For the past two weeks I’ve been waking up in a tent in the mountainous jungles of Nepal. 5 am most usually, right when the sun starts creeping over the tops of horizons. It’s a slow climb into the day, the air cool and brisk and wet. By the afternoon, the sun heats up and we’re sweating our way through bamboo. Cutting, sawing, tying, building structures for all us volunteers. Compost latrines, benches, showers, a kitchen, and dining area to name a few. We’re also working on a training center, which will house a compressed brick maker. These bricks will be used to construct two schools over the course of the next two years. We’re only at the beginning stages of such an endeavor, setting up infrastructure and getting to know the surrounding villages. We’re still waiting on the compressed brick maker for one reason in particular: there was a strike at the India/Nepal border. It’s complicated and deep-rooted, having to do with ethnic groups and citizenship (a story for another time (there are many stories for another time that will come unfolding from the denseness of these travels)). What’s important right now is the training center. The plan is to build such a place in order to train locals and volunteers. Currently, the foundation is laid. Once it is finished, hopefully within a month, tens of thousands of bricks can be made utilizing local materials. Eventually, the center will be an enterprise to help grow the economy of this particular area. Almost 95% of the housing in Nepal was destroyed during the earthquakes, so it’s necessary to provide people with the means to rebuild into the future. Our goal is sustainability. For that reason, we’re also planting fruit trees.
Back in Kathmandu. The sludge of the city overtaking the purity of the jungle. A couple beers with dinner and the crickets scratching their legs is a mantra fading in memory. Even the dusting of the stars wipes away like an etch-a-sketch. All those nights dreaming on a mountainside are now absorbed by congestion and concrete. Now there is smog and the hustle & bustle of people crowding streets selling clothing, hash, guesthouses, kashmir, statues. But isn’t that the identity of this place? A dream all too soon forgotten. What news of Nepal do we see in our everyday lives? None. We have more important worries to worry about. But this place, like so many places around the world, is rife with inner struggle. The border to the south of Nepal is India, and the border is so fluid that people recognize their ethnicity and culture before they pay adherence to the fictional lines of government. In Nepal, you are not recognized as a citizen unless both your parents are from Nepal. If your mother is from India, or your grandmother, or your grandmother’s mother before that, you are stripped of your citizenship. You’re not even stripped of it, because you never had it to begin with. Unless both your parents are from Nepal, you are deemed a floating person with absolutely no rights. In the past month, the government created a new constitution which in part will allow people to apply for citizenship. But it could take ten years to process. Maybe seven if you bribe the right people. Like any disenfranchised group that is sick of being less than, they protest. The group at the border of Nepal/India is so densely populated, it maintains about 50% of the entire population of Nepal, so when they protest, it ripples. They shut down the border. Customs is cut off. That includes petrol. No more oil. That sweet, precious commodity. Oil, oh Oil! the goddess of our times. We bathe in her richness daily. She lives in the air we breathe, the commuting we do. A country without oil? The taxis are backed up for kilometers. Literally. Drivers are sitting in their cars for three, maybe four days waiting to refuel. The streets are clogged with rows and rows of parked cars. It has gotten so bad, some of the smaller airlines are shutting down. Gridlock. To make matters worse, when the earthquakes hit, international donors gathered $4 billion to give to Nepal so long as the government established a Reconstruction Authority. That has yet to be done because everyone is bickering. So the money is just sitting there. Waiting. What can any of us do? Trek to the mountains. Work with bamboo. Sleep under the beautiful chaos of stars. Do what the government doesn’t do. Participate. Practice direct action. Build the spirit of people and build your own too. Rise up. The times are ripe always.
