Archive for May, 2010

Rhiannon’s Updates & Tales

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Hello everyone! It’s been a while since I posted anything here, because I’ve been really busy. There’s already a lot of things I need to take care of every day from my school studies to helping with the kitchen, gathering wood and watering our few planted herbs near the house. And then we’ve had wonderful guests and important projects too. Time sure flies! I’ll be turning 10 in just a little over a month!

You heard that a herbalist named John from LearningHerbs.com came to visit and record a video course with Mama Kiva, and that he brought his son Rowan who I got to play with. One of our favorite things to do together was to make clay things. So I was trying to shape a pot (amazingly enough we got the clay from the river and it usually shaped stuff all right) but I was not succeeding, besides plain  river clay is hard to use. The clay from stores is easier to use, but I like creating things with materials from the canyon. The pot I was trying to make ended up where the bottom dropped out and all I was holding was the rim and it looked really funny. “It like some weird necklace.” I said. “Necklaces! let’s make clay beads Rowan said. I was a little doubtful we could make beads out of river clay but I agreed and it worked! We discovered that if you take handfuls of sand and knead it in the clay like dough, the clay works a lot better for beads. Then we would roll bits of clay into little balls. Then we would push them onto a thin stick, and wait till they dried. Many of them broke. For the most part our experiment was working. First we tried painting them with water colors they didn’t turn out very colorful. Then we tried painting them with acrylics they turned out really colorful! We strung them onto a thin but strong string, using a walnut shell with perfect holes on the sides as a center piece. We made two of them so that we could each have a necklace.    We painted them blue, green, striped, and black. It was so fun, we also found two worms in the clay. We even found a geode! It was inside a agate. We split it so he could take one half and I could have the other half. We saw many pretty crystals and stones. It was really fun digging in the rocks looking for a crystal. Like a treasure hunt.

Our dear friend and ally Marc came not too long ago. He has been moving his business I think and it’s very exciting when he still gets over here to see us. Together we rigged up this crate, in which you sit inside then you pulley yourself up. There’s a big pulley above you with rope coming out and you grab that rope and PULL! It’s very fun, and as I pull I think hey this my own weight I’m pulling up. Me and Rowan really enjoyed going up and down on that crate. It sure is harder then it looks though. When Rowan was watching me, he said gosh that looks easy I should be able to pull myself up on that with no trouble at all. He tried, and tried to lift himself as high as the rope’s limit. He just could not do it though. Well I guess I’m heavier then I thought, he said. I sure had fun this month. This shows some of the many ways you can have fun with nature.

And our friends and Anima Sponsors Steve and Valerie got to come to and visit! It was so nice, I really enjoy getting to see them. Steve brought a smoker, and we got to smoke and eat yummy wild Oryx meat (a wild antelope from Africa that lives in White Sands New Mexico now). We even got to have smoked corn on the cob. My friends Sabrina (13) and Cassandra (4? maybe) ate and played with us too. We had quite a barbeque, that evening we went target shooting away from the Sanctuary and I was given a new rifle from Steve and two new spinning metal targets, pretty unbelievable! Of course my Papa always helps make sure I remember the two most important rules to handling a firearm. Not putting your finger on the trigger until your ready to shoot,and not pointing it at anything or anyone that you don’t want a hole in. In the old days children were relied on to bring supper back. They would be handed a gun and sent off to see if they could stalk a rabbit. Gun handling and hunting and being able to defend yourself are all lessons in personal responsability you understand.  I was so excited about my new.22 rifle, ordered specially for me, it was sososo sweet of Steve, I am very thankful!

It’s already swimming river and I get in every day. What a lovely week I’ve had.  🙂

I will write another blog post soon.
Rhiannon

The Greening: Nature’s Insistence and the ReWilding Within – by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

THE GREENING:

Nature’s Insistence and the ReWilding Within

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

When I was a relatively impressionable teenager, I remember reading a book by a sociologist named Reich I believe, titled “The Greening of America.”  In it, the overly optimistic author outlined a future in which the progressive values and rich diversity of the 1960’s and early 70’s would continue and grow, with wall street executives increasingly exchanging their suit ties and dress shoes for sandals and Nehru shirts, giving their energies to green ventures that would benefit humankind and the planet.  While current events continue to belie such hopes, there is indeed a visible greening, one that will one day recolor and recolonize our sterile asphalt and concrete habitats, and one that has its way in nature each Spring that thankfully comes around.  Wherever you are, far north or heated south, mountains or coast, you have joined us in witnessing the uplifting seasonal changes by now.

