By Mankh (Walter E. Harris III). Axis of Logic
In the face of corporate greed, government waste and other disasters it may sound cliché to say that sharing and caring is one of the cures, yet here is what 64-year-old Susumu Sugawara (who steered through the tsunami by riding the waves!) is quoted as saying about the island Oshima, off Japan: "Everyone used to look out for themselves on this island, but after this, the whole community is now helping each other." Also from the article: "Smashed boats adorn the coastline of this once-idyllic tourist spot, but Sugawara's pride and joy, "Sunflower" is intact and working overtime transporting people and aid to and from the island. It can hold around 20 people at a time."1
While people "looking after themselves" could be interpreted as self-sufficiency rather than selfishness, the boat captain's words are nonetheless a reminder that inter-dependency is a fact of life.
Another example of the spirit of community in action: "words from a sister in Sendai [Japan]: 'If someone has water running in their home, they put out a sign so people can come fill up their jugs. I come back to my shack and I find food and water left in my entrance. There has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open. People say, 'Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another'."2
Random Acts of Kindness and Not So Random Acts of Meanness
If there really is some sort of global scale, some cosmic balancing act going on, then every act of random kindness and artistic creation, every little poem, every school kid's refrigerator art, every "hello, have a nice day" helps to keep the earth, truly, spinning. And the help is needed.
Like moths incessantly banging on the screen door in search of grasping the light, Transocean recently gave bonuses to its BP executives, and BP is itching to drill in the Gulf, again! Lately I've been wondering, what makes these types of people refuse to see beyond material gain; apparently, mammon remains their godhead. Or, perhaps they have come to truly believe that what they are doing is legitimate. In Part 1 of "The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear," a powerful BBC documentary on the geo-politics of the neo-conservatives and the Islamic extremists, writer/director/producer Adam Curtis mentions that things get dicey when-- people believe their own fiction.
This writer's educated guess is that moth-like energy addictions have to do with a franchising mentality, a be-fruitful-and-multiply divide-and-conquer, holier-than-thou and holier-than-Nature superiority complex that seeks certainty, rather than facing what Alan Watts called, "the wisdom of insecurity." If you rig the game, then not only are you guaranteed some winnings, you have also 'manufactured' a psychological comfort-zone. But read the fine print: at someone else's expense.
As a golf fan, I have repeatedly heard professional golfers say that their goal is to be "in the mix," to be near the top of Sunday's last round of the tournament so as to give themselves "a chance to win." It is the thrill of the game itself they thrive on, while measuring their odds for winning. As to business practices not labeled a game, the faux Capitalist model alleges that anyone can get "in the mix;" the faux Capitalist model is also highly deceptive, and destructive.
The Difference Between Friend and Faux
Colonial franchising started at least as far back as the following document excerpt shows. From "Sir Robert Heath's Patent 5 Charles 1st; October, 30 1629":
|"Whereas our beloved and faithful subject and servant Sr Robert Heath Knight our Atturney Generall, kindled with a certain laudable and pious desire as well of enlarging the Christian religion as our Empoire & encreasing the Trade & Commerce of this our kingdom: A certaine Region or Territory to bee hereafter described, in our lands in the parts of America betwixt one & thirety & 36 degrees of northerne latitude inclusively placed (yet hitherto untild, neither inhabited by ours or the subjects of any other Christian king, Prince or state But some parts of it inhabited by certain Barbarous men who have not any knowledge of the Divine Dietye) He being about to lead thither a Colonye of men large & plentifull, professing the true religion; seduously & industriously applying themselves to the culture of the sayd lands & to merchandising to be performed by industry & at his owne charges & others by his example...."3
In reality, it is the "Barbarous" men and women who certainly do know about the divinity of the earth, rocks, animals, and so on; they were only "foreigners" (a root meaning of "barbarous") because the patented-Christians had no interest in truly getting to know them. Indigenous and Tribal Peoples across the globe have much knowledge and wisdom on how to not only survive but also thrive on this lovely planet.
