A Victor’s Narrative

The narratives we are given about the state of civilization in the continent later baptized America is a narrative designed to obscure the truth of one side in favor of another. Our text books refer to it as the “New World” and to the first Western European arrivals as “settlers”. These terms elicit a certain imagery in our minds of virgin lands, unperturbed by man until the “Christians” came.

The superiority of European technology and culture was such – the story goes -, that the genocide, ethnic cleansing and erasure of indigenous culture, which followed was an inevitable consequence of contact. It follows an accepted line of Western thought, which states that the “victor” always writes history. But, the concept of victory, itself, is part of the things that separate these two sides of the world.

Few dare question the narrative. Indeed, most are not even aware it is a narrative at all. It is simply assumed to be a historical fact. Should it be challenged, many will instinctively come to its defense with vitriol and utter contempt for whoever has the gall to inject even the slightest doubt into the conqueror’s tales. They will point to the brilliant scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs, like genetic sequencing and the moon landing, as proof of their civilization’s clear primacy and advantages.

Defenders of the narrative will rally around these ahistorical claims, shrouded in racial supremacist thinking and take them as gospel. The cumulative effect of knowledge transfer over the course of millennia between multiple civilizations completely escapes them. And it is no wonder, since this too, is a feature of the narrative of so-called Western civilization.

The idea that “rational” thought and the fruits of the Enlightenment are part of an unbroken civilizational lineage, that stretches back to Ancient Greece is nothing more than part of an overarching theme of the birth of “Academia” emerging out of 19th century Germany, where the modern-day seminary-style university model was developed. Martin Bernal dispels this myth in his seminal, two-volume work, “Black Athena – The Afro-Asiatic Roots of Western Civilization”.

The Saviors

Another oft-repeated refrain are the radical improvements in life-expectancy and medical advancements brought forth by our White brethren. And indeed, Europeans’ life expectancy and general health did improve dramatically as a result. But, here’s the part that is ignored: It was Europe that was sick and dying, struck by the plague and chronically ill. It was their societies, which were failing and caught in a spiral of death and wars of attrition.

What they found on the other side of the Atlantic were thriving, healthy civilizations living in harmony with their environment. So healthy, that the diseases carried by the invading foreigners killed them by the millions because they had never been exposed to them. Just like the rats carrying the bubonic plague into Europe, European “settlers” brought sickness into the Amerindian societies.

NEW ORLEANS, LA – Dead man floating under I-10. New Orleans, La. Sept. 3, 2005 – PHOTO CREDIT: THOMAS DWORZAK—MAGNUM

Columbus and all who followed him also found copious amounts of food and agricultural technologies, that supported populations in the millions. Crops in varieties and numbers unheard of in their pastoral homelands. Vegetables, fruits and nuts in such abundance, the “Conquistadors” could barely believe their eyes.

When Hernán Cortez wrote about “El Nuevo Mundo” to his royal benefactors in Castile, he was literally describing a new world. A world that represented nothing less than a lifeline for a decaying world, rife with war, hunger and disease.

It is, perhaps, one of history’s greatest ironies, that Western Europeans would sail thousands of miles across the ocean with their horses, swords and guns under the banner of Christianity, purporting to bring salvation to a “savage” people.

Revisiting the accepted historical narrative, even superficially, reveals this to be a classic case of projection. The ones who needed saving were the Europeans themselves and it was the Native people of the American continent who saved them.

A Retelling in Time

Narratives are important. It is the stories that we tell ourselves, which determine the actions we ultimately take. As we stand on the threshold of an environmental catastrophe, we are beginning to understand that our actions are leading us down a dangerous road. It is in these moments, that we must re-examine our motives. We have to revisit the narrative and identify the points that are not congruent with our reality.

FILE PHOTO – A poster promoting the first Earth Day
in the United States, which took place in April, 1977

The climate disaster, which is presently unfolding on this planet is the consequence of the same unsustainable way of life that led to the near collapse of Western European civilization at the dawn of a renaissance underwritten by Native and indigenous people.