Since my May 1st update, the bare Cottonwood trees have nicely filled out, with leaves wh0se green has the yellowish tint of arboreal youth.  They show up nicely in the photograph above, taken on the trail approaching the forested line of the Anima Sanctuary proper.  The comparatively barren scrubland in the foreground, gives you an idea of how the entire canyon looked prior to my moving here and initiating its protection from livestock grazing and land gobbling developers.  As you’ve seen and will see in other pictures, along the river the vegetation has now spread to over a mile from this land where the greening first began.

Here we are looking downriver from the new 6th crossing, just inside the Sanctuary gate that Van, our partner in rewilding this place, has installed.  None of the 100 feet tall Cottonwoods that you see, and none of the 4 species of willow were here until I made their return possible with an ornery attitude and loving heart.

These leaves are from the narrowleaf cottonwood, one of the main two varieties found here in the canyon.

The second type we have are the Fremont cottonwoods, seen here between the 6th and 7th river crossings.

In the pic above is the 7th crossing, greened out, and hard to tell the river was raging chest deep through here a month ago.  Hard to tell, even, where the jeep-wide trail exits the water on its difficult and winding way to town.

The edible wild mustard has grown 2 feet tall since it first sprouted during the uncharacteristic late rains.

The local strain of Honeysuckle have prospered as well, and have just now begun blooming.  How sweet it is!

The roots of the wild Grape I helped plant and spread here, continue to grow all Winter long, supporting ever longer vines tipped by fresh sprigs like we see in the pic.

Thanks to all the water they got, plants like this Ragwort are blooming early.

And acting as the strongest perfume in this heady canyon embrace, is the now leafy Currant bush.  Thanks to their proliferation, walking through the mid May Sanctuary is like a trip through a pastry shop or organic fruit market.

The healing and prospering of this land and ecosystem is in part a result of our 3 decades of effort, but it was in another sense inevitable.  The spirit that drives me as its care-taker is the same that drives its ever more varied selection of flora and fauna, doing my best – like the dandelion-looking Silver Puffs – to seed the world with irrepressible wildness and endless expressions of nature’s truth and beauty.  It’s only right that we help the process along in every way that we can, but on the other hand it is the wondrous greening that will in the end prevail with or without us.

The exciting option, then, is to be a conscious and deliberate part of this continuing process, exceeding rigid customs and laws and imagined inadequacy the same as the plants break through layers of concrete in their hunger for life and light.  There will be a “Greening of America,” one day returning the continent to its garden splendor, flowering even in the middle of our cities at the start of every Summer until then, and growing its seditious and wondrous wildness within the best of each of us.

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Memories of Mama: Acknowledging and Recalling All Sides of One of the Most Significant Persons in Our Lives – by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Intro: The recent Mother’s Day intensified, as always, my full range of feeling about motherhood, and about my own complex and wonderful Mama.  On one hand, motherhood has never been the equivalent of sainthood, and a good deal of our neurosis can honestly be attributed to our usually well meaning moms due to their disproportionate influence on our psyches and lives.  The people who hurt us most are some times our parents, and often times the mothers or fathers of our children.  Loba is still dealing with the fear of not living up to real or imagined motherly expectations, as Kiva struggles to forgive her mom for not protecting her from her abusive dad.  On the other hand, an intense bond exists from the fact of being birthed from our progenitors’ bodies, from being suckled, carried and cared for.  And in the case of most of us, our mothers provided a level of acceptance, love and support that we are forever grateful for.  To the extent we have emulated their faults, it is our responsibility to heal the wounds that feed them, our calling to change and improve.  To the degree that we inherited or learned to embody their abilities and qualities, it is up to us to make best use of them.  And seeing them as whole, complex beings instead of as saints – as both fallible and valuable – makes our own self acceptance and work towards wholeness more possible.

