Category Archives: responsibility

Williams Lake Volunteer Project, week 2 of 4

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

I feel too exhausted to write anything but it’s Sunday and I am bunking in a church basement, above which there is a “service” replete with raunchy wall-shaking rock-n-roll noise that passes itself off as worship “music.” So I’m out here in my van with my own music emanating from ear protectors because even out here at the end of the parking lot and with all windows closed the horror still penetrates. Well, that’s the world and that’s how madness has managed to pass itself off as normalcy. The programming has adjusted to make insanity seem sane, torture as entertainment, insulting performances as the highest form of praise for insane gods and equally insane followers.

Beginning of week 2 of a 4 week stint, today is a bit cooler due to a combination of light cloud cover and thick wood smoke. Yesterday ashes were carried on the wind, the smoke was eye-burning and the sinuses were not happy. It sprinkled a bit during the night, settling the ash blow but not the smoke. No matter which way the winds blow, there are wild fires all around… The West Coast is burning.

We are currently “processing” three houses for people who literally lost everything in last years wild fires. I’ve been working on framing the third house. Next door (almost) to this work site is one of the other houses I worked on framing over a month ago on my first venture in this part of the country. The outside is almost completed and it is a very pretty house.

It gives a true perspective of the “endless struggle” for survival through perpetual rebuilding as we rebuild burned-out homes surrounded by more of the same, in smoke and ash and more fires. Thus it will be as more of the earth is devastated through climate change and accompanying wars and man’s stubborn and stupid unwillingness to take responsibility for causing much of this negative change.

There is more. Two nights ago about a thousand dollars worth of lumber were stolen from our work site by locals. While this kind of theft is common practice among the predatory Earthians, hence all the resources spent on security to protect ourselves from one-another, it also goes to show how the creatures remain irredeemable. Our work sites are clearly identified as volunteer labour. They know the materials are purchased mostly from funds donated by individuals, many of whom can ill afford it. They know the situation, that these houses are being built to replace losses the owners could not recoup. They know, they know, they know, but they don’t care. They are just like their leaders and rulers: it’s all about me and if I can get away with it, I’d be a fool not to help myself, fuck the losers.

I could have entitled this “fuck the losers” because that is the real motto of Earthianity. We take advantage because that is the first rule of our type of survival. We steal because we can. We rise to the degree that we can push others down. We make ourselves feel good to the degree that we can oppress and push others to serve our desires and greed and we do not ask how the losers feel about it: it’s their role to provide.

While I’m sitting in this church parking lot I remember how many such parking lots I’ve walked through, driven in, parked in, then walked into the “sanctuary” to find God and along with that, a solution to man’s depraved nature. I’m made aware of the futility of it, and the vile hypocrisy. It’s all about entitlement, isn’t it. I’ve read the bible in a desperate attempt to discover the nature of God and I found it: God made man in his own image, and in that nature, as it expresses itself today, is God. To those who believe in God I say, seek not in institutions, books or theological arguments to find God: look at your species and how it interacts with others and with its environment. There is the mind of God in action.

For those who do not believe in God, nothing changes. The nature is the same. Atheists, by and large, claim to be superior to those still in bondage to religion but they are not. I have found no difference at all. Same Earthian hubris. Same sort of attitude summed up as “Après moi, le Déluge!” Their God is a mix of science (whore of the military-industrial complex) and their messiah, replacing Jesus, Buddha or Mohamed, is Darwin; promises of eternal life replaced with self-assurances of blissful annihilation.

What I have found, not only in this life but in remembrances of other lives, is that the Earthian creature is incapable of living empathetically. It does not understand self empowerment, the necessity of compassion-based self-sacrifice, putting others constantly before the self, or self-denial. Despite the clear and present evidence that its ways are bringing forth its own termination and perhaps that of this entire world, it refuses to take personal responsibility for any problem.

Quote: “A man who is used to acting in one way never changes; he must come to ruin when the times, in changing, no longer are in harmony with his ways.” ― Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

This morning there’s a burning in my heart to express something, but it wasn’t until I received the following in my mail that I realized where I was walking once again.

