North Central Washington

Okanogan Dreams, Okanogan Nightmares

Nespelem cemetery, where Nez Perce Chief Joseph was buried until only recently.

Plan C - by Woot

Along the way to the Okanogan, you may find out that there are both circular and linear ways of thinking.

Linear thinking has gotten us into trouble. If life was as simple as live, grow, and die, then there would be no problem with linear thought. For amoebas. If you are a linear thinker, then you should be uncomfortable that we have allowed linear thinking to control our very cyclic lives. We humans are not amoebas, and it won't do to continue to patch our problems with band-aids. We evolved in cyclic environments where the four seasons reminded us of the rebirth and death of creation that was re-enacted each year. Our earliest cultures were based on stories of this creation. Even scientists get it.

So why does our American version of Western civilization have this built-in destructive tendency to always want to grow and grow, indefinitely? Is it genetic or cultural? It is not our fearsome technology that threatens us, but our milquetoste culture. Our technology is modularized into a vast array of widgets. Our culture has become beaucratic widgetry. Nothing much ever happens except re-shuffling the chairs now and then.

You may think that we are hell-bent for destruction because of genetics, but I do not. Growing up in Japan, I could see how the Japanese culture was able to adopt other cultures to their benefit. This changed when they became capitalists. Their benefits from cultural adaptation served them well until they adopted capitalism, which basically short-circuited the concept of common good in place of a dog-eat-dog society.

To build a culture based on widgets is to live in a world of bean counters. Now, with virtual widgets, we are becoming a culture of symbols. Freedom has literally become just another word for nothin' left to lose. Sad. Our tithes to capitalism have cost us a great amount of freedom. We have in essence, traded our souls for finite resources. Our oil addiction is not going to be solved by squeezing oil shales, our dying oceans are not going to be saved by trawling deeper. Built-in obsolescence has created a throw-away culture where a flashlight cannot last longer than a year. Our shoes are from China and they are ugly and our clothes reek of laundry detergent perfume because there are no perfume-free alternatives. Capitalism is not the same as free markets. It rewards linear thinking over holistic thinking, and it rewards big business over the rights of individuals. The results are predictable, but we can't change the status quo, because it is monopolized by big business.

Western Civilization has so much angst that we secretly want the seeds of our own destruction to bear fruit. If there is a genetic basis for our unethical resource consumption it is more likely rooted in jealousy. The story of the Tower of Babel is worth heeding. Recall that the tower was destroyed by God when it got too close to the Heavens. Although the message in this story is not lost on anyone, our society has trouble integrating moral messages into constitutional principles. To me, this is why we are unable to stop our destructive behavior. Whatever. You hear this word a lot. This is what we say when we can't do anything about the situation at hand. Whatever.

It is too little anyway for a lot of species. Not that I am adverse to recycling bottles and such, but I do it because it is fun, not because I think it will save the planet. The same goes for walking to the store. And I really get a thrill when choosing plastic over paper.

I personally am preparing for Plan C. By this I mean that I am concerned that Plan B needs a backup plan (see "Plan B: Rescuing a Planet under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble, by Lester Brown). Plan B acknowledges that the civilization is broken and offers some crucial global reforms that could save some of us. Decades ago. Plan B predicts nothing less than total catastrophe if the reforms are not undertaken. Whatever.

What if Plan B goes into action? The world will become a world of survivalists. Ugh. A few gnarly dudes who have managed to persist in the cracks and crevices. Great for them, but not for me. I am actually hoping Plan B fails, because I would rather see the meek ones inherit the earth.

In the meantime, we will undoubtedly continue to practice Plan A, like the band that kept on playing as the Titanic went down. These are great ideas, that positivim and democracy will benefit the common good, and freedom and justice and free speech will save us in the end. So while you are waiting for the free speech, here are a couple of lessons to while away the hours while the Empire still stands.

Letter from Okanogan County, by Vic Bondi. A cynical, entertaining look at Okanogan county.

Life in the Narrow Lane, by Jeanne Hardy. Life as a sensitive individual.

The Anonymous Forester, anonymous. A short, sharp essay by someone in the Forest Service

Plan C will become the new Plan B once Plan B becomes operational. In Plan C, the world itself is changed, and cracks and crevices as we now know them don't exist for the survivalists to take refuge in.

Edward Abbey put it this way:

One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While itís still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.