Saturday, May 31, 2008

"Uncontacted" Amazon Tribe - What Is Right?

If you click on the title above you will come to the website for survival-international, which has been featured lately in the news because of photos of "an uncontacted tribe" living in the Amazon.

Did any of you see this? Deep in the Brazilian forest at the Peruvian border, live people who point their bows and arrows at a plane flying (for the second time) overhead, and paint their bodies red and black to show their aggression..Their houses look almost like termite mounds. Something about it makes me so sad that my stomach brain and heart ache.

I don’t know how I feel about preserving these indigenous tribes. Why? So a few select scientists can get PHds, or daredevil adventurers can plow through the jungle and, mingle and breed and photograph, making their money writing books about it? Loggers in Peru are moving closer and closer, not caring and not able to care about such primitive Indian tribes. Human nature being what it is, the natives will be exploited in the most insidious fashion one way or another as they die out forever. What does "protecting" them really mean?

Have these people erected astrologically significant structures,cathedrals, produced literature or music that speaks to the grandest reaches of human endeavor? Doesn't look like it, when you examine the photos. Do they sit around at night upon a vein of emerald, diamond, sapphire, gold, or valuable oil? Have they developed a language or a religion which could solve the world's problems? Are they heirs, through hope, of an everlasting kingdom? Sure could be.

But I see frightened people living in abyssmal poverty. Fascinating beyond belief, fragile beyond belief, vulnerable beyond belief. I went to the website and nearly signed up, nearly wrote a letter to the Peruvian president to stop the loggers, protect the native people and preserve their environment. But why? Is that what's best here? Leave them alone, put a barrier around them, so they can die out in peace?

Why not assimilate and integrate them gently, gradually, lovingly over several generations, with the hope that we can learn from them, comfort them, honor them, cherish them, save them and help them become part of, and enrich, the larger blended human community? Is it possible? We've all seen the trials and tribulations of assimilation and even of affirmative action, and we know it takes generations even under the best of circumstances. Can we start from scratch and only show them the best of what we've achieved? Maybe send them a revised edition of the Voyager Golden Record? Introduce them to opera? Rembrandt's most soothing art? Honey-Nut Cheerios? I doubt we have any drugs that are better than theirs, so skip that. Why contaminate?

My heart is in shreds when I think about these people. I would love to go there and be with them, feel and touch and warm with them around a fire, share their meals, stare and cascade into their faces. But that would never work or do a bit of good. They wouldn't be afraid of me after they got to know me, nor I of them, that I know. If I could do it, and survive to tell the tale, and adopt one of their children, Madonna-style, sure that would be a thrill of some sort. I would be enlightened by them no doubt, their survival skills, their nimble limbic structures, their crazy godliness.

Should we leave them alone because they may be superior to us in some ways? Who do we think we are? Do we have anything to offer them? From the looks of things, I'd say we probably do. But they should decide what they want to do about the world, and then we could help if they want help.

They have to have the same problems the rest of us have. They are no doubt slaves to their hormones and their appetites- they must have leaders who have developed based on physical qualities of strength, attractiveness,or less tangible qualities such as wit or wisdom. They must have birth defects, addictions, mental illness, anger, grief, insecurities, betrayals, successes, joys. They may be brutal, apparently we don't know yet. But they're only human.

And so, flying out of Brazil with my thrill, back to the "developed" world, my heart would be heavier than ever. Wouldn't yours? Because there is no answer. It's all just going to happen. Someone will take charge, laws and human nature will click into action, and what will be will be.

Many of us know or have encountered people whose ancestors a few centuries back were "indigenous peoples." Many American Indians are enjoying life in the world as we know it, contributing to the arts, culture, and business. They may wish at times, as most of us do, that they could turn back the clock to a more pure and authentic age. But we all learn eventually that time stops for no one. Honor your ancestors, whatever bits and pieces you can salvage of their goodness. Carry on.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day on Whitsunday

Today I thank my mother and her mother and my grandmothers and all our mothers back through eternity who gave birth again and again and thereby gave me this great blessing of being a mother.

I wouldn't know where to begin to thank my children and their mates for all the happiness they have brought me today and always. I love you all so much, and thank God ceaselessly for each one of you, and for Maya.

It's thrilling to be a mother and to take part in the evolution of the species! Every one of you is raising the bar for humanity - adding humor, beauty, grace, intelligence, and making the world a better place.

Pentecost (White Sunday)happens to be today also. It is celebrated worldwide in various traditions as a time when the Spirit descends. Originally in the Christian tradition, the spirit descended upon the Apostles seven weeks after Christ's resurrection at Easter. White vestments are traditionally worn by celebrant priests and by babies being baptized.

So. Thank you, my children and all my mothers back into eternity, for making me into a mother. And for the blessing in churches worldwide, "May the Holy Spirit descend upon you and remain with you always."

Old Dogs

A wealthy old Gentleman decides to go on a hunting safari in
Africa, taking his faithful, elderly Jack Russell terrier named
Killer, along for the company.

One day the old Jack Russell starts chasing rabbits and before
long, discovers that he's lost. Wandering about, he notices a
leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of
having lunch. The old Jack Russell thinks, 'Oh, oh! I'm in deep
doo-doo now!' Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he
immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to
the approaching cat.

