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1  GENERAL / Poetry / Re: god gotta shotgun on: November 06, 2008, 03:28:29 PM
Indeed. A different face on the same machine.

It has been very interesting to observe the Obama phenomena, and the great symbolism that is infused and referenced upon this president elect. Much expectation for him to be whatever the symbol represents in the populist mind.
2  POLITICS / U.S. POLITICS / Election Observance '08 on: November 04, 2008, 09:33:52 PM
Whatever your views, the mood is high on this 2008 election day. There is electricity in the air and folks are getting out to vote. Municipalities are bustling with activity. There is a sense of a "collective force" hoping to move things towards change. Indeed it is a concept that abodes well under the current climate, and people are willing to join together to make things happen on both sides of the coin. I think the last 2 election cycles people saw how political "apathy" set the stage for the current catastrophic Bush administration to wreak its havoc over the past 8yrs. There seems to be a real effort this election to, at the very least, flex one's political muscle. There is also a great sense of history in the making with the possibility of the first elected US Black president.

Obama is certainly a superstar/savior figure and there are huge expectations placed upon his head to be just that. It is interesting to observe the rapture-like faces/expressions during his rallies. I can see that balloon pop after the first human tendencies are eventually realized. His candidacy does, however, represent a lot of symbolic references that will hopefully bring a lot of necessary discussions to the table - Perhaps that big old elephant that's been standing in the middle of the room for so long might finally get acknowledged...and if so, it's about to get ugly in here.

McCain supporters seem to be operating under the covert guise of fear through spouting "American" (white) pride.. Fear that this non-white candidate might take away some of their privileges and actually "spread the wealth."

Though personal responsibility is the true cornerstone of movement for change - experiencing a sense of the collective force is powerful thing. Perhaps people from the groundroots up can grasp a sense of the "collective will" and be a vital part of changing things as we know it; thus contributing towards the beginnings of a mass conscious shift beyond the political spectrum.

The danger here with placing high expectations on either candidate, is deifying another to do what we ourselves are called to do.

Wherever you sit - it is indeed an interesting election here in the US.
3  GENERAL / Poetry / god gotta shotgun on: October 28, 2008, 01:40:55 PM
 god gotta shotgun
Copyright 2008 by Ewuare X. Osayande

god gotta shotgun
mowing down wolves & the caribou
riding high in his holycopter
paid for by
earmarks that've been blessed by the 700 club

all praises due
to the ones who brought you
abstinence-only education
on their way to a shotgun wedding
endorsed by the nra

vp in the image of aphrodite
spawned from the mind of mccain
the new face of patriarchy
hoodwinking at hockey-moms and joe six-packs
as she takes the ax to roe v.wade
reading last rites to women's rights

who has the power?
he-man and she-ra
masters of the universe
multi-millionaire coldwarmongers
singing paul revere the remix
"the russians are coming"
"the russians are coming"

mccain as "rambo pt. 6:
the original maverick"
crying "country first"
white nationalism reprise
re-birth of a nation
here comes the calvary
riding in robes of white skin
sacrificing their sons & daughters
on the altar of a lie
brandishing the red, white & blue
as gang colors
initiating immigrants with
"pledge allegiance to the flag
or die!"
4  POLITICS / U.S. POLITICS / Palin and Clinton on: September 14, 2008, 04:49:52 PM
sometimes you gotta laugh................. Cheesy
5  GENERAL / General Board / Re: Georgia on My Mind on: September 07, 2008, 11:36:05 PM
Have been enjoying the links shared on Mutabaruka from the other Speaks sites and was listening to one of Muta's reasonings "Hope and Salvation Lies Within" this morning...

Connected some of the reasonings to the current political situation here in U.S. and hype surrounding both candidates of "change".

There are many interesting views regarding the seemingly collective mind set, and by extension, the political stage - just depends on which lens the perceiver of the dream is looking through.


The Master Key

Serenity is a positive aspect and worry to which I have conferred

it is not sufficient not to worry

but one must cultivate a deep, quiet, peace compelling atmosphere

such an atmosphere of poise gives birth to forces awaiting our recognition.


