Open-Ended Fast Reflecting Upon A Quantum Leap in Consciousness: Our Survival is at Stake

March 1, 2003


When I was a young man growing up in western New York State I had several Seneca Indian acquaintances who jokingly remarked on occasion, "White man speaks with forked tongue." They called the U.S. American flag, "Old Gory." These remarks were made with a wide smile. I would laugh as well. After all, we were acquaintances playing on opposite high school basketball teams, and all our conversations were light and friendly. Their remarks were not to be taken seriously.

Now, in March 2003, I know that those young Indigenous men nearly 50 years ago were reciting truths handed down to them by their ancestors. They did not state them seriously, perhaps because they feared being ostracized by their white peers. At one point they voiced that the red stripes in the U.S. flag represented their blood, and the white stripes their bones, spilt and crushed as they attempted to protect their ancient lands and way of life from the onslaught of European settlers that began in the 1600s.

Since those blissful, innocent days of my youth, I have experienced war first-hand in Vietnam where I tragically realized later, I was an ignorant but serious invader of another people’s culture and land. In the process I witnessed the incomprehensible carnage of war, and it has had a profound impact on my psyche, and physical and mental health. It has provided me with a new set of eyes that sees from the heart as well as the head.

Subsequently, I have traveled to over two dozen countries examining the nature and effects of arrogant, racist U.S. interventionist policies on people, economies, and cultures. I have re-studied the history of the U.S. civilization and discovered that it acquired its land base, labor, and resources at gunpoint, causing the murder and maiming of hundreds of millions of Indigenous Americans, Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans. In effect our civilization is built upon three holocausts — against the Indigenous Americans for land, Africans for labor, and "Third World" for resources. This violence and the carnage left in its wake is virtually incomprehensible. The U.S. government has overtly intervened more than 400 times since 1799, and covertly thousands of times since 1947, into the affairs of more than 100 nations. Since most of us grew up learning nothing about this wrenching, authentic people’s history, but only the make-believe version we were taught, it comes as a shock to discover these historic truths. We have been living in a fantasy that has defined our rote "patriotism," our personal identity, and, up ’til now, our feelings of security. We have become dependent upon a way of life that is not only built upon incredible violence but, upon examination, a totally unsustainable paradigm.


American Way Of Life (AWOL)

With but 4.5 percent of the world’s population, the collective people comprising the United States civilization consume anywhere from 25 percent to upwards of half the world’s resources, depending on the resource examined. For, example, the U.S. uses 26 percent of the world’s current oil production. The insatiable consumption rate of U.S. and Western consumer/citizens, and the attitudes of individual and cultural selfishness that lay behind it, are the dynamic fuels that drive our "democratic," capitalist system — the transborder corporations and the nation-state political structures that are expanding the globalization of commodification, privitization, and de-regulation. This process accelerates the dependency upon dwindling, finite, non-replenishable Earth’s capital while toxifying it. Furthermore, it destroys cultures and ancient values and wisdom that have guided human evolution for millennia, and it tragically increases the gap between the Haves and the Have-Nots. When all of the "First World" is taken into consideration, 25 percent of the global population consumes 85 percent of the world’s resources. That leaves the "Third World" squeezed with but 15 percent.


"Full Spectrum Dominance"

Now, for the first time, the U.S. government has formally and publicly defined in bold and terrifying terms its global imperialist intentions to be, "beyond challenge," exercising "full spectrum dominance" over all dimensions of life. In fact, this imperialism and endless gobbling up of resources is absolutely necessary to enable the unimpeded continuation of the American Way Of Life (AWOL). Never mind that it is a policy that cannot possibly continue much longer because it is totally unsustainable. It dooms our race and many other species to extinction in the near future. Thus, we live in a grand delusion that will kill us all if we do not snap out of it, like the frog sitting in water who adapts to the increasingly hot temperature, mesmerized and in total denial of its lethal danger, until it boils to death.

The current lawless, aggressive attack on Iraq, and the Middle East in general, on top of 13 years of "genocidal" sanctions and 12 years of bombings, is a step in establishing the U.S. as the ultimate hegemonic power controlling all resources everywhere. Commensurate with this goal is the need to assure that the artificially overvalued U.S. dollar is not replaced in global economics by the European Union’s euro. Since 1999, Iraq has been trading oil in EU’s euros, threatening to start a trend with other oil producers such as Venezuela. This would severely interfere with U.S. global dominion, and conceivably lead to virtual collapse of the dollar and our entire, already weak economy. This factor cannot be minimized. Nonetheless, underneath all of the desperate, insane efforts to assure U.S. hegemony, is the protection of the insatiable consumption patterns that define AWOL, a way of life that has been politically determined, over and over, to be non-negotiable. This is why our nation is addicted to war, why it can’t kick militarism. [See the extraordinarily educational 64-page comic book, Addicted to War, Why the U.S. Can’t Kick Militarism by Joel Andreas, available from local bookstores, the Arcata, CA Peace & Justice Center, or from publisher Frank Dorrel, P.O. Box 3261, Culver City, CA 90231; (310) 838-8131;].