MEMORIES OF MAMA:

Acknowledging and Recalling All Sides of One of the Most Significant Persons in Our Lives

by Jesse Wolf Hardin
Anima Lifeways and Herbal School

Those who have lost a mother they loved, will know what I mean when I say the pain never goes completely away.  But then neither does the often satisfying sense of her still being a presence in our lives.

We carry her genes, of course, and in that sense alone she continues to survive and have an effect.  Her spirit, you may believe, can reassure or arrest, remind and instruct even after death.  And unless we have deliberately purged or repressed them, we carry for the rest of our days her persistent memory, any possible unpleasantries as well as mundane trivialities and those qualities that we loved best.

Things that I remember, now and always about my own beloved mother:  The sound of her comforting heartbeat.  Being held when I hurt.  The feel of her fingers brushing the hair off my hot forehead.  Her singing the song that my Grandma once sang to her whenever I couldn’t sleep, “I’ve a dear little dolly, and his eyes are bright blue….”

And well I remember:  A woman that was perpetually moving, from room to room, from chore to chore, and from one home to the next as well.  Wearing holes in the knees of my britches, from crawling so fast to keep up with her.  Handmade costumes every Halloween, one year a cowboy with a Hop-Along-Cassidy style vest and a bandit’s grin, another time a barefoot caveman with a faux leopard wrap and natty beard.  Making a landlady furious by painting what what all must admit was a beautiful mural on the rental wall.  Encouraging me to pursue anything that interested me, and paying for tap dancing, guitar lessons, judo and military school.  Taking me to mountains, beaches and backwoods creeks, even though she’d rather we’d gone to a shopping mall.  Telling me to follow my dream, even if it was completely different from what she would have wanted for me.

I recall:  Being 6 years old and on vacation when she drove miles off the planned route to buy me a Viking figurine, knowing my obsession with pillaging barbarians and dragon ships.  Mama embellishing everything she brought home from a garage sale or swap meet, adding pretty painted designs, tassels or fringe in a line.  Clever hand-drawn cards crafted for everyone she cared about, on each of the holidays as well as those special holidays that she would make up herself, such as First Day of School.  Son’s Day.  Daughter’s Day.  I will ever value how she made everything more beautiful that she touched, made everyone she came into contact with feel wonderful and loved.

And I also remember:  A sadness and fear she seldom showed.  Pride, to the extent of not being able to express her needs.  Independence, to the point of not being able to accept help.  Perfectionism, to the point of not taking enough credit or satisfaction.  Fear of lightning, poverty, disability, and rejection.  Unplugging the TV whenever there was thunder.  Refusing to think about or talk about certain things in her life that she couldn’t face.  Regrets about not having had enough time with her own beloved mother.  Sadness over aspects of her marriages, and the hidden secret of a dear daughter given up for adoption by the then teenaged mom.

I remember too:  Mama brazenly tossing milk in my face when I wised-off as a muscle-headed teen.  Her loving to sit in my lap like a little kid right up to the end.  The look of a needy little girl, on a truly formidable woman that never said the words “surrender” or “quit.”

I recall:  Her wishing I’d shave my beard, so that I’d “still look like her baby boy.”  Her worry that no woman would ever live with me “in the middle of nowhere”.  The adventures and travels we experienced together over the years.  The look on her face when I showed up on a skate board carrying a glass vase, a birthday present I’d purchased with my first ever paycheck working at age 11 in a tropical fish store.  And the sound of her scream, the morning that a certain mischievous 5 year old boy got out of bed before dawn to conceal his rubber iguana under the soap bubbles in the pre-work tub his dear mother was filling.

And how could I ever forget: The smile on what was then an old lady’s face, as she went up and down and round and round on an old time carousel horse, a ride I insisted she take after hearing how sad she’d been picking a horse that didn’t move the only time she ever got on a carousel as a child.  Taking her – in her 70’s, and even after she’s broken her hip – to a nearby cowboy bar to dance.  Letting us dress her up in an uncharacteristic bonnet and dress when chemo and cancer had both had their way.  Her squeezing our hands and winking, after a stroke paralyzed half her body and face.  And a lifetime of her shaking her head in denial, whenever anyone tried to compliment her on her impressive skills, her creative accomplishments or her endless resolve!

