AuthorTopic: The Days After Tomorrow: Introduction  (Read 806 times)

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The Days After Tomorrow: Introduction
« on: May 02, 2016, 08:29:08 PM »


gc2smOff the keyboard of Thomas Lewis



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Published on The Daily Impact on April 25, 2016



Making dinner without a microwave, as they did in Cahokia Mounds, Illinois, 800 years ago (when the city was larger than London)? Maybe. But living without greed? Priceless. Maybe we should ask. (Photo by Cahokia Mounds Museum Society)



Making dinner without a microwave, as they did in Cahokia Mounds, Illinois, 800 years ago (when the city was larger than London)? Maybe. But living without greed? Priceless. Maybe we should ask. (Photo by Cahokia Mounds Museum Society)



Discuss this article at the HIstory Table inside the Diner



Apres Nous le Deluge. And Then What?



Opinion is divided about what la Marquise de Pompadour meant, when she said (perhaps to her lover Louis XV), “Apres nous, le deluge [After us, the crash].” It was either, “You know, we’re making a really big mess of things, and everything is probably going to go to hell after we’re gone.” Or, on the other hand, she may have meant, “So what? We’re going to be gone. Where’s the cake?”



Among people who believe that the Industrial Age has started to come crashing down around our ears, there is a roughly similar divide: between those who see nothing after le deluge but extinction of the human race; and those who think some of us will survive. But then what?



In my conversations about the possibilities of starting over, about ordering life to minimize the love of money, love of growth and love of self that have destroyed us, I hear a lot of jeers about “human nature.” There’s nothing to be done about it, I am told, greed is hard-wired in our genes, along with war, and violence and class, and reverence for authority, and all the traits that got us in trouble before and will do so again, no matter how hard the contrary lessons. All we will do after the crash, this argument goes, is do it again.



I have a couple of reservations. First, anyone who thinks that anything is “hard-wired” in the genes or in our brains is afflicted with the “universe-as-machine” virus and is thus part of the problem. People infected with this bug believe that since organisms have moving parts, and engines have moving parts, then obviously we ought to be able to not only comprehend how organisms work, but apply them to our purposes.



Second, making sweeping statements about human nature (that are true and useful) requires sweeping knowledge of human nature. Or at least, awareness that the traits we share with our BFFs do not necessarily represent a profile of the human race. There are people, for example, who do not like Facebook.



I have for many years been an admirer, and an amateur student, of a race of people who flourished on this continent for more than ten thousand years without most of the things that are claimed to be essential expressions of “human nature.”



A partial list of the things they did not have: money, banks, police, jails, religion, war (as we know it), bosses, schools, jobs (as we know them), stores, entertainment (that they did not make themselves), mental illness, addictions.



I can feel the scorn rising, so let me disavow any intention to perpetuate the Noble Savage meme, or to recommend that we mimic Native American life. But I do have a question that seems to me worth answering:



We white Europeans are the proud inheritors of a culture that has pretty much dominated the world for five centuries, and in the process has blown up its own culture and the world it stands on. Is it possible, do you think, that we could learn a thing or two from people who flourished here, where we Americans live now, for 12 millennia?



I think so. During the next few months I propose to share with you a thing or two I have learned over a few decades that seem to me to open up vast possibilities for life without greed, without war, without regimentation, and so on. My point is not that we should live as they did, but that we can live better than we have done. My premise is that human nature does not dictate how we live; it’s the other way around.



NEXT IN THIS SERIES: The Thunderbird Site, the most astonishing testament to life without greed that I have ever seen.



Offline MKing

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Re: The Days After Tomorrow: Introduction
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2016, 09:26:14 AM »
My point is not that we should live as they did, but that we can live better than we have done. My premise is that human nature does not dictate how we live; itís the other way around.