Quote: “Despair is the state in which anxiety and restlessness are immanent to existence. Nobody in despair suffers from “problems”, but from his own inner torment and fire. It’s a pity that nothing can be solved in this world. Yet there never was and there never will be anyone who would commit suicide for this reason. So much for the power that intellectual anxiety has over the total anxiety of our being! That is why I prefer the dramatic life, consumed by inner fires and tortured by destiny, to the intellectual, caught up in abstractions which do not engage the essence of our subjectivity. I despise the absence of risks, madness and passion in abstract thinking. How fertile live, passionate thinking is! Lyricism feeds it like blood pumped into the heart! ― Emil M. Cioran, On the Heights of Despair – 1933)

Some of us exist as bog fires. We burn, winter and summer and we are impossible to extinguish. Why? Because no one understands the source of our fire.

In fact, I don’t understand it either, it just is. Perhaps I should use the term “burning bush” because the more we burn, the more we have to burn. Nothing is consumed. No entropy here, quite the opposite. The world and its desires may well pass away, over and over, but this struggling thing I call “me” remains, dies, returns, again and again.

Why? If ‘nothing can be solved in this world’ (see above quote) why return? In those nebulous times in-between endless strings of lives, do we forget? Do we re-arrive here all innocent, a tabula rasa, having no remembrances of having walked through vales of tears and mountains of glory, in bare feet or harsh armour? Of hunger and surfeit? Of enslavement and mastery?

Passing through, surviving (to what end?) and perhaps fixing a few little things, I know I will not solve, nor resolve any of this world’s major and obvious problems. For those solutions I must defer to greater aspects of life than me. When I was young and my fire burned on the surface I would not have accepted this truth but now that I have gone underground and the burning is steady and controlled, I realize it is how it should be. I am not the conscience of this world, or any world or reality. Suffice that I am my own and that I have the power within myself, finally, to understand how to control that tiny part of all that is.

As Victor Frankl wrote: “Who would bring light must endure burning” Passion is burning. Some time back, feeling my burning, I wrote the following. Perhaps another in similar pain will receive validation; take comfort from these words, they are not empty utterances:

Where Hope fails Despair will Serve
[a poem by ~burning woman~ ]
There, I’ve shown you:
No hope, no hope left
Not for you, not for them.
Your children are dying
Don’t you see? Are you blind?
I’ve taken away every strand
Of your pitifully weak hope
And what can you do now
But admit my power,
And bow to the inevitable, to me?

She looks upon her foe as he gloats over her,
She turns and stares ahead
At a land stretching before her tired eyes
Dark, menacing, parched, dead.
She hears the incomprehensible,
The language of the damned, tortured screams
Rise from places she cannot name.

She looks down at the children
Cowering at her bloody feet
Whimpering, hungry, frightened,
Shivering in their bits of rags;
Her own clothes in no better shape.
She feels the hollowness
Of her own body and tired mind
Dragging her down to yield,
To sleep and to forget.

This must be the end she reasons once again,
And I’ve been misled, lied to, to take this way
Try to lead the children and find a way of escape:
I cannot go further; I have nothing left.

Her enemy laughs again.
You’re done then, hey?
Say yes, give up, give up!

“No!” she says turning to face him,
Her cracked lips bleeding:
This isn’t our end, this is our beginning.
Hope there may no longer be;
No comfort may be waiting
When we walk from here but know this:
Where hope fails, as it often must,
There is always despair.

Rousing the children
She leads them into the darkness:
We shall not be his slaves
She tells them,
Let death take us then if that’s how it must be.

But it wasn’t death that waited there,
It was freedom earned
From courage to say “No,”
Taking that last resolute step
Where he could never follow.

Despair is the end of all power usage and as rawgod said to me commenting on another post, “Non-use of power IS the ultimate use of power. To have it, and refuse to use it, that is powerful.”  I am just beginning to understand what that means, and the personal costs associated with it.

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

“…and you realize this is where you live.” (last words from the movie, “Brooklyn”). How many times have I tried to tell myself that “this is where I live” only to have to face the fact that none of those places, countries, lands, towns, houses, families or circles of friends represented where I lived? If I ask myself, ‘Where do you live?’ the most honest answer must be, ‘Nowhere.’

 

I think that the cosmos is a very big place, almost as big, but not quite, as the inside of my heart. That is the biggest place of all because no matter where I go, it is already there waiting for me. I know this, and should I apologize for having such a perception? It’s true, no matter where I go, I need no introduction, no ID, nor do I need any ‘Welcome home’ parties.

