Tag Archive | "Native Americans"

Where is Godzilla?

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Some say the world will end in fire;

Some say ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire,

I hold with those who favor fire.

But from what I know of hate,

I say that ice

Is also great,

And would suffice.


While still quiet young, I committed these words of one of our most noted Poet Laureates, Robert Frost, to memory.  Chilling on many levels, the poem resurfaced in my mind recently when Japan suffered major devastation last week, devastation that now seems to have no end.  Unlike those awful but oh so moral Japanese films of the ’50s, Godzilla will not rise from the ocean to combat the forces now plaguing her people.  There is no Godzilla; no deus ex machina — not for Japan and not for any of us.

Economists are arguing about the blow to Japan’s finances, the ripple effects upon our own economy and indeed, upon every other economy worldwide.  Environmentalists are decrying the use of nuclear energy and pointing to horrors of the past, chief among them, Chernobyl — and let’s not forget our own Three Mile Island.  But if one is not an economist and not an environmental scientist, how does one view the triple blow to Japan, a nation that has rightly earned the respect of nearly every other country across the globe?  One may seek a deeper meaning to this latest and most painful lesson of life on Earth in the twenty-first century.

A theory holds that the Earth on which we live is not an inanimate ball of rock but rather, a living entity.   This theory refers to Earth by the name Gia (pronounced Guy-uh).   It doesn’t take a wealth of intelligence to understand that there is merit in this supposition.  After all, does the Earth not renew herself each spring, and is her core not made of molten rock which, when released, reshapes our shorelines as it does continually on the black lava beaches of Kauai?

The Gia hypothesis, however, goes one step further.  It purports that Gia responds to changes, including subtle shifts, upon her skin (topography), lungs (atmosphere), and internal organs (the deep blue sea, the great canyons, and beyond).  And, she does respond.

If we drill for oil far beneath the Earth’s surface, do we not sometimes tick off earthquakes?  Hell, if someone poked a needle deep into your flesh, wouldn’t you react?

But this article does not concern Gia, per se.   It concerns the species, Homo sapiens, who inhabit her.

We walked on the moon, created technology that links us instantly with others worldwide, and implanted human hearts and other organs into the bodies of those whose own organs have failed.  We cloned sheep.  We read books from electronic devices rather than printed pages. We broke the genetic code.  We did all of this and yet, we’ve learned nothing.

We still wage war upon each other, if not in the streets, than in our own hearts.  We still assume that everyone is out to get us; that everyone plots to rob us blind of what we were supposed to have inherited as the most advanced form of our species.  We still screw each other over, time and again, and enjoy it (witness: our own government versus average law-abiding taxpayers, including our forgotten war veterans).

Life here has become almost intolerable.  Every day, we wake up to some fresh hell burning on our Internet browsers, and I don’t mean Charlie Sheen.  Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that “most men live lives of quiet desperation.”  Were he living here, now, he’d have included women in his observation.  There seems to be little hope, little joy in our daily lives.

We’ll send aid to Japan, and we should.  We’ll have benefit concerts, resultant CDs and DVDs, drives on public television, and of course, the Hollywood production of the events that felled a once-mighty nation.  But nothing will have changed.

It’s interesting that Japan is the nation now going through hell on Earth.  There is perhaps no more admirable nation.   Prior to World War II, she attempted the exact same thing that the U.S. was successfully accomplishing in the Pacific: gobbling up footholds for military stratagems and seizing sources of fossil fuel in order to run her increasingly industrialized society.  We didn’t like it; we perceived this as a threat and put a halt to Japan’s version of Manifest Destiny.  Robbed of a source of energy and viewing this as their cultural death knell, Japan reacted by bombing Pearl Harbor.  We reacted by destroying three of her cities via a force never before unleashed.

Instead of curling up and dying, Japan rose from her ashes, evolving into a force to be reckoned with.  Before last week, she had forged the third strongest economy worldwide, and she did this with minimal resources, including land.

