At school in early Spring my grand daughter’s grade 4 class had to write their opinion on this question:
What do you think of the treaties that were signed between the First Nations and the Canadian government? Share your opinion below.
With my grand daughter Britney’s permission I share her written response here:
I believe the treaty agreement was unfair, because the First Nations did not get all they were promised. Another reason is that they already had that land from the Creator. Also, the wolfers were looking for horses in the mountains and they came along the First Nations and killed them for no reason when they did not have the horses. And that is why I think the treaty was unfair.
by Britney Penelope Keeley
Fran and I have had four lovely weeks together with both of our grand daughters. They leave for their Alberta home tomorrow. Here are a few other images and notes.
Britney (left) and Emma (right) at Takakkaw Falls in Canada’s Yoho National Park in early July when we drove back to British Columbia in early July. In the local Cree language “Yoho” means awe or wonder, “Takakkaw” means magnificent.
Emma, Brit and Francis at Lake Louise in Alberta – July 13, 2021
Our picnic at Takakkaw Falls with Emma, below.
The next two photos were taken at Duck Lake, Saskatchewan on August 3, 2005.
They speak of the treaties and promises. Well – the broken promises.
Brit when she was six in 2017
Cheers for peace,
Bruce and Britney
Along with this beautiful full moon I experienced while driving home last night, what follows is something else to ponder…
From the lessons of Coronavirus, we now know for sure that many areas require system change – take Senior Care homes for example. The 2020 book The Sustainable Economy by Robert S. Devine, which I introduced in my previous post What is the Price of a Human, suggests at least these nine items to help bring about fundamental systemic change:
1) Redesign corporations
2) Institute fees and caps on the extraction of virgin materials
3) Bolster public services
4) Dial down the stock market’s obsession with maximizing shareholders returns
5) Expand parental leave
6) Provide a sufficient minimum wage
7) Support organized labour
8) Infuse trade agreements with strong environmental and social provisions
9) Restrict advertising. (I like that one!)
These suggestions are courtesy of Gus Speth, past dean of Yale Forestry and Environmental Studies and co-chair of the The Next-System Project.
The Sustainable Economy was well researched, detailed and insightful about current problems and solutions.
Now I’m half way through Bending Towards Justice, by US Senator Doug Jones. As the late Rep. John Lewis writes in praise about the book: “Facing the truth of our dark past with honesty and humility is the only way this nation (USA) can heal these deep wounds.”
In closing I’ll quote from one of my personal heroes (an economist) :
“Everywhere people ask: “What can I actually do?” The answer is as simple as it is disconcerting: we can, each of us, work to put our own inner house in order. The guidance we need for this work cannot be found in science or technology, the value of which utterly depends on the ends they serve; but it can still be found in . . . traditional wisdom . . .
The real problems of our planet are not economic or technical, they are philosophical.”
Through all our deepest ponderings, let’s opt in for the wisdom of the good earth!
Currently I’m reading The Sustainable Economy: The Hidden Costs of Climate Change and the Path to a Prosperous Future by Robert S. Devine. What follows is a small synopsis of the book – augmented with my usual photo-essay approach.
Quiet street in Silverton, Colorado – bruce witzel photo
With a focus on climate change, journalist and author Robert S. Devine reveals the fundamental flaws in the economy that enable environmental degradation. The Sustainable Economy is a book about economics, but it skips the equations and eases through the jargon, opting instead for compelling stories and surprising humor. Readers will encounter high-tech narwhals, struggling coal workers, orbiting giant mirrors, the kids who are suing the U.S. government over climate policy, and vanishing Alaskan towns.
The Sustainable Economy looks at many of the most pressing climate issues, such as melting ice caps and farm-killing droughts, but by viewing them through the revealing lens of economics, the book delivers a fresh perspective. Devine shows how the basic mechanisms of supply and demand fail when it comes to global warming and the environment. Fortunately, he also lays out a path to an improved economy that can boost our well-being while also fostering a healthy environment. Most importantly, The Sustainable Economy shows how we can overcome the political and personal obstacles blocking progress toward a sustainable, just, and prosperous economy.
Yerba Buena Public Park, San Francisco – bruce witzel photo
Autumn Wedding in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado – bruce witzel photo
Here is what Devine says:
Incomplete communication misleads us consumers into buying products laden with hidden costs. Countless goods and services bear the stains of harms such as pollution, habitat destruction, floods, child labor, extinctions and disease. When we fill up at the gas station the price we are charged doesn’t tell us that our purchase increases the odds that a wildfire will burn down our community. Making such partially informed choices is like buying a house having seen only the kitchen.