Because I am nobody, I am everybody. That is a hard fact to get my small head around. Can such a concept mean anything? Maybe. If I am ‘everybody’ in my heart (inclusive) but in my mind I hate someone, or think of someone, anyone, in some lesser or derogatory way (exclusive) doesn’t that mean I’m hating myself, mocking myself?

While I’m preparing myself to engage another month-long volunteer excursion in that northern country I don’t much care for, I realize that life has erected this strange parabolic mirror for me to look into. Well, talk about an embarrassment! Looks like I’m a far cry from being what I’d imagined myself to be… by now, what with all that talk about living compassionately. Oh sure, for this one life, in comparison to where I’ve come from certainly I can say I am living compassionately, if I remember to add: incrementally.

I don’t make resolutions, too much like promises and I don’t do those either, but I do have to work from the mind at changing myself, and that means resolving to eschew certain though patterns I’ve grown quite fond of through the years.

Where do I live? I live in my mind. Where does my mind live? In the thought patterns that define my real, not imagined, philosophy; that define my real self. So, it isn’t what I do, or what I’m perceived as being I must focus my mind on, but the thought patterns that circumscribe the world I exist in. What is that like?

Imagine living in a place that has suffered some serious strafing and bombing: that’s what it’s like living here. Sure I can call it home, but not the kind of home I could ever be comfortable in, not until some equally serious reconstructing has been done.  OK, I live in a reconstruction zone. Only I’m the owner, and fully responsible for how that reconstructing is being done. I’m the architect, the designer, the contractor, and I also pay all the bills. That’s how it is. And, I need the wherewithal to pay those bills.

As humans; as mind beings, we are not poor. We do not lack any of the means to do the reconstructing in our minds. I don’t know how the resources got there but we have them: all the vices and all the virtues we will ever need or could ever use. All we need to do it pick and choose which ones we will use in the reconstructing.

That’s not rocket science but it does mean we need to teach ourselves how to put these things together properly so we can live with the end result. Who wants to live in some cobbled-up construct that could collapse at any time, or that was designed by some fly-by-night con artist we thought we could trust?

Another day of observing thought patterns to see if, and how, they add up to the kind of life I need, I must, have for myself before my smug life-long companion with his ever-present grin claims my body.

“The mind has many watchdogs; sometimes they bark unnecessarily, but a wise man never ignores their warning.” (A Fall of Moondust, Arthur C. Clark)

Reblog: The Blue Pill Presidency

I just had to reblog this post from CounterPunch (more links pasted at bottom of this post) This is what I call writing… wow! One little tid-bit: ” We now identify with our captors – at least the ones playing the ‘good capitalist’ role, rather than recognizing that all the players in this absurdist spectacle of ‘Curtains for the Anthropocene’ are complicit profiteers of impending planetary collapse.”

July 19, 2018

The Blue Pill Presidency

by Jennifer Matsui

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Who would have predicted that in 2018, the FBI, the CIA, John McCain, Jeff Bezos, and now the monarchy would be feted as the vanguard of ‘The Resistance’ by the American ‘left’? Suddenly Trump’s presidency makes sense. To paraphrase a leaked Deep Squid memo from the deep swamps of Deep Space: “When they are forced to eat shit sandwiches around the clock, eventually deep fried vampire squid will appear delectable by comparison. Mission almost accomplished. Mwaah ha ha . . . !”

Our cephalopod overlords know us better than we do. After all, they created and control the devices that keep us under surveillance, and the algorithms that accurately predict at what point we will press ‘accept’ on the terms and conditions of a Trumpless, Squid-led world order that builds walls, empowers banks, oligarchs and polluters, while privatizing and militarizing everything that isn’t nailed down. We now identify with our captors – at least the ones playing the ‘good capitalist’ role, rather than recognizing that all the players in this absurdist spectacle of ‘Curtains for the Anthropocene’ are complicit profiteers of impending planetary collapse.