So, if the third strongest nation on the planet can suffer such damage, what might possibly happen to the rest of us?  Clearly, no one and nothing is safe.

And still, we’ve not learned a thing.

Maybe when Gia decides to truly level the parasites living on her crust will we understand.  Maybe then, when our backs are against the wall, will we learn to share and trust.  Maybe then, we’ll realize that the Native Americans were not an inferior nation for not having had a written language; maybe we’ll realize that they were so much wiser than we can every hope to be.   Their way — sharing our resources and honoring Gia, who provides those resources –  will be our only way back to survival.

I wonder if we’ll learn.

The Curious Case of Christopher Columbus: A Study in Historical Revisionism

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Christopher Columbus

Attorneys can be disbarred.  Saints can be de-canonized (just ask St. Christopher, the guy who used to protect us as we took our lives into our hands on the Jersey highways).  So what do you call it when the man credited with discovering America is no longer honored, as he was in the recent past, with his own day and parades replete with marching bands?  I’m really not sure what to call it, other than a miscarriage of justice for the great Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus.


Far more progressive and controversial than his contemporaries, Columbus postulated that the world was not flat but round.  Columbus’ theory put forth that a spherical planet would enable a faster trade route to the East, wherein lay all manner of goods and beaucoup bucks, as we say today, for those who traded those goods.  With visions of riches dancing in his head, Columbus made his sales pitch to the King of Spain, who was both tolerant and solvent.  It was a good sales pitch, for it earned the explorer three fine ships and a crew by which he had planned to haul back the goods, create new wealth for himself and the Spanish monarch, and offer the people of Europe the luxuries of the Orient.


Instead of discovering a new route to the East, Columbus ran ashore of the New World (America).  Planting the flag of Spain on North American soil, he dubbed and befriended the native “Indians”, for indeed, he’d assumed initially that he’d hit India.   Eventually, he found his way to the Caribbean, where he located the spices and other interesting commodities for which he’d been hoping.


In his honor, October 12th was dedicated as Columbus Day: a day to remember the man who’d discovered this continent.   Not so very long ago, schools closed in Columbus’ honor.  Floats moved in stately fashion down the streets of our cities as well as small towns, such as the one in which I was raised.  Brass instruments flashed in the sun, children waved the Stars and Stripes, and entire communities marched in honor.  Everyone celebrated Columbus Day.


Inevitably, the Politically Correct came slinking out of their dark, foreboding crevasses to kill Columbus Day, just as they have been trying to do, systematically, with Christmas and Halloween.   Heated discussions arose as to whether or not Nordic explorers or even St. Brendan of Ireland discovered America before Christopher.  And then, of course, came the allegations that Columbus, through guilt by very tenuous association and many generations removed, was responsible for the near-obliteration of the “Indians” (Native Americans).


Ergo, no more annual Columbus Day parades, except for those few surviving in proud Italian-American communities, such as Bensonhurst, in Brooklyn, New York.


At the time when The Troubles were rampant in Northern Ireland, Great Britain published history books that showed maps of Ireland removed of the 9 offensive Northern counties.  England effectively rewrote history, as it was a bit uncomfortable.  Across the globe, Japanese history books made no mention of the events of Pearl Harbor.  When Japanese tourists visit Hawaii for the first time, they are shocked and horrified to learn of this portion of their history that has been buried.


Now that we’ve removed the pomp and circumstance, along with the pride we once felt surrounding Columbus Day, is America now guilty of rewriting history to make things comfortable for the so-called Politically Correct?

Waste Not, Want Not

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Waste Not Want Not

Like the Native Americans encountered by America’s pioneer settlers, we are finally learning to take only what we need, and no more, from the land and other vital resources.  In addition to conserving these resources, the process of “going green” delivers cost savings: something that nearly everyone in this crunched economy can appreciate.  For those of you who may just be getting started on your green initiatives, you may wish to consider some of these simple and effective options.


