|OpEdNews Op Eds 9/24/2016 at 13:43:10
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
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The United States government recently gave more than a million dollars to the family of one victim it had killed in one of its wars. The victim happened to be Italian. If you were to find all the Iraqi families with any surviving members who had loved ones killed by the United States it might be a million families. A million times a million dollars would be enough to treat those Iraqis in this respect as if they were Europeans. Who can tell me — raise your hand — how much is a million times a million?
That’s right, a trillion.
Now, can you count to a trillion starting from one. Go ahead. We’ll wait.
Actually we won’t wait, because if you counted one number per second you would get to a trillion in 31,709 years. And we have other speakers to get to here.
A trillion is a number we can’t comprehend. For most purposes it’s useless. The greediest oligarch doesn’t dream of ever seeing a fraction of that many dollars. Teeny fractions of that many dollars would transform the world. Three percent of it per year would end starvation on earth. One percent per year would end the lack of clean drinking water. Ten percent per year would transform green energy or agriculture or education. Three percent per year for four years, in current dollars, was the Marshall Plan.
And yet the United States government through numerous departments dumps a trillion dollars per year into preparing for war. So that works out perfectly. Take one year off and compensate Iraqi victims. Take some additional months and begin compensating Afghans, Libyans, Syrians, Pakistanis, Yemenis, Somalis, etc. I’m well aware of not listing them all. Remember the 31,709 years problem.
Of course you can never fully compensate a destroyed country like Iraq or a family anywhere that has lost a loved one. But you could benefit millions and billions of people every year and save and improve millions and billions of lives for less than is spent on preparing for more wars. And this is the number one way in which war kills — by taking away the funding for anything else. Globally it’s $2 trillion per year plus trillions in damage and destruction.
When you try to weigh the good and the bad to decide whether starting or continuing a war is justified, on the bad side has to go the cost: financial, moral, human, environmental, etc., of war preparations. Even if you think you can imagine how there could be a justifiable war some day, you have to consider whether it’s justifiable in the way that a corporation that pollutes the earth and abuses its workers and customers is profitable — namely by writing off most of the costs.
Of course, people like to imagine that there have been a few justifiable wars, so that the chance of another one outweighs all the destruction of endless war preparation plus all the unjustifiable wars it produces. The United States simply had to fight a revolution against England although nonviolent corrections to injustices were working well, and the reason that Canada didn’t have to have a war with England is because there are no touchdowns in hockey, or something. The United States simply had to kill three quarters of a million people and then end slavery, even though slavery did not end, because all those other countries that ended slavery, and this city we’re in that ended slavery, without killing all those people first now lack the valuable heritage of Confederate flags and bitter racist resentment that we so cherish, or something.
World War II was totally justifiable because President Roosevelt was 6 days off in his prediction of the Japanese attack he’d worked to provoke, and the U.S. and England refused to evacuate Jewish refugees from Germany, the Coast Guard chased a ship of them away from Miami, the State Department denied Anne Frank’s visa request, all peace efforts to halt the war and liberate the camps were blocked, several times the number of people who died in the camps died outside them in the war, the all-out destruction of civilians and the permanent militarization of the United States have been disastrous precedents, the fantasy of Germany taking over the Western Hemisphere just as soon as it finished conquering the Soviet Union was based on forged documents of Karl Rovian quality, the United States gave syphilis to black troops during the war and to Guatemalans during the Nuremberg trials, and the U.S. military hired hundreds of top Nazis at the end of the war who fit right in, but this was a question of good versus evil.
The new trend of pitching wars as philanthropy picks up a sliver of U.S. public support, but each such war relies on greater support from those who thirst for blood. And because no humanitarian war has yet benefitted humanity, this propaganda leans heavily on wars that did not happen. Five years ago one simply had to bomb Libya because of Rwanda — where U.S.-backed militarism had created the disaster and never would bombing anybody have helped things. A few years later U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power openly and shamelessly wrote that we had a responsibility not to look at the disaster created in Libya in order to be properly willing to bomb Syria, and we had to bomb Syria because of Rwanda. Also because of Kosovo, where the propaganda had featured a photograph of a thin man behind a fence. In reality the photographer had been behind a fence and there had been a fat man next to the thin one. But the point was to bomb Serbia and fuel atrocities in order to stop the holocaust, which the U.S. government at the time of WWII had had absolutely zero interest in stopping.
