Our life is filled with gangs
As a kid I had high hopes for peace but as long as resources are limited (through the laws of nature, and through artificial scarcity imposed by the ruling class) there can be no peace. The scenario goes like this: you can be a remote tribe living in peace, but the minute an aggressor comes to conquer, you either are defeated and assimilated into the conquerors’ tribe, or, you fight back, and then you’re not peaceful anymore.
The height of absurdity and profanity is when God-fearing people kill other God-fearing people in order to reside on a sacred piece of real estate as if any God worth a darn, would want that kind of horror, pain, and destruction. I’m looking at you, Jerusalem.
The basic unit of loyalty is the family, then either the tribe, the gang, the state, or the nation. Families and tribes have a crest. Gangs have colors and tattoos. States and nations have flags. Many a time in school, I’d see a teacher hassling kids who didn’t stand for the pledge of allegiance, embarrassing them in front of the class and at times threatening a trip to the principal. In one case I had to say something because I knew the kid was in a religion where you’re not supposed to salute anything besides God, and so he was just obeying what his parents had instructed him to do.
Teachers are not infallible and they need to know this. It’s hard enough for a kid to do what is unpopular and set themselves to look different from the class, but then to scold them and draw more attention to it, really backs them in a corner where they have to divulge personal reasons, which are really nobody else’s business. But school is not really about pure learning it’s about being molded into an average, obedient citizen and socializing a pervasive sense of conformity in preparation for being a functional cog within the machinery of hierarchy – supposedly ‘for your own good.’ (If you don’t fit in, we have a thick book of labels and mind-altering pharmaceuticals to choose from).
Ever since spring I’ve been observing the dynamics of wildlife in my back yard. Early on if you look and listen carefully, you can see the birds fighting each other with their little legs in mid air, like the robins. The woodpeckers tap on the dome of my campfire grill, to amplify the message that ‘This is where I’m living and mating! So don’t even think about rearing your youngin’s around these here parts.’ The crows send scouts to spy on what’s going on because they can live 30 years or more each, and they tend to live for generations in the same area, with an impressive and specific language (wait a minute, that’s a little creepy and very cool – my crows have a name for me, I doubt it’s very flattering, perhaps something like, The Crumpled Muu-Muu). Smaller birds of many species will come together to “mob” an owl out of an area (they cooperate to loudly bombard a sleepy owl on a branch until it leaves).
Mammals like raccoon, skunk, opossum, deer, bear, coyote, squirrels, cats, etc. they use different means of establishing territory – some have scent glands (like the ones inside the cute cheeks of Mr. Snuggles the domestic kitty), others use pungent urine markings, or make scrapings on the ground and rubbing on the trees. Then it hit me like a ton of scat: human beings use monetary currency as a “civilized” way of doing the exact same thing. Whoa, deep!
When you have money instead of urine, you can rest assured that you won’t have to be in direct confrontation to secure your habitat at all times. You can actually leave it for days or weeks or years, and no one will contest that it’s still yours. That makes a species much more mobile and with a lot more free time to pursue lofty ambitions and get into all sorts of complicated far-reaching relationships (a.k.a. ‘trouble’). If we didn’t use money that buys property deeds (and pay the taxes which basically are a rent on the land) you’d have to stick around your home all day, fist-fighting bears and rubbing your pungent aroma on all the shrubs. Which is personally, my preferred method.
If homo sapiens were really ‘the wise ape’ they would have developed ways of mediating conflict and coming to a compromise about resource usage that wouldn’t resort to knives, bombs, chemical weapons, machine guns, machetes, axes, brass knuckles, bayonets, and nuclear detonation. But frankly, in the meantime, while we were attempting to get sophisticated and humanitarian, we relied on the temporary survival advantage of adversarial religious brands, interest-groups, reppin’ for the gang, or patriotism for the imaginary boundaries of a nation, and it really took hold and was bred into us with the same feverish devotion in our developmental years, as to be intrinsically tied to emotional triggers as strong as love for our parents.
See, I’m no longer crippled by gloom because I don’t condemn the human race for it’s follies, I sympathize with our fragile psychological condition, fraught as it is with deep-seated insecurity in a struggle between curiosity and instinct. The way I see it, one of our biggest vulnerabilities is that we actually try to be polite so much and want to agree, that we tend to put social etiquette above critical thought and analysis. So, overtly, we indulge in niceties and basic decency, and we let the dirty work and our shadow (subconscious motivations) play out in the covert territorial-mechanism that is economy. Sadly, though, the unintended consequence is that we carry on with traditions and identities that ultimately destroy the vitality and viability of a habitable climate and a habitable society.
In other news, I have had the immense honor of being invited to contribute to the rant segment of a radio show of one of my inspirations, Guy McPherson. I don’t want to divulge the details because it makes it hard for me to unleash my rants if I’m worried about offending those who are the precious fuel of my rants. You’re welcome to cheer me on as a hometown girl making it to the big leagues, but for crying out loud, please don’t tune in to the program. Until next time, good luck out there, and thank you for exercising your brain through reading instead of escaping into the tempting bosom of Mistress Television! We need everyone on their best game if we’re going to stave off becoming cannibals like shipwrecked whalers in days of yore.
Lindsay Morrison is a Forestville resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org