To reduce your electricity bills, run large appliance such as washing machines, dryer, and dishwashers during non-peak hours.  If you have gotten into the habit of leaving a light on because it makes your surroundings more comfy, you may want to try candles, either scented or unscented.  Be sure to trim the wicks on all but tealights (the smallest of candles) and to remove soot from the wicks that may have accumulated during the candle’s last burning; these steps will prevent, respectively, uneven burning and smoking.  Keep flames at least two feet away from anything combustible — including pets and children! — and never leave candles unattended.  Other light-shedding possibilities are oil lamps or lower wattage bulbs translating into lower costs.  Also, a string of clear Christmas lights can provide enough illumination should you need to get up during the night. 


Food is another resource often goes to waste.  Many hungry people the world over can live on what the average American tosses away.  When I was a child in a large family, if the milk was at its expiration date, my mother found a recipe that used sour milk for cake or bread.  If the Brand X peanut butter did not move in my house, my mom would make peanut butter cookies out of it. Vegetables that had lost their crispness were recycled as ingredients for soup.  Stale bread was used for stuffing, bread pudding, croutons, or even French toast.  Italian-American friends of mine use leftover pasta to make “macaroni pies”.  They mix the pasta in a large bowl with whole, beaten eggs, garlic powder, and a little salt and pepper.  Then they turn the mixture into a deep frying pan with some oil until the bottom becomes golden brown and crispy.  Carefully, they will turn the pie and brown the other side.  Once it has cooled down, they sprinkle some grated cheese on top and enjoy a tasty, inexpensive meal. 


Newspapers can be recycled for various purposes. With a little vinegar, they will clean windows streak-free, something that costlier paper towels cannot accomplish. Tightly rolled newspapers will become logs for your fireplace.  During inclement weather, you can use a short stack of newsprint as disposable “welcome mats” for muddy boots; they can also be placed on windshields to deter the frost.  Take a page out of our British brethren’s cookbook and newspapers can blot hot-from-the-oil foods such as Freedom Fries or fried chicken.  If you move to a new address, you can wrap breakables in newspaper, and you can use the papers to cushion fragile items against damage in transit, when mailing packages.  If you are stranded in nasty weather and happen to have the dailies on you, you can insulate yourself against the cold to some degree by putting them under your coat.


Often, we buy products that do not perform to our expectations.  Instead of tossing hair conditioner, ladies can lather up the conditioner with a little water and use it to shave their legs.  Shampoo or dishwashing detergents not up to snuff can be reused to hand wash delicate lingerie or, if the vet approves, to give Fido a bath.  It will even work as hand soap.  And if you’re looking to prolong the life of your dishwashing detergent, recant it from its original squirt-type container into a clean spray bottle instead.  A spritz or two will go a long way on a sink full of dishes, saving you a little money. 


Old clothes in too poor of a condition to give away can be cut up and used as rags with which you can dust the house or wash the car.  If you are “crafty,” you can use the clothes to create a unique quilt filled with wonderful memories, particularly if you are using clothes that your children have outgrown or have been passed down to you from your loved ones.  Unwanted clothing can also double as drop cloths or cleaning up oily messes in the garage.


While it is wonderful to receive handwritten letters, it is much more cost effective to send out emails to friends and family.  Those of us already paying for Internet service don’t have to buy pens, stationery, envelopes, or stamps and emails arrive a lot more quickly than “snail mail”.


Conscript your friends into your money-saving/resource saving plans.  Maybe each of you can subscribe to different magazines and share them.  You might try swapping handbags, jewelry, or clothes, provided you do not travel in the same social circle.  And you can also trade money saving coupons.  Your friends may buy products that you don’t and visa versa.


Don’t be fooled into thinking that shopping at the large warehouse stores will always save you money.  If you have a smaller family and you purchase in bulk, you may buy more that you really need.  Hunting for sales is great, but make sure the items match your family’s needs.  Don’t overstock the pantry with unwanted products just because they are on sale.


Before discarding anything in the junk heap, try thinking outside of the box to see if there might be some more life left in it.  With a little ingenuity, we can protect our natural resources for future generations and make our hard-earned money go a little farther.

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