Perceiving Our Danger; Enabling the Quantum Leap

An "easy" solution to the so-called war on "terror" as defined by the U.S. government, by far the most dangerous terrorist rogue state of them all, is to be willing as a nation to seriously re-negotiate AWOL. We need a way of life based on a global justice model rather than on a selfish, bully model. This would, of course, require a Manhattan Project-like effort (which hurriedly developed the Atomic bomb during World War II) that will only happen if the body politic undergoes a radical shift. This shift must come from below, from people like you and me in our local communities throughout this country who are experiencing a radicalization of our consciousness. This will enable us to begin making refreshingly different choices as to the manner in which we choose to live and govern our lives. These choices may startle us as to the amount of empowerment we actually possess. A bioregional model offers us a wonderful alternative to the unsustainable and ungovernable nation-state model we have been complicit with up to now. The latter is oligarchic, bureaucratic, plutocratic, and violent. In effect, the U.S. remains an oligarchy run by white male supremacists, the likes of whom founded our republic in the first place. Perhaps one can envision the bioregional alternative being a synthesis of the best of the Neolithic village, with what British economist E. Fritz Schumacher called Buddhist economics (or right livelihood) and appropriate (intermediate) technology. [See Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered by E.F. Schumacher (New York: Harper &am
p; Row, 1973)].

As a species we have been evolving some 7 million years or so. The Western model (male oligarchy, bureaucracy, plutocracy, hierarchy, enforced labor pools, violence, and expansion) has been more or less unfolding for about 6,500 years, when urban civilizations began preempting many Neolithic villages. Perhaps George II has been offered to our dumbed-down U.S. society as a cosmic gift in disguise that we might finally see the lethality of our attitudes, ways, and policies. When the human psyche is able to perceive threats to its continuation on this branch of the evolutionary tree, it is totally capable of making sudden and radical shifts. Perhaps that perception is beginning to take hold in people’s hearts and minds. Once able to process the extreme danger of raw global power to our own survival, we will humbly choose to quickly and radically make the necessary changes. The sacred interconnection of all life is awesome. With enthusiasm, imagination, and courage we can choose to live within the carrying capacity of each bioregion on the earth. The stakes are extraordinarily high — our very survival depends on it!

The World Wildlife Fund, in its Living Planet Report 2002, using ecological footprint (EF) analysis, concluded that the earth has 11.4 billion hectares of productive land and sea space. Divided between the global population of over 6 billion people, this total equates to just 1.9 hectares per person. The EF of the average African, Asian, or Latin American consumer was less than 1.4 hectares per person in 1999. The average Western European’s EF was 5 hectares, but the average North American’s was about 9.6 hectares. This means that an average U.S. American requires, according to our current way of life, nearly 7 times the amount of land to live than an average person in the "Third World." This gross disparity compares similarly with the 15 percent global resources remaining for the poor versus 85 percent militarily assured resources for the world’s rich, a nearly six-fold differential. This is grotesquely immoral and ecologically unsustainable.

The EF of the average world consumer in 1999 was 2.3 hectares per person, or 20 percent above the earth’s biological capacity of 1.9 hectares per person. Thus, humanity already exceeds the planet’s capacity to sustain its consumption of renewable resources. The prestigious Washington-based Worldwatch Institute recently reported in its State of the World 2003 that the human race has only one, or perhaps two, generations to rescue itself!



I begin this open-ended, 300 calorie per day fast in Arcata, California for several reasons. Three-hundred calories represents about one-seventh the average daily calorie intake for a U.S. American, symbolizing the approximate disparity between "Third World" and "First World" resource consumption.

First, I choose an experience enabling me to feel some type of real sacrifice in solidarity with the suffering Iraqi people who are worth no less than myself or any other human being on the planet.

Second, I do the same for those U.S. men and women who have been ordered placed in harm’s way for lie after political lie, grotesquely violating international law.

Third, I want to participate in a focused reflection on the kinds of deep feelings that inhibit Westerners, and especially U.S. Americans, from liberating ourselves from the dehumanizing claustrophobic "box" that AWOL has squeezed us into. Some of these feelings, such as fear of losing our way of life, must be honestly dealt with so as to be overcome, freeing our ancient imagination for a genuinely sustainable way of life, where less is actually experienced as more.

Fourth, I want to deeply reflect on the consciousness of a biocentric life where I can internalize with others a new awareness of the awesome, sacred weave of life that intrinsically connects all life in the same destiny.

Fifth, I want to be wide open to the wisdom of the Great Spirit, and, from many wonderful fellow and sister seekers, the courage to discover and express our empowerment and imagination for changing our respective lives now. We welcome a revolution of our human consciousness, moving quickly from an anthropocentric (man-centered) to a biocentric (earth/life-centered) paradigm.

And Sixth, I hope this experience will lead myself and others in Humboldt County and elsewhere, to begin articulating intimate knowledge of our own bioregion, utilizing footprint analysis as a useful accounting tool for energy inputs and outputs. This will enable us to develop a concrete local plan for humans in this part of the earth to integrate within the carrying capacity of Mother Nature, modeling an alternative to our present imperial, dangerous nation-state model.

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