Fighting fascism is a noble and worthy pursuit. Unfortunately, we haven’t quite figured out how to do it. Flaming pitchforks or pussy hats? Collective struggle or individual belief in the power of existing institutions to rein in their own power? (Cue evil laugh track here) Allowing oligarchs, tech billionaires, war criminals, secret police agencies and monarchs to lead the charge is like treating a worsening chronic ailment with skin burrowing predator aliens from a deep space wormhole. Once you let ’em in, they will feast on your organs and prey on everything in their path. Don’t believe it? Just ask your local polar bear, honey bee or independent bookstore owner.

Notice how the Left establishment is suddenly enraged that a ‘classless’ dotard Bingo hall barker doesn’t know how to curtsy all proper-like on his tax-funded tour of Downton Abbey. Fancy that! Ten million slated to die of disease and starvation in Yemen? Whatever . . .

Before we all break out into a Beyonce led chorus of “God Save the Queen – She’s a Stellar Human Being – She Smote the Tangerine – Let’s Put Her Name on a War Ship’s Submarine”, here’s a little reminder: The old lady might look like she’s luring yet another loose cannon lunatic into a Paris tunnel with her super monarch powers, but QE2 would sooner submit to a golden Trump shower before she would relinquish her role in the feudalism that keeps her in jewels and corgis. The oaf in office is just another necessary evil the class system’s crypt keeper has to contend with for the survival of her undead progeny.

Post-Trump, we will never question the tentacled Master Race again, or doubt their wisdom. Eternal warfare and worsening poverty will be viewed through a ‘blue pill’ haze of relief. The nightmare ends. We are none the wiser, having taken the option to forget and move on. An escape back into reality, as the metaphorical ‘red pill’ suggests, would require a brutal confrontation with truth and the permanent discomfiture that comes with knowledge. Instead, we will once again swallow the same pill that transformed George W. Bush a beloved and unfairly maligned statesmen a few short years after his presidency unleashed those still burning hellfires across much of the earth. Her Majesty will once again be properly genuflected to by a visiting American head of state with better hair plugs.

FLOTUS will be decommissioned, disassembled, and sent back to the offshore factory that makes state-of-the-art Living Dolls for moneyed incels. With any luck, she will be rebooted as a life sized Barbie companion for a lonely 12-year girl old in Dubai. Worst case scenario: A shipping invoice mishap will have her sent to Barron on his 30th birthday.

The ceaseless bombing and starvation will continue under a different Twitter feed, and POTUS 46, after proving he can clip on his own tie before launching a nuclear strike on Iran will be embraced by woke folk, arms dealers, spooks and crowned heads of states alike.

After being hogtied and injected with near-lethal doses of absurdity, we find ourselves collectively hallucinating a tinpot tycoon blowing up Twitter one day, a giant orange clown in a diaper floating over London the next. Carefully sowed confusion will give way to an equally orchestrated acceptance of the war-as-usual status quo when the blue pill kicks in. A return to normal will be a much welcome steel-toed boot to the face.

More articles by:Jennifer Matsui

Jennifer Matsui is a writer living in Tokyo.

CounterPunch

What’s it Like – a Lesson from the Anthill

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]
 
What’s it like when an age-old and more-or-less trusted, definitely believed-in system begins to unravel, and as it does, it reveals that neither the emperor, nor those who bow before the august personage, have any clothes on despite having spent fortunes to convince themselves they had the best clothes any age, any society, any nation, any empire, ever wore? 
 
The system I’m talking about is capitalism. For most, capitalism is the best way if not the only way, to handle economies and satisfy the desires of the go-getters.  It’s bloody competition, but instead of lions in a savanna, or sharks in an ocean, this is done with money and the blood isn’t actually food, just collateral damage. For the believers, such damage is not only acceptable, but necessary to keep the system going. How else could it work? Capitalism’s first need is war, and it’s health depends entirely on perpetual war.
For those who doubt this, show me a true period of history that does not involve some form of war or conquest; an era concerned solely with the welfare of people and the planet during which there is no war at all. Please!
 
Capitalism, for those rare few in the know, aware, and sensitive to things that really don’t work, is a system designed solely to create the mass illusion of scarcity in a world of plenty.  The pretend competition is what gives meaning to the illusion of monetary motion between individuals and/or large collectives. Another word for manufactured scarcity is debt. 
 