And I especially treasure these things at the very end of her life, when everything seemed turned around:  The feel of her soft hair on my fingertips as I gently stroked it off her hot forehead.  Holding her as she hurt.   Singing to her the words of that old-time song, “I’ve a dear little dolly, and her eyes are bright blue”… and the comforting memory of her still palpable heart.

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The Kitchen: Place of Empowerment and Healing – by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Intro: One’s kitchen need not be simply a utilitarian space where dutiful chefs meet familial responsibilities.  Decorated to reflect our spirits as well as passions and tastes – featuring comfortable chairs as well as working space – it becomes a special environ that nourishes us just sitting and visiting there… as well as an enchanted workshop for co-creating, affecting, healing and nourishing our world.

THE KITCHEN:

Place of Empowerment and Healing

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Anima Lifeways and Herbal School

Loba, Kiva, little Rhiannon and myself all love food, whether it be gathering it, eating or preparing, but no one focuses on cooking more or gets more satisfaction from it than Loba.  For many years now she has nourished and delighted guests from all around the world, many of whom are amazed that the finest meal they may have ever had would be found far from an urban center, in an out of the way canyon seven river crossings from a road.

That said, it can be hard to believe that she actually arrived in this remote mountainous county without knowing how to cook, or that I had to teach her everything from frying eggs to baking bread.  Arriving from a famously politically-correct West Coast metropolis, she had been stunted by a fear that cooking was disempowering, reserved for servants and well behaved but humorless housewives who consider themselves tied to the oven.  Not yet, did she see cooking as an empowering practice instead, connecting her to her senses, increasing her confidence, and providing such a beautiful way for her to be able to give to others… but it didn’t take long.

Within the first few weeks, in fact, she had already begun to adopt and to feminize the Anima kitchen, prompting me to repaint it in Spring pastels and add decorative vines, draping every window with torn antique lace.  I even screwed a friendly metal dragon over the glass pane in the kitchen door, furthering its increasingly fairy tale appearance… although not so much as decoration for Loba, as in a valiant if inconclusive effort to discourage the local bears from shuffling in and eating our fresh made bread once again.

These days its outer walls are dressed in the colors of ripe peaches and salad greens, roofed in brown metal, rimmed by a smiling rain gutter.  The door opens with a characteristic creaking sound that Loba prefers I don’t oil away.  Guests’ shoes are left on the threshold, a matter of household intimacy and respect, and one barely sets foot before she being asked if they’re thirsty or hungry.  Her inquiry has nothing to do with cultivated manners, by the way, she genuinely hopes that the answer is “Yes!”


A tour of the kitchen begins with its core element, her hard working wood cookstove from the early 1900’s with its ornate chromed trim and “Loba’s Lovin’ Oven” painted on its white enameled door.  She had gone from not knowing how to start a fire, to being a full-on master of the intricacies of wood-fired cooking, able to discern the best species and size of wood for various projects and desired temperatures, when to rotate the pans and which side of the oven gets hottest.  As a result, I’ve come to measure the piles of split juniper piled by the stove not in inches, but in hot meals and fresh biscuits!  We love to tell folks how wonderfully thick the crust on her breads are, how crisp and juicy the roasts when baked inside of a wood burner instead of an oven heated by electricity or gas.  When it really gets going, one can hear the deep, rhythmic, thrumming sound providing the relaxed bass beat for the burning sticks’ staccato song: the “hearth-beat” of the home.

The rough-cut pine floors and counters are recently covered with beautiful ceramic tiles provided by a most-caring friend, and rows of cookbooks greet the visitor’s eye, arranged in categories like “Wild Foods” and “Decadent Desserts,” “International Flavors” and “Nostalgic Americana.”  Nearby we can see “Spatula Row,” numerous vintage utensils dangling from bent nails, including hand carved wooden spoons with handles in the shape of hearts.

Those of you over 5’ 8” are likely bending over by now in order to clear the unusually low ceiling.  Partly because of this, you may find that it reminds you of a grandmother’s attic, entered only with permission, filled one end to the other with tempting secrets from the past.  Here we find, polished with regular use: my Grandmother Beulah’s flour sifter.  Graters, grinders, and a hand-cranked food mill.  A rack of old Forschner knives that were once my Papa’s, next to a cast iron knife sharpener and a 1920’s frosting knife advertising the “king of cakes.”   To your left, a tortilla press and 1940’s Juice-o-Mat lemon squeezer.  And to your right, a line of hanging cast iron pans all seasoned with oil, just down from our sizable porcelain sink.

