Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Pipelines Heating Up: What Now?

Well, Trump did it, just like we knew he would[i]. Five days into his corrupt, illegitimate presidency he signed an “executive order” directing career functionaries within our (that’s OUR) government agencies[ii]  to stand down and let the Keystone XL and DAPL pipelines have their way with the Land. 

This Trump has a lot of admirers, you know, so don’t fool yourself. We can joke about his orange skin and tiny hands, his pathological lying and his temper tantrums. But he’s a dangerous man, this Trump. He has admirers. What are we going to do?

I suggest we start at the beginning.

When Chief Leonard Crow Dog of the Scangu Lakota tribe formally forgave the U.S. Army via Wesley Clark, Jr. and several thousand other veterans at a ceremony on the Standing Rock reservation last December, he said something that has been on my mind for a long, long time.  

“We do not own the Land,” he told Clark and the other gathered veterans. “The Land owns us,” and “We are Lakota Sovereign Nation…we have preserved the caretaker position”.

These are important distinctions in our time of trouble for a couple of big reasons, I think.

First of all: The land is not ours to do with as we want. We are hers to do with as she needs. How could it be otherwise? We last a few decades and then we’re dust. The Land, it lasts forever, nurtures our future generations and so by definition is wiser than us. Why would we not listen to Her? Why is this so hard for so many of our people to understand?

Second of all: A movement the size of which we need now and have seen before, those huge, unstoppable transformational movements, are grounded on achievable goals and spirituality, not dispersed agendas a la the model “liberals” so love to replicate for ever and ever, ad naseum til the next trainwreck of an election. Moral authority is another name for it, what real movements claim and, if they last, what they have. That’s because of simple math: if they don’t have it, they don’t last.

There are many novel interpretations for current events that are coming at us fast and that we must figure out, and do it quick. Is there such a thing as “alternative facts”, for instance? You may laugh at that one, but remember: Trump is a dangerous man. More to the point of the kind of corporate news you’ve no doubt consumed too much of these past few months: should a lie be called a lie? Most of your pundits don’t seem to think so, and our (that’s OUR) politicians seem to agree. They offer up the limp argument that they cannot call a presidential candidate, a president-elect or (now, thanks largely to a limp press) a president a liar because, unless you can climb into his head and know his intent, how can a fair and balanced pundit know whether or not he’s merely crazy? And a fair and balanced pundit can’t call a president crazy, can she? Better just stick to some unoffending platitudes or code phrases lest some sponsor think you’re biased and cut off your funding. 

This, to be as kind as I can about it, is the opposite of moral authority. It's what we used to call moral relativism, and I guess we call it "news" now, the kind of news that Fox, CNN and, tragically, NPR have been hawking for years, the venal, ugly ill-wind that everyone who passes within smelling distance of it knows for what it is. 

One of the big differences between lying and moral authority is that moral authority has always come from the Earth, while lying never has. Lying is a human construct whereas, with moral authority, we are just one of her many host species. Both, to be fair, are easily identifiable, so here's a quiz: Who’s talking about real-earth issues these days and who isn’t? Is it someone like Mike Pence and his religio-fascist backers? Or is it someone like Chief Leonard Crow Dog?

“We have preserved the caretaker position.”

I’m just a writer, not an expert, and an environmentalist at that, whose “keep it wild” philosophy has supposedly long been at odds with indigenous peoples’ views about the Land. So I’ll claim the right of the Innocents to simplify a very deep and profound subject: Maybe we’re finally here, at this place where a highly-complex, technologically-oriented society that has ignored a truth staring it in the face every time a sunrise occurs finally bumps itself up the side of its head hard enough to acknowledge that truth, and a simple one at that.

“We do not own the Land. The Land owns us.”

Why would this not be so?

C’mon, think like a tree.

You got a better idea?

[ii] Such as the Army Corps of Engineers which is holding up the permit for Energy Transfer Partners to drill under the Missouri River at Standing Rock

Yet NPR, the public corporation to whom so many well-meaning “liberals” donate millions of dollars a year to in the hopes of hearing honest discussions about vital issues is one of moral relativism’s worst practitioners[ii] . More on this in a later post, but for chrissakes! Don’t give them any more money at the very least if you hold the Earth dear. NPR is not our friend anymore.

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