Try telling that to the humans involved.
Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.
-Dalai Lama

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The Days After Tomorrow 6 & 7
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2016, 03:31:15 AM »


gc2smFrom the keyboard of Thomas Lewis



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Published on The Daily Impact on July 19  & August 1, 2016



Mount-Rushmore-Native_Chiefs



Discuss these articles at the History Table inside the Diner



 



#6 They Voted with their Feet




[This is one of a series of meditations on what we might have learned, and might still learn, from the history of Native Americans about how to live without modern technology and industry, which we may have to do in the near future.]



de Crevecouer



 



 



 



This is a noble Frenchman who fought in the French and Indian War. He thought Indian culture was “far superior to anything to be boasted of among us.”




If you say anything complimentary about historic Native American life, you will be told that you are buying into the myth of the Noble Savage, you are mis-applying modern sensibilities to Stone Age history, and are thus constructing in your mind a Disney movie about a Mad Max era. It’s a hard criticism to answer. How, indeed, can we overweight, sedentary keyboard crunchers come to any valid conclusion about life as hunter-gatherers without iPhones?



Turns out, we have a few witnesses. Here’s one. “The American Indian should serve as a model for how to eradicate poverty and bring natural rights back into civilized life.” Can you hear the sneers? Obviously, this is some bleeding-heart academic New Age liberal with no knowledge of history, right? Wrong. That’s Thomas Paine, a founding father of the United States, writing in 1795 while the Indian Wars raged in the Midwest.



Paine, an Englishman, thought there was something off about his own culture. He wondered whether “civilization has most promoted or most injured the general happiness of man,” and pointed out that “the most affluent and the most miserable of the human race are to be found in the countries that are called civilized.” Obviously, Mr. Paine thought there were things we could learn from the Native Americans.



A decade earlier, the French aristocrat (!) and veteran of the French and Indian War, Michel Guillaume Jean de Crevecouer (he later anglicized his name) observed of the natives, “There must be in their social bond something singularly captivating and far superior to anything to be boasted of among us.” So here we have a contemporary noble calling the savages superior.



What gave rise to his comment was a long-standing concern of white European settlers in the New World. The kind of concern they did not even like to talk about, for it struck at the very roots of their perception of themselves.  



[Although I have been reading and writing about this period of history for decades, I had never come across a discussion of it until Sebastian Junger’s excellent new book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging. Here it is on Amazon. Read it.]



The problem emerged practically on contact. In 1612, just five years after the founding of Jamestown in Virginia, authorities noted with dismay that fully 40 or 50 white settlers, all born in Europe, male and female, had chosen to marry into an Indian tribe. Efforts to prohibit and punish these choices, to forcibly return those who had made them to their “civilized” homes, were many; attempts to understand why they made such choices were few.



But one colonial woman told a French questioner: “I am the equal of all the women in the tribe, I do what I please without anyone saying anything about it, I work only for myself, I shall marry if I wish and be unmarried again if I wish. Is there a single woman as independent as I in any of your cities?” Is there, in any civilized city, today?



The most well known of the women who voted with their feet for Native American life was Mary Jemison. She actually was abducted as a teenager from her family’s Pennsylvania farm during the French and Indian War. But soon after she was adopted by a Seneca family, she realized she was where she wanted to be, and actually hid from a posse sent to bring her back.



Why? She explained to a minister who wrote a best selling book about her: “We had no master to oversee or drive us, so that we could work as leisurely as we pleased. No people can live more happy than the Indians did in times of peace…their lives were a continual round of pleasures.” Mary Jemison remained, by her choice, a Seneca until she died at the age of 90.



How many Mary Jamisons were there? There is no way to know, but according to Jean de Crevecouer, writing in 1782, “thousands of Europeans are Indians, and we have no example of even one of those aborigines having by choice become European.”



Another Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, agreed. “When an Indian child has been brought up among us,” he wrote to a friend in 1753, on the eve of the French and Indian War, “taught our language and habituated to our customs...if he goes to see his relations and make one Indian ramble with them, there is no persuading him ever to return.”   



