If we do not permit the earth to produce beauty and joy, it will in the end not produce food, either. Joseph Wood Krutch

Monday, July 9, 2007

I am a guilty man

I have been taken in by the comments on "No Impact Man" blog and put a considerable amount of time in posting my own comments there rather than writing my blog. Since my blog has not really taken off yet I felt this was a better use of my time since I was communicating with more people. Below is a reprint of comments I left today on the No Impact site. I felt it came out well and decided today I would post it here as well.


When Columbus sailed to our shores he found an unspoiled land full of a people that lived in harmony with it. There were no shopping malls, freeways, power lines or prisons. But these he felt were a "savage" people that must be "civilized" and they stood in the way of his pursuit of new resources for the king. So he claimed the land for the king with an intent to return and "civilize" it and capture its resources.

In 1492 Columbus also discovered Haiti. The native population when he arrived is estimated to have been at least one million and some estimates run as high as three million. In Columbus own words "I found very many islands filled with people without number, and all of them I have taken possession for their Highnesses...As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information on whatever there is in these parts"

He hauled off much gold for the kingdom, and left a delegation to build a fort built from the remnants of the sunken Santa Maria with the intent to "control" the land. By 1596 there were only 125 individuals remaining of the native population. The rest died by sword, famine and disease.

We assume these stories are ancient history, and in the case of Columbus, who is purported to have "discovered America" we just bury it under the rug and declare a national holiday. We are now a modern civilized people who seek peace for the world...through technology. But our "civilization" is still in pursuit of conquest. We just mask it through wars of ideology which are really wars of conquest and annihilation. The goal of these wars...more comfort for the people of the kingdom through the assumption of more resources.

As I look around my office I see a router, a laser printer, a scanner, two speakers, an LCD monitor, a tungsten lamp, a telephone, a tape recorder, computer, a laptop computer, a TV, a VCR, a DVD, a stereo, a label maker...need I go on? These make life very convenient and, I guess, bring me some happiness; maybe just a little; but these did not spring from the earth as fruit of any plant. They were manufactured from oil and ores from all over the planet. Retrieved through force many times so I, as part of the "kingdom" can enjoy them.

To be fair, I acquired much of this stuff long before I began to wake up to the realities. Indeed, if it were not for my computer, I could not be participating in this forum. I am still rethinking the logic of that and am not sure where my future path will take me when these things wear out. Will I replace them? I really don't know.

I learned years ago that most diamonds sold had a price tag of blood attached to them. I vowed not to buy diamonds. When I learned about fair trade bananas I discovered that many workers died or became ill from being sprayed with pesticides and that the banana farmers did not receive adequate compensation from their bananas to even live. I now buy organic fair trade bananas. The more I learn, the less I want to buy.

We can march, we can protest, we can decry needless wars. Shoot we can even build websites and have public forums to sicken ourselves with the facts then legislate against that which disgusts us. But if the wars are fought and people die simply to bring more goods for our kingdom so we can sustain our convenient and comfortable lives are we not then really an accomplice if we buy?

I am a guilty man.


Theresa said...

Fantastic post! Your commment on NIM lead me to your blog - a happy find, and I have since bookmarked it. I'm looking forward to reading more of what you have to say!

donthewanderer said...

Great post today. I feel the same way. I would enjoy to learn more from your experiences. I was not aware of the banana farmer/worker experience. I agree that the benefit must outweigh the cost of the technologies we enjoy. However how do we ever really understand the entire picture. I am a proponet of the free market, in most instances, and I prefer to vote with my dollars. Keep up the good work informing us of the atrocities around the world so that we may continue to intelligently vote with our dollars.

Anonymous said...

I saw your comment on No Impact man, and I just had to say - great post. I have the same thoughts as we speak... I'm trying to make it in the world, I just got my own apartment but now as I read and learn I don't want to put anything in it...

I'm not going to have a T.V. or DVD player, and once my laptop wears out that will be it.

I'm not sure what I am getting at here... just that I hope we all make it out alive.

le gach beannacht
Brendan O'Brien