For Loba, something as simple and plain as a kitchen sink functions as a playpen for her most special dish ware, and a skating rink for hand-holding soap bubble couples celebrating their silver anniversaries.  She sees in her sink a magic ivory mirror whose stories are read best when it shines.  It was once a favorite nap spot for our cat Pumpkin-Sigh before this property was an official wildlife sanctuary, the furry buddha attracted for whatever strange reasons to the siren smell of bleach.  And it continues to serve as a wintertime bathtub for our daughter Rhiannon while she can still fold herself into it, washing her head and scrubbing her back in front of a window overlooking a magical canyon scene topped by a brilliantly blue Western sky.

Kitchens are where the alchemy of converting base ingredients into priceless glinting meals happens, not a factory but a place of magic and spirit.  They’ve traditionally been held to embody the soul of one’s home, a nutritive environment that feeds us in more ways than just with food, a place where people have long been more comfortable gathering in to talk and commiserate instead of in well appointed but less inviting sitting rooms.  In the Hispanic households of the American Southwest, males are typically dominate in all affairs, yet we find that la cocina is the one place where the power of the womenfolk reigns supreme, and where the males of the family are on their very best behavior in hopes of a taste of what their tantalized noses have been smelling.  And the real top-boss of the Old West ranch was the cook or “cookie” whom nobody wanted to cross, and whose god-like pronouncements and not always reasonable demands few cared to challenge.  For the migrants from every country, the American kitchen has proven to be every bit as special and emblematic as it had been on the continents where they came from.  And for everyone reading this, it can be not a place of chore and necessity but of personalized nutrition and ecstasy, an easily re-sculpted representation of the things that please, feed and inspire us most.  If it does not already speak both of you and for you, your kitchen can be your opportunity to redraw and recolor your relationship to both it and yourself, to reclaim joyful responsibility for your body and what goes into it, to own the role of the empowered cook and devout sensualist, to re-envision a relationship with life filled and life giving food and re-create a place in the house that makes possible, promotes and reflects it.


Over the ensuing years, our kitchen has evolved into not only a creative foodstuffs workshop and imbued presence that we all love, but also into a colorful character in its own right.  First time visitors ask if they’ll get to meet it, as if it were a old woman of whom many stories had been told, who might rise from her rocking chair on the porch if only we are attentive and respectful enough, as if the structure might rouse to shake their hands or give them a kitchen hug.  Perching atop a mesa’s vertical cliff side, it can seem a little like a treehouse that any sadly un-enchanted adults might find hard to climb, like a tree-cradled nest woven of plant fibers and dried flowers, embroidered napkins and hand tatted doilies.  For some of you, it may bring to mind an enchanted toy shop where – late at night and while everyone’s away – the toys come out to play!  When the winds at their stillest and its door left ajar, I sometimes think that I can hear… her hand-painted ceramic figurines, whispering to each other that “All is clear!”.

I picture the pots and pans perhaps moving about cautiously at first, nevertheless alarming any resident house-mouse or burglaring squirrel who might be there to witness.  It’s then that a smile spreads across my face, and my foot taps out a rhythm of its own accord, as the well-worn implements begin to chop and peel under their own power, and Grandma Beulah’s beater twirls faster and faster to the musical strains of our culinary canyon Fantasia.

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(The essay above will be one of many by Jesse Wolf Hardin appearing in Loba’s upcoming cookbook, possibly to be called The Enchanted Pantry: Recipes for  a More Flavor-Full Life.  If you would like to be put on the new waiting list for this book, send us your name, snail mail address and email addy, and you will be among the first to receive a copy when its released next Winter: mail (at) AnimaCenter dot org)

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The Wild Eyed Zealot: Revolution as a ReWilding of Rigid Systems – by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

At the Anima School we’ve turned a large percentage of conventional definitions and understandings on their heads.  By our reckoning, the power of the federal authorities derives from the states’, the state’s from the counties’, and the communities’ from the individual.  And most importantly, we insist that all authority derives from within – from our wild, awakened and unconquered selves – and with this self-authority comes a great responsibility to act.