Sometimes I romanticize the proletariat revolution. Folks waking up whistling slinging a shovel over the shoulder digging and building. I imagine people working with the earth, closely, sometimes with machines, but mostly with hands & tools. Shovels, axes, picks, hammers, saws. Constructing the world majestically, with the utmost patience & craft, slowly cultivating strength, resistance, and local food-producing gardens. It’s a dream. I know. Maybe that’s what the commies had in mind. Marx, Mao, Castro. But they got corrupted like any man in power. What does it mean – Workers of the world unite? I would love for people to wake up voluntarily to build schools, sturdy housing, without argument or shootings. Feed the starving. Teachers teaching without such constraints on curriculum, doctors healing, billionaires donating, and the government doing its job aka humanely handling authority aka cease & desist warring on the people. We are on the hustle & grind every damn day. We even got something on the side. Whether it be two jobs three jobs going to college serving food or in an office. It can be sickening. Where is the trickle down? There is none. It’s all bull shit coming from above. Nothing real is happening in the politics of this country. It’s all symbols. A flag got taken down. Great. A relic of the past spitting in the flames. What about the homeless? And PTSD veterans? A mountain gets its name reinstated. Great. Honor the slaughtered. I’m not trying to minimize it. Denali is monstrous. Our apologies should be equally as large. What about the southern portion of the USA that once belonged to Mexico? Should we really expect fictional borders drawn on flimsy paper to withstand culture & time? The Mayan prophecy of 2012 swept through the consciousness of people like a great tide flooding biblical earth, destroying old thoughts and out-moded paradigms. When the Europeans invaded South America, the indigenous quite literally absorbed the customs & language of white people only to spit it back out with their own flair & anger. Guerrilla warfare. Che. The Sandinistas. The Zapatistas. Picking up spare shovels, hoisting up their guns, shaking raging fists at warhawks & imperialist pigs. Where is our common ground? Y’all want 2nd amendment rights, quit using it against your neighbor and fight the tyrants ruling over the land. That bastard over at Nestle is stealing our water and selling it back to us for a price. And corporate welfare is taking our money one tax season at a time. We need Unity woven through the hearts of people, siding with one another to fight the maelstrom of media trying to divide us at the seams. We are the real change. No promise from politicians is going to work unless people can see eye to eye. We need to acknowledge, now more than ever, we live in a global mind, and working all of us simple folks with many cultures is the daily routine.
I’m reading another book on China called “Almost a Revolution.” It’s a memoir, and the author is involved in student groups and organizing activism. He keeps falling short of creating a movement because he is either afraid of the government or they infiltrate his groups and disband it through fear.
It has me wondering when another movement is going to occur in the States. It seems they only occur when a critical mass is pushed over the edge by a single tragedy, i.e. the death of Freddy Gray or the non-indictment of the officer who murdered Michael Brown. In other countries, there seems to be a similar pattern. There is upheaval in India right now because of two women who have been sentenced to atone for their brother’s crime. Their punishment: Rape. Yes, it’s disgusting and despicable. I haven’t read anything about people taking to the streets, but in Japan, they have come out in the tens of thousands because the government has been talking about reinstating its military after it was disbanded post-WWII.
It seems everyone is pissed off about something. Whether it be racism, guns, police brutality, gender inequality, economic inequality, rape culture, the slaying of an officer in Texas, and sadly the list goes on and on. The thing is, people are divided on one side or the other. Liberal vs conservative, gun control vs upholding 2nd amendment rights, God vs evolution, and if I was a nefarious dictator, or part of some elite group of global power, that’s exactly where I’d want to see the masses: divided and arguing.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like seeing people involved in everyday politics, fighting the good fight, whatever it may be- I support all the little, unseen battles that are so very important. But I’m still left wondering, what will bring us all together? How will we unite to put an unceasing amount of pressure on those who control the money, the media, and ultimately the livelihood of our beings?
Occupy was a big deal. It brought a lot of people together from all sorts of backgrounds and temporarily dissolved our differences. It gave us a glimpse of unity. Eventually the critiques of the movement, like the lack of leadership, as well as the sheer mass and diversity of causes, contributed to it eventually petering out and becoming something of a novelty and footnote in the books of recent history.
So again, I’m left questioning, what is going to mobilize the masses to unite? What issue will be the linchpin to keep people together?
The pope is coming to the States soon. One of his major agendas has been climate change. I can only imagine he will address that upon his arrival. Obama is currently in Alaska, and from what I’ve been reading, he’s going to make a big push on the same issue.
