From The Phoenix's Flames
By Emily Spence
22 July, 2007
Governments come and go. Whole
civilizations disappear into the sands of time and new ones rise up
to take their place. In this sense, they're all like an image of the
Phoenix, a dramatic archetypal creature consumed in flames and rising
out of its own ashes only to be burned once more. Universal and spanning
all cultures, its mythic bird-like visage is found again and again,
while symbolizing the regenerative properties in healing, the cyclical
nature of seasons and an awareness that each generation disappears and,
out of its demise, each subsequent one is born. Particularly as a sign
of triumph over hardship when cities are destroyed and rebuilt (i.e.,
San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and Atlanta after major fires
in 1864 and 1917), the Phoenix well serves as a reminder that recurring
adversity can be overcome with effort.
Yes, individual lives and history, as a whole, have a way of repeating
themselves over and over with the same themes and circumstances surfacing
yet another time. Nonetheless the Phoenix, in a sense, is less apt a
model than would be an evolutionary one. This is because individuals,
species and whole empires verify, more often than not, the paradoxical
truism, "the only constant is change."
Indeed, advancement requires it. As such, evolutionary principles, despite
whatever some Creationists allege to the contrary, are the driving force
behind everything in both its current and ever new configurations. The
reorganizing principles are present whether on the cellular level or,
analogously, in more complex social systems wherein, for example, each
section of a community provides a function and, indirectly, shapes the
overall drift of the commonwealth in its entirety. In this sense, those
elements that serve to damage the whole organization are in constant
need of being checked and, if extremely detrimental, eliminated.
Thus, the latest efforts to remove R. Cheney and G. Bush from office
through impeachment are exemplary. A growing number of Americans have
simply had enough of the increasing death toll in the Middle East, budget
deficit, indifference to problems at home (such as the huge population
still displaced from Hurricane Katrina) and other signs that the current
administration represents a deep pathology needing, like a cancer, to
be routed out of the body politic. In short, they are becoming increasingly
aware that the op US leaders are dangerous to both America and the world
At the same time, the act of eradicating whatever is needed to be ended
to serve our furtherance comprises one of the underlying shaping factors
in evolution. It is the reason for some extinction, vaccines, pesticides
and wars. It is the reason that oceans are over-fished, and other groups
(whether member of different species or our own) are slaughtered when
competing against ours for resources. Likewise, it is the reason that
overall biodiversity is vanishing at an alarming rate .
Instead, there will be ever more Burger King, Pizza Hut, CVS, WalMart,
Radio Shack, Staples, Best Buy, Starbucks, Target, BJ's, Duncan Donuts
and other franchises littering the landscape. This is because these,
not biodiversity, are what the masses covet. Moreover, their wants (not
whatever is necessarily best for people) drive the economy.
With our burgeoning population and the push for increasing wealth on
the parts of entrepreneurs -- desires, cravings and yearnings for all
sorts of goods provide more than ample incentive for business owners
to expand the market for monopolizing chains. In such a way, our world
is gradually being transformed while uniformity in vistas and provisions,
whether in Shanghai or Boston, is all but assured.
Besides the annihilation of whatever or whomever gets in the way of
the collective desires for the dominant group, a second dynamic comes
into play from an evolutionary angle. This is that we do not kill off
whatever is serviceable to us as long as it is of use. For this reason,
herds of wooly sheep are maintained and deliberately made to reproduce,
as are milk cows. Slaves (for which there are 27 million worldwide)
and indentured servants are kept alive , and wage earners are given
a living wage AS LONG AS they are not easily replaced at less cost .
In addition, a third variable propelling life onward is that we tend
to, in a descending order of propinquity, foster those people and other
entities with which we most closely identify while dismissing entirely
those who seem radically different. In this sense, we support our own
children over those of others, people of our own religious backgrounds
more readily than those who are not, individuals with our own cultural
(and ideological) understandings and, of course, groups who are ethnically
similar. This is the reason that it seems, for many, more easy to love
a dog or a cat than a leech or a beetle. They, simply, seem more like
Meanwhile, this same sort of affinity predisposes many citizens to be
more concerned about deaths amongst their own kind (i.e., the 3,600
+ US troops killed to date in Iraq) than the injustice carried out against
innocent foreign civilians (i.e., the 655,000 + murdered Iraqis) since
it is just too hard to not view the latter as "the other"
 -- as some sort of subhuman aliens not worthy of much concern on
our parts, nor having anywhere near comparable value as our own soldiers.
In other words, we are more moved by our militia despite that the latter
serve as aggressors criminally trespassing onto Iraq soil based on fabricated
information concerning WMDs.
In this sense, Edward Said's understandings in Orientalism were right
on the mark . Westerners tend to hold derogatory, imperialist views
towards Easterners. Then again, hegemony and xenophobia have always
driven hatred and a sense of anomy toward whomever is chosen as the
target of plunder. No one group --whether the Conquistadors, Nazi, Mussolini's
crowd or the American government with its vast military-industrial complex
girding the globe -- is exclusive in this regard.
Yet, at the same time, more and more people are, finally, beginning
to realize that the Iraqi citizens are not easily going to give up the
prize -- the oil -- for which the US government invaded in the first
place. So it is becoming increasingly hard for them to justify additional
deliberate loss of life in this unconscionable crusade.