So, let’s get this straight once and for all. It’s to our credit that wars have to be marketed as good for people. But we are well-meaning fools if we believe it. Wars must end, and the even more damaging institution of war preparation must be abolished.
I don’t expect that we can and am not sure that we should abolish the U.S. military by next Thursday, but it’s important that we understand the necessity and desirability of abolishing it, so that we can begin taking steps that will move us in that direction. A series of steps might look like this:
1) Stop arming other countries and groups.
2) Create US support for and participation in institutions of law, nonviolence, diplomacy, and aid, as developed in the book in your packets, A Global Security System: An Alternative to War.
3) End ongoing wars.
4) Take the U.S. down to no more than twice the next leading military spender — investing in transition to a peaceful sustainable economy.
5) Close foreign bases.
6) Eliminate weapons that lack a defensive purpose.
7) Take the U.S. down to no more than the next leading military spender, and continue to keep pace with a reverse arms race. It is almost a certainty that the United States could trigger a universal reverse arms race if it chose to lead it.
8) Eliminate nuclear and other worst weapons from the earth. A nice step would be for the U.S. to join the convention on cluster bombs now that the U.S. has momentarily stopped producing them.
9) Establish a plan for the complete abolition of war.
Even the necessary wars? The just wars? The good and glorious wars? Yes, but if it’s any consolation, they do not exist.
There is no need to be arming the world to the teeth. It’s not economically beneficial or morally justifiable in any way. Wars today have U.S. weapons on both sides. ISIS videos have U.S. guns and U.S. vehicles. That’s not just or glorious. It’s merely greedy and stupid.
“During the first Palestinian intifada in the 1980s, much of the subjugated population effectively became self-governing entities through massive noncooperation and the creation of alternative institutions, forcing Israel to allow for the creation of the Palestine Authority and self-governance for most of the urban areas of the West Bank. Nonviolent resistance in the occupied Western Sahara has forced Morocco to offer an autonomy proposal “. In the final years of German occupation of Denmark and Norway during WWII, the Nazis effectively no longer controlled the population. Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia freed themselves from Soviet occupation through nonviolent resistance prior to the USSR’s collapse. In Lebanon ” thirty years of Syrian domination was ended through a large-scale, nonviolent uprising in 2005.”
End quote. He has more examples. And one might, I think, look at numerous examples of resistance to the Nazis, and in German resistance to the French invasion of the Ruhr in 1923, or perhaps in the one-time success of the Philippines and the ongoing success of Ecuador in evicting U.S. military bases, and of course the Gandhian example of booting the British out of India. But the far more numerous examples of nonviolent success over domestic tyranny also provide a guide toward future action.
On the side of choosing a nonviolent response to an attack is its greater likelihood of succeeding and of that success lasting longer, as well as less damage being done in the process. Sometimes we get so busy pointing out that anti-U.S. terrorism is fueled by U.S. aggression — as it is — that we forget to point out that the terrorism fails in its objectives just as the larger U.S. terrorism fails in its objectives. Iraqi resistance to U.S. occupation is not a model for U.S. resistance to some fantasized invasion of the United States by Vladimir Putin and Edward Snowden leading a wild band of Muslim Hondurans to come and take our guns away.
The right model is nonviolent noncooperation, the rule of law, and diplomacy. And that can begin now. The chance of violent conflicts can be greatly minimized.
In the absence of an attack, however, while claims are being made that a war should be launched as a supposed “last resort,” nonviolent solutions are available in infinite variety and can be tried over and over again. The United States has never actually reached the point of attacking another country as an actual and literal last resort. And it never can.
If you could achieve that, then a moral decision would still require that the imagined benefits of your war outweigh all the damage done by maintaining the institution of war, and that’s an incredibly high hurdle.
