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Echo

Rilke said you must go inside yourself.
You must change your life.
I went inside.
And found only ashes, dust, smoke
still clinging to the air, blocking out the sun.
The river was frozen. Apparently,
as nearly as I could tell,
there had been a great passion once, the fire.
And then, winter, a long, frozen winter.
Winter in the blood.

I found a part of the river near the shore, where
the ice had broken.
There was just enough light left in the sky.

In the mirror of the water,
I saw your face and your eyes.
It was then I knew
which direction to take.
I turned and walked toward you,
you who would become my home.

Oscar Houck

*

“ I regret that he (Gregory Bateson) never had the opportunity to encounter the Aboriginal elder Mussolini Harvey (better known as Musso). If Bateson’s travels and investigations had brought him to the Aboriginal Australia I came to know and love, he might have heard beautiful words like these:
White people ask us all the time, what is Dreaming? This is a hard question because Dreaming is a really big thing for Aboriginal people. In our language, Yanyuwa, we call the Dreaming Yijan. The Dreamings made our Law or narnu-Yuwa. This Law is the way we live, our rules. This Law is our ceremonies, our songs, our stories; all of these things came from the Dreaming.
The Dreamings are our ancestors, no matter if they are fish, birds, men, women, animals, wind or rain. It was these Dreamings that made our Law. All things in our country have Law, they have ceremony and song, and they have people who are related to them…”

(australianhumanitiesreview.org, Pattern, Connection, Desire: In honour of Gregory Bateson

Unlike the tiger, a human has a hard time being truly human. Human culture overlays and suffocates the humanity of modern humans. Ancient humans, like Australian aboriginals,for example, created cultures that supported and protected their humanity and kept them in tune with the spirits of nature.

We have lost all that. Having lost it, we have tried to kill it in any older cultures we come in contact with. We have no respect for so-called “primitive” people because they don’t have a desire to dominate and control nature. They don’t have our toys and technology, and don’t show much interest in having them.

We call their spiritual technology “superstition” and try to stamp it out by kidnapping their children and forbidding their language and religion. Not being introspective we don’t notice our criminal stupidity. The dystopian world we have created is now falling apart because it’s built on a lie.

As we head into a world built on greed, we begin to question ourselves. We feel a foreboding sense of doubt and anxiety when we see our fellow humans double down on hate and violence. Fear begets fear. The outcome is in doubt. The center won’t hold, to paraphrase Yeats’ line.

I think we are grieving on many levels. We have lost our sense of certainty and security. We are shocked at the fevers that seem to be rolling through masses of our fellow humans now. In an armed-to-the-teeth America, a violent fury has awakened the worst instincts in a sizable minority of our society.

What are these people so furious about? Could it be living a meaningless existence, having no sense of connection to other beings, being reduced to slaves in a system over which they have no control?

Drifting through life without an anchor in the web of life is an unending well of suffering, but suffering with no obvious cause. Finding someone to blame is the knee jerk reaction, not tracking it to its real source. Once that rage is ignited it will be hard to extinguish. There are too many angry people to keep it going.

America needs a time-out. It needs to sit in the corner for a while and contemplate its sins. It could use some self reflection, some psychotherapy. A good look in the mirror might help.

Will cooler heads prevail? We hope so.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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