Further, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat
it,” as George Santayana remarked. In this vein, Bush and Cheney
should have realized from the US Revolution, Vietnam tragedy and a host
of other, comparable events that nationalists, generally, resist having
their countries ransacked and their population butchered by unwelcome
"outsiders." As such, the US-Iraq war will drag on until the
US stands down and the Iraq fighters weary of their ensuing factional
In the end, the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds -- like all of us -- have
to learn better how to share resources and be more inclusive of others,
who come from disparate religious, cultural, ethnic, socio-economic
and educational backgrounds. Indeed, this must be done as we're collectively
running out of time in terms of addressing the multitudinous pressing
calamities that face humanity and the planet in general of which there
are a wide variety requiring immediate attention. Moreover, any one
of these, alone, is enough for grave concern whether involving global
warming, depletion of forests worldwide, provision of sufficient alternative
energy, the spread of pandemic diseases and so on.
As Noam Chomsky suggests, "Regrettably, there are all too many
candidates that qualify as imminent and very serious crises. Several
should be high on everyone’s agenda of concern, because they pose
literal threats to human survival."
Moreover, there will no more safe havens to which to move when life
gets too rough where one's currently located if the looming threats
worsen. It will not be like "the good old days" when Australia,
New Zealand and the Americas were lands of plenty (ample resources).
There won't exist only a (relatively) small number of indigenous peoples,
who the rapacious invaders can easily quell by guns, deliberately introduced
Small Pox, legally sanctioned slavery, forced marches to reservations
(concentration camps) and sheer force of their numbers in a ceaseless
flood of ever more raiders pouring into some "new world."
(The ease with which such processes were carried out is well documented
in Jared Diamond's Guns Germs and Steel. ) This is because we've
simply run out of "new worlds" to overrun.
All considered, we have to, post haste, turn ourselves around and learn
better to fix our homelands instead of screwing up territories belonging
to others. Likewise, we have to learn better to cooperate, be supportive
and mutually enabling. This is because there's a whole new set of variables
in play worldwide with dwindling oil and coal, increasing nuclear arms
capacity, shrinking agricultural yield due to changing weather patterns,
spreading regions of droughts and floods related to global warming,
burgeoning population and other perilous factors -- ones on a dangerous
scale never before experienced by our entire Earth.
So, somehow we have to learn better to resist our tendency to put whatever
is unfamiliar and, seemingly, different from ourselves into the first
two classifications (i.e., worthy of extermination or to be abused and
oppressed as a source of economic gain). We must learn to better follow
"the golden rule," that prevails as an underlying central
tenet in all of the major world religions. Indeed, we must learn to
stop putting our individual advancement and greed above collaboration
and provision of mutual benefit since few of us are completely self-sufficient.
In other words, our collective fates are inexorably linked and we do
need each other for survival. Consequently, it's high time that we started
to act accordingly.
If we do not, the far-reaching disaster that will come to pass will
be beyond our wildest nightmares. As such, we must rise up like the
Phoenix, but, this subsequent time, in a new pattern. So, we, also,
need a new paradigm to proceed, a fresh world view to envision, as well
as a novel way of going our business and our lives in general. In this
vein, it will have to be a design that's broadly life supportive rather
than primarily self-serving.
All considered, we will have to become more aware that whatever everyone
does (or doesn't do) can effect the social whole in monumental ways.
Therefore, we can no longer afford to take advantage of others to fill
our own coffers. We can no longer be caviler about the widespread demise
of other species. We can no longer tolerate escalating consumption of
resources as if there is no end of them in sight. More importantly,
we can no longer maintain a path guaranteed to destroy other people
and the Earth while, glibly, thinking that there can always exist infinitely
more since everything will always renew itself. In short, there will
come a point wherein it can't and won't.
With the many diverse, monumental and urgent calamities facing the world
today, the need for massive sweeping change on the part of humankind
is undeniably clear. Without further delay, it's imperative that the
necessary adjustments start here and now!
 Please refer to: Mass
Extinction Underway | Biodiversity Crisis | Global Species Los...
 To see the extend of
slavery worldwide (including in the US), please see: 07 Trafficking
Report Recognizes FTS | Free the Slaves (www.freetheslaves.net/), Human
Trafficking : Webguide & Research ( www.worldrevolution.org/guidepage/humantrafficking/overview)
and report pp. 7 -10 (pdf. scroll pp., 15-18) of:
 Excellent critiques concerning
the distribution of wealth and exploitation of workers are at:
Charles Reitz:"Teaching About Oppression and Exploitation ...
(http://clogic.eserver.org/2004/reitz.html) and Imperialism 101: Chapter
1 of Against Empire by Michael Parenti (www.williambowles.info/guests/2005/imp_101.html).
 "Other" and
the associated alienation are well defined at: Other - Wikipedia, the
free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Other) and http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/
 Overview of Said's position
are at: Orientalism (www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Orientalism.html) and
Edward Said - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_).
An overview can be found
at: Jared Diamond - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jared_Diamond).
Emily Spence lives in Massachusetts and deeply cares about the future
of our world.
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