We have created a hell on Earth. Most of us remain blinded to its firey prison, but it’s here. Most of you reading this are probably only in the outer circle of hell, not the very center of the agony. You may have to work 8–10 hrs a day at a job you hate to pay your mortgage, but you have a house. You may worry that you won’t have enough to leave your kid when you die, but your kid eats three meals a day, has people to love it and people to teach it. You think your life doesn’t have much point, but you get enough joy in the few hours you get to spend with your friends and family to keep you ticking. You may medicate heavily with alcohol, pot or pharmaceuticals, but all in the name of unwinding, relaxing, kicking back. Yes, this is only the outside circle of hell.
You don’t need me to tell you what the progressive inner circles of hell are. You don’t need me to tell you that as you move inward towards more hellishness, the amount of people living in each circle increases. You don’t need me to tell you about the person who can only afford to buy convenience store food, who is malnourished from eating McDonalds, Cheetos, and beef jerkey, who must work 3 jobs to pay the bills. You don’t need me to tell you about the kids left with no guidance, no love, no education who are the casualties of our system, their parents never learning what birth control is, being told that the only way they’ll survive is to have a kid so they can get welfare and food stamps, because they have no money or opportunity to go to college and get a job that pays a living wage.
Seeing what humanity has been reduced to is what started me on my path of waking up. What I watched yesterday made me want to call it a hell on Earth.
“Earthlings” is a movie by writer/producer/director Shaun Monson, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. It discusses how the human race has come to use animals, as pets, food, clothing, entertainment and in science. According to the website, it’s been called “the vegan-maker.” Well, I concur.
I have never seen such depravity. I have never seen such hubris. I have never imagined it could be that bad. I have watched a few videos over the years about animal treatment in factories, but I always thought they were isolated instances. They are not. As common, standard practice, animals are screamed at while being prodded with electric prods: “GO YOU MOTHERFUCKERS! GO GO GO! YOU’RE GONNA DIE! I GOT YOU! I FUCKING GOT YOU!” Squealing pigs thrashing on the barn floors, bloodied and half-dead. Live male baby chicks, fed to a grinder, because they will not produce eggs. Cheep cheep cheep into the grinder. Cows throats slit, esophagus and trachea pulled out, hung up by a hoof. Still alive. Fur animals skinned, and still alive after, blinking eyes in alien musculo-skeletal faces. Milking cows made pregnant over and over, calves taken away for veal, giant abcesses on udders, dying after 4 years when a typical cow life span is many times that. Little piglets getting tails and balls ripped off by hand with no anesthesia. Wounded tail areas and faces of piggies getting cannibalized off from the other animals, packed so closely they can’t help but eat each other. Elephants in circuses, being screamed at and beaten and stabbed with a poker, all so that they’ll form a nice little line, holding each others’ tails with their trunks, so we can be amused for a few hours. Cage madness, where an animal paces back and forth in a tiny cage, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, not understanding why. Why why why why? And the cherry on top for me from the whole film? Baboons (great apes like us), shackled, tied down, heads shaved, and then heads rammed at 40, 50 60 mph into steel plates. Over. And over. And over. So we can study the effects of brain injury. For you know, foot ball players and car accidents.
If you got through that paragraph, I commend you. Most of us do not want to hear this. Do not want to see this. Do not want to believe it’s really that bad. It really is that bad. For these animals and those people who work in these conditions and have been conditioned to think this is okay, this is hell. Literally. What has made us okay with causing untold suffering to cute, furry, fuzzy animals that only by the luck of the draw they weren’t born a puppy or a kitty?
My husband and I are currently reading Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, out loud to each other. I’ve wanted to do this with him for a while and from what I heard, Ishmael would be a perfect book for it. I had heard it was life-changing and it’s nice to experience something like that with your partner. There are so many insights in it, but we just finished chapter nine and I think that was the crux of the book. In this chapter, Ishmael reveals what the story of Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge (the Fall) really means. If you aren’t familiar with this story, basically Adam and Eve (and Adamu means man and Eve means life, so let’s not take this as literally as one man, one woman) lived in the garden of Eden (the natural state of the world). The garden was lush with growing things and beautiful and a paradise. It provided every need for them, and they didn’t have to toil for it. Nature provides abundance, if we let it do it’s thang and don’t mess with it (ahem, permaculture anyone?). So, you have humans living in paradise, satisfied with what the Earth gave them, the gifts of nature. Then we “ate of the tree of knowledge.” This is commonly understood to mean we were tempted by the devil to get this knowledge. Once we gave in, we understood good and evil, we knew we were naked, we felt shame. So god/the gods kicked us out of the garden for not obeying him/her/it and said “go, till the soil, toil and work for your food by the sweat of your brow, be fruitful and multiply.” This is not a blessing, it was a curse. So Adam and Eve left the garden and had to start planting and tilling the Earth to grow their food, and modern, agrarian society started. They were fruitful. They multiplied. And by their multiplying, they had to till more of the Earth, and work harder. And the more they worked and succeeded in feeding their people, the larger they grew, and then more work and toil had to be done, more land had to be used to fill these needs. And the more they grew, the more Earth they had to usurp. And you see the cycle.
