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June 25th, 2009

"Die and become " is an aphorism rooted in the spiritual paths.  As an idea, it is extremely important and also very dangerous.  To die to self, to die to sin, to die in Christ are metaphors which may be taken literally and too literally.  When the demand for martyrdom outran the supply of persecution during the fourth century, wannabe martyrs sought out, and even created, persecutors.  Donatists had to be condemned and excommunicated for their eagerness to die for their faith.  It is bad enough to seek one's own death in the furtherance of one's faith; it is both criminal and sacreligious to seek the "deaths" of others.  A person may choose to die rather than give up an important practice; he may not choose to kill.

Change is a sort of death; it involves, in differing degrees, loss, growth, and degradation.  A oerson can make any change better or worse by her or his attitude toward it; the balance of gain and loss is always problematic.  When non literate people become literate changes in their visual habits and brain connections may make a return to a previous way of life impossible.  The literate child of literate parents and grandparents will probably not see any problem; and perhaps the literate child of illiterate parents may feel that she or he has accomplished something; but the literate child of nonliterate parents may pay a terrible price for his literacy, including loss of family connection, traditional way of life, and culturally important skills and attitudes.

BIA officials and educators sometimes said: "we have to kill the indian to save the man."  They usually found out that the man was much easier to kill so education became an aspect of the genocide of the American Indian.  This was accomplished by an "enlightened" elite who believed in progress; but who had almost no appreciation for or understanding of the way of life they were trying to destroy. Now we are threatening to destroy our own way of life, having effectively eliminated all the alternatives.

Political and economic development seems to always involve a pattern of loss.  We say, "no pain, no gain,"  but the pain seems to just go on and on, with the gain being either too remote or too phoney.  As an "enlightened" person, I studied Marx when I should have been studying the romantic poets.   Arnold asked of the railroad, why do we need to get from one godforsaken place to another godforsaken place so much faster than we could before?.  This question could be asked of almost any instrument of so called progress that has come along since.  Is it any easier tp watch your child die because you can't afford the treatment than to watch her die because a treatment does not exist?

The people and groups and forces that benefit from change often do so because they are able to pass the costs of change onto other people and classes of people.  I am convinced that the average member of a hunting and gathering society lived a much better life than the average person living in the world today  Wallerstein was even convinced that the average person alive in 1400 lived a better life than tha average person in the world in 1980, and 1400 was not a very good year..

Don't kill the indian, kill the ego.

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bobby1933
bobby1933

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