According to the Gospel of Capitalism, every nation on the planet must, of necessity, be hopelessly indebted to organizations invented strictly to create the illusion of debt. International banking houses, organizations like the IMF, the Fed, (watch these replicate as time tightens the rope around the capitalists’ necks) these dictate who loses and who wins as they are forced to participate in gambling casinos they call international trade deals. First rule of gambling: the house always wins.
 
Think for one moment: why should those who sit on, and own by right, national, natural and labour (the only real resources), be indebted to institutions because these institutions say they are entitled to all of it, and entitled to distribute the spoils as they see fit?

Hello, out there?

“Beam me up Scotty, there’s no intelligent life down here!” 
 
Again, why should a native of El Salvador live in abject poverty, fear for his, or his family’s lives, or slave for some multinational corporation that has nothing to do with his country and is nothing but a vulture sitting on a carcass it claims for itself?  Can anyone explain the justice in that? If not, why not? If unjust, then why is it accepted as normal? Is injustice so ingrained in the Earthian brain that it no longer matters… maybe never has mattered until it slaps that brain across the face when it expected a handout and a silly and meaningless revolution results?  
 
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings…” And yet it fascinates me to see, in the current times, reasonably intelligent underlings scatter about each time someone or something kicks the anthill of civilization, to repair and rebuild, despite the fact that each repair and rebuild leaves the edifice in less working order than before the first kick and the ants much worse off. 
 
I used to do that to anthills in the north, there were lots of them, and watch what happened, week after week, after each time I flattened their hill. They’d swarm out and immediately set about rebuilding. As long as there was a queen in there, the rebuilding happened, though it looked less and less like a “hill” as the ants were too busy rebuilding to seek out food and tired themselves out in their useless labour. If I got the queen, the anthill was abandoned and reverted to grass. 
 
I see “the economy” and “climate change” and increased population with associated disorders, kicking “the living shit” out of civilization’s anthill, and I see those frightened, angry, brainwashed ants immediately rushing about madly plugging, patching, repairing the worst holes. They live in the “hope that springeth eternal in the human breast” that a younger queen (say, alternative energy, a “green” government, even perpetual motion machines – call it what you will)  will be able to prevent the final disaster: the end of the collective, for ants, being ants, cannot imagine life without the anthill. 
 
Collective madness: that’s what it’s like at the moment on earth’s kicked anthill.

“Say, ants, have you thought that perhaps it’s high time to imagine and implement an entirely new type of interaction with the environment, with each other, one that doesn’t require the maintenance of an entropic anthill?”

Injustice is ingrained
in my Earthian brain.
I struggle in vain
hoping for some gain
but the system’s a bane
in which I but wane
to an end which is pain.  (File that one under truly bad poetry)

 
Quote: “War is the only true industry capitalism can produce.” (Comment by Sojourner on TubularSock, WordPress)
 
 
 

It’s a Wonderful World (isn’t it?)

“I see trees of green – Red roses too – I see em bloom – For me and for you
And I think to myself…. What a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue – Clouds of white – Bright blessed days – Dark sacred nights
And I think to myself….. What a wonderful world.

The colors of a rainbow – So pretty – In the sky – Are also on the faces – Of people – Going by – I see friends shaking hands – Sayin – How do you do – They’re really sayin – I love you.

I hear babies cry – I watch them grow – They’ll learn much more – Than I’ll never know
And I think to myself – What a wonderful world…”

… and I think to myself… what have you been snorting, or sniffing?

I just finished my day’s work, and scanning through a hundred emails, you know, looking for  whatever might stir my imagination. Well, imagine my surprise to find messages about Donald Trump, anthropological climate change, Canada sending “training” troops to Iraq; Venezuela on the verge of being invaded by the US for daring to choose a national path rather than one dictated by Washington… then stuff on Brexit and more trade wars. All in all, it’s a Wonderful World, isn’t it?

“There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” – yeah, heard that one a time or two. And if that’s the case, we’re about to see a lot of light coming through in the coming years.

I’m relaxing with a glass of white wine and some munchies, watching the movie, “Last Love”. The complaint about that movie was, it’s too dragged out; too slow, but I don’t find it so. Does everything have to happen in a panic? Do we always have to be speeding down that road to arrive nowhere? What’s the rush?