Another characteristic of the market that leads to failure is its inability to provide incentives for businesses to produce or protect public goods, such as fire departments or city parks. Most important, the market doesn’t generate the public goods sometimes known as “ecosystem services”, such as nutrient cycling, soil formation, oxygen creation and a livable climate. Many of these essential services operate in the background; like plumbing and wiring, they go unnoticed and unappreciated unless they fail…
Wendell Berry and friends – photographer unknown
Bend, Oregon-– Francis Guenette photo
Girl in Mexico City, 1991 – bruce witzel photo
And here is an excerpt from where I just stopped reading and now currently have bookmarked:
Among the multitude of studies exploring the inequities associated with climate change is the UN’s World Economic and Social Survey 2016: Climate Change Resilience: An Opportunity for Reducing Inequalities. “Sadly, the people at greater risk from climate hazards are the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized who, in many cases, have been excluded from socioeconomic progress,” writes then United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in the report. “We have no time to waste – and a great deal to gain – when it comes to addressing the socioeconomic inequalities that deepen poverty and leave people behind.” The study estimates that over the last twenty years low-income countries have suffered a 5 percent drop in GDP due to climate-related disasters, while wealthy nations have not been smacked as hard. . .
For years experts have been wrestling with whether and how to incorporate wealth disparities into climate economics and the social cost of carbon, though not always with equity as the goal. One early attempt showed how not to do it. As part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Second Assessment Report, produced in 1996, the working group on the economic and social dimension of climate change tackled the always delicate task of putting a price tag on a human life. Despite dissent from some members, the group assigned different values to different lives depending on such factors as the average income of a person from a particular nation. Writing about the group’s approach in their book, Priceless, economist Frank Ackerman and Georgetown University law professor Lisa Heinzerling report, “A careful reading of the fine print revealed that they were valuing lives in rich countries at $1,500,000, in middle-income countries at $300,000, and in the lowest-income countries at $100,000.”
Understandably, this raised the hackles of many people, particularly residents of the $100,000 countries. They let it be known that they did not think that the life of, say, an Indian or a Nigerian was worth only one-fifteenth as much as the life of an American or a Saudi Arabian, The controversy dealt the IPPS Second Assessment a painful blow. When the Third Assessment came out five years later , it suggested a single value for everyone.
The Sustainable Economy: The Hidden Costs of Climate Change and the Path to a Prosperous Future
by Robert S. Devine (2020) pages 177-178
A woman in Mexico City, 1991 – bruce witzel photo
My granddaughter Emma, held by her father Matthew at our piano in 2009 – bruce witzel photo
Peace and regards,
Moonlit night on Northern Vancouver Island – bruce witzel photo
What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves?
This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.
Roy Henry Vickers painting – First Nations Artist
Peace – Bruce
Rest in peace Michael J. Lafrate, good and faithful servant.
Of all the people I’ve met in Appalachia doing the Moundsville project, nobody came at you with a spirit like that of Michael J. Iafrate, a brilliant musician and Catholic social justice activist whose body was killed this week by cancer.
Michael — Mikey to his friends — was a Catholic in the tradition of Dorothy Day, Gustavo Gutiérrez, and Dan Berrigan, articulated in the tradition of liberation theology. The Gospel of Love means all kinds of things to all kinds of people, but to this community of believers, it means that we all called to fight, passionately, for justice. “If your interpretation of the Gospel isn’t having you smash some structure,” Michael once told a friend, “it’s idolatrous bullshit.”
I’ve never met anybody who loved the church and its message of love, justice, and resurrection, and at the same time hated its flaws — clericalism, corruption, sexism — more…
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George Wahl is a wonderful soft-spoken man and his poetry is steeped with a deep spirituality. He was a good friend of Fr. Charles Brandt and a member of the hermitage meditation group. He he continues to assist at the hermitage with the new contemplative, Karen Nicol. Recently he said “I miss the man.” Thank you George. We all do!
Please visit his blog over at Mystic Morning.
do not stop
until you achieve what you have been seeking
the pressure to pull you away will only grow stronger as you grow closer
mind will try to wear the clothes of the one you seek so that you don’t succeed
the reward lies in the struggle
each has been given the inner power to overcome
rise up and be…
the power of realization
the power of determination
the power of a love founded in a knowing that all is one
will lift you back on your feet again and again
listen to the drum beat
listen to the endless rain of remembrance
returning you to your destiny in this life
The following are bits of essays I borrowed from Wendell Berry. This is taking a calculated chance. Having read many of his books over the years (some purchased, others borrowed ) I am following Wendell’s own premise that the ownership of words and ideas is absurd – he only lays claim to their arrangement on the page. In this case, I’m arranging his words on a page. Mostly gleamed from his 2015 book OUR ONLY WORLD, I’ve borrowed from these essays:
1. Less Energy, More Life 2. On Receiving One of the Dayton Literary Peace Prizes
3. Contempt for Small Places 4. On Being Asked for a Narrative of the Future
I have also included a portion of a separate Wendell Berry essay, Compromise, Hell! As usual, images are added to help bolster the narrative. Hopefully, you find some sensibility in all this.