In their own words, from their own time, the people who knew best both the white settlers and the native tribes will tell us if they are consulted that there are indeed ways to live well without technology, that the tribes knew many of those ways, and that we could still learn them.



#7 To Put Away Childish Things



Vision Quest



 



 



 



Initiation rites almost always began with a long period of solitude, deprivation, even pain. All the things a parent tries to keep from a child, imposed to teach life’s important lessons. (Photo by SacredLivingInstitute .com)




[This is one of a series of meditations on what we might have learned, and might still learn, from the history of Native Americans about how to live without modern technology and industry, which we may have to do in the near future.]



We modern white Europeans have discarded most of the ways humans have devised to preserve their societies over hundreds of thousands of years. Clans, extended families, true community, ceremonies and rituals promoting awareness of connections among the people, the natural world and the spirit world — all are pretty much gone. Disabling our own society, and destroying the natural world on which it depends, have become the things we do best. If we are to start over, after our ultimate group failure, we must learn again how societies — such as the Native Americans — successfully preserved themselves for thousands of years.



One of the most important — and most universal — of the preservation techniques was the initiation rite. Humans found out early that the span of one lifetime was not enough time to gain wisdom. Elders had to pass on hard-won life lessons to the young, sometimes with stories, sometimes by example, and sometimes with a good hard cuff upside the head. Or, in other words, an initiation rite.



Father Richard Rohr, the world-famous Franciscan proponent of mystical Christianity, has researched initiation rites all over the world and has distilled their content into five essential lessons. They are lessons that it would take an unaided adolescent years to stumble over, and are considered so important that they must be learned before a young man’s life can  properly begin. Hence, the initiation rite.



Before we consider what the lessons were, let’s consider for a moment the basic assumptions we moderns impress on our young people to get them off to a good start:




  • You are special — no, make that unique. There is no one like you in the whole wide world. Other people are plain and slow and below average compared to you.


  • Because you are so special, your life is going to be a breeze. You can be anything you want to be, and achieve anything you set your sights on. Life will reward you for being special, you know, like those trophies you got in school for just showing up, and life will always yield to your control.


  • If you control your diet, and exercise, and take your supplements, you will live fore….you will never d….well, you know. No need to talk about that.



Primitive people would have considered it to be child abuse to tell that many lies to a young person. Instead, they devised ceremonies to impress a completely different set of assumptions, first by imposing serious pain and privation. It was their duty, they thought, to introduce young people to suffering because it was going to be a part of their lives and they needed to get used to it. Suffering, they knew, is a great teacher, and anyone who spent their life avoiding pain, even though they would not succeed, would delay too long learning the lessons that it brings.



In Father Rohr’s summation, the initiation ceremony as practiced by most of the humans who have ever lived over most of the time that humans have been around, stripped of minor cultural differences, imparted five fundamental lessons:




  1. Life is hard. In many Native American rites, the novitiate first had to embark on a vision quest, living alone in the wilderness and fasting until delirium began to produce hallucinations for later interpretation.


  2. You are not that important. Except as a part of your clan and the People, there is nothing special about you. Fr. Rohr says that all clans recognized that narcissism was a great enemy of the People.  


  3. Your life is not about you. Life is not a car you get to drive wherever you want to go, it’s a huge excursion bus that you were lucky enough to be able to board, and that will let you off at a time and place not of your choosing, because


  4. You are going to die. And


  5. You are not in control.



I am not advocating a reinstatement of such initiation rites in our world. For one thing, I fear the legal system would not be able to accommodate it. But I do think, as night falls on the monumental failures of the industrial age, we consider what primitive people taught their children, and what we have been teaching ours. Given our track record, some adjustments might be in order.



Offline azozeo

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Re: The Days After Tomorrow: Introduction
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2016, 03:58:06 AM »
Tom,
For once, you got it right  :icon_sunny:
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why youíre here. Youíre here because you know something. What you know you canít explain, but you feel it. Youíve felt it your entire life, that thereís something wrong with the world.
You donít know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

 

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