It has been a whirl-wind lately. As the unmarked days of heat passed, the sense that all time was now and unchanging was pervasive. Now every day I awaken to some seasonal death. The flowers in the pots sitting on my deck are frosting dead limp in a way I can’t figure out. Why this pot’s Nastursiums are translucent strings holding onto dead flowers and fists of seed pods and the one next to it is still sporting the coarse, common flags of color I cannot understand.
Maple in background a fallen leaf from tree
The leaves are just starting to fall from the freshly pruned Maple tree. I have dug up all of the garden beds and shaken the soil off of the bulbs and corms and transplanted them for greater vitality in the coming spring. It is rather like an easter egg hunt because I inevitably forget where I hid the iris, crocus and tulips. When hope is reborn in the garden, I will be surprised and probably talking outloud. “Oh there you are!”
Old ties have been cut, letters, pictures any reminder of a life three years past are gone from the house. It is a new season.
Getting out the door is a promise that I made to myself and I have continued my efforts to establish new patterns. The public library brought in the author Craig Jones to speak. He was the government lawyer for the Bountiful trial against the Mormon polygamist community in British Columbia.
His book was the result of research which demonstrated that the effect of the Mormon lifestyle of polygamy was to increase violence within the Mormon community. His research lead him to explore the very nature of family structures and various cultural interpretations of “family.”
In 1947 Bountiful, B.C. did not exist. Harold Blackmore, who was a liberal leaning man moved there with his wife. Later he included her sister in their “family”. And thus it began. Harold was driven out for his left leaning views which included such abhorrent doctrines as the equality of men and women. Two generations later the society which brought 12 year old girls across the border to be traded as commodities was in full force. The Bountiful trial took 42 days and the result of the trial was determined not on the basis of religion but rather on Craig Jones’ evidence that the society as manifested in Bountiful was corrupt and violent.
Because only a few of the ruling males had many wives, there was no “breeding stock” left for the younger men and these men were driven out. It was a basic failure to provide a place for the very young that a culture creates in order to perpetuate itself. There was literally no place for the majority of male children to live within the cultural structure.
Craig quoted Robert Reich’s study which demonstrated that the way to dampen down violence in young men is by mating them to a wife. Craig pointed out that when the militaristic society in the Middle East wanted to disband and they had a group of young men trained to go to war which they no longer wished to use, the organization used social psychology. In the 1970’s parties were held whereby the men were introduced to single women. The newly married men were given jobs and bonuses to settle down.
In our society, Craig continued, we have effectively the same dynamic of entitlement as in Bountiful but it is not as pronounced. The rich men have serial relationship with women who deliver them off spring and take that breeding opportunity away from younger men. A primary example was when Newt Gingrich had three wives with overlapping periods of infidelity in which he had essentially taken two women out of the mating pool.
Monogamy was structured to ensure “paternity certainty”. To demonstrate the value of creating a child with known paternity Jones presented the hazards of the “step father” syndrome. One of the difficulties with step parenting is the statistical evidence of risk. A child of a woman who is living with a man who is not the child’s father is forty to one hundred times more likely to be killed. It is the most risky situation for a child to be placed in in North America. It is essential that the father and the society know the clear lines of paternity in order to protect and provide for the child.
Another interesting study within the Mormon community was that children of rich Mormons were more likely to die because the richest men were the most polygamist. If a man had forty children, losing one or two did not ultimately matter. The sexual abuse that occurred in a situation in which young men were guaranteed not to have a mate was another difficulty within the society.
In the end, the increase in violence, the control of who can and cannot take a wife and fulfill the promises of adulthood were the major factors to dismiss polygamy as an unhealthy social practice in Bountiful.
I came away with a lot of ideas in my head and a list of psychologists that I wish to study. Tod Shackleford whose area of expertise is the psychology of domestic violence has a wonderful web site with a detailed bibliography of every article and book he has written. I emailed him right away and said his work had been revealed to me from the Craig Jones case preparation study. Tod had no idea that he had made such an impact. It was news to him. I copied his list of articles onto facebook for some of my more scholarly friends to enjoy.
Two nights later I attended Wade Davis’ lecture which was an extension of his Ted Talk on the effect of global warming on Indigenous cultures. His combination of intellect, compassion and beautifully crafted language made the evening a transformative experience. Once I posted about him, many of my facebook friends reacted by saying, “You don’t know Wade Davis?” I have two friends who are on the Shamanic path and they have studied his work in detail. Wade has entered many ritual doorways into the exploration of the unseen universal forces behind form.
