54 – If we could only remove a thousand bars …

The two pieces I copied below are seemingly unrelated … one, a poignant poem about the obliteration of the Spirit, the other, a historical lesson about the denial of Reality …

1 – Reiner Maria Rilke: The Panther

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.
As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.
Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly -. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

2 – Excerpts from the 1999 issue of Lester Brown’s State of the World:

“Easter Island was one of the last places on Earth to be settled by human beings. First reached by Polynesians 1,500 years ago, this small island 3,200 kilometers west of South America supported a sophisticated agricultural society by the sixteenth century. Easter Island has a semiarid climate, but it was ameliorated by a verdant forest that trapped and held water. Its 7,000 people raised crops and chickens, caught fish, and lived in small villages. The Easter Islanders’ legacy can be seen in massive 8-meter high obsidian statues that were hauled across the island using tree trunks as rollers.
“By the time European settlers reached Easter Island in the seventeenth century, these stone statues, known as ahu, were the only remnants of a once impressive civilization – one that had collapsed in just a few decades. As reconstructed by archaeologists, the demise of this society was triggered by the decimation of its limited resource base. As the Easter Island human population expanded, more and more land was cleared for crops while the remaining trees were harvested for fuel and to move the ahu into place. The lack of wood made it impossible to build fishing boats or houses, reducing an important source of protein and forcing the people to move into caves. The loss of forests also led to soil erosion, further diminishing food supplies. As pressures grew, armed conflicts broke out among villages, slavery became common, and some even resorted to cannibalism to survive.
“As an isolated territory that could not turn elsewhere for sustenance once its own resources ran out, Easter Island presents a particularly stark picture of what can happen when a human economy expands in the face of limited resources. With the final closing of the remaining frontiers and the creation of a fully interconnected global economy, the human race as a whole has reached the kind of turning point that the Easter Islanders reached in the sixteenth century…..
“…the western industrial development model that has evolved over the last two centuries has raised living standards to undreamed-of levels for one fifth of humanity. It has provided a remarkably diverse diet, unprecedented levels of material consumption and physical mobility that our ancestors could not have imagined. But the fossil-fueled based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy that developed in the West is not a viable system for the world, or even for the West over the long term, because it is destroying its environmental support systems……
“Our information-based economy is thought capable of evolving independently of the Earth’s ecosystem. The complacency reflected in this view overlooks our continued dependence on the natural world and the profound vulnerabilities this represents. It concentrates on economic indicators while largely overlooking the environmental indicators that measure the Earth’s physical deterioration….
“…we have acquired the capacity to alter the Earth’s natural systems but have refused to accept responsibility for doing so….
“What sort of world are we headed toward? H. G. Wells foreshadowed much of the twentieth century when he wrote that ‘human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.’ The sort of education that will save us from catastrophe is not just a matter of disseminating information, for the planet is now awash in information. The education needed, rather, is the sharing of wisdom. Our knowledge of the natural world has raced far ahead of our wisdom in using it. As a result, we are razing our forests, grinding down our mountains, siphoning off our rivers, paving our plains, modifying our climate, polluting our air, and tainting our blood. We are producing, in other words, a world none of us wants.”

As the Spirit of the inhabitants of Easter Island … under powerful yet destructive beliefs … was bent down into consuming their natural resources to move idols into place, our Spirit today is bent down into consuming our limited natural resources to keep in place the monolithic and unsustainable idol of Consumerism.

The mighty will of the Human Spirit … powerful enough to send men to the moon, or to build imaginative machines to understand the atomic particles, or to never tire of looking for new horizons, or to envision a Universe beyond its reach … is paralyzed by irrational beliefs that defy Reality and blind us to the Fact that we cannot exist without the same environment we are consuming.

Yet, as the high priests of political and religious dogma drive us deeper and deeper into the devastation of environmental crises, it is inevitable for the mighty will of the Human Spirit to escape from the prisons of war, and irrationality, and hate, and destruction, to begin to tap the New Frontier: the Universal in Us; the primordial and infinitely creative Order from which we … each and all of us … emerge into existence with the organic urge to re-generate and consume yet undeniably endowed with a Mind that, striving for Meaning, shapes our world with a Degree of Freedom.

If we could only remove a thousand bars …

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3 Responses to “54 – If we could only remove a thousand bars …”

  1. Hallo You are doing good work writing this posts. I am reading Your articles for some time and i can’t wait for next. Your blog represents Your point of view, that’s what i like .

  2. thank you very much,it’s a very good Article!

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