The Age After “Shock and Awe”

The Day After Shock and Awe

After the Sun grew black,
After the Sun Dance lost its power,
After all that was left was a dance of Ghosts,
After the last bullet flew,

After the last Ghost Shirt was torn open,
After the last warrior fell,
After the bullet pierced a mother’s arm holding her child,
After the bullet ripped open her child’s head,

After my heart was buried at Wounded Knee,
After the massacre was called a battle,
After the history books were written,
After generations of Americans were masked,

After the truth was hidden,
After all that oil was burned,
After all that uranium was fashioned into ICBMs,
After all that coal was extracted,

Everyone now knows,
There’s blood on that money,
We’ve been at the laundry mat all day,
We’ve been washing money all day,

Dancing to forget,
Getting high to escape,
Getting lost in sex,
Just to find just a little hit of endorphins,

God, America is walkin’ through hell,
They got blood on that money and they still count it,
They got blood on that money and they still count it,
I know the devil is real,

I know the devil is real.

… to be continue…

I talked to Henry Red Cloud and Richard at Trees, Water, and People about staying for a while at Lakota Solar Enterprises and the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center into the summer. I have decided to settle in South Dakota and stay here. I met a really nice woman this past Friday night dancing in Rapid City. Here in South Dakota where the sky is big and like an ocean, I am learning to slow down and listen to earth and to nature. On Saturday, I visited Wounded Knee. The feelings I had about the Middle East and America are being resolved quickly here. In some sense, the relationship between Rapid City and Pine Ridge is like Israel and Palestine. As is reflected in my poetry and writings in the past few years since the death of Shoshana in 2009 around 9/11, I have felt some angst about this issue and confused about what to do about it.

The white man’s construct of “mental illness” is a construct that fails to capture the depth of trauma, and it the current age of biopharmaceutical heavy “treatments” for it. In more than a little way, the term mental illness is simply a more modern term for the spiritual concept of dark spirit possession. I visited a Lakota youth program yesterday morning and learned about how poor the Indian Health Service treats simple illnesses. Two intense experience coupled with a series of deep conversations give some clarity to the motivation for this trip out here. I feel the past ten years have been a God given “training ground” to come out here and just sit with the split between the new and the old, the Native and the settler. Running last night in Chodron, I saw this sunset and thought about the frogs chirping and the clouds drifting by. Starting a daily running routine for the first time in many years, I am happy at war.

Today in America, as it has always been since 1492, we are living in a civil war. We have the people of the land, people of the sun, sitting and dwelling in spaces for generations. Speaking for traditions that contain value. Containing valuable medicines, and healing wisdom. Traumatized by “Shock Doctrine,” settlement by violence and resource acquisition by the gun. Not to demonize the settler either, but they are different kinds of people from the people of the land. The people of speed come in waves and erode tranquility, etching tribal structures with new ways. While it was theoretical in Princeton, here the violence of Christianity to Native peoples here is real. In Pine Ridge, the Lakota people were forced to attend church that enforces a new kind of foreign mindset. The result today is that when a family sees their teenaged child addicted to methamphetamines they do an exorcism, further driving the child into alienation and separation. The result will be further spiritual death.

I sat yesterday and talked about the healing power of dance. For many kids on the rez attending a social dance and listening to their mother tongue is more healing than visiting the mental ward. Gosh, I know that! I have lived that! Here, I am useful, as these trauma give me first hand insight into perhaps a trace of what a kid here on the rez is facing upon enter the psych ward. Even up to the healing power of dance. Listening to the space of silence and the green earth. Patrick said that it is good that my new friend in Rapid City grew up on a farm. You know today, despite the past trauma, both whites and natives are facing the same realities. Something, is happening in America and it ain’t good. We all can feel it, we all can see it. What are we going to do about it? I am going to continue to try slow down.

The past seven years have felt like being an atom in the CERN particle supercollider. Coming out here to Pine Ridge is helping me to see that I am not alone. I am not an anomaly, and I am not a genetic defect. I am a healer. A wounded healer.

“Through compassion it is possible to recognize that the craving for love that people feel resides also in our own hearts, that the cruelty the world knows all too well is also rooted in our own impulses. Through compassion we also sense our hope for forgiveness in our friends’ eyes and our hatred in their bitter mouths. When they kill, we know that we could have done it; when they give life, we know that we can do the same. For a compassionate person nothing human is alien: no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying.”

“when the imitation of Christ does not mean to live a life like Christ, but to live your life as authentically as Christ lived his, then there are many ways and forms in which a man can be a Christian.”

“Through compassion it is possible to recognize that the craving for love that people feel resides also in our own hearts, that the cruelty the world knows all too well is also rooted in our own impulses. Through compassion we also sense our hope for forgiveness in our friends’ eyes and our hatred in their bitter mouths. When they kill, we know that we could have done it; when they give life, we know that we can do the same. For a compassionate person nothing human is alien: no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying.”

“The mystery of one man is too immense and too profound to be explained by another man.”

“The inward man is faced with a new and often dramatic task: He must come to terms with the inner tremendum. Since the God ‘out there’ or ‘up there’ is more or less dissolved in the many secular structures, the God within asks attention as never before. And just as the God outside could be experienced not only as a loving father but also as a horrible demon, the God within can be not only the source of a new creative life but also the cause of a chaotic confusion.
The greatest complaint of the Spanish mystics St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross was that they lacked a spiritual guide to lead them along the right paths and enable them to distinguish between creative and destructive spirits. We hardly need emphasize how dangerous the experimentation with the interior life can be. Drugs as well as different concentration practices and withdrawal into the self often do more harm than good. On the other hand it also is becoming obvious that those who avoid the painful encounter with the unseen are doomed to live a supercilious, boring and superficial life.”

― Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society

There are trees to be planted and seven Gateway computers that are to be fixed today. Thank you God and my friends for the support to get here to a place where I feel at peace in the simplicity of helping others. It is nice to be here, love flows here easier in the face of the trauma of Wounded Knee. The need “edits” the fluff from the real needs. How do you help a kid suffering from the historical trauma from the American Holocaust give up meth and suicide and embrace joy? I do not know, but I will fix those computers and just sit in the BEAR cave for a while, a couple of months and see. I wonder, it is probably not to different from how refugees in Syria and Palestine survive the bombs. How the kids in Iraq and Afghanistan learn to live after “Shock and Awe.”

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About kayaerbil

I am a Berkeley educated chemistry Ph.D. who is moving into the area of working on developing appropriate technology for communities that are subjected to socio-economic oppression. The goal is to use simple and effective designs to empower people to live better lives. Currently, I am working with Native Americans on Pine Ridge, the Lakota reservation in South Dakota. I am working with a Native owned and run solar energy company. We are currently working on building a compressed earth block (CEB) house that showcases many of the technologies that the company has developed. The CEB house is made of locally derived resources, earth from the reservation. The blocks are naturally thermally insulating, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Eventually, a solar air heater and photovoltaic panels will be installed into the house to power the home and keep it warm, while preserving the house off the grid. A side project while in Pine Ridge is a solar computer. I hope to learn about blockchain encryption software for building microgrids. In addition, it is an immediate interest of mine to involve local youth in technology education.
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