At the end of his lecture to a packed house at the Kelowna Community Theatre, a young girl got up to ask a question. She was moved to hear that environmental changes such as the end of ice, the massive destruction of the rain forest, the greedy striping of pristine land for the passage of oil pipes was resulting in the passage of native people from the earth. She asked, “If there is one thing that young people can do, that I can do to help the environment and stop this destruction what would it be?”
Wade’s answer was, “Tear down the Harper government. It is a government that took 130 million dollars from the green fund to build a Petro state.That is what you can do!!”
What amazes me is I feel like life is such a huge four dimensional puzzle. Sometimes I think I get a moment of clarity or I know that I have figured something out and then, for instance during this week, things just reform and new pieces fall into place.
The study of culture; the study of the framework of belief; of how we see ourselves and the universe that we construct in our heads is endlessly fascinating. There is self; there is self’s relationship with self; there is the state of mindless zombie existence based on habit and social ritual; there is self’s relationship to belief; there is the relationship with the culture and always, always the challenge of relationships to others. It is complex, shifting, challenging and provoking to be alive.
I went to Chapters on Thanksgiving day because I did not want to be alone in the house again on a holiday. Public places that provide a sanctuary for the lost, the seekers, the travelers are becoming harder and harder to find. There were two street people who smelled and had soot all over their clothes; a group of five Asian students who are in Kelowna to study English; a dying, insane woman who was spilling copious amounts of beer out of a paper bag she was carrying (almost immediately escorted out by the mall security) and me. I bought myself a rare treat coffee latte and sat taking notes on books. I stumbled upon an article by Kevin Baker in the Harper’s. “Why Vote? When your vote counts for nothing.”
Kevin early on stated that, “democracy… turned against us. Its institutions now reinforcing the triumph of money and fueling the growth of nihilistic and anti-democratic movements.” His analysis of the structure is that “Democracy is at its heart an exchange…”
In the early times when the system was young hard cider, whiskey and shoes, picnics, turkeys, no show jobs were offered in exchange for a vote. Tammy Hall handed out $2 “walking around money” in broad daylight. The political parties were no more than “machines perpetrating mass poverty.” After long years of struggle to repress the pay for vote system and with the growth of the social safety net, John Lancaster could say, “The most admirable societies that the world has ever seen…” are democratic societies.
The author quotes Naomi Klein in her book The Shock Doctrine as understanding that the governments have utilized ” crises… to roll back democracy.”
Baker summarizes his analysis of today’s governments. “What we are witnessing is the use of democratic institutions to degrade and disassemble democracy itself.” And it was Reagan who lead the way. “The move to uncouple campaigns from any true intentions came into its own during the Regan years.” In other words, promise them anything and then do what you want once you are in power in order to accumulate more power.
Regan was elected on the platform of fiscal caution and he tripled the national debt.
In England the recent coalition was blatantly not about politics or ideology. The new government was formed to create class solidarity.
The reaction of the people is to rebel against the disconnect between political promises and the dismantling of democracy. In France the workers have hit the streets to protest the raising of retirement age and the curtaling of worker’s rights. In Spain the indignados are demonstrating. Germany has the enraged citizens or wutburgers marching. And in North America Occupy was making its voice heard.
Baker calls for a solution. “These are rational reactions, for the people who now control most western political parties have already isolated themselves from their constituents in order to enrich themselves and their class. … Massive reconstructive surgery is needed. We will have to build the new political parties from the dried out husks of the old ones.”
This week, I have been given information and sources to study, I was asked to consider how societies form alliances in order to ensure the protection and survival of children. I have attended a lecture by a man who has visited 50 different societies and is calling out to say that the environmental degradation is resulting in the ending of societal diversity. And I have read about the political stalemate whereby citizens no longer have input into their democracies in order to fashion the society.
How does man fit on the earth; in his family; within the belief systems of his society? How can a person alter or change those things which threaten a rich, varied, tolerant wisdom which guarantees survival on the earth? There was so much to think about this week. Blessings to the brilliant creative thinkers who came into my life in five short days.
The leaves are turning red. We are in the driest, hottest weather in 113 years, governments are becoming more repressive. Ice is melting back. Oh yes. We are headed into a season of change that we can only imagine. Creative thinking will be the way out.
In my personal life I am learning to open to questions, to sit in the sun in stillness, to let go of that which does not serve me and most of all to reformulate my sense of reality. There is much more in the universe than the constrained window that our family structure and our society has given us through which we view the grandure.
Energy is the language of the universe