The Wild Eyed Zealot:
Revolution as a ReWilding of Rigid Systems

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet,” the wild-eyed zealot asked the gathered crowd at the very top of his voice, “as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?”  His audience appeared excited by his words, a few recoiling at the implications, the others surging forward in passionate agreement.  His long locks tossed one way and then the next, as he alternately pounded on a nearby table and punched the air with his fist.  Sweat poured down the man’s face as he called not just for support for his cause and the breaking of laws, but for the forceful intervention of his God on the side of his fellow lawbreakers.  His speeches were so vitriolic, his demands so uncompromising, and his references to violence so unveiled as to have gotten him quickly arrested post-Oklahoma City courthouse bombing and the terrorists’ toppling of New York City’s Twin Towers.  But even then, he managed to earn himself a place high up on the authorities’ “watch list”, thanks to his inflammatory rhetoric and especially his public statements about being ready to both kill and die for his beliefs.  According to witnesses, he showed less concern for his welfare or that of others than to the pursuit of his singular goal, leading even some of his allies to question his sanity… though both his friends and foes held him largely responsible for the deadly conflagration that followed.

It wasn’t a rancorous Moslem cleric, however, stirring up the surging throngs.  Nor was it a bomb planting ecoterrorist or green anarchist who stood up to denounce the vested government and preach resistance to centralized authority on that fateful day, daring to encourage an insurrection while knowing full well how many on both sides would be hurt.   It was Patrick Henry, fomenting revolution against the English crown in 1775, helping usher in a new nation originally dedicated to the preservation of individual freedoms, ending his presentation with just the kind of remark that could be used against him in a court of law: “Give me liberty or give me death!”

Nor was Henry the only unreasonable advocate of freedom during this country’s formative years.  “What signify a few lives lost in a century or two?,” asked President Thomas Jefferson, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”  What he was calling for was not just a single case of a country remaking itself, but of a full on revolution once every 20 years or less!

“Government is not reason.  It is not eloquence,” George Washington wrote, “It is force.  And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

These famous founders knew then what we would do well to remember today: that the biggest threat against human liberty comes not from foreign governments but from our own.  The Bill of Rights was written to guard the rights to assemble, speak and worship freely, bear arms and so forth, against the potential of a future American government unmindful of and unconcerned with the freedoms and prerogatives of the average citizen… and worse yet, where the citizens forget their history and fail to understand its implications.

“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people,” Patrick Henry is also quoted as saying, “it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.”

Their idea of of a governments purpose was limited to calling an army in times of war, spending little of the people’s money and resources, and regulating even less.  As Jefferson explained, “A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement – and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.”  If still alive, he would no doubt be one of the first to decry both the U.S. national debt, and the accumulation of federal powers at the expense of the states, counties and citizens.  The country should be managed by and for the individual and the individual community.  “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone,“ he made clear, “The people themselves are its only safe depositories.”

I am against most if not all war, for cultural diversity and conservation of wild places, but I am not a Liberal.  Liberal thinking has us turning over our power and sovereignty to an ever more omnipotent government in exchange for specific and usually temporary social benefits.  The Democrats have been as bad as the Republicans in this regard, with one administration after another using fear as a tool to solidify their position and pervert the Constitution.  President Lincoln used fear of a divided nation and tales of a portending race war, George Bush the younger fanned fears of terrorists on every corner in order to win support for draconian new laws.  “Fear is the foundation of most governments,” as John Adams wrote way back in 1776.  He was being overly hopeful, however, when he said fear was “so sordid and brutal a passion, and renders men in whose breasts it predominates so stupid and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it.”

Over 200 years ago, Jefferson had already identified many of the factors and institutions that would prove to be the undoing of this country for centuries after.  “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies,” he opined.  “Already they have raised up a moneyed aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.”

Interestingly, in the period that Jefferson was alive a “conservative” was actually a proponent of a single State-backed church and punishing taxes, the monarchy and its feudal order of peons and kings.   To the contrary, at the time a “liberal” was a person aiming to dismantle all of these things and substitute republican government, free trade and limited representative taxation, as well as the separation of church and state!

And I do not mean to make our “Founding Fathers” appear perfect, only insightful or in retrospect prophetic.  Thomas Jefferson, lover of flowers and gardens, concealed his affairs with a black slave that he kept in spite of his avowed dislike for slavery.  The same Patrick Henry who risked the noose to speak out for liberty, is alleged to have kept his own wife imprisoned in their basement for the last fours years of her life.