Let’s examine what “the knowledge of good and evil” means. Ishmael explains that this way. Nature understands and works perfectly with the idea that all things have their time to live and all things have their time to die. He calls this “the knowledge of the gods,” but I’ll call it the knowledge of natural cycles. This process is normal and when you know that everything has cycles and has time to thrive and time to end, you are at peace with the way nature works. The Takers timeline (Ishmael calls the people of modern society Takers and everyone else, like indigenous cultures, Leavers) began in earnest when they examined this process/knowledge of nature, and felt they understood it, but decided they were godlike enough to manipulate those decisions FOR the Earth, FOR their own benefit. What does this mean? It means the Takers thought they were above nature, above god, and that it was good of them to decide what should die and what should live, and that it was good to manipulate their environment to their benefit. I personally don’t fault ancient man for wanting this wisdom, the problem is what was done with it.
Ishmael points out that it is odd that the Fall is the story we tell ourselves of how our modern society started. Why is it odd? Because this story that we call ours, tells us that the things we are doing and how we are living are not natural and are curses, yet we do not look at our modern society this way. How does this make any sense? Shouldn’t we all look the idea of eating at the tree of knowledge as a good thing, if we are defending our modern society? Wouldn’t we say, “hey, isn’t it awesome that we have this knowledge? Look what we’ve done with it! It was an awesome decision to eat that fruit.” Either that, or we must acknowledge that we are still in the midst of the Fall, or hell on Earth.
The way Ishmael explains this paradox is that Leavers are actually the ones who witnessed/eventually wrote down the story of the Fall. These Leavers were the Semites, the ancient Hebrews. The Takers were the Caucasians, the Semites’ neighbors to the north, living between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (the Fertile Crescent). At this time, all over the world, there were all sorts of Leaver cultures. But the ones who decided they were above nature, above god, above all other animals, the Takers, slowly expanded and took over other lands. They gradually needed to move out of their area, to feed their growing population, and they needed to till more soil and kill more animals.
And so, here we are today. The Takers expanded and expanded and killed and manipulated and grew. They took over the human trajectory with violence and domination. They claimed ownership of every corner of the Earth, every commons, every sacred thing, and have turned it into profit. The Earth, converted to money. Animals suffering, converted to money. Nothing left for anyone. A hell on Earth.
Do you see it now?
So, how to remedy this? How do we use the knowledge we have, of how things live and die and how the planet works, to climb out of the depths of hell? The answer is simple—we work WITH the laws, instead of trying to change them or defeat them. We realize that we are one species on this planet out of millions and when one species tries to control nature, it leads to disastrous consequences. We get off a monetary system that only lives if we cannibalize the Earth (there’s not much left to cannibalize anyway). We start using alternative systems, time banking, local currencies, community use of common spaces. We give back what we can. We starve the beast. We invent and promote technologies that solve problems long-term and alleviate suffering in the short-term (without losing site of the long-term). We do our best to crowd-fund these projects or source them in other ways and offer the services for free. We do the hard work now to plan a better, easier future for our descendants. We transform from Takers into Leavers. We leave the Earth better off than we found it. We return to the garden of Eden, with updated technologies that only improve the garden, not desecrate it.
Will you help? Now that you see? Will you stop blaming others? Will you take responsibility? No one is judging you for the way you have lived. Your past and what choices you have made do not matter. You are new every moment. You cannot fault a blind man for not following the light, just as you cannot fault a person for making decisions that feed the hell if you have not shown them how the hell is created. But the information is out there now. It’s available to anyone with an internet connection. Read it, watch it, digest it and act.
I wrote this poem last summer. It seems appropriate to put in this post:
i struggle with, struggle with, double what
i knew before, every day, what i know now
and how i’m supposed to know
which is real and which is not.
that’s not it, that’s not right.
that doesn’t prove i should move
my soul to this or that way
am i caught in ascension?
am i caught in a mention,
a whisper of crazy, hazy, maybe
not quite right or here anymore.
but i am very here. have my very real,
very near, very massive new
direction, a vector.
very real relationships. very present.
they are touch, taste,
smell, hear, see, be, me. be with me.
why does it have to seem like a choice.
a voice, be one. a boss, you be
this or that but definitely not one.
question: know lots or know nothing?
can be both, can be neither. rather have
action than debates. rather have
smiles than hate. rather say
mate than hate. rather barriers down
borders gone. rather be drawn along
in a torrent of love
and a song of strength;
a river of empathy.
imagine it. imagine it. feel it!
someone else’s pain. some other being’s pain.
their pain. their ripping pain.
your heart ripped from your chest.
you are starving to death.
imagine your chances, zero.
you’re climb, everest.
how easily a human quits
without the backing, the backbone
the attention paid, the love lost
the shit that is only dished out
because it was dished out
because it was dished out
because it was dished out.
GIVE ME THE DISH.
i will break it.
i will help BREAK IT.
help me break it?