I’m thinking, not that it’s such a wonderful world, but that we, as a species, collectively and subconsciously, are facing a mass extinction event and perhaps, also subconsciously, because of one, huge, unavoidable and massive collective sense of guilt, just want to get it over with. Maybe we don’t want to see our grand children, and great grand children, die in horrible circumstances, in conditions that never need to have come about had we chosen not to listen to demagogues of bullshit; had we chosen not to feed our Earthian hubris, greed, sense of entitlement, opportunism, bigotry, and the standard stance I’d label as rank stupidity. So, instead of doing something really “real” to change the direction this society is tumbling in, let’s just take that fast lane to nowhere so as not to have time to think about real and serious alternatives.

It should come as no surprise if I wrote here that having a nice house, a hot tub, a barbecue, is really more important to most people than the future of their progeny. “Après moi, le déluge!” To hell with the future, eat drink and be merry for tomorrow, we die.

I’ve been observing the people who talk a good game about climate change and other possibly catastrophic developments for the planet, and guess what? Sure people talk a good game but how many seriously change their lifestyle, their expectations, to show how legitimate their concerns are? How many change the way they think about a corrupt and dying system? What I see is people desperate to hang on to the bit of pretend stability this bloody system is giving them.

How would one honestly answer those charges? An important question because ultimately, you realize, it won’t be the Trumps of this world who will make the real difference when it comes crashing down, it will be the, let’s see what could one call them, that silent uncaring majority of sheeple, of unwashed masses, of deplorables, the 99% who insist on blaming “the rich” and “the elites” for the sad state of the planet while going on emulating them in every possible little ugly way.

Let me reiterate this: if blame is to be attached to one group of people for the sad state of this world, let it be put on the shoulders of those who deserve it: all, except the leaders, elites, rich, bosses, rulers or whatever. They don’t matter; they don’t make the final decisions; they aren’t the ones condemning your grand children to poverty, famine and early death from wars and a collapsing ecosystem. They don’t fight the wars, remember? You do! They don’t even make shit and they don’t consume it, you do. They make laws and don’t live by them, you do. Pathetic, isn’t it? 99% of a population of intelligent sentience lets itself be destroyed by an ignorant, subhuman one percentile clique. Indeed, how pathetic is that?

“About here, she thought, dabbling her fingers in the water, a ship had sunk, and she murmured, dreamily, half asleep, how we perished, each alone. — Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse.”

 

 

The following is copied from a page on CounterPunch (Copyright © CounterPunch
All rights reserved. counterpunch@counterpunch.org

After the “victory” of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and the “settlement” of the civil war in El Salvador, and due to other pressing situations, our support group here in Chilliwack, B.C., Canada, called “The Central America Friendship Committee” was disbanded with a huge sigh of relief. Little did we know that the whole “settlement” thing was, as usual, a two-faced negotiation on the part of Washington and the CIA. Unless they are clearly beaten, as in Vietnam, it doesn’t end, it escalates. Nothing was “settled” and things are not only continuing, but getting worse. As you read the following, if you read the following, note the names of the American presidents who presided over the massacres, tortures and killings of children in Central America. Then in the “killing fields” of refugee seekers in the deserts north of the Mexican border. Then take a few moments to ponder why “Nut’n’Yahoo’s” Zionists can slaughter Palestinian children with such impunity. Washington has always been, remains, and will continue to be the face of racism and genocide worldwide until it is destroyed, or it collapses from its own internal corruption. Those who still believe there is a fix are sadly deluded or they haven’t taken a serious look at the latest presidential face stamped on the latest genocides.

Sha’Tara, July 10, 2018
__________________________________________________________________________________________
July 10, 2018

The Discovery of Central American Suffering

by Nick Alexandrov

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U.S. pundits and politicians just discovered, it seems, that Washington’s decisions harm Central American families. For the New York Times, “separating families…is something new and malicious,” reflecting Trump’s “heartlessness” and violating “fundamental American values.” “This, apparently, is how you turn off the idea of America,” Alex Wagner (The Atlantic) added. The Los Angeles Times thinks “the administration’s cold-hearted approach to enforcement has crossed the line into abject inhumanity,” departing– so we’re to believe– from past practice.

These are half-accurate charges: Trump’s policy is malicious, heartless, cold-hearted. But it isn’t new. Both in Central America and along its Mexican border, Washington has helped rip apart families for decades, forcing children to endure a world without their parents, mothers to cope with their children’s sickening ends. Abject inhumanity, in other words, is a U.S. foreign policy hallmark.

Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras– review their histories. You’ll be crushed by evidence revealing which values shape Washington’s conduct, which norms govern its behavior in a region where it enjoys immense influence. And you’ll begin to understand why many had to flee these countries. Start with Guatemala. Ríos Montt, the dictator the U.S. funded, armed, and encouraged, oversaw the Mayan genocide there. In one episode, on April 3, 1982, the Guatemalan army overran the village of Chel, slaughtering its residents and orphaning Pedro Pacheco Bop, whose great-grandfather, parents, and five siblings (aged two to 14) were all murdered, their blood draining into the Chel River where the troops hurled the dead. Tomas Chávez Brito was two years old when the army fell upon his village, Sajsibán, seven months later, torching his home with his mother, sisters, and other family members inside. In the mountains, where Tomas hid for the following year eating plants to survive, one can only imagine how the idea of orphanhood, his new reality, settled in his mind. Margarita Rivera Ceto de Guzmán’s family separation was quicker. Soldiers knifed her in the stomach, killing her unborn child.

Egla Martínez Salazar, addressing this genocide, explains that assaults on Maya households conveyed “the message that Mayas did not live in ‘real’ families, but rather in ‘living arrangements’ that constituted breeding spaces for ‘international communist indoctrination.’” Erasing these spaces required “the mass murder of children,” plus “the forced transfer of surviving Maya children to military and paramilitary families,” tactics Salvadoran forces also adopted in the 1980s. Apart from killing most of the 75,000 slain there from 1980-1992– the stretch when Carter, Reagan, and Bush I funneled $6 billion into the country– “soldiers [also] abducted children in what an international court says was a ‘systematic pattern of forced disappearances.’”

Similar violence-patterns afflicted Nicaragua and Honduras. The Contras flaunted their family-destroying talents in the former, as when some 1,000 of them, on April 3, 1984, assaulted the village of Waslala. A father there, desperate to save his wife and children, sheltered with them in a ditch. The Contras found him, hauled him out. He was “tortured by having his fingertips and then his right hand cut off, and then killed with bayonets,” and then decapitated, Reed Brody recounts. As a final gesture to their mission’s purity, the Contras, into the dead man’s back, cut intersecting gashes– the shape of the cross. Brody tells another story: in “El Achote a band of contras dragged an agrarian reform worker from his home, and in front of his wife, 11 month old son, and three year old son, cut him into pieces with their bayonets. The man’s wife was then shot, but she lived to watch them behead her 11 month old baby.”

It was Battalion 316 that targeted Honduran families. The Baltimore Sun reported that the unit, “trained and supported by the Central Intelligence Agency,” “kidnapped, tortured and killed” hundreds in the 1980s. One example: Nelson Mackay Chavarría “was 37 years old and the father of five” when the Battalion found him. When searchers later discovered his corpse, “his hands and feet were tied with rope” and “black liquid spilled from his mouth”– criolina, “rubbed on cattle to kill ticks and mites.”

In more recent decades, the U.S. government has forged the Mexican border into a family-wrecking zone. President Clinton’s Operation Gatekeeper, for instance, “only made it harder for people to cross the border at relatively safe places and forced them to cross in more dangerous places, such as the Arizona desert,” writes Carolina Bank Muñoz. She stresses that “the policy broke up families, as few families were willing to take such risks by crossing a dangerous border together.” Maggie Morgan and Deborah Anker, citing ACLU work, note that “the risk of dying while crossing in Arizona was 17 times greater in 2009 than only a decade earlier”– and that “the mortality rate almost doubled” from 2009-2012, on Obama’s watch, “with children constituting roughly 10 per cent of fatalities each year.” Todd Miller estimates these “Southwest ‘killing fields’” have taken some 21,000 lives since the early 1990s.

There’s no question Trump’s migrant policies warrant outrage. But his are only the latest from Washington rattling– if not terminating– Central American lives. If we delude ourselves, if we choose to believe his actions depart from some moral norm, we risk satisfaction with superficial policy shifts. A deeper overhaul is needed to ensure Central American suffering ceases.

More articles by:Nick Alexandrov

Nick Alexandrov lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  He can be reached at: nicholas.alexandrov@gmail.com