What we need, in order to bring nonviolent pressure to bear on whoever occupies the White House and the Capitol four months from now is a larger, more energized movement for the abolition of war, with a vision of what we could have instead.
During World War II, before the United States maintained a permanent state of war, a Congressman from Maryland suggested that after the war the Pentagon could be turned into a hospital and thereby put to some useful purpose. I still think that’s a good idea. I may try to mention it to the Pentagon staff when we visit there at 9 a.m. on Monday.
This is the vision we need to advance, one in which a new and valuable purpose must be found, as in these necklaces made from recycled nuclear weapons, for everything that used to be part of the immoral criminal enterprise that was known as war.
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|David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War,” “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more…)|
|The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.|
Dr Jim Green
20th September 2016
The facility was never designed to operate in a contaminated state. It was supposed to open clean and stay clean, but now it will have to operate dirty. Nobody at the Energy Department wants to consider the potential that it isn’t fixable.
An analysis by theLos Angeles Timesfinds that costs associated with the February 2014 explosion at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) could total US$2 billion.
The direct cost of the clean-up is now estimated at US$640 million, based on a contract modification made in July with contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership.
The cost-plus contract leaves open the possibility of even higher costs as the clean-up continues and, as the LA Times notes, it does not include the complete replacement of the contaminated ventilation system (which failed after the 2014 explosion) or any future costs of operating the repository longer than originally planned.
The lengthy closure following the explosion could result in waste disposal operations extending for an additional seven years, at an additional cost of US$200 million per year or US$1.4 billion (€1.25b) in total. Thus direct (clean-up) costs and indirect costs could exceed US$2 billion.
And further costs are being incurred storing waste at other nuclear sites pending the re-opening of WIPP. Federal officials hope to resume limited operations at WIPP by the end of this year, but full operations cannot resume until a new ventilation system is completed in about 2021.
As expensive as the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster
The US$2 billion figure is similar to the costs associated with the 1979 Three Mile Island disaster. The clean-up of Three Mile Island was estimated to cost US$1 billion by 1993, or US$1.7 billion adjusted for inflation today.
Yet another cost for the federal government was a US$74 million (€66m) settlement paidto the state of New Mexico in January 2016. The negotiated agreement relates to the 14 February 2014 explosion and a truck fire that took place nine days earlier.
It sets out corrective actions that Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL – the source of the waste drum that exploded) and WIPP must take to resolve permit violations. The US$74 million settlement is in lieu of fines imposed on the federal government by the state of New Mexico for the two incidents.
Given that the February 2014 fire and explosion exposed multiple levels of mismanagement and slack regulation, it was no surprise that the immediate response to the incidents was problematic. As discussed previously in The Ecologist, everything that was supposed to happen, didn’t – and everything that wasn’t supposed to happen, did.
And in light of the systemic problems with management and regulation, it is no surprise that clean-up operations over the past 2.5 years have been problematic.
GAO identifies a host of problems
An August 2016 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the federal Department of Energy (DOE) did not meet its initial cost and schedule estimates for restarting nuclear waste disposal operations at WIPP, resulting in a cost increase of about US$64 million (€57m) and a delay of nine months.
Worse still, mismanagement of the clean-up has involved poor safety practices. Last year, the DOE’s Independent Office of Enterprise Assessments released a report that found that WIPP clean-up operations were being rushed to meet the scheduled reopening date and that this pressure was contributing to poor safety practices.
The report states: “The EA analysis considered operational events and reviews conducted during May 2014 through May 2015 and identified a significant negative trend in performance of work. During this period, strong and unrealistic schedule pressures on the workforce contributed to poor safety performance and incidents during that time are indicators of the potential for a future serious safety incident.”
The report points to “serious issues in conduct of operations, job hazard analysis, and safety basis.” Specific problems identified in the report include:
The Office of Enterprise Assessments’ report concludes: “The issues discussed above could be leading indicators of a potentially serious incident in the future. Many more issues involving conduct of operations, maintenance, and inadequate controls also raise concerns about the possibility of a serious incident.”