Muta Response - Excerpt:

Everybody into this hopelessness nowadays - the newspapers, the talk shows..

this hopelessness well...

we have no hope in the religious systems
because we declare ourselves already
and we have no hope in the political systems
- so since we have no hope in these systems
we have to refine the hope in our self
and look into our selves to find that hope
that we don't see
in a political nor religious system

the people now need a hope in them selves
no in the sky
no in jamaica house
but in the self
it starts with the individual
and then it come out
and branch out
to the family,
to the community
to the nation
to the universe
it is like
growin growin growin
so we need fe extend that mind

And then he continues reasonings about looking in the mirror and talking out loud to self, reflecting on observations - thinking for self from day to day - moment to moment - discerning - willing to evolve from yesterday to today with new insights gleaned from self observations.... - relevant stuff.

I think the political arena serves as a collective stage for the unconscious - that once again, seeks outward socially conditioned forms to represent, speak, and rally on behalf of worldly issues- unbeknownst, that once again another ego constructed perception and dream of external symbols are but poor substitutes for taking personal responsibility and actual hope in one's self - the very essence and core of true change - like Muta seh - to branch out from the root/individual to the universe/collective/self.

6  GENERAL / Poetry / Re: Fertile Seed on: August 20, 2008, 12:43:14 PM
Yes... is interesting this book. Came highly recommended  through an acquaintance who then gave me a copy. Kept bumping into other people who had also read the book and shared some interesting comments. Have not really followed the hype surrounding the author but do find some of the insights very compelling.
7  GENERAL / Poetry / Re: Fertile Seed on: July 29, 2008, 02:09:15 AM

The reference point for truth inspires conscious thought, action, growth and ultimately transformation  Wink

Was reading something today that deemed relevant:

by Eckhart Tolle

If you look within rather than only without, however, you discover that you have an inner and outer purpose, and since you are a microcosmic reflection of the macrocosm, it follows that the univesre too has an inner and outer purpose inseparable from yours. The outer purpose of the universe is to create form and experience the interaction of forms - the play, the dream, the drama, or whatever you choose to call it. It's inner purpose is to awaken to it's formless essence. Then comes the reconciliation of outer and inner purpose: to bring that essence - consciousness - into the world of form and thereby transform the world. The ultimate purpose of that transformation goes far beyond anything the human mind can imagine or comprehend. And yet, on this planet at this time, that transformation is the task alloted us. That reconciliation of outer and inner purpose, the reconciliation of the world and God. ( force)
8  GENERAL / Poetry / Fertile Seed on: July 20, 2008, 11:20:15 PM
A seed planted
amongst the manure
of ego
fertilizes and grows
from conscious nuclei
into vessel of form
unto essential
Life force
planting roots
into earth's creation
that ark and reach
refracted rays
of maya
from the belly
of the beast
towards the crown of Light
conscious action
word and deed
9  POLITICS / U.S. POLITICS / Because He's Black: Race, the Ruling Class, the Left, and Obama on: July 20, 2008, 04:05:26 PM
The political stage has brought forth some interesting views about the possibility of what it means for the US to have a Black president, and how that symbolism once again, can be used to serve the Imperialistic agenda to actually preserve status quo.

Excerpts -

Because He's Black: Race, the Ruling Class, the Left, and Obama
By Paul Street:

"Not All That Black." A significant part of Obama's appeal to white America has to do with the widespread Caucasian sense that Obama "isn't all that black."  Many whites who roll their eyes at the mention of the names of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton - former presidential candidates who behave in ways that many whites find too black - are calmed and impressed by the cool, underplayed blackness and often ponderous tone of the half-white, Harvard-educated Obama. Obama doesn't shout, chant, holler or drawl.  He doesn't rail against injustice, bring the parishioners to their feet and threaten delicate white suburban and middle-class sensibilities. He stays away from emotive "truth"-speaking confrontations with power.

 To use Joe Biden's unfortunate terminology, Obama strikes many whites as "clean" and "articulate" - something different from their unfortunately persistent image of many blacks as dirty, irrational and unintelligible. "Among the factors contributing to Obama's rise," Washington Post writer Liza Mundy noted in the summer of 2007, was the interesting fact that "his appearance, his voice, and his life story are particularly well suited to attract white votes."

As a black professional I know recently remarked when I mentioned "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" in connection with Obama: "it's like that movie in the sense that a black man has to be almost 'perfect,' like Sidney Poitier, to be accepted by whites." The translation of "perfect" is racialized, of course, and includes a sense of being suitable to white sensibilities and safe for white privilege.

