Wetiko and a pushing off into the waters of grief

I have been put to mind recently of why I asked my family to trudge across the country to a dark place for school. And not just school, but law school. At age 40. Shouldn’t I be putting money away instead? Shouldn’t I be rising to the top of my industry by this age? Shouldn’t I be seeking more and more and more? I admit, there have been times I’ve deeply questioned my decision. The move has been incredibly challenging on my wife and our dogs. I’m almost daily unsure whether the course of study I’m pursuing is correct, or even has any relevance. The idea of changing the world or making a difference, two notions tossed about as if they were gravestone-worthy seem to me to be absurd. Absurd because they seem to originate from the egoist, solution-oriented, Cartesian thinking that got us out onto this promontory in the first place. What promontory? This one. In order to get anywhere, we must first come to a self-realization. Not just any kind of realization, but a highly specific one that many humans never achieve. I don’t mean to make this sound too esoteric. It’s not. But it does deserve its own post later on. For now though, it suffices to say that our species is certainly bringing about the collapse of much of the life on the planet, including our own. That the IPCC report tells us there is hope if we can stop doing basically everything in the next twelve years should be laughable. Not because the IPCC is wrong, but because we all know the reality to that recommendation. But for this post I want to focus on our shared disease which is the source of our reckoning, even of the deepest most personal kind. The disease of Wetiko.

Coming to law school, I had some inchoate ideas about how school might help me to help the Earth. Most of my ideas were ego-driven, as can be inferred from the previous sentence. This is, as far as I can tell, one of the real fucked up symptoms of the virus of the dominant culture in North America - called Wetiko by the Algonquins - an unacknowledged, pre-thinking kind of collapsing of the world into binaries. The subject and the object. I and you. Or, us and them. The Palestinians. The Navajo. Poor People. The One Percent. White People. And on and on. There is some credence to the idea that we are biologically predisposed to see the world at least to some degree under the aegis of tribes. But this evolutionary bequeath is not, like so many other of our inherited gifts, analogous to dense population centers, centralized thought control, industrial production, etc.

What I’m saying is this: the accepted majority (I would say the totally dominant, far beyond questioning) view in this country is flesh-eating. It preys on the consumption of flesh human and inhuman. It preys on the consumption of the flesh of the world. How else to account for the near total disregard of persons who are labeled “poor” or “black” or “Native American” or “the illegals” or those who by no fault of their own happen to come into the world via wombs in “Third World Countries”? Or the near unanimous acceptance of this statement: the United States is and has been a beacon of liberal democracy around the world. Really? Where would we start? How about the idea that that’s never once - never once - been true even here on our own continent. We are even now engaging in several systemic crimes against humanity within our borders. But we’ll go ahead and pull out of UNSECO. We’ll go ahead and pull out of the ICC. You’ll blame Trump and Bolton for that. They’re hideous. Back in 2002, in the cannibalistic frenzy of war, Congress passed a bill which was enthusiastically signed by great Trump resistance fighter George W., known colloquially as the “Hague Invasion Act”. It authorized the use of force to rescue American citizens from the ICC in The Netherlands. Take a very close look at who voted for it. Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden. Patrick Leahy. Diane Feinstein. Trump resistance fighters all. We are not, nor never have been a beacon of liberal democracy. If you think otherwise, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you that’s delusional and you’ve been duped by propaganda (which most certainly includes the NY Times, Washington Post for those of you who count yourselves as left-leaning). Trump is uncomfortable to us because he doesn’t allow us to compartmentalize all the shit. We are forced to see our shadows dance along the fire-lit cave. Projection is such a bitch.

From where did this pernicious notion enter our thoughts that recites something along the lines of “I worked hard for what I got, I did it all by myself, and so should everyone else”. If the everyone else’s cannot for some reason “get”, it is their fault. They are stupid, lazy, ugly, unable, or genetically disadvantaged. It is their fault, not ours. They might as well be dead. They might as well be sent someplace else, except that they serve important purposes for us. They die and suffer so that we may prey upon their flesh in the medical complex. They eat the shit food from our food complex so that they may go to the medical complex to die. They live among the wastes of our industrial complexes so that they may eat the shit food and then go repeatedly unto the medical complex until they are dead. We poison them until they are dead and we profit all the while. Well, some do. Most do not. If you’re reading this almost certainly you do not, although many of you will have financial interests in the continuance of this system. Your personal wealth is predicated on the destruction of the world and the consumption of human flesh. If you own stock in any way in any company that profits from this system, you support it. If you think this is overly apocalyptic, I urge you to, in the course of your own discernment, disprove me. We will not be whole until we replace “growth” in absolutely all of its manifestations (personal growth, financial growth, weekend workshops touting professional “growth” and on and on) with…with nothing. That’s right. We replace growth with nothing. We must stop. What does this look like? It looks like figuring out who your neighbors are. It looks like cooperation and humor. It looks like trust. It looks like humility. It looks like grief. It looks like taking care of all the little lives among us who are not human. It looks like preparing to die, but not in the stupid linear way this culture thinks about that. Learning to die is a central aspect of the Great Law. So is elderhood, which in terms of geography, otta come sometime before the dying. But we’ll get to that.

 What has begun to dawn on me is that perhaps it is the Great Law that has brought me here to Vermont and to Law School, the Law of verbs and not nouns, the Law of relationships, the Law of Love, the Law of Dying and Grief, the Law, therefore, of all Life. In future posts I’ll describe what I mean.