Archive for November, 2008


Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Before us the oil-soaked dirt road known as the Vía Auca snaked into low hills, and far in the distance it dropped into an arboreal quiltwork that looked to be four billion shades of green.  “Abundancia,” Enqueri said. – taken from Savages, by Joe Kane, written in 1995.

This Christmas season highlights and contrasts more than any time of the year, the plight of the have nots and the insanity of the haves. A lot of the haves think the sky is falling.

The Huaorani people are 1300 nomadic Indians living in the Oriente, the Equadorian Amazon. The territory they roam is the size of Massachusetts. The Huao call the petroleum hunters, THE COMPANY. And THE COMPANY has been trying to extract what they know is more than 200 million barrels of raw crude from Huaorani territory. To do this they would have to destroy the Huao source of life, the forest itself.

I bought a newspaper, The Vancouver Sun, Saturday, November 22nd, 2008, and I’m not liking us very much. The headlines fill me with shame. The haves are killing each other too, not to preserve their life but to conserve their way of life.

BLACK FRIDAY – The day after the U.S. Thanksgiving when the stores are open and the early Boxing Day sales begin. In Long Island, New York a Wal-Mart employee is trampled to death by shoppers breaking through the doors. A shooting in the parking lot of Toys ‘R Us, Palm Desert, California.

South Park got the ball rolling for Kick-A-Ginger Day. Redheads in various schools were swarmed, kicked and hit. November 20th, mark that on your calendar.

Watch me die. A suicide note posted on an internet site and more than a thousand people watched for hours the unmoving body of a teenager in Florida.

Death by obesity. I’m not just killing me, I’m killing you if I land on you. The courts are now trying to decide if overweight people are using their weight intentionally to kill their victims.

I am thinking of the G words. I am rhyming off Greed, Gratification, Gluttony. When is enough enough?

For the Huaorani, hunger defines life. The Huao value self-reliance. Their culture revolves around the ritual of food sharing and the fruitful forest is their provider. The Vía Auca is a sixty mile long road that has been the deepest penetration by land into the Amazon watershed. For the sake of enough oil to meet U.S. energy needs for THIRTEEN DAYS, the Huaorani way of life would be destroyed. Headline – ETHNOCIDE.

Joe Kane and Moi travelled to speak before a Washington commission. Moi roared like a jaguar, “The Huaorani are the bravest people in the Amazon and would defend themselves with spears from all sides.”

The Huaorani are warriors, not traders, merciless to their enemies and generous to their friends. Within five minutes Moi had given away all the bags he’d brought. He gave away a spear, too, to the commission’s executive secretary. “When your sky falls, ” Moi said, “this will hold up the clouds.” – taken from Savages, by Joe Kane.

It scares me how petty we are. How to get to that G word – Gratitude? A letter to the editor admonishes stores that carry Happy Holiday cards instead of focusing on what Christmas is really about, Consuming. Oh, I mean Christ’s birthday. The letter writer encourages other Christians to not worshop at these stores. We are all trying to do each other in and there is no shame, and why are we not crying out in rage about this?

I dedicate this post to Mr. Zaidi, Iraqi journalist. I applaud his outrage. I shudder at George Bush’s shameless joking about the shoe size thrown at him. Mr. Zaidi roared, “This is a farewell kiss, you dog. This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.” The shoe fits, Mr. Bush!

Getting to gratitude. I hear Willie P.’s song in my head, wish you could too. But I share with you the lyrics…

The hardest part Baby is smiling
when your plans don’t work out,
and still count yourself a lucky one.
With a God so smart we were born with
two hands reaching out,
a heart that knows the joys of love,
the stars above, the lucky ones.

Oh, the bigger picture! How to put a frame around it. Hafez was a Persian mystic poet, thought to be born around 1310. His thoughts on the party?


I don’t want to be the only one here
Telling all the secrets –

Filling up all the bowls at this party,
Taking all the laughs.

I would like you
To start putting things on the table
That can also feed the soul
The way I do.

That way
We can invite

A hell of a lot more

These pieces fall into my lap and I sift through them like shards of broken glass, the painful shattering of my optimism. I know, I know. There are angels everywhere. There is heroism and there are remarkable acts of dignity and kindness being acted out every second, every day, everywhere. I know.

Willie, sing to me…

Oh, the lucky ones,
to have these dreams to dream at all.
Wino wakes up on the street,
and he counts his feet,
sees there’s two, counts himself a lucky one.

Oh, the lucky ones
who never stumble and fall.
They don’t know nothing at all.

God’s so smart we were born with
two hands reaching out,
a heart that knows the joys of love,
the stars above, the lucky ones.

Joe Kane’s book was written back in 1995. I googled the Huaorani people, wondering about their fate. The estimation is that there are now less than 1,000 Huao, scattered back in the jungle, away from the Vía Auca. Moi still fights the enemy that would destroy their right to stay alive in the forest that feeds them.

I have adopted as a reminder to myself a salutation that the Huao use to greet each other. And that is GOOD LIFE. These two words never mean the same thing to me, depending on which filter I hear them through. Sometimes it is a statement of gratitude, fact that I know my life is good. Sometimes it is my moral compass to guide me to living good. It will remind me forever of what abundancia is to the Huaorani people.

It is party season. The party within the party. Where do we stand? And where will we fall? What do we bring to the party, and what oh what do we take?

Good Life