- "Race Neutral" Obama. Thanks in part to the fact that his technical blackness triggers white racial fears, Obama has gone to remarkable lengths to distance himself from the struggle against racism.  During the primary campaign Obama was if anything more conservative on racial justice than Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, not to mention Dennis Kucinich. Eagerly accommodating mainstream white attitudes, the "deeply conservative" Obama has run a "race neutral" campaign falsely proclaiming the essentially "past" nature of racial oppression and pointing strongly to poor blacks' personal and cultural responsibility for their disproportionate presence at the bottom of the nation's hierarchies. The fact that he is black has helped make such racism-denial and victim-blaming especially imperative for the Obama campaign. The predictable eruption of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright fiasco has pushed Obama yet further over into what the left black commentator Glen Ford calls "white space" on questions of American empire and inequality, past and present.

- Last March, the "liberal" white Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter voiced an interesting racist opinion on what he called "the Obama Dividend." While "Obama's unique assets" [a reference to the Senator's blackness and multiculturalism, P.S.] have been viewed in international terms," Alter argued, the presidential candidate's "most exciting potential for moral leadership could be in the African-American community."  Alter praised Obama for being a potentially "important president" simply on the grounds that the Senator would tell and inspire "black adults and children" to behave better and thereby to stop sabotaging themselves and alienating culturally superior whites.  Obama could mishandle U.S. foreign or economic policy, and fail in his tepid efforts to address social problems at home, but he would leave a powerful and important legacy, Alter argued, if he could just get "black adults and children" - a category that technically includes every single African-American human being - to think and act in a more positive and productive fashion.

The problem with such incidents and commentaries - widely emblematic of mainstream white sentiment in the post-Civil Rights Era (PCRE) - is that institutional racism remains alive and well in every area of American society, providing the essential explanation (the supposed "excuse") for a savage racial wealth gap that grants the median black household seven cents on the white median household dollar. The appointment of a few select blacks to upper-echelon positions - the Supreme Court, Secretary of State, and even the presidency - does not change this deeply rooted societal reality. It can actually make that reality worse. The deeper structures and practices of institutional white supremacy are cloaked by regular rituals of Caucasian self-congratulation over white America's increased willingness to embrace "good" - bourgeois, power-elite-approved and "not all that" - "blacks" like the corporate mass-marketing icon Oprah Winfrey and mendacious imperialists like Powell, Condi Rice, and (now) Obama.

Call it "the identity politics of Empire." Superpower needs new clothes and Obama is just the man to model them.

Full Article:
10  GENERAL / Poetry / Connected on: July 12, 2008, 07:11:58 PM
I miss you
but I do not need you
I let go
so that I could know you
you have transcended form
through remembrance
of essential force
I died
so that I could live
your spiritual breath
inspires conscious choice
critical information
becomes a gateway
to increasing knowledge
I am becoming aware
of who I am
amongst the constellations
sometimes I feel mortal
and must die a thousand deaths
sometimes I feel like a goddess
and live life eternally
I am connected to the Universe
irregardless of how I feel
and am grateful
to know it's power
pulsing through my veins
11  HISTORY / Race Matters / Re: Slavery and Remorse on: February 20, 2007, 04:03:25 PM
Between the Lines
Virginia Legislature's
"Profound Regret" Semantics
over Apology For Slavery
Keeps Eye on Reparations

by Anthony Asadullah Samad

The state just can't bring itself to say "we're sorry" or "we aplolgize" for slavery. Because it opens the door for a discussion on reparations.

The Virginia Legislature issued a statement of “profound regret” last week over the state’s involvement in slavery, as the state prepares to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown—the first “official” colonial settlement in what eventually became British America, and subsequently the United States of America. While also condemning the “egregious wrongs” Virginia settlers committed against Native Americans, the state’s role in the start and facilitation of America’s legacy in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (which ended in 1808) and institutionalization of domestic slavery (breeding slaves) from 1808 to 1865, is what has grabbed the nation’s attention. In an effort to make amends, a national controversy has been reignited. Should America apologize for slavery? The way Virginia has approached the issue, it has come very close. In what might become a “first, the States—then the nation” approach, Virginia is using carefully worded terms like “profound regret” and “egregious wrongs” to “bring closure” on the state’s involvement in slavery. However, the state just can’t bring itself to say, “we’re sorry,” or “we apologize” for slavery, because it opens the door for a discussion on reparations. The statement is purely semantics, to appease the guilt of some without admitting liability. Coming close to an apology is good enough for them, but is it good enough for us? It’s time to talk about it as “near apologies” puts semantics over sentiment on the slavery issue.