This writer-shopper has no problem with a franchise IF they act "responsibly," as the liquor commercials remind us to drink. But religious fervor (think over-worked Catholic priest) has been known to imbibe a few too many on the side, and bottom-line profiteers (think trans-national corporations) have been proverbially known for their, now seemingly defunct, multiple martini lunches. And just as a mean drunk will want to claim the entire barroom's attention, so the likes of Sir Heath are prone to claiming territories, or continuing to drill for fool's black gold, or working with fool's nuclear energy (ocean contamination near Fukushima recently measured at "7.5 million times the legal limit").4
Sleeveless in Seattle
On the American home front of franchising, a cup of coffee has proven to present various risk factors. When out and about and purchasing, this java-juicer goes sleeveless. "A little milk, no sugar, and no sleeve, please!" Yes, one of my pet peeves is the modern coffee cup sleeve, which ironically tells us (in tiny lettering) that the extra piece of paper is made from a percentage of recycled fibers. Somewhere along the factory line the coffee cup became seemingly inefficient. However, a closer look reveals that the birth of said sleeve stems from one woman severely burning herself, and "During discovery, McDonalds produced documents showing more than 700 claims by people burned by its coffee between 1982 and 1992."5 But what about the high temperature of the coffee? That was the real cause of the burns! In any case, in this day and age of encouraging sustainability, a paper cup is no longer just a cup; it has to get dressed up to go to work. Maybe someone will market a coffee cup glove that can be worn, in all seasons, and thus save on paper sleeves. Or maybe the temperature of the coffee could be adjusted. (Seattle, by the way, is also the birthplace of Starbucks.)
Let's Face Reality
While the human body is not numb to the spillage of extremely hot coffee, the human frame of mind can become un-educatedly numb. Faceless-to-faceless communication is not just a product of our technological era. WW II statistics show that 10 to 20 million Chinese lost their lives, plus close to 24 million Russians, along with losses from countries I never knew participated (until having read the statistics6): Portuguese Timor, Mexico, Iran, Brazil, to name but a few. This shows how the masses have been 'programmed' to feel sympathy, pre-dominantly, for the Jewish people, and more recently gypsies and gays, while somehow ignoring the plight of others. A stirringly poignant and also inspiring documentary, "Paragraph 175," features interviews with a handful of less than ten known gay men, plus women, survivors of the Third Reich's brutality; the film masterfully portrays the beauty and fragility of what it means to be human.
Human Equity (Not the Monetary Value Kind)
Hopi prophecies have warned of the invention of a "gourd full of ashes." This is now considered to be connected with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Rather than trying to convince anyone of the legitimacy of prophecies, this essay simply asks you to consider having greater respect for various peoples around the world who have another way of perceiving the human condition, because, as recent disasters reveal, those who have been running the show seem to have little skill (or luck) with providing energy safely and efficiently.
In "The Hopi Survival Kit," a book by Thomas E. Mails published in 1997, both warnings and solutions are given: "But the choice is yours, war and natural catastrophe may be involved. The degree of violence will be determined by the degree of inequity caused among the peoples of the world and in the balance of nature. In this crisis rich and poor will be forced to struggle as equals in order to survive. That this will be very violent is now almost taken for granted among Traditional Hopi, but man still may lessen the violence by correcting his treatment of nature and fellow man... Still the man-made system cannot be corrected by any means that requires one's will to be forced upon another, for that is the source of the problem." (p.210.) "Some of the Hopi villages are among the oldest continuously occupied settlements in the North American continent."7
Light On, Brothers and Sisters!
Miracles, divine interventions, bright lights in the darkness, or whatever you want to call them, still exist: The 'old man at sea' off the coast of Japan survived and is helping his fellow man and woman.
Though their populations were genocidally decimated, the First Peoples aka American Indians are still here today: some thriving, many struggling. Metaphorically and literally, the American Indian garden of "three sisters" -- corn, beans, and squash -- which naturally enrich the soil for each other, is more intelligent and nutritious than the recent wave of soil-degrading GMO monoculture.
While much appears grim in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the recent increase of violence in Africa and the Middle East, as well as the Tea Party's union-busting agenda, both individual survivors and the power of collective spirit and action remain the lodestars they have timelessly been.
- "Defiant Japanese boat captain rode out tsunami"
- "Japan's code of honor"
- "Sir Robert Heath's Patent"
- "Japan finds toxic fish"
- "The McDonald's coffe case"
- "World War II casualties"
- "The Hopi Foundation"
Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) is an essayist and resident poet on Axis of Logic. In addition to his work as a writer, he is a small press publisher and Turtle Islander. You can contact him via his literary website.
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