14 November 2014

Rummaging through writings from 1988/89

11 Dec 1988
Riding on horseback up steep mountains and through ravines carrying UNICEF medical bags to a distant gathering village along the northern border with Honduras.  Our mission is to provide first aid, vaccinations and various medications to try to cover for clinics and medics who have been killed in Contra attacks.  Clinics and schools, medics and teachers are the primary target of US backed and advised Contra forces.  I accompany two Nicaraguans, a doctor trained in Canada and a nurse trained in Germany.
Beautiful country, Contra infested.  Parrots flutter from tree to tree.
12 Dec 1988
A four hour ride yesterday, one way into the cloud shrouded mountains.  The war (and its effects) is omni-present.  Visual manifestations of damage to objects and people, teachers...schools...first aid stations.  We were shadowed by a platoon of the FSLN, the Sandinistas...but that almost seems to ensure attack.  RPGs, AK-47s send me into flashbacks.
It was dark on our return. The moon just a sliver and the stars bright as bright can possibly be. The sounds of the jungle immensely powerful.  We left at 0800 and it is now past 1800.  The truck which was to pick us up at a rendezvous point wasn't there.  The horses had been taken to a way station and we waited.  The truck arrived an hour late, it had broken down in a ditch and had to be recovered by oxen.  I took the driver's seat.  The mud from the rain made the clay road slick as ice.  I said, "This is how we drive in a Minnesota winter"...The soldiers in the back hung on for dear life.  Slipping, sliding, careening from side to side...slowing then accelerating...we kept moving forward.  Someone banged on the roof of the cab.  The soldiers wanted out...there was a contra base very near.  They feared attack.  Fanning out, the doctor, nurse and I were left alone in the truck with the headlights still on, engine running.  We were apprehensive to say the least.  Time stood still.  Lights off, engine off.  Quiet was deafening.
The soldiers returned...no sign of the contras.  We continued our journey back to my tent by the river.  Back to a perimeter.




10 November 2014

Here's a snippet of an Op-Ed at The New York Times that got my attention: "...Today, however, 75 to 90 percent of the world’s natural sand beaches are disappearing, due partly to rising sea levels and increased storm action, but also to massive erosion caused by the human development of shores. Many low-lying barrier islands are already submerged. Yet the extent of this global crisis is obscured because so-called beach nourishment projects attempt to hold sand in place and repair the damage by the time summer people return, creating the illusion of an eternal shore..."
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
~ Wendell Berry
"A nameless song with a ghostly rhythm, simple and mysterious, that everyone had heard, yet each said they'd heard different versions. They said they'd listened to it every night and were finally able to follow the voice trail to where the singer was buried.They found a body wrapped in canvas in a shallow grave, its bones crumbled. Alongside the bones lay a hand-made guitar, intact. True or not? Who's to know. But the story went on to say that when the bones were lifted to be placed in a grave all those present heard the song again echoing through the forest. After the burial the song ended, and was never heard again”
~Bảo Ninh (Hoàng Ấu Phương), "The Sorrow of War"
Newton "revolutionized" physics and the so-called natural sciences by reducing the physical universe to a linear mathematical equation. Descartes did the same thing with culture. John Locke did it with politics, and Adam Smith did it with economics. Each one of these "thinkers" took a piece of the spirituality of human existence and converted it into a code, an abstraction...Each of these intellectual revolutions served to remove the wonderful complexity and spirituality from the universe and replace it with a logical sequence: one, two, three, Answer!
There is a conflict between being and gaining. Being is a spiritual proposition. Gaining is a material act.
(with thanks to Russell Means, whose power will never rest)

We got too big for the world

Kohr’s claim was that society’s problems were not caused by particular forms of social or economic organization, but by their size. Sociali...