Virginia had the longest slave history in British colonies, with most historians, by and large, suggesting that the first 20 enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown in 1619 (though other historians confirm that England’s first slave voyage was in 1555 when slave trader John Hawkins brought 300 slaves to North America [Santa Domingo], causing the Spanish to ban British from trading in the West Indies). Enslaved Africans were actually on the North American continent nearly one hundred years earlier with a documented presence in New Spain (now Mexico) in the 1520s, but it’s Jamestown that is credited with making involuntary servitude an accepted part of American culture long before it became associated with the deep South. Now Virginia wants to apologize…or do they? As the House of Delegates took on the task of broaching the question of an apology for slavery, the nation got a chance to see just how far below the surface of America’s already “thin” American skin the topic is. The initial measure was, in fact, a resolution apologizing for Virginia’s role in slavery. But objections to the apology changed the measure’s tone and intent.

One of its Republican members, delegate Frank D. Hargrove, opposed the measure stating that slavery ended 140 years ago and that black people “should get over” it (slavery). Black people are the only ones in the history of the world who are expected to “get over” the deconstruction of their cultural heritage, and have attempts to address the pain and repair the damage trivialized in public debate.  He even went as far as to rationalize his opposition by asking if the Jews should apologize for killing Christ too, inferring that some things are best left alone. While the killing of Jesus was no trivial matter, it didn’t happen in the United States less than seven generations removed. It’s a highly sensitive matter with many Whites because they know the appropriate steps in healing are admission of the wrong, confession of the hurt, apology for the pain and reparation for the damage done. America (the nation) and White America (the culture) never wants to have a repatriation discussion with Black America. One, because they can’t return African Americans to their countries of origin in sufficient numbers, and secondly, they can’t restore African Americans to their previous culture status at the time the wrongs were committed.

Nearly 300 years of life-long servitude, by an inestimatable number, leaves America in a position it couldn’t possibly repair or reparate. And if they tried to address reparations, where would the number start? Try four trillion dollars (at last estimate, in the late 1990s), which is most of the wealth of the nation. The interest owed on reparations to descendents of slaves in America is in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually. This is not a conversation America is looking forward to, because it’s not a debt that America can pay (in dollars-but they can pay it in other ways). Now, that takes us to a decision point: does America ever want to pay reparations? The semantics that they’re playing in the apology over slavery should give one that answer. But America will never heal, racially or socially, until it’s addressed. Maybe it’s not Blacks that need to get over slavery. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time white America acknowledge the damage done and apologize, so both sides can heal. Maybe they need to get over their objection to reparations, so the vestiges of slavery can be eliminated and everyone can be made whole. Near apologies, without a sincere reparations follow-up conversation, won’t heal Blacks and it really doesn’t heal Whites.

In the meantime, we walk a slow road to an apology. I went to all twelve dictionaries I own and looked up the word "apology", and in each one, “regret” was a primary or secondary definition. But the state of Virginia purposely avoided using the word “apology” because the word acknowledges wrongdoing and amends having to be made. They wanted to avoid the reparations question. And they did, for now. So, at least in the state of Virginia, it looks like we’re almost there. Almost.

I guess for now, a near apology will have to do. At least until African Americans figure out how to work around the semantics of America confessing for slavery—without paying.

Anthony Asadullah Samad is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum and author of the upcoming book, Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom. His Website is Click here to contact Mr. Samad.
12  HISTORY / Race Matters / Slavery and Remorse on: February 11, 2007, 04:06:16 PM
Interesting"remorse," "public contrition," "profound regret"....short of "reparations" ....

Slavery and Remorse
In Virginia and Maryland, there is value in contrition.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

THAT SLAVERY was a shameful episode in American history is beyond debate; not so the issue of whether or how states where it flourished for more than two centuries should apologize or express remorse for it. In recent weeks the legislatures of Virginia and Maryland, former slave states whose last slaves were freed more than 140 years ago, have grappled with that quandary and more broadly with the question of what symbolic or practical value attaches to an act of public contrition.