If there is anything promising, it the growing number of citizens of all kinds and persuasions who are organizing to resist not just a certain platform, policy or law, but in opposition to the overreaching of government in general.  Certainly, whether you are a liberal or conservative, conservationist or developer,  businessman or backwoodsman like me, nothing could be more dangerous to you and what you love and hold dear than an ever more entrenched, unaffected, unshakable, impervious, insular and powerful political and commercial hierarchy.  Jefferson was insightful, in recognizing that the more stable, and staid an institution or government gets, the less hospitable it becomes to basic human rights, liberty and happiness.  “And what country can preserve its liberties,” he adds, “if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance?”  And as to such revolutions, he was sure of their assignment:  “Leave no authority existing, not responsible to the people.”

The periodic revolution that Jefferson and some of his contemporaries called for, was never meant to be a panacea or end all solution, nor bloodless or even entirely just, but rather a necessary jarring of the mold before the pudding completely sets, a stirring up of the stew that keeps the scum from rising and forming a layer on the top.  It is agitation and disruption of the status quo, with the knowledge that established power corrupts, that established institutions become increasingly unresponsive to their constituents and protective of their position, and that a ruling commercial elite would make all their business decisions based on profit alone rather than an overriding vision or non monetary priorities.  Revolution is the wholesale deconstruction of official edifices and managerial cliques to make room for evolving ideas and common needs, the ritualistic scraping away of the canvas in order to create something potentially better, the knocking over of the house of cards without which no other hands could be dealt.

This is certainly not to glorify revolution, a messy affair at best, usually installing another system little better than the previous.  The advantage is that it slows or halts the pernicious rigidification that happens when existing structures go unabolished and unchallenged.  With each revolution, subsequent incarnations are a little newer, on shakier ground, still beholding to the forces and constituencies that swept it in.  Revolution is what intercedes to prevent the suspension or slow gutting of a Constitution, or that at least seeks to remedy such appropriation after the fact.  Forget all the ways the word has been debased, from a revolutionary new swimsuit and a green revolution to a revolution in furniture design.  Revolution is the alarming dissolution of order and a temporary end to imagining we’re ever really safe and secure.  It is a period of self preservation, affinity and tribal alliance, of every person needing the basic skills once allotted to tradesmen and specialists, of the chaotic social interactions that follow the collapse of social hierarchy, the devaluing of the privileged and the revaluing of folks with core character qualities and essential skills.  It’s the suspension of the forces of domestication, the precious moment of what I term “rewilding”, when the senses are awakened and every moment appears decisive, when the needs of local communities take precedence over the desires of the nation, when the land gets a break from our organized expansion, and when each person is an authority unto themselves with nobody lording over them.  It is a time when death can be seen close by on the sidelines, but when life is roused and stimulated to the utmost degree!

“Freedom had been hunted round the globe,” Thomas Paine wrote in his Rights of Man in 1791.  “Reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think.  But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.”  A liberty, I must point out, that comes not without risk and cost.  Nor is it a price paid only once by our forebears, it has to be paid by each following generation, and by each individual in turn.

Like Ned Ludd rising against the automation of the industrial age, I side with the craftsmen and craftswomen revolting against the factory owners in a bid to preserve not only their jobs but the craftsmanship that can only come with something hand tended and hand made, and I too gladly toss my wooden soled shoes into the gears of the machine.  That said, I neither seek nor laud conflict, and there are moral limits to my means of opposition to all but the most personalized injustices and attacks.  Nevertheless, I will not allow myself to become an accomplice to an increasingly oppressive and invasive government and cultural paradigm through either my silent participation or disempowering resignation.  We know that if the likes of a Ned Ludd, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson were writing opinion blogs right now, they and their readers would find their selves under investigation… but that I’d be reading and spreading their messages regardless.

And revolution, for all its ominous tone, great importance and even urgency, is also a beautiful and amazing thing, a rewilding of institutions that makes possible the wild blooming of our selves.  It is potentially an event of apparent magic and much needed miracles.  As Paine was so good to point out in his Common Sense in 1776, “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”

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