Saturday, February 13, 2010

Haiti - Revive Your Indigenous Soul

At the risk of alienating everyone I know and those loyal readers I do have... I must express myself about Haiti.

My first thought when I heard the news about Haiti was... if this had happened 200 years ago we wouldn't even know about it. All the people would die and that would be it. Hasn't this kind of thing happened throughout time all over the world, where whole cultures fell because of a cataclysmic volcanic eruption or earthquake which destroyed palaces and disrupted agriculture? Pompeii, the Minoan civilization. No one rushed off to help because no one knew. And....since the population was much lower in the past and people did not live is such density, fewer people died or were left homeless. A MILLION HOMELESS PEOPLE sitting around on the ground. What's going on here?

For them, the end of the world - apocalypse. They didn't have to wait for 2012.

Maybe I've been watching too many apocalyptic movies and reading too many books about the end of the world. I do teach a course on Mayan Hieroglyphs, the Calendar and 2012 and although I teach from a more academically oriented perspective than the 'stuff' I've been watching and reading, I do feel I should at least look into what others are saying, since it is bound to come up in class and I need to be abreast of what's out there in the popular culture, and.... I can't help having my own opinion about it all (which I do not impose on my students).

I couldn't help thinking as I heard what was coming down in Haiti as many forces hurriedly gathered to send in aid, rescue people and deal with all the trauma, that.... what if there were another one, just as bad, in a just as poverty-stricken a place as Haiti.. within a day or two...would there be enough of anything to handle it?

I believe that we will be soon seeing so many disasters happening simultaneously all over the world, that we won't be able to put out all the fires.

Haiti is the canary in the mine-shaft friends.
Haiti with its deforested, degraded environment, its lack of infrastructure and over-population is the face of most of the world outside of the affluent European/American world. Most countries have shanty towns extending miles out from the urban centers.

This is the fate that awaits the world. Haiti is doing her dance of death to show us what the world will come to if we do not control population, decrease our consumption of manufactured goods and greatly simplify our lives. We need to grow more of our own food, learn to make at least some of the things we use and reconnect with the natural world.

While you may feel sorry for the Haitians, and who wouldn't? I must say that they were in many ways better equipped to deal with that tragedy than we would be. One commentary I heard on the radio said that since the people of Haiti already live at the near starvation level, their bodies were more accustomed to deal without food than ours. Since they 'fasted' (starved) regularly, they were able to go without food for days as they were buried in the rubble. The average American obese teenager, would have a fit after a couple of hours without the greasy snacks and sugary sodas they pump in continuously throughout the day. My travels have shown me that poor people know how to cope better than we do. They have fewer, if any expectations. They know how to just 'be' and can go for hours without doing anything but just sitting. They don't have a constant need for entertainment or distraction.
I have a habit of looking at what people eat. The fattest people always have loads of junk in their shopping carts. It's amazing! I think to myself, 'don't they know any better?' The only thing I can figure is that they are addicts. Just like an addict, they might know better, but another voice whispers: "it's okay... you deserve this... go ahead."

Another issue is that there is just so much that can be done. Haiti has one disaster after another. Their government has been corrupt for decades. Their limited resources have either been exploited by others or have been used up. They don't have anything anyone wants (except cheap labor). Another thing is that say 'someone' fixes it all up... the next hurricane could take it all down again in no time. They are kind of living on a time bomb. Bad location folks.
In a radio interview someone said: "We need 100,000 tents. Are there that many tents in the whole world?" Good question.

As to the role the U.S. has played in the poverty of Haiti, I would like to say this... anyone who thinks we can have the standard of living we have here in America without someone paying the price, is totally naive. Corporate capitalism must have slaves/serfs/low-wage workers in huge quantities to do all the dirty work. Most Americans who call themselves free are really wage slaves making money for a corporation. One month without an income would put them in trouble (as we are now seeing). Most of your so-called possessions are on loan. When you can't pay the bill, the company takes it back. Anyone who has a mortgage does not own a home. The mortgage holder owns the home until it is paid off and... can be reclaimed anytime. DUH! Why are people so surprised by this? Credit card debt makes the average person a slave to the job so they can pay their bills.

When I had 'the best' job I ever had, I wondered why I never had any money despite my good income. When I figured out how much I spent on the clothes I needed for the job, the cost of meals eaten away from home, the parking fees or parking ticket fees, the cost of gas to commute to that great job, I realized I wasn't even 'making' minimum wage. I was working to pay for the job. Not to mention the 'goodies' I bought myself because I was so stressed out due to commuting, and working under a mean-spirited supervisor. I began to develop physical symptoms and after many tests, my doctor said it was all stress related and I would have to quit my job. I knew I was already too far in credit card debt to do that... besides, this wasn't just a job it was a career! No matter that my hair was falling out, I had dizzy spells and headaches, I had to stay. The doctor prescribed Valium. He said, "Drive to work then take one. Take another at lunch and by the time you are ready to do the commute home, it will have worn off enough so you can drive." HUH? Excuse me... now I have to take drugs so I can stay at a job I hate? I was really in a quandary as to what to do.

One day, life intervened, and my whole life changed in an hour. My family called to say my father found out he had six months to live, so I left the job and moved back home to be with him.

Within a couple of months, I was no longer able to keep up on the credit card bills. I didn't have much total debt, but when you have no income, any debt is too much. When I finally got the whole thing straightened out, I vowed never to have cards again. I went from having a secure government job to no income for a year. True, I left voluntarily, but, at the time, I felt it was the only option. I had to be with my dad in his last days. There was no other choice for me.

The average American is tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Many of these debts are incurred because they are miserable and need to buy themselves stuff to make it through the night or the weekend... or worse yet, their life. Then when someone pulls the plug by laying them off, or moving the job to a place where the labor is cheaper, they are stuck with all the debt and the stuff. NOT FAIR!!!!

Rather than see it as an opportunity to do things totally differently, they do everything they can to restore what they had.

My advice to Haiti and the Haitian people....
Soon, outside corporations will be brought in to rebuild the country in their own image. Burger King, the Golden arches, all the junk food outlets will come in. The people of Haiti would be better off to go back to the old days of agricultural villages, build simple houses out of renewable materials, plant their own food, raise animals to eat and pull wagons. Forget the 'bright lights of town', their only promise is empty and meaningless. Don't you know that most Americans take anti-depressants because they are so alienated from each other and the natural world? Take this golden opportunity to 'go back to the land' rather than to let ANY outsiders, or even their own government officials, force them into 'restoring' what was in the city. LET IT GO! Be the harbingers of a new day! You just had a major Pluto transit... don't waste it. Those who survived the Apocalypse should not try to go back to 'business as usual.'

This is a chance to create a sustainable future. If you do, Haiti, you will become the teacher for us when we fall into decline, which could happen any day. Rather than being beholden to 'developed' countries for aid, you will lead the way in showing us how to live. You will be the experts. Grow medicinal plants that can only thrive in your particular environment. Make your own medicine. Don't wait for anyone to put a band aid on your life. You will always be beholden to outsiders. Don't let the Zombies, the walking dead from the developed world, take over. Revive your indigenous soul!