” to read and ponder: “Down with the Imperium!  I still hope to see its final downfall.  How dare you call yourselves “civilized” and us “savages” and “terrorists.”   You are nothing but cowards who starve and kill women and children so your elites can wine and dine, get richer and brag.  Your lives are as hollow as the insides of our tiger reed.  I could almost pity you but will never: I vowed eternal hate and enmity between us and so it shall be.

Signed:  Selinia Armstrong of the free world of Armistice

                                [thoughts from   ~burning woman~  by Sha’Tara]

Given the way global and local events are developing, a serious observation can give but one conclusion: that long-talked about collapse of civilization is going to take place.  It probably will not be tomorrow, or next month, or next year.  It may not happen in ten years, or fifty.  The forces orchestrating the collapse of man’s “great” accomplishments are on the job, so to speak, but not all are totally committed to their task.  With all the moving and shaking, who knows but we may yet enjoy some reprieve, some years of relative calm and peace.  Unlikely but possible. 

That said and out of the way, I’m currently reading a dystopian novel called “The Water Knife” by Paolo Bacigalupi.  It’s centered in the US – namely the states of California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Colorado.  The droughts have been severe and finally it’s been realized that water is at a premium.  Acts of sabotage and quasi-civil war take place between farmers, states, and cities fighting for water, and those fighting to keep their water rights: fighting for survival.  It’s a horrible time for all involved, with massive movements of displaced persons or refugees leaving farms, towns and cities that have lost out to the highest or most aggressive bidders and find themselves literally without water. 

It’s not too difficult at this point to see how this could happen, and in a short time.  Even flooding is not a good gauge to use to measure drought: there’s short term and long term, and man should learn to reason and act long term, but so far that ability has quite eluded the creature.

I want to end this with a quote from the novel: [Maria Villarosa, a young girl alone and lost in the chaos] “Why?” she asked, finally.  “Why are you so nice?  It doesn’t make sense.  I’m not your woman.  I’m not your people.”

[Toomie, an old black man] “We’re all each other’s people.  Just like we’re all our brothers’ keepers.  We forget it sometimes.  When everything’s going to pieces, people can forget.  But in the end?  We’re all in it together.  You are my people, Maria.  No question in my mind.”

No question in my mind either, not now.  But it took many years to work that simple addition to arrive at the correct answer.  And even now, having made compassion and service my purpose, my passion, the selfish thoughts and times arise.  Not as powerfully as they once did, but it is still a narrow path from which it is easy to stray and stray too far you won’t find it again.  That is my one fear: that I would follow some will o’ the wisp, some lure, some promise of a short cut and find myself hopelessly lost.  So I gnaw at this compassion bone, and drag it around with me.  If I bury it at the end of the day, I make sure to dig it up again in the morning and drag it along to worry it some more. 

Some might say, why should we care?  You live, you die, case closed.  That works for those who convince themselves that is how it is.  There are some of us, and you may pity us indeed, who happen to k-n-o-w that death is not an end but a passage, and a sort of test.  On the other side there are no “things,” no pretty bodies with seductive smiles to win over the judges, no Olympic gold medals, no Nobel or Pulitzer prizes, no stacks of money, no deeds to any plantation.  Yes, there are deeds, and that’s the problem.  Our deeds, my deeds.  My thoughts.  My words.  These are my judges, after death has done its thing and stripped me of all those physical “things” that don’t mean a thing at the end of the path. 

So yes, it’s going to happen.  In this life, in the next, whatever.  What matters to me is preparedness.  Knowing how to face to chaos when it comes.  Note that I’m not saying the sky is falling, I’m merely saying that we should all take advantage of this warning time to teach ourselves how to respond… properly, as compassionate and caring individuals.  Not as survivors – these die last – but as sharing and giving people, for if I have and my neighbour does not, I’m but half-alive until I share.  Openly, freely. 

Just thought I’d pass that along.  It’s what’s been filling my days (and dreams) lately, while the wild fires continue to burn.  A picture of a smoke-filled sunrise taken a week ago.  The smoke continues… though somewhat abating in the Lower Mainland (B.C., Canada) 

Destiny?  What Destiny?

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~]

While trying to assemble the human jigsaw puzzle in my mind, I have been keeping track of the missing pieces which must eventually spell the end of civilization as we’ve known it through history and as we sadly observe it today. 

One of these major missing pieces is a sentient species’ sense of destiny.  Most people, it seems, do not possess a personal sense of destiny – certainly not in any serious sense.  The same is true of man as a species: it does not have a declared sense of destiny.  The question to keep in mind while considering this problem is, “Can a sentient species call itself human and not have a sense of destiny?” (Question for another time.)  

For millennia we’ve relied on the gods to map our destiny for us.  We were “powerfully motivated” not to think about destiny except as decreed by the gods’ varied and various institutions and we responded with slavish obedience and mindless praise.  The gods died, one by one, and one day when no one was really looking, they’d been officially replaced by crass materialism, Marxism and evolutionary Darwinism.  What should have been a triumph of humanitarian accomplishments and freedom turned out to be a giant, possibly catastrophic, step backward for man and his little world.  OK, backward is wrong.  Better put, two giant steps sideways, one to the left and one to the right.  