Cheers – Bruce
Book liner notes:
The planet’s environmental problems respect no national boundaries. From soil erosion and population displacement to climate change and failed energy policies, American governing classes are paid by corporations to pretend that debate is the only democratic necessity and that solutions are capable of withstanding endless delay. Late Capitalism goes about its business of finishing off the planet.
Farmer in Ottawa Valley, August 2005 – photo by Bruce Witzel
If we want to do better, we will have to recognize the old mistake as a mistake… We can respond rationally to this predicament only by honest worry, unrelenting caution, and propriety of scale…
Swiss chard and celery in our cold-frame March 3, 2021 – bruce witzel photo
We will have to repudiate the too-simple industrial standards and replace them with comprehensive standard of ecological health, realizing that this standard involves necessarily the humane obligation of neighbourliness to other humans and to other creatures. This means that all our uses of the natural world must be governed by our willingness to learn the nature of every place, and to submit to nature’s limits and requirements…
Mono Lake, California October 2012 – photo by Bruce Witzel
In this collection of essays, Wendell Berry confronts head-on the necessity of clear thinking and direct action…
Wendell Berry at his farm in Kentucky – photo by Guy Mendes
Found Essays from (and by) Wendell Berry
We must not speak or think of the land alone or of the people alone, but always and only of both together. If we want to save the land, we must save the people who belong to the land. If we want to save the people, we must save the land the people belong to…
Since the beginning of the conservation effort … conservationists have too often believed that we could protect the land without protecting the people… If conservationists hope to save even the wild lands and wild creatures, they are going to have to address issues of economy, which is to say issues of the health of the landscapes and the towns and cities where we do our work, and the quality of that work, and the well-being of the people who do the work.
Bar U Ranch Historic Site on the Eastern Slope of Canadian Rockies near Oldman River – photo by Bruce Witzel
Governments seem to be making the opposite error, believing that the people can be adequately protected without protecting the land… If we know that coal is an exhaustible resource, whereas the forests over it are with proper use inexhaustible, and that strip mining destroys the forest virtually forever, how can we permit this destruction?
If we honor at all that fragile creature the topsoil, so long in the making, so miraculously made, so indispensable to all life, how can we destroy it?
. . . Like a lot of people I know, I am concerned about mountain top removal and climate change. But when we delay our concern until dangers have become sensational we are late. . . Even if we are too late, we must still accept responsibility and try to make things better.
Some of the recently proposed coal projects in southern Alberta lie within the Oldman watershed and would draw water from the headwater tributaries that have been previously largely untouched by industry. Map: Carol Linnitt / The Narwhal
Rachel Herbert and her family have been ranching in the Porcupine Hills of Southern Alberta for four generations. Now, she’s concerned how proposed coal mines will impact the local water supply which she and her neighbours all rely on.
Photo: Canadian Angus Association
The industrial economy, from agriculture to war, is by far the most violent the world has ever known, and we are all complicit in its violence…
Toy truck and my lumber – bruce witzel photo
There is in fact no significant difference of means between weapons of massive destruction and the technologies of industrial production. The means are invariably combustion (internal and external) and poison (by intention, accident, or “act of God”)…
Sault St. Marie, August 9, 2005 – bruce witzel photo
But surely, by now, the official rationalizations of our violence have become to obviously hypocritical to be ignored. Violence against our world and our fellow human beings finally cannot be disassociated from the violence of falsehood.
How can we continue to insist that our land destroying, water and air-polluting agriculture is the only way “feed the world”, especially since we have now devoted so much of it to “biofuels” to feed our automobiles? ….
Moreover: Why should we continue to believe that our government is uniquely to be trusted with our weapons of mass destruction, whereas other nations are not to be trusted with theirs? …. What does trustworthiness mean in relation to possession of such weapons?
Why is the cost of our wars now paid almost exclusively by the young people in the armed services, who must pay with their bodies and their lives? …. Why do not our patriotic trustees of the common good, upon consenting to a war, not resign from their offices and volunteer to put their own “boots to the ground”?