Virginia, whose state anthem with its references to "darkies" and "old massa" was retired (but not repudiated) just a decade ago, took up the question first. There, the House of Delegates approved a resolution stating its "profound regret" for the state's role in sanctioning slavery, as well as in "the historic wrongs visited upon native peoples." The resolution was approved without opposition, though not before an initial draft was rewritten and stripped of the word "atonement," which, some feared, might have opened the door to monetary reparations. Maryland may now follow suit with a similar if somewhat less elegantly worded resolution that also expresses the state's "profound regret."

Both documents seek to redress an enduring sense of grievance among some African Americans (and, in the case of Virginia's resolution, American Indians). Each rightly makes reference to slavery's lasting, poisonous legacy of discrimination, enforced segregation and racism. And each pays tribute to the high ideal of equal, inalienable rights that are the birthright of every citizen regardless of race, creed or color.

Some may ask what purpose is served in making such a gesture so many years after the fact and with so many generations separating today's Virginians, black and white, from forebears who may have owned or been slaves. After all, as the Virginia resolution states, "even the most abject apology for past wrongs cannot right them, nor can it justly impute fault or responsibility to succeeding generations or justify the imposition of new benefits or burdens." (the classic white response)

True enough. But it is equally true that expressions of repentance and remorse in public life, as in interpersonal relations, can be helpful, healing emollients. It is not just that they do no harm; they may also, as the Virginia document states, serve to "recall and remind so that past wrongs may never be repeated and manifest injustice may not again be overlooked." In that, surely, there is value.

There is value, too, in the debate itself, no matter how toxic its manifestations in the blogosphere and beyond. Evidence for that may be found in the person of Frank D. Hargrove, a white member of Virginia's House. His first public reaction to the idea of expressing remorse for slavery was to suggest that black citizens "should get over it." That remark made Mr. Hargrove, an 80-year-old Republican, the lightning rod for a brief storm of invective. But when the resolution's wording was tweaked, the House ultimately approved it by a vote of 91 to 0. And Mr. Hargrove, to his credit, voted "yea."
13  GENERAL / Science / Global Warming is Here. Now What? on: January 03, 2007, 03:40:17 AM
59 degrees is predicted for NJ tomorrow. Almost the entire month of December has hovered into the 50's with occasional 60's. January is typically cold this time of year with temps generally ranging in the 20's and 30's. The ground is still soft and has yet to freeze...

Global Warming is Here. Now What?

By Don Monkerud, Register-Pajaronian. Posted January 2, 2007.

Changing the course of global warming could take a major upheaval to affect public policy -- a Pearl Harbor-type event in the environment.

The world's economy appears to be robust, but masks an approaching crisis -- the sustainability of future generations "can no longer be taken for granted." That's the opinion of the 1,300 scientists who participated in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a four-year analysis of the world's ecosystems sponsored by the Worldwatch Institute and reported in Vital Signs 2006-2007.

Examining 24 major ecosystems that support human life, scientists found that 15 are "being pushed beyond their sustainable limits," toward a change that will be "abrupt and potentially irreversible." Humanity's genius at economic development has taxed our ecosystems to the point where we face "imminent ecological and economic crises."

Economically, the world is booming. Steel, aluminum, vehicle production and Gross World Product set records in 2005, as did Internet usage and cell phones. Unfortunately, the production of atmospheric CO2 concentrations, the main greenhouse gas, is also booming -- 2004 measured the highest annual increase ever. Average temperatures in 2005 were the hottest ever recorded on the earth's surface, the warmest in 10,000 years.

Warming has led to the destruction of 20 percent of the world's coral reefs and 25 percent of the world's mangrove forests. Sea ice fell to the lowest levels ever recorded and almost a third of the Arctic Ocean, normally covered by ice in the summer, has melted. Weather-related disasters, attributed to global warming, reached a record cost of $204 billion, with record hurricane, forest fire and tornado seasons in the US.

