Ancient Lands of Beauty

This post is awfully self-indulgent, so feel free to avoid it and come back when I’m talking about something, bookish, or musical, or cinematic, or otherwise meaningless. I do that relatively often.

But not, quite now.

Everyone knows I’ve had it with my current location, and I’m looking to get out of Dodge. And I’m not really too particular about where. I have one primary place I’m working on, and it’s the most likely place for me to end up come September. I say September, because July and August, Papa’s gonna be a rolling stone. Plans for July and August, are to travel, do my best Keoureak/Kane from KUNG-FU impersonation, and wander the world.

See some peaceful, beautiful places… before some idiot blows them up. Before some idiot adds them to the list of countries that are being strip-mined for gas, or rubber, or slave labor.

Countries like Haiti, Rwanda, Nigeria, Brazil and most of South America, Ethiopia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq these are all countries of staggering beauty. If you look at Ethiopia and Somalia, these are people who were smelting iron, and building libraries and architecture unrivaled, when Europe was still filled with stoneage savages killing each other. These are ancient people of beauty, and ancient lands of beauty demolished by a system of colonialism.

Demolished by people, by… “civilized people”, who know nothing of beauty. Who are laying to waste.. entire eco-systems, fauna and flora, culture and languages and lore, for the most crude possessions. Raping their planet, their children’s tomorrows, to gluttonously feed themselves today.

Laying to waste… nations.

Like Haiti was laid to waste.

None of the western countries has ever forgiven Haiti… for the temerity of winning their freedom.

Haiti before UN “help” was a country that could grow anything, it had soil to make a farmer weep with joy. UN imposed mandates, and farming practices, and years of erosive peanut farming destroyed that country’s agriculture.

So Haiti, this Island paradise that won its freedom at a great cost, a land… plentiful and rich in crops, today is a depleted desert in the middle of the tropics. Haitians unable to grow food to keep them alive, they are now forced to import everything from countries they fought to get away from. This is how desperate slave nations are made, and desperate slave nations are kept. This and when even that fails, we toss in a US coup or two.

You trap people between the devil and the deep blue sea.

So today, a lot of countries find themselves, economically and militarily under-siege. A lot of beautiful places, with planning, with intent, 5, 10, 25, 50 year plans… have been turned into hell-holes. Sponges that we, “civilized” countries…. squeeze when we want to wipe our brow.

But there’s a price for such a scorched earth policy, such a genocidal policy.

“I did not want to live what was not life, living is so dear”… Thoreau

Maybe we need those rain forests, the flora, fauna, medicines. Maybe we need these islands as more than corporate sweat boxes, maybe we need these people to live well. So that we may live well.

Maybe what we do onto the least defended, what we allow to be done, we do onto ourselves. So there is no bomb we drop on an Iraqi head, or bullet into a Haitian head, or poison in Nigerian water supply… that does not at close of day define our own ends.

Perhaps there is no individual soul. No singular suffering, no isolated torture. Perhaps those people sitting in US dogpens in Guantanamo Bay, or those sitting in Death Row in a Pennsylvania, or Florida or Texas prison… those who are there because they cared…

Perhaps whether they live or die well, has as much value as whether our children live or die well.

And I want to say a word about Nigeria. All those Nigerian scams. Well it seems all these scams, came out conveniently enough in time to drown out a real issue of genocide and atrocity going on in Nigeria. 50 years of killing, and people are still buying Shell Gas. Oil companies and blood.

And all that to say, but this:

There are more slaves today than there ever were in the 1800s. This city and this country has more than its fair share.

It’s just most of you don’t see your chains.

But they are there.

You pull hard enough and you’ll feel them. I do.

“My parents raised me right so I rebel”

“As long as one of us is chained, none of us are free. Not one of us.”

So, I need to see the world, and maybe do some good someplace.

And maybe by helping someone loose their chains, I may loose my own.

“My parents raised me right so I rebel”

I have a good job that I can no longer keep doing and look myself squarely in the eye.

So I’m selling my house, enough money to hit the road a couple months. Come September I might be a bum someplace; I hear Tanzania is beautiful in September, and the local tribes are starving to death.

The Masai… are starving.

These original vegetarians, real vegetarians… starving because the ground water is poisoned and the soil contaminated. And they can’t keep their cattle alive.

They have roamed those plains since the world was young, but colonialism diverts rivers, and steals land, and lays wastes to forests and indigenous life… and suddenly people as old as the world… can no longer keep themselves alive.

My god, I despair of a world without the Masai in it.

But I hear the sunsets are beautiful, and the land may still be fought, and I hear… they smile well.

Can you imagine that? People without American Idol, or McDonalds, or Playstation…. who are being pushed not gently…. right off the earth…. and yet they can smile.

To see that, is worth losing a job or two. And to possibly help… is worth more.


“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not want to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”
…Thoreau on Walden Woods

**********

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