Earlier this year, clean-up work in two underground areas was suspended for one month due to poor air quality. Work was stopped on February 22 after equipment detected elevated levels of carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds.
Radioactive contamination of the underground remains a problem, albeit the case that the size of the restricted area has been significantly reduced. “The facility was never designed to operate in a contaminated state,” said Don Hancock from the Southwest Research and Information Center.
“It was supposed to open clean and stay clean, but now it will have to operate dirty. Nobody at the Energy Department wants to consider the potential that it isn’t fixable.”
Los Alamos National Laboratory at fault as well
While a number of reports have exposed problems at WIPP, others have exposed serious problems at LANL. An April 2015 report by DOE’s Accident Investigation Board (AIB) concluded that a culture of lax oversight and inadequate safety protocols and training at LANL led to the February 2014 explosion at WIPP.
“If LANL had adequately developed and implemented repackaging and treatment procedures that incorporated suitable hazard controls and included a rigorous review and approval process, the [February 2014] release would have been preventable”, the AIB report states.
“The ineffectiveness and weaknesses in the oversight activities were at all levels,” said Ted Wyka, the DOE safety expert who led the investigation.
The AIB report points to the failure of LANL to effectively review and control waste packaging, train contractors and identify weaknesses in waste handling. The board also found that LANL, contractor EnergySolutions and the National Nuclear Security Administration office at LANL failed to ensure that a strong safety culture existed at the lab.
The AIB found that workers did not feel comfortable raising safety issues and felt pressured to “get it done at all costs.” LANL employees also raised concerns that workers were brought in with little or no experience and rushed through an inadequate training program.
“As a result,” the AIB report states, “there was a failure to adequately resolve employee concerns which could have identified the generation of non compliant waste prior to shipment” to WIPP.
‘Lessons were not learned’
The immediate cause of the 14 February 2014 explosion ‒ mixing nitrate wastes with an organic absorbent (kitty litter) ‒ was recognised as a potential problem in 2012, if not earlier. One worker told the AIB that when concerns were raised over the use of organic kitty litter as an absorbent, the employee was told to “focus on their area of expertise and not to worry about the other areas of the procedure.”
Workers noticed foaming chemicals and orange smoke rising from containers of nuclear waste at LANL, but supervisors told them to “simply wait out the reaction and return to work once the foaming ceased and the smoke subsided,” the AIB report states. “Lessons were not learned.”
No doubt some lessons have been learned as a result of the underground explosion at WIPP. But Greg Mello from the Los Alamos Study Group points to a problem that is likely to recur. LANL receives bonuses from the DOE for meeting goals such as removing nuclear waste by a certain deadline.
That deadline pressure was very much in evidence at LANL in the lead-up to the WIPP accident and it will likely weaken safety practices in future. “You can’t just say everyone has to try harder,” Mello said. “Mixing profit, deadlines and dangerous radioactive waste is incompatible.”
A February 2016 report from the DOE’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) was equally scathing of LANL. “Overall, we found LANL’s corrective action program did not always adequately address issues, did not effectively prevent their recurrence, and did not consistently identify systemic problems,” the report said.
LANL managers said they agreed with the OIG findings and were working to resolve problems. “The Laboratory is working closely with National Nuclear Safety Administration to address the findings of the audit report”, LANL said in a statement.
But the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) – a semi-autonomous agency within the DOE – is itself a big part of the problem of systemic mismanagement of nuclear sites. A June 2015 Government Accountability Office report strongly criticised NNSA oversight of contractors who manage the nation’s nuclear weapons facilities.
The report points to a litany of ongoing failures to properly oversee private contractors at eight nuclear sites, including those managing LANL. The report found that the NNSA lacked enough qualified staff members to oversee contractors, and it lacked guidelines for evaluating its contractors.
Greg Mello from the Los Alamos Study Group was blunt in his criticism of the NNSA: “An agency that is more than 90 percent privatized, with barely enough federal employees to sign the checks and answer the phones, is never going to be able to properly oversee billion-dollar nuclear facilities of vast complexity and danger.”
Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and editor of the newsletter, where a version of this article was originally published.