Global warming is here and scientists predict that the number and severity of weather-caused disasters will increase as the earth warms through the heat trapping effects of greenhouse gases created by burning oil, coal and natural gas, which accounts for 80 percent of the world's energy use. With the US consuming roughly a quarter of the world's oil and, along with automobile exhaust, creating almost a quarter of the world's greenhouse gases, pressure is mounting to switch to alternative sources of fuel to modify the amount of damage created by global warming in the future.

With the Bush Administration and the oil, gas and automobile conglomerates rejecting scientific findings of man-made global warming, how will the country take action to curb it?

American voters lurch from crisis to crisis, have a short attention span and get their information from a very fad-obsessed media, according to Daniel Press, professor and chair of Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz. Any crisis that requires a change in behavior or tremendous investment, such as global warming requires, will take a major upheaval to affect public policy -- a Pearl Harbor-type event in the environment.

"Unfortunately, we will have many disruptions with extreme climate events, rising sea levels and possibly some cascading collapses in various ecosystems," said Press.

Some states are not waiting for disasters. California recent adopted a global emissions bill, which could spur politicians to provide national leadership on the issue. Despite strong opposition from Republicans, California passed a bill requiring reduction of CO2 by 25 percent by 2020, with enforceable controls.

"California's global warming bill represents a complete break from federal policy and something unheard of in this country," said Press. "If the political stars can align for this to happen in California, moderate Republicans and Democrats could make this happen on the national level."

Businesses are beginning to find economic opportunities in energy efficiency and alternative forms of energy because competition demands it. Japanese cars are surpassing domestic auto companies; Finland uses less energy to produce paper than the US does; and manufacturing sectors around the world are more energy-efficient than the US.

"As energy costs go up, there's money to be made with renewal energy, managing conservation and reducing energy demands," Press said. "As energy costs become a larger part of manufacturing, the winners will be those who conserve energy."

One opportunity involves sequestering carbon, which currently costs $150 a ton, too expensive to be practical. If CO2 can be captured and injected underground, or otherwise prevented from accumulating in the atmosphere, many global warming problems could be alleviated.

"Americans are good at this sort of technological change," said Press. "The whole world is a market for fuel efficiency and renewable energy supplies."

Press advocates many off-the-shelf energy saving technologies that are immediately available such as solar energy, insulation and more fuel-efficient cars. This happened in 1974, when building codes were changed to require home insulation. Developers fought the change, claiming 200,000 Californian homebuyers wouldn't be able to afford the price increase. Instead, consumers appreciated cutting their energy bills in half and housing didn't experience a downturn.

"Transitions are scary, uncertain and possibly expensive, but the arguments for making energy investments are compelling," said Press. "You make money because, over the long run, you're saving energy."

The transition should have been begun 20 years ago: Every delay makes it more difficult.

"I don't think it is impossible for us to make substantial gains in reducing global warming," Press said. "We can't afford a defeatist attitude. We have to be forceful. If we throw up our hands and do nothing, we are accepting the worst-case scenario."
14  GENERAL / General Board / Re: "apocalypto" on: January 03, 2007, 03:23:47 AM
Mel Gibson Is Wrong about Who the Violent Americans Are

By Roberto Lovato, New America Media. Posted December 16, 2006.

The new movie Apocalypto should have left the Maya alone and instead looked for apocalyptic violence in the off-screen history of the Catholic-mestizo families of the Americas.

After watching Mel Gibson’s controversial film Apocalypto, I left the theater pondering the history of racism, pillage and apocalyptic war through my own blood and family history. Gibson, I concluded, would have been more accurate, his film more resonant, had he used another group of people, another culture – certainly not the Maya -- to depict his vision of the Apocalyse.

Like many Central Americans born and categorized as mestizos (mixed Indian and Spanish blood), I watched Apocalypto as someone who consciously revered the Maya and other indigenous groups while subconsciously prohibiting himself any real identification with them.

As a boy, my parents gave me a leather case with a picture of an Indian from the region now known as El Salvador (the Savior). But I heard my father call people he considered ugly “cara de indio” (Indian face). For many of us--mestizo and non-mestizo alike--it’s always been easier to identify with the Christian culture depicted in Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ than with the Maya culture in Apocalypto.