Our increasingly polluted rivers, oceans and air; the rampant deforestation and resource extraction; the unsustainable fossil fuel energy paradigm that is not only driving wars around the world, but is also causing our atmosphere to warm and threatens to extinguish life on earth as we know it. These are all manifestations of the same spirit that crossed the Atlantic 500 years ago as a self-destructive civilization survived its imminent demise by leaching off of societies working successfully to reach an equilibrium with nature.

A Call to Action

My documentary Ghost on the Water revisits the Colonial narrative in order to expose the lies we continue to tell ourselves about how we got here and where all this is leading us. If you feel this is a worthwhile endeavor, consider making a contribution so we can continue production:

Kickstarter Campaign

Go to the Ghost on the Water Landing Page to learn more about this documentary film project that examines the spiritual roots of environmental justice movements across America and confronting an unsustainable energy paradigm.

Consider making a contribution to help us complete production. Visit our Go Fund Me Campaign for Ghost on the Water or share this page on your preferred social media networks. Thank you!


To Fight Or Not To Fight

It was a foregone conclusion. Everyone knew the pipeline would be built no matter what they did, but they did it anyway. Lit the fire. Camped in freezing temperatures. Put themselves at the mercy of a hostile police force, which sent dozens of their most vulnerable to the hospital; filed injunctions, motions and lawsuits in courts that have ignored their rights for centuries. They’ve marched in the capital of a government whose agents have, time and again, found excuses to dispossess them of land and resources in a relentless campaign of ethnic cleansing.

They did it because that is the warrior’s way. A warrior does not fight to win or lose. A warrior fights a battle only because it is his path. There is no glory or humiliation in the life of a warrior. Victory is not the result of his actions. Like defeat, victory is only a concept conjured up in the minds of those who are not warriors.

A Soldier craves recognition and avoids defeat because it is only through declarations of victory or medal ceremonies that he can say to others that his lifetime of following orders was worth it. But wherever he finds his end, whether it is through a mortar shell or of natural causes, he will know in his heart it was not.

For the soldier, nothing is wondrous because nothing can be left to chance. For the warrior, everything is left to chance and so everything is wondrous.

Breaking The Fossilized Mind

The Army Corps of Engineers is an institution of soldiers who follow the orders of the White House, currently inhabited by the least wondrous of creatures. The 45th President of the United States, who gave the CEO of one of the world’s largest oil companies the power to create foreign policy, is unlikely to pursue a new energy policy domestically. The final easement for the Dakota Access pipeline was granted by the Army Corps within days of Trump taking office and construction is set to begin next month.

But these developments will not discourage the warrior. There are over 90 pipelines transporting oil and natural gas in the U.S. Before the NoDAPL movement, who knew the name or location of any of those pipelines? Who was aware of the risk posed to native and every other population that lives in close proximity to one? The answer is very few of us knew.

The warrior has achieved a magical feat. He has climbed up into the fabric of our collective unconscious and ripped a hole through it. He has fashioned a window in our house of cognitive dissonance so that we can see beyond our own cloistered existences and recognize the genocidal dangers inherent in the propagation of the fossil fuel energy paradigm.

Freedom Of Choice

Our eyes cannot be averted as we stand at the threshold of a conflict between those who serve their king against those who serve their heart. If you are waiting for the next directive to slide down the chain of command, there’s no need to take a sides or engage your spirit in any way. If you already know what you have to do without anyone telling you, then you can count yourself among the living.

Soldiers are extensions of policies and interests beyond their pay grade or understanding. Warriors are masters of their will and face life in full awareness about their impact on their surroundings. Only one of them acts in freedom, while the other is told he fights for freedom. The difference is as stark, yet as subtle as that between a park and a cemetery. Children can be found in both. Where will you find yours?

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