Nuclear Monitor, published 20 times a year, has been publishing deeply researched, often critical articles on all aspects of the nuclear cycle since 1978. A must-read for all those who work on this issue!
23 September 16
unoco Logistics (SXL.N), the future operator of the oil pipeline delayed this month after Native American protests in North Dakota, spills crude more often than any of its competitors with more than 200 leaks since 2010, according to a Reuters analysis of government data.
The lands of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sit a half mile south of the proposed route of the Dakota Access pipeline. The tribe fears the line could destroy sacred sites during construction and that a future oil spill might pollute its drinking water.
A tribal protest over the $3.7 billion project drew broad support from other Native American tribes, domestic and international environmental groups and Hollywood celebrities.
In response to the tribe’s objections, the U.S. government earlier this month called for a temporary halt to construction along a section of the 1,100 mile line in North Dakota near the Missouri River.
While environmental concerns are at the heart of the Standing Rock Sioux protest, there is no reference to the frequency of leaks by Sunoco or its parent Energy Transfer Partners (ETP.N) in a legal complaint filed by the tribe, nor has Sunoco’s spill record informed the public debate on the line.
Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II told Reuters the tribe was aware of the safety record of Energy Transfer, but declined to elaborate.
Sunoco Logistics is one of the largest pipeline operators in the United States. Energy Transfer is constructing the Dakota Access pipeline to pump crude produced at North Dakota’s Bakken shale fields to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Once completed, it will hand over the pipeline’s operation to Sunoco.
Sunoco acknowledged the data and told Reuters it had taken measures to reduce its spill rate.
“Since the current leadership team took over in 2012, Sunoco Pipeline has enhanced and improved our integrity management program,” Sunoco spokesman Jeffrey Shields told Reuters by email.
This significantly cut the amount of barrels lost during incidents, he said.
The U.S. Department of Justice did not make any reference to the company’s spill rate when it decided to stall the project. It highlighted the need for reform in the way companies building infrastructure consult with Native American tribes.
Spokespeople for the Departments of Justice and the Interior, and the Army Corps declined to comment to Reuters on whether they were aware of Energy Transfer’s leak statistics when they jointly decided to halt construction of the line.
High Spill Rate
Reuters analyzed data that companies are obliged to disclose to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) when they suffer spills and found that Sunoco leaked crude from onshore pipelines at least 203 times over the last six years.
PHMSA data became more detailed in 2010. In its examination, Reuters tallied leaks in the past six years along dedicated onshore crude oil lines and excluded systems that carry natural gas and refined products. The Sunoco data include two of its pipeline units, the West Texas Gulf and Mid-Valley Pipeline.
That made it the operator with the highest number of crude leak incidents, ahead of at least 190 recorded by Enterprise Products Partners (EPD.N) and 167 by Plains All American Pipeline (PAA.N), according to the spill data reported to PHMSA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Enterprise said it has comprehensive safety and integrity programs in place and that many spills happened at its terminals.
Sunoco and Enterprise both said most leaks take place within company facilities and are therefore contained.
Plains All American did not respond to a request for comment.
Sunoco’s spill rate shows protestors may have reason to be concerned about potential leaks.
The main option that was considered for routing the line away from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation was previously discarded because it would involve crossing more water-sensitive areas north of the capital Bismarck, according to the project’s environmental assessment.
To be sure, most pipeline spills are small and pipelines are widely seen as a safer way to move fuel than alternatives such as rail.
Sunoco and its units leaked a total of 3,406 net barrels of crude in all the leaks over the last six years, only a fraction of the more than 3 million barrels lost in the largest spill in U.S. history, BP Plc’s (BP.L) Macondo well disaster in 2010.
Sunoco said it found that crude lines not in constant use were a significant source of leaks, so it had shut or repaired some of those arteries.
In 2015, 71 percent of pipeline incidents were contained within the operator’s facility, according to a report by the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, a trade group.
While total pipeline incidents have increased by 31 percent in the last five years, large spills of 500 barrels or more are down by 32 percent over the same time, the report said.