Whereas the gods had always offered specious promises of some type of eternal life thus unwittingly providing a bulwark against massive and unchecked growth and material exploitation, Marxism and Darwinism created the dead end, fall over, cliff into perpetual darkness.  The new gospel proclaimed that an individual came from nothing and passed into nothing.  The future of mankind was no longer to be found in spiritual development or mental expansion but would be tied to the vagaries of a mindless finite material universe.  If a thinking individual thought of “the future” at all, it was in terms of some nebulous “future of mankind” or “future of the planet.” 

The results of this approach were not long in manifesting.  There came a rage to “live in the now” manifested as mindless consumerism and hedonism.  Destiny, if it was even thought of in those terms, was understood as the bolstering, protection and expansion of the Status Quo as determined by a numerically shrinking, exponentially richer class of elitist individuals and “noble” families. 

Our civilization is plunging into chaos because it isn’t aware of whether it serves a greater purpose, or none at all or whether it is just supposed to serve itself… at whatever costs to… whatever and whomever.  

Before science took over man’s mind, the gods, or increasingly the great male god, provided man’s purpose and that dead end purpose was stated as “to praise, serve and obey god.”  No other reason was given whereby man could find his purpose in life and if man refused to kowtow to god, his end would be inconceivably horrible.  If he managed to jump through all the legalistic hoops and traps set out by the god’s priesthood, remaining on the straight and narrow every minute, he just might be saved.  That kept some people very busy, very fearful and very poor.  It also kept them very ignorant of everything, particularly of the cosmos they lived in.  

Then science, or perhaps better put, pseudo science, prostitute of political and financial forces, took the upper hand, using obvious foolishness and fallacies of organized religion to push its own theories on how it all worked, onto civilization’s stage.  It claimed the limelight and after a few lucky guesses, established itself as “the Voice” of reason and knowledge.  Once established, it could now stick out its hand and receive the dues from the Status Quo that used to flow into Religion’s coffers.  The same dirty money into a different set of bloody hands. 

What did man get from that exchange of powers?  A new pseudo destiny, probably best described by a novel I read once: Tomorrow, the Stars (Heinlein, if you must know!).  Key word here?  Tomorrow.  Religion, all over again.  Patience, hope, faith… and tomorrow you’ll have it, if you donate, believe, pay your taxes and accept marginalization.  The problem with this is, “tomorrow” never comes.  All the tomorrows of science were soon sold out to the highest bidder, and instead of “light ships” capable of doing many times the speed of light ploughing through space to find “brave new worlds and new civilizations” man inherited nuclear weaponry and other weapons of mass destruction.  He was given poisons with which to kill unwanted lifeforms and increase depleted soil yields and science called that “the Green Revolution.” He was given nuclear power plants and dams… and pipelines and highways on which to burn whatever flowed out of the pipelines.  In short, man was given a much wider and faster treadmill than he’d ever experienced and he was ecstatic.  For a very short while.     

Religion gave man death through endless wars.  Science added a poisoned environment to endless wars. 

Of our destiny we remain blissfully ignorant.

The Years of Purple Mountains

[a poem by   ~burning woman~]

 How well I remember
The years of purple mountains
Rising above morning mists
In a distant west;
Of bright blue skies
Dotted with white clouds
Shadowing green hills
And higher still
Dark lines of evergreens
Demarcation between grass
And stark grey rocky faces,
Postcard of nature’s mantle.

I remember placid cows
Peacefully grazing
Rolling fields of rich clover;
Colourful barns and tall silos
Enclosed in white fences
And colts galloping freely
While a mighty river
Flowed majestically
To the grey ocean.

How well I remember
Those years of growing up,
Dreaming of such a land
As images passed by
On the breakfast table
Day after day after day:
Pretty labels, pretty ads
On cans of milk;
On cereal boxes
That fed childhood dreams.

Years later I did see
The purple mountains in morning mists,
The placid cows and gamboling colts.
I saw that river flowing to the grey ocean,
Made my home by it’s shores
And learned to paddle its currents.
I smelled the spring flowers;
Tasted the briny air while watching
Grey waves slither and slide
Over gravelly and sandy shores

And I fell in love.  Long ago.

Now many more years have passed:
The mountains are scarred,
Dry and dead, snows melted off;
Streams of mud and slash
Fill a poisoned river with mud;
Gated communities and high-rises
Replace the grass, feedlots
Mud and steel replace white fences
And flowers no longer grow
Along the roadsides.

One generation, armed with science
Technology and moved by greed:
All it took to kill it all. 
Has this horror made it stop?
No. Like the forever war,
The killing continues apace.

Death, the only possible legacy
of a generation of the entitled.

Paraphrase:  Esau came back from his fields hungry.  His brother Jacob had a pot of beans cooking on the fire and the smell stirred up his hunger even more.  Give me some of your beans, Jacob, I’m dying of hunger.  Jacob replied, I’ll feed you if you trade me your elder’s birthright for my beans.  Esau reasoned thus, What good is a birthright when I’m dying of hunger?  He made the trade, sold his birthright for a “mess of pottage.” There be a lesson never learned in that biblical tale.