Just as the leopard is about to leap, the old Jack Russell exclaims
loudly, 'Boy, that was one delicious leopard! I wonder if there
are any more around here?'

Hearing this, the young leopard halts his attack in mid-strike,
a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees.

'Whew!', says the leopard, 'That was close! That old Jack Russell
nearly had me!'

Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a
nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and
trade it for protection from the leopard. So off he goes, but the
old Jack Russell sees him heading after the leopard with great speed,
and figures that something must be up.

The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and
strikes a deal for himself with the leopard. The young leopard is
furious at being made a fool of and says, 'Here, monkey, hop on my
back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!

Now, the old Jack Russell sees the leopard coming with the monkey
on his back and thinks, 'What am I going to do now?', but instead
of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers,
pretending he hasn't seen them yet, and just when they get close
enough to hear, the old Jack Russell says...

'Where's that damn monkey? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me
another leopard!'

Moral of this story:

Don't mess with the old dogs -- age and skill will always overcome
youth and treachery!

Bullshit and brilliance only come with age and experience.

-thanks to Carmen

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

To Thine Own Self Be True

"This above all: To thine own self be true,
and it must follow, as the night the day,
thou canst not then be false to any man."

From Shakespeare's play "Hamlet", Polonious bidding farewell and giving advice to his son Laertes, who is about to travel abroad to France. He tells him to lay low, stay quiet, (listen more than talk), not draw too much attention to himself, dress conservatively (don't try to outdo the French when it comes to couture!), be careful choosing new friends, stick with tried and true friends, don't borrow money or overspend. Just be yourself. Farewell, you have my blessing:

Yet here, Laertes! Aboard, aboard for shame!
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are stay'd for.
There ... my blessing with thee!
And these few precepts in thy memory
Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion'd thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledg’d comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel but, being in,
Bear't that th' opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgement.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man;
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower, nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell; my blessing season this in thee!

-- William Shakespeare

Farewell Honna! My heart will follow you to India.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Got Out the Obama Shirt Again, Gonna Sleep in it Tonight

I almost gave up and thought we'd have to deal with Hillary and Bill ad nauseum. But then I saw what happened in North Carolina tonight, and I listened to Obama's speech.

He's remained cool, calm and collected. He hasn't tried to pretend he's something he's not. He's young and full of promise. As he says, he's not perfect. But we can support and nurture him. I believe what he says about truth and I don't think he and Jeremiah Wright or he and anyone else have a secret agenda. He's not so power hungry that he's sold his soul. He loves the country, and I believe that, when he says it. He can transcend and inspire. The world is better with him in it, wherever he is.

Let's see what happens now. By Jove, I think he's got it.

Obama-McCain will be a much more interesting and civilized race to the end. Won't it? Hope we won't devolve into another civil war.

You Were Always on My Mind

Sensitive to Springtime: Saved by Dogwood, Luscious as the Moon

When I was a young adventurer just in from California and Europe in the 60's, I drove to visit my grandmother one beautiful springtime evening. She was in bed listening to her radio preacher when I arrived. It was the 60's, and I had done some things I hoped she would never know about, but figured she probably understood through a veil, dimly.

I went into her dark bedroom, where she, hale and hearty at nearly eighty years old, had retired for the evening. I told her not to get up, just wanted to say hello and goodnight and see you in the morning. I saw her silhouette in the dim light from the radio and sat on the bed beside her, listening, but only a tiny bit, to the sermon in the box.

She held my hand and asked me how the drive was. I told her that the dogwood blossoms along the way had been so overwhelmingly beautiful that they looked good enough to eat.

She leaned back against the pillow, running fingers across her brow and through her long loosened grey hair, thinking that over for a moment. Then she said "Well, now I know that you are saved."

I was stunned, knowing in my heart that I could never meet the criteria imperative to her lifelong ideal of salvation. But somehow she managed to reach through eternity to my Druidic soul, and left me feeling open, forgiven, blessed and hopeful.

How did she do that? How did she jump from our preceding generations of indoctrination about what it takes to go to Heaven: daily devotions, church every Sunday, strict adherence to the Ten Commandments, unceasing prayer, hard work - to see that this little unfocused know-it-all lazy me, fragrant with the smells of the 60's, loving her, loving life, loving dogwood - was "saved", and part of God's eternal kingdom? And yet she did it, not through any dim veil, but with the wisdom of her years.

So if you believe, and if you know some young "sinner" who feels like eating dogwood, you can give him or her some hope for his future by taking a chance with your faith, slipping into his world for a moment, and saying something so truly forgiving, generous, loving, and kind.

Every time I see the dogwood bloom again in the spring, so tender, ivory, and luscious as the moon, I believe once again, thanks to my grandmother, that there's still hope for me, and of course always, for those I love.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Breathtaking Human Beauty and Grace From China

When my daughter sent me this this morning, I saw the beginning of the piece, and had no idea what I was about to experience. Can Wu Zhengdan be the most amazing ballerina ever? Sit back and renew your sense of wonder. This video can make you feel just glad to be alive! It's a bit of Swan Lake by "The Great Chinese State Circus" or "Guangdong Military Acrobatic Troupe". I'm actually less frightened now at the prospects for the Olympics in Beijing. And now that I've seen such a magnificent example of true marriage (her partner is her husband), it kind of raises the bar.

Thanks to Lelah