Sunoco accounted for about 8 percent of the more than 2,600 reported liquids pipeline leaks in the past six years in the United States.
The company has made previous efforts to improve safety, a former Sunoco employee who declined to be identified said. It overhauled safety culture after a spill in 2000, and did so again another in 2005 that dumped some 6,000 barrels of crude into the Kentucky River from its Mid-Valley Pipeline.
Sunoco acknowledged that some of its pipeline equipment dates back to the 1950s.
A 2014 corrective measure regulators issued for Sunoco’s Mid-Valley Pipeline cited “some history of internal corrosion failures” as a potential factor in a leak that sent crude into a Louisiana bayou near an area used for drinking water.
Crude spills on Sunoco’s lines in 2009 and 2011 drew a rebuke from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a settlement announced this year.
The EPA said the settlement aimed to “improve the safety of Sunoco’s practices and to enhance its oil spill preparedness and response.”
In September, Sunoco received another corrective measure for its newly constructed Permian Express II line in Texas, which leaked 800 barrels of oil earlier this month. The company is already contesting a proposed $1.3 million fine from regulators for violations related to welding on that line.
September 22, 2016
Austria’s foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz, announced on Wednesday that his country would join other UN member states in tabling a resolution next month to convene negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons in 2017.
Speaking in the high-level debate of the UN General Assembly in New York, he said that “experience shows that the first step to eliminate weapons of mass destruction is to prohibit them through legally binding norms”.
The announcement follows a landmark recommendation last month by a UN working group in Geneva for the General Assembly to convene a conference in 2017 to negotiate “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.
The Austrian-sponsored resolution would take forward this recommendation by establishing a formal mandate for negotiations. The deadline for tabling the resolution in the General Assembly’s First Committee, which deals with disarmament matters, is 13 October.
Following the tabling, nations will debate the resolution, then vote on whether to adopt it in the final week of October or first week of November. A second, confirmatory vote will take place in a plenary session of the General Assembly early in December.
ICAN warmly welcomes Austria’s announcement. “This is a major breakthrough in global efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. The resolution will be of enormous historical importance,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of ICAN.
“The proposed treaty will place nuclear weapons on the same legal footing as other weapons of mass destruction, which have long been prohibited under international law. It will be a major step towards the goal of elimination,” she said.
In 2014 Austria hosted an intergovernmental conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, at which it launched a diplomatic pledge, supported by 127 nations, “to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons”.
Excerpt from Austria’s statement:
“In a world that is less and less secure and faced with more and more tensions between big powers, nuclear disarmament remains the number one unfinished business. The recent nuclear tests by DPRK [North Korea] should be a warning signal. We all agree that the humanitarian consequences of the explosion of nuclear weapons would be unacceptable, and therefore we have to finally get rid of all these nuclear weapons. Experience shows that the first step to eliminate weapons of mass destruction is to prohibit them through legally binding norms. Together with other member states, Austria will table a draft resolution to convene negotiations on a legally binding comprehensive instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons in 2017.”
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OpEdNews Op Eds 9/20/2016 at 10:10:56
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The internet has catalyzed billions of people to transition from primarily top down to more bottom up– minded, socially, business-wise. People born after 1980 have been marinating in the internet since they were teens and it’s changed their brains– their neurobiology– so they perceive and process experiences and relationships differently.
The top down mind is a relatively recent phenomenon, a symptom of agriculture and civilization, along with hierarchy, centralization, domination, disconnection and a lot more. Some people were exposed to civilization 10,000 years ago and some were exposed four or five hundred years ago.
Before then, for 99% of the time that humans existed, they lived bottom up lives in bottom up cultures with bottom up brains. The few hundred thousand indigenous people living on the planet today STILL live bottom up lives.
The thing is, humans evolved, over a course of several million years, to function with bottom up cultures and bottom up brains, to be raised in bottom up parenting situations. Psychologist Darcia Narvaez describes in her William James Award winning book, Neurobiology of the Development of Human Morality, how hundreds of different neurobiological pathways and connections evolved to optimally blossom and unfold when they are stimulated by bottom up parenting and a “nest” that was the usual way that small hunter gatherer bands raised children.
