Friday, February 3, 2017

News Flash: Culture Wars in Rural Areas Have Been Nasty For a Time!

Fishing on the Columbia near McNary Dam: Plenty of Room for Improvement

When you choose to live in rural America, which I have done for the last forty years or so, you tend to become a little myopic about which tools to use to fight the Beast with. This is only a musing, but it's something to consider as we struggle to swim against the vomit of this Beast which we're currently labeling Donald Trump. 

I came to this musing through an honest-enough process--vanity. I was re-reading my last post, and got the idea of wanting to augment Chief Leonard Crow Dog's statement ("We do not own the Land") with a statement by a "founding father". This is because of a quirk in my thought processes brought on from living as a progressive activist in an almost-exclusively-white American Rural Area where the hobby of channelling "founding fathers" while waving your pocket constitution in front of cowed county commissioners was all the vogue since the election of the country's first non-white president. If you have lived in an almost-exclusively-white American Rural Area these last eight years (and longer actually) you know what I mean, no matter your political flavor. As a progressive activist (otherwise known as an "environmentalist" or an "eco-terrorist" depending on your flavor), I naturally morphed into channelling "founding fathers" for my own purposes, especially since I'm the descendant of some of them myself, and these pure and simple idiots ('scuse me. I slipped there) were claiming to speak for "me". That's another post, and I'll get to it all someday. What's been happening here for 400 years or so has been huge and getting huger by the day now, don't you agree? Hard to keep up. The point is, I began collecting really cool quotes from dead white guys as a way to "reach across the isle", such as isles exist in almost-exclusively-white American Rural Areas (Safeway comes to mind but, again, another post).

Anyway, Leonard Crow Dog's words kicked in one from my collection, a nice little sound bite from Thomas Paine, a socialist by our modern definition:

“Man (sic) did not make the earth, and, though he had a natural right to occupy it, he had no right to locate as his property in perpetuity any part of it; neither did the Creator of the earth open a land-office, from whence the first title-deeds should issue.”

This, of course, got my "founding father" bell ringing on Paine's views of state-sanctioned religions, which seems particularly poignant when considering what so many of these pure and simple idiots (whoops again!) believe about what makes America, even by their own definition "America":
“All national institutions of churches", Paine wrote in his "Age of Reason", "whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.”

That was pretty heady stuff for his times. But he nailed the lid on his popularity coffin by going a couple steps further with a quote you'll never hear at one of those prayer breakfasts Washington DC plagues us with at least once a year:

“It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the Bible describes.”

If my memory serves, only six or seven people attended Paine's funeral when he died in 1809. He even pissed off George Washington, a fellow "diest" whose reputation Paine basically made with his pamphlet, "Common Sense". Good ol' Thomas Paine. I like to think if I'd have been one of my ancestors that I would have attended, and made it seven or eight. Never mind that, though. Good folks that I'm sure they were, my ancestors were busy moving onto the lands of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederation in upstate New York that Washington had stolen and then gifted to Continental Army vets. Pilgrims like me really want to believe that we'd have acted better than our ancestors but, y'know…another blogpost.

All that said, I feel at least somewhat uniquely-qualified, now that my train of thought has headed down this "channelling founding fathers" track, to quote a couple other cool quotes from dead white guys that are rattling around in my head. I know…dead white guys! And I apologize, but it can't be helped. I'm paddling my tippy little canoe down a mere stream of consciousness now. 

The first is from Kurt Vonnegut, also speaking on religion and his own then-progressing world view:

 “If Christ hadn’t delivered the Sermon on the Mount, with its message of mercy and pity, I wouldn’t want to be a human being. I’d just as soon be a rattlesnake.”

Actually, after two weeks of Donald Trump as president, I'm thinking about changing species myself. Not that that would help my own personal chances of survival. Not at all...but it's so embarrassing being human these days. I wish it were as easy as a sex-change.

The last is from my favorite dead white guy, Mark Twain, who puts the cap on it for me about bullying, toxic religions in general and the bullies who bully with them:

“I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.”

'Nuff said for now, I guess. Just some meandering thought-channels on the floodplains of how our colonial icons have, from the beginning, shown at least the inclination to be of a mind with what Leonard Crow Dog says, and how, maybe, we can start consolidating that same mind to a single purpose now.

This pilgrim sure hopes so. 

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