Such questions no doubt are merely naive…
Living Memorial Sculpture Garden, Weed California October 8, 2012 – bruce witzel photo
We speak of freedom, of our God-given freedom, of defending, using, and enjoying freedom, as if something memorized in grade school and never thought about again. We might as well be talking in our sleep. We have been so thoughtless and careless of our freedom for so long that by now we cannot see that our assumed right to be limitlessly violent would finally bring us to a violence against freedom that may destroy it…
The general purpose of the present economy is to exploit, not to foster or conserve…
Clear cut logging site on North Vancouver Island March 01, 2018 – bruce witzel photo
Maybe we could give up saving the world and start to live savingly in it. If using less energy would be a good idea for the future, that is because it is a good idea.
The government could enforce such a saving by rationing fuels, as it did during World War Two… But to wish for good sense from the government only displaces good sense into the future, where it is no use to anybody…
On the contrary, so few as just one of us can save energy right now by self-control, careful thought, and remembering the lost virtue of frugality. Spending less, burning less, traveling less may be a relief. A cooler, slower life may make us happier, more present to ourselves and to others who need us to be present… The government might even do the right thing by imitating the people…
If we are serious about these big problems, we have got to see that the solutions begin and end with ourselves. Thus we put an end to our habit of over simplification. If we want to stop the impoverishment of the land and people, we ourselves must be prepared to become poorer…
We must understand that fossil fuel energy must be replaced, not just by “clean” energy, but also by less energy. The unlimited use of any energy would be as destructive as unlimited economic growth or any other unlimited growth. If we had a limitless supply of free, non-polluting energy, we would use the world up even faster than we are using it up now.
If we are not in favor of limiting the use of energy, starting with our own use of it, then we are not serious. If we are not in use of rationing energy, starting with fossil fuels, we are not serious. If we have the money and are not willing to pay two dollars to keep the polluting industries from getting one, we are not serious.
Travelling down to southern Vancouver Island to be with Francis in Victoria 2008
At the North end of Vancouver Island
If, on the contrary, we become determined to keep the industries of poison, explosion, and fire from determining our lives and the world’s fate, then we will steadfastly reduce our dependence on them and our payments of money to them.
We will cease to invest our health, our lives, and our money in them. Then finally we will be serious enough, our efforts complex and practical enough. By so improving our lives, we will improve the possibility of life…
Kentucky River flows behind Berry in this 2012 image, taken by his former student Guy Mendes.
Only the present good is good. It is the presence of good – good work, good thoughts, good acts, good places – by which we know that the present does not have to be a nightmare of the future. “The kingdom of God is at hand” because, if not at hand, it is nowhere.
Crucified – image by bruce witzel
Excavating the life of the visionary paleontologist-priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“Teilhard was one of the first scientists to realize that the human and the universe are inseparable. The only universe we know about is a universe that brought forth the human.”
Sphere of Consciousness
and the progressive thinking of Teilhard de Chardin
“It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though the limits of our abilities do not exist.”
Maev Beaty and Cyrus Lane in a scene from Adam Seybold’s drama The De Chardin Project at Theatre Passe Muraille, Toronto. 2013 photo by Michael Cooper.
“In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened.”
from Holy Spirit Elementary School, High River Alberta – bruce witzel photo
The most satisfying thing in life is to have been able to give a large part of one’s self to others.
World-wide student climate strike Sept. 27, 2019 – bruce witzel photo
“Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.”
NASA Image – North America and South America, at night
Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, humanity will have discovered fire.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
May 1, 1881 – April 10, 1955
Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur, California – photo by Bruce
My God, My God. Why have you forsaken me?
~ ~~ ~
And I thought over again
My small adventures
As with a shore-wind I drifted out
In my kayak
And thought I was in danger,
Those small ones
That I thought so big
For all the vital things
I had to get and reach.
And yet, there is only one thing
One great thing,
The only thing:
To live to see in huts and on journeys
The great day that dawns,
And the light that fills the world.
Images were recorded on January 18, 2021 near our home on Northern Vancouver Island. More photos of our morning kayak can be found at my wife’s blog here:
Cheers, as always
Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks.
Our peace in his will
And even among these rocks
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea
Suffer me not to be separated
And let my cry come unto Thee.
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1) REMEMBER OUR VOWS
2) PRACTICE PATIENCE
3) REFRAIN FROM OUTRAGEOUS BEHAVIOUR
1) SUSTAINABILITY - For at least seven generations
2) GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY
3) SOCIAL JUSTICE & RESPONSIBILITY - personal & global
4) NON VIOLENCE - a call to arms is the last choice
5) DIVERSITY - biological, cultural & spiritual
6) POST PATRIARCHAL CONSCIOUSNESS
7) SEXUAL & RACIAL EQUALITY
8) DECENTRALIZATION - of energy, politics & wealth.
9) ECOLOGICAL WISDOM