A Curmudgeon’s Christmas Message

By: Bill Whaley
21 December, 2017

Below I respond to Chris Hedges, a former New York Times reporter, who writes a column on Truthdig.com. He’s a Presbyterian minister and professor (of prophecy) at Princeton, author of numerous books, including “War Is The Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2002) and has a message for us.

Among other notable dissenters who spoke out in Taos at the TCA against the Iraq war, like Scott Ritter, UN nuclear weapons inspector, Ray McGovern, retired CIA analyst, Hedges also appeared in Taos during the post-9/11 period. (Hedges purchased art from Erin Currier, whose work portrays worldwide personalities of color engaged in “speaking truth to power.”)

Hedges quotes, Hannah Arendt, who wrote in “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” that “The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth and truth be defamed as a lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world—and the category of truth versus falsehood is among the mental means to this end—is being destroyed.”

As antidote to the lies, Hedges quotes one of the 17th Century Pensees of Pascal: “Thus all our dignity consist in thought. It is on thought that we must depend for our recovery, not on space and time, which we could never fill. Let us then strive to think well; that is the basic principle of morality.”

We human beings can consider and freely make decisions as independent beings, not beholden to the “given” or “conventional” point of view. The capacity for reason and imagination can transcend the conventional prejudices and politics of marketing. Taosenos tend to emphasize “emotions” over “thinking” but passions, experience, and sense can inform thought and feelings.

Hedges says, “We must pit power against power. We must build parallel institutions and organizations that protect us from corporate assault and resist corporate domination.” Amen.

As local government concedes Main Street to Corporatism, we citizens can “resist” and create a culture wherein human beings live apart from restrictions imposed by local agents, who hide their fists in velvet gloves. Speak truth to power.

To Taos, Hedges says: “The more we can create self-contained communities, with our own currencies and infrastructures, the more we can starve and cripple the corporate beast.”

The historic trade and barter system in Taos, despite the crippling cash economy, still exists in the “underground.” Folks help each other in private and public ways. Though the vendidos sold, our Coop to financiers, as Jesus said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Hedges Again: “This means establishing worker-run cooperatives, local systems of food supply based on a vegan diet and independent artistic, cultural and political organizations. It means obstructing in every way possible the corporate assault, including the blocking of pipelines and fracking sites, and taking to the streets in sustained acts of civil disobedience against censorship and the attack on civil liberties.”

Activists still fight the frackers in Chaco and oppose the extractive industries on public lands. Even as Abeyta principals lease water rights to predatory downstream municipalities, we must remember our water, watersheds, and resist.

“It means, says Hedges, “creating sanctuary cities.” I think of Taos as not only protecting immigrants but also as a refuge for fugitives from Red States and Blue States. Whether as a refuge for outlaw bootleggers (Turley Mill) or drug dealers (respectable realtors today) or a place for free thinkers and artists, the misfits continue to arrive.

Historically, the Anti-Chaco Pit Dwellers settled the valley at the beginning of the first millennium. Their “Doings” evolved and formed Taos Pueblo. The descendants of the Conquest, who fled Europe and Mexico, created their own “Customs” aqui in Taos four hundred years ago. The Anglo merchants, artists, hippies, and second homers found in this isolated area, a “live and let live” community, wherein they could engage in their own idiosyncratic “practices.”

“All of this will have to be done the way it has always been done, by building personal, face-to-face relationships. We may not ultimately save ourselves, especially with the refusal by the elites to address the ravages of climate change, but we can create pods of resistance where truth, beauty, empathy and justice endure,” says Hedges.

A sanctuary community forms by the struggle to overcome disagreements and by reaching a consensus. The struggle and the fight create the cultural process aimed at nurturing community. We must not avoid but welcome the controversy in our DNA.
Artists and writers confront their own existential drama on the blank canvas, sheet, and unformed clay each day. Los politicos confront the struggle to maintain peace and herd us cats. At Taos Pueblo the rhythm of the dance and beat of the drum send out a message of  enduring commitment.

The more intimate I become with the thorns and the roses in Taos, the more I welcome the pleasure that follows pain. A couple years ago I sought out yoga classes to relieve an aching back. Now I learning how to “Follow the Breath.” So I follow my nose from the outhouse through the thorns to smell the roses, Pinon, and sagebrush.

To trope on Hedges, “each day aqui en Taos is the force that gives us meaning.”

P.S. I checked out the Town’s rather “modest “presentation of “lights.” this year. The whole north side of the Plaza and most of the west side has ignored the “farolito” imperative. For a local “Star Wars” show, see Tele’s display in El Prado. The earth and architecture seem un-seasonally forlorn sans snow. Sigh.

Category: Que Pasa? | RSS 2.0 Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

No Comments

Comments are closed.