Do people even consider environmental crises as reality? Or do we push it off, saying “Well I don’t know if I believe humanity is on the brink of extinction. That’s a bit far fetched.” The thing is, the dinosaurs were large and in charge at one point, and now all we see of them are their skeletons. Did they see extinction coming? Even if they did, do you think they acknowledged it? Were they saying the same thing? “Well, the winters sure are colder and the summers sure are hotter. And look at all the species dying out one by one. And how about those record number of forest fires? And good gosh, the uptick in natural disasters… What about overpopulation… Well, I don’t know. That’s just too much cynicism for me. Let’s get back to our regular scheduled programming.”
Are we going to collectively wake up or is the planet going to decide FOR US we’re no longer fit to be its inhabitants?
Here’s the thing- I don’t know what it’s going to look like when the scales tip. I don’t know how people are going to change en masse in order to streamline themselves with nature. I sure hope we’re not forced into it, because I’ve talked to too many people and seen too many films on the zombie apocalypse. I’m not eating brains to survive. I have a garden outback, y’all are welcome to come powwow with me. Either that, or let me know when we’re taking it to the streets.
The rally interrupted by Seattle protesters this weekend is bringing together the Democratic underdog Bernie Sanders with a nationally recognized movement Black Lives Matter. Albeit in a conflicted way, it is creating much needed conversation. That of the progressive left, with shades & tinges of white privilege, meeting head on with black voices who are asking for more out of a man who is already giving so much. In a way, rightly so. If Sanders is going to win the primaries, he has to expand his vision to a larger population. He needs people pushing on him from the periphery, working their way inside, and taking, for a moment, his mic stand. These events show he is a candidate for the people. If the protesters had tried these same tactics with Trump or Bush or Clinton, I’m afraid to say, they would have been bamboozled and perhaps shot. Now, many may argue that Bernie Sanders is not the guy to interrupt, that he is on the side of the poor & disenfranchised of all colors, but all the same, Black Lives Matter has been receiving criticism from the beginning. Any time an outlier has arisen, they have been removed from the movement and condemned. But these very same people are the ones who have pushed the conversation into a larger context, from the riots in Baltimore to the women interrupting rallies in Seattle. This is one of the first times I’m seeing Bernie Sanders get mainstream coverage, and although it’s controversial, and could very possibly be detrimental, I believe his background & career will withstand any negative coverage. If he’s going to be a serious contender for the Democratic nomination, it will have to. Not only that, it’s necessary for him to grow, incorporate, and uplift a movement that has taken the country by storm.
The death of a lion and the subsequent uproar is a loaded topic. I wonder how many people yelling about it are meat-eaters? I wonder how many think about the hellish conditions that a lot of the meat we eat “lives” through in order to get to our plates? It’s ironic though, isn’t it? The king of the jungle gets shot, and his spirit must have woken up those dead animals we’ve been eating. Called them into battle. And now all the mistreated animals are screaming through us.
A couple weeks ago I was at a party talking with a lawyer from California. He was cool, and at some point we veered off into discussing politics. He said, “We need more women & artists to become leaders in this world.” I agreed with him and added, “So long as it isn’t Hillary Clinton.” He looked at me kind of funny, “Who else is there?” “Bernie Sanders.” “Bernie Sanders? Who’s Bernie Sanders. I mean, I’ve heard of him, but really, who is he?” He went on to say that Hillary has the machine behind her and there’s no use fighting against the corporate elite because they’re too strong. They manufacture consent too well. There are too many people who don’t give a shit, who don’t self-educate, who are too susceptible to Fox News and mass media. I told him that’s why we’re talking about Bernie Sanders. Because he needs people. He doesn’t have the machine behind him. He has people. And the more people who talk him up, the more likely we will rise above corporate influence. Because Hillary Clinton doesn’t give a shit about people. She’ll say anything to buy a vote. Take a look at her track record. She does nothing but flip flop. She’s a corporate puppet. He said alright, I’ll take a look at Bernie. And for a moment, he had a sparkle in his eye, as if he was recalling a feeling that had left him long ago. He smiled and said, “Yeah, grassroots.”