Now, as we return to bottom up ways, it is time for us to revisit indigenous wisdom, knowhow and values. That’s why Dr. Narvaez organized the conference, Sustainable Wisdom : Integrating Indigenous KnowHow for Global Flourishing . The idea of re-indigenization was frequently brought up as the answer to the unsustainable ways of relating to the world, to the use of energy, to nature, to each other.
I attended and participated in the conference, offering a paper in the poster session, titled, Now Is the Perfect Time To Bring Indigenous Wisdom to Western Culture.. Here’s what it said:
A bottom up revolution is sweeping western culture, catalyzed by the internet and smart phones. This revolution has changed the brain functions of people born after 1980 and has made all people and businesses far more amenable to bottom up ideas–and Indigenous ways and wisdom are bottom up in so many ways. Framing indigenous wisdom as bottom up can help make them more acceptable and embraceable by mainstream, even corporate audiences. Bottom is a concept that has been trending more and more according to Google trends. It’s producing trillions in new businesses yet also catalyzing connection consciousness–awareness of values that are similar to those at the core of Indigenous wisdom.
For a long time, the Hobbesian, dog-eat-dog, law-of-the-jungle, Darwinian view of aboriginals, characterizing them as “uncivilized” as brutal savages living lives of constant struggle to survive. But we know that aboriginal live in harmony with nature. People like the San Bushmen of Africa work 2-3 hours a day to subsist. Subsist! We talk about subsistence living as a form of deprivation, while actually, in the world of indigenous people still alive, primarily in rain forests, subsistence living works. They have 21-22 free hours a day. There is no unemployment, no mental illness. People are happy. Now, some say the indigenous peoples of the world are the truly affluent.
We have much to learn from the few surviving aboriginal peoples of the earth– their ways of living, relating, working, their values and beliefs. It would be nice to know how the hundreds of thousands of extinct aboriginal bands and tribes viewed the world because we could use their perspectives to gracefully undergo our transition, the revolution we are experiencing, moving from top down industrial era to bottom up connection era. But we CAN learn from the living Indigenous peoples.
Where we’re heading is in many ways where indigenous cultures already live. And that can be a very good thing. We need to develop ways to make it clear to “Digital Natives” who have lived all their lives, or their adolescent and adult lives immersed in bottom up technologies and cultures that indigenous wisdom and knowhow offers a pre-existing, readily available collection of insights, values, practices and teachings which can make life, work, relationships and business more moral, meaningful and sustainable.
Indigenous people can benefit from learning to use the digital vocabulary associated with bottom and top down ideas, so they can more easily and effectively communicate their ideas, values, practices and teachings TO digital natives.
The conference presentations reinforced my belief. They took me further along in thinking about Animism– a spiritual way of relating to nature that western religions criticize and treat as uncivilized, heretic, sacrilegious, blasphemous.
I realized that animism is the natural way, the healthier way to relate to nature, to all living and natural parts of our world, including rocks, trees, air, wind, as well as non-human living beings. Robin Kimmerer suggested that we stop calling our non human relatives in nature “it,” and that we start realizing that “it” is a disrespectful way to address fellow spirits of mother earth. If we are going to relate to earth in a sustainable way we need to start waking up to our connection to all aspects of nature. We need to let go of the western, pathological way of seeing humans as better and more deserving of special privilege and treatment than trees or other living members of our earth community. She suggests that instead of saying “it” we say “ki” which has roots in many languages relating to life force (like chi) and that the plural would be “kin.”
Respecting nature while not essential to the future of a sustainable world, is a very valuable, more whole way to go, in terms of adopting a way of relating to nature that produces a sustainable outcome.
This is a simple idea. Of course, critics of all sorts, from religious or political perspectives will call it tree hugging. The characterization of nature as something to be dominated, like a slave or machine is controlled, is a central part of top down civilization. Knee jerk reflexes to the contrary way, the natural way that existed before civilization, are to be expected. Resist them.
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|Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer– first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978– Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story– each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people’s consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com— which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up– The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project.
Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media (more…)