Sacred Ashes and Hallowed Resting Ground

Sad-voiced winds moan in the distance. Grim fate seem to be on the Red Man’s trail, and wherever, he will hear the approaching footsteps of his fell destroyer and prepare stolidly to meet his doom, as does the wounded doe that hears the approaching footsteps of the hunter.
Attributed to Chief Seattle

It’s hard to know what to say about what is happening in the Gulf. I wonder if this is what it felt like when Hitler was elected. Could anyone have possibly imagined the horrific consequences that would ensue?

I’m wondering if that is what April 20, 2010 will be in our history. Eleven people were killed in an offshore oil rig explosion that unleashed a different kind of horror. For forty-five days oil has been gushing from the ocean’s floor at the rate of millions of gallons per day.

No one knows how to stop it.

We certainly don’t know how to repair the damage it has caused. That’s what happens when you create God in your own image.

To us, the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting place is hallowed ground. . . Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors—the dreams of our old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit, and the visions of our sachems, and is written in the hearts of our people.
Attributed to Chief Seattle

As the oil gushes out, we are learning that all the technological research and development went into drilling for oil. None went into what to do if an accident happens. And accidents do happen.

The Sarah Palin/Charles Karuthammer-world view would have it that this is the fault of the extreme “greenies.” The greenies – the environmentalists – forced the oil industry into drilling without a condom.

Could there be any more ignorant, cynical human beings on the planet than these two?

Long range business planning is developed in terms of business quarters. Three-month cycles.

This is not the time to have the small-hearted, lizard-brained in charge.

Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see. . . .
Attributed to Chief Seattle

I’m pissed. And I’m up to past here with the fear mongering.

We need to change the story. Let’s start by calling this event what it is – a holocaust — a mass slaughter, a reckless destruction of life.

I think it’s time for Crones every where to rise and demand we be heard. And you don’t have to be an old woman to be a Crone. Jimmy Carter tried to get us on the path of oil-independence more than thirty years ago.

Obama has taken the first step. He said he grew up in Hawaii where the ocean is sacred.

Sacred. Naming it sacred — our world. That’s where the story begins.

And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children’s children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night, when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.

Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless. Dead, did I say? There is no death, only a change of worlds.
Attributed to Chief Seattle

Note: The quotes for Chief Seattle are from a text different than the one I am used to. Here’s the link.

Whatever it Is: Not very articulate ramblings about something very serious

I asked Mark a while back what life was all about, since I didn’t have a clue. He said, “Dad, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”
“At Clowes Hall, Indianapolis, April 27, 2007”  From Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut

I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around what’s happening. After a month, oil continues to spew out of a man-made hole in the ocean.

It is killing a way of life, not to mention life itself, this “accident.”

It finally occurred to me that I am feeling the same way I did when I watched the Twin Towers unravel. Only this has been going on for a month now, and there does not appear to be an end in sight.

And the consequences are even graver.

I’m sick of it.

A reporter described what it was like watching an oil-soaked pelican attempt to fly. It was heart breaking she said.

Yes. Heart breaking.

Years ago I read a book called Number Our Days. Barbara Meyerhoff, an anthropologist who had mostly studied Huichol Indians, decided when it came time to study an aging community that she would study a community of older Jewish people in Venice, California, since she, herself would one day be an old Jewish lady.

I loaned my copy of the book to someone more than twenty years ago. It is somewhere in the land of books-that-get-loaned-out-and-then-you-lose-touch-with- the-person-you-loaned-it-to. So I am writing from memory here.

The person I most remember from the book is a man called, I think, Shmuel. He was a bit of a black sheep in the community because of his socialist – maybe even Communist – leanings.

He was a tailor. He points out an older women wearing a coat to Barbara Meyerhoff as they sit on a bench at the beach.

I believe he had made the coat.

If the stitches unravel, he says, the coat will no longer keep her warm. And because it is the only coat she can afford, she will have no protection against the cold.

So, they, the woman wearing the coat and he, are connected by the stitches in that coat, he says to Meyerhoff.

That has stayed with me for thirty years, arising every now and again.

I don’t know how to articulate why it has come floating back into my memory at this particular moment.

But it occurs to me that we really need to understand that we are connected.

“We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”

Sadly, Barbara Myerhoff did not live to become an old Jewish woman. She died relatively young from cancer. Myerhoff’s work with the elderly community was first made into a documentary titled Number Our Days, which was directed by Lynn Litmann. The two collaborated on In Her Own Time, a film that documented Barbara Myerhoff’s illness and final days. Lynn Littman also directed the 1983 film Testament, a powerful indie film about the aftermath of a nuclear war.