The fundamental problem with Apocalypto’s depiction of Maya culture is that, in a procrustean manner, it imposes violence and an apocalyptic world view on the wrong people. In fact, UC Riverside archaeologist Zachary X. Hruby wrote recently in the San Francisco Chronicle: “There exists no archaeological, historic or ethnohistoric data to suggest that any such mass sacrifices -- numbering in the thousands, or even hundreds -- took place in the Maya world.”

Instead, Gibson should have looked for apocalyptic war and culture in the off-screen history of our Catholic, mestizo, and indigenous families in the Americas.

He could have done his homework about how Salvadoran culture sanctions my father’s use of “cara de indio” as a way to call someone ‘ugly.’ I never understood the deeper reasons for such racist remarks until my father told me what happened when he was a ten-year-old boy who climbed trees in 1932. That year, my father saw military men kill hundreds of Indians in what historians call “La Matanza” or the Killing. More than 30,000 mostly Indian peasants in El Salvador were slaughtered on the order of General Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez, a theosophist military dictator who used radio broadcasts to justify his actions by sowing apocalyptic fear. Most of the killing my father witnessed took place not far from where the fictional killing fields of Apocalypto take place. Until I asked him about it, my father remained quiet about La Matanza for more than 65 years. The fear of Indians and apocalyptic war he learned while climbing trees as a boy stayed with him and spilled onto his kids through what some psychologists call “intergenerational trauma.”

It saddens me that the first big screen depiction of the inspired and inspiring culture of the Maya is this fatally inaccurate and very controversial film. Like the traumatized boy who became my father, millions among the current generations of Mayan, Guatemalan, Salvadoran and other Central American youth growing up in the United States and other countries are the children of apocalyptic war survivors. Most have experienced the numbing cultural effects of war; either firsthand or as the children of those who have witnessed the savagery of wars like the one in Guatemala, where apocalyptic dictator and born-again Pentecostal President Efrain Rios Montt, who famously said, “the true Christian has a Bible in one hand and a machine gun in the other,” ordered the killing and disappearance of more than 100,000, mostly Mayas. I saw how Montt used television and other media to beam the colorful biblical imagery of his apocalyptic vision as a way to cover over the massacre of innocents. He compared the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to the four contemporary evils of hunger, misery, ignorance and subversion

Apocalypto’s depiction of the Mayas scares in its inaccuracy, but it makes sense when we consider that Gibson’s main audience belongs to a culture that reveres another very conservative actor like him, Ronald Reagan. Reagan introduced the use of media-communication skills and apocalyptic politics to advance a political agenda. He used them to justify the full arming, full funding of and political support for Montt, whom Reagan defended as “getting a bum rap.” In the name of combating “evil” and protecting the “city on a hill,” Reagan infused his foreign and domestic policy with statements like, "we may be the generation that sees Armageddon" and “I don't know if you have noted any of those prophecies lately, but, believe me, they describe the times we are going through." While filmmaker Gibson claims to offer an allegorical critique of the declining, apocalyptic civilization that feeds wars like the one in Iraq, Gibson the extreme right-wing Catholic, anti-Semite fails in Apocalypto and in all his movies to critique the very religion that has dominated apocalyptic politics for centuries.

Better than most, Gibson knows that Apocalypse sells in a culture in which born-again politicos, best-sellers like the Left Behind books and blockbuster movies like his Mad Max series or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s End of Days and the Terminator trilogy plug into the cultural and political DNA of this country, whose Puritan founders came here prepared for the end of days with Bibles and 20-ton cannons crammed into their ships.

My identity, in part, has been shaped by the effects of a culture of violence and apocalyptic war best found not so much in the stuff of Gibson’s Mayan epic, Apocalypto, but in the stuff of his Christian epic, The Passion of the Christ.
15  GENERAL / Quotes / William Glasser Quotes on: December 16, 2006, 04:14:55 AM

"The only person whose behavior we can control is our own."

“Education is the process in which we discover that learning adds quality to our lives. Learning must be experienced.”

“We Learn . . .
10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear
70% of what we discuss
80% of what we experience
95% of what we teach others.”

“What happened in the past that was painful has a great deal to do with what we are today, but revisiting this painful past can contribute little or nothing to what we need to do now . . .”

“It is almost impossible for anyone, even the most ineffective among us, to continue to choose misery after becoming aware that it is a choice.”

"We can only control our feeling and physiology indirectly through how we choose to act and think."
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