H2O ManH2O Man's Journal
Thank goodness that the media is willing to cover Duane Chapman's attempt to insert himself into the Gabby Petito story. Just when the media was reporting what Gabby's family had noted in a press conference -- that there are lots of "missing" people ignored by the media -- we are saved from the distraction of reality by a convicted murderer, turned "reality star." Just think of the potential of Brian Laundrie joining Dog's bounty-hunting team!
Yet this social decay demands more. The American public's "need to know" requires a joint press conference with Chapman and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, a match made in a social septic tank, in case Brian is hiding on the Jersey shore. And where is Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson, to discuss the cultural implications of the case? How is the public's appetite for truth to be satified without her insights?
"I can tell you right now, there are no secrets. There's no mystery. Yjere's only common sense."
-- Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper; quoted from page 64 of "Wisdomkeepers: Meetings with Native American Spiritual Elders, by Harvey Arden.
I saw a news report, I think on ABC, that focused on the national media's paying more attention to missing white women with blonde hair, than to missing non-white women. I was encouraged by the thoughtful report. I learned a few things, such as that FBI statistics showed that in 2020, 540,000+ people -- including 340,000+ juveniles -- went missing.
Of course, many of these missing people were found alive. That's good. But a lot of them were found dead, and that's bad. And far too many are never found. These groups include a wide range of human beings, although for this discussion, I'd like to remain focused on women. While "missing women" is not a new dynamic in our country, it is an uncomfortable measure of social pathology.
If we were to look at one house in the United States -- let's use the Laundrie home, as a handy example -- where a woman has gone missing as Gabby Petito did, we can identify that there is what we used to call "dysfunction" when I was a social worker. If a community has a hiigh rate of women going missing, we know it has serious problems. And if a country has significant rates of women going missing, it is a pathology that decays the nation-state's social fabric.
Now, good people agree that each case is important. It shouldn't matter what color their skin or hair is, any more than how tall they are, or their favorite flavor of ice cream. Yet there is a dynamic, particularly in the national media, that Gwen Ifill called the "missing white woman syndrome." Charlton McIlwain has noted that this dynamic imposes and reinforces a racial hierarchy in American culture. And while statistics document that federal and state officials are aware of the large number of missing women. What statistics cannot document is how seriously investigators take each case.
This morning, I watched a clip from a right-wing Australian news agency reporting on the Gabby Petito case. The three white reporters were more than indignant -- outrage doesn't fully describe it -- that some American reporters had noted that there isn't national coverage of missing non-white women that compares to "missing white woman syndrome." They highlighted two black journalists who had commented on this -- one from MSNBC, the other from CNN. They demanded that the two apologize to Gabby's family, completely unaware that they were exposing their own bias.
I take a particular interest in missing Native American women, if only because they are ten times more likely to "go missing" than are others. More, I'm old enough to remember when, in one state with a large Native American population, a white man would only be charged with a misdemeanor for raping a female on Indian territory. That state remains a conservative, primarily republican stronghold, with a governor opposed to science. In talking to a number of older Native women, they mentioned that VICE provides some good coverage:
Another sent me this:
It's not a competition to identify who is more or less important. It is a struggle to create a safer, better society. To paraphrase Albert Camus, maybe we can't end all the pathology that damages our culture, but perhaps we can lessen the number of victims who suffer. The starting point is to learn just how wide-spread it is for women to go missing in 2021. If Gabby Petito's case is to find full meaning, it will be in the expansion of the collective consciousness of the American public.
What do I mean by collective consciousness? The example I used in conversation with my daughter today involves building a foundation. If one person is good with a back how, another with mixing cement, another with laying blocks, another with installing proper drainage outside the walls, and another at filling in along those walls, their collective talents build a strong foundation by coordinating their efforts. Each contributes according to their talents. The result is solid enough to then build a sturdy house on top.
To deal with our culture's missing women pathology -- or, as we were reminded by the mass shooting in Tennessee, the other social pathologies -- it demands that people at the grass roots level become active participants. Law enforcement often becomes involved after it is too late, as I know from numerous brutal cases that two of my uncles solved. Politicians must play a role, but I will end with another quote from "Wisdomkeepers," from Tadodaho Leon Shenandoah, when asked about the greatest power (pagec 104):
"I myself have no power. It's the people behind me who have the power."
That means you.
In the late summer of 2006, I was having lunch at an extended family function. People were talking about various issues in the news. Out of curiosity, I asked a relative if he thought a freak named John Mark Karr, who was being imported from southeast Asia, had killed a little girl named JonBenet Ramsey? My relative was a retired FBI agent, as was his father. After controlling his laughter, he said no, Karr had not killed anyone.
He explained to me that at times, the media is used to distract the public's attention from something else that they should actually be paying attention to. Such distraction always involve something that creates a strong, automatic emotional response. My next question was if this was something the Bush-Cheney administration was engaged in? The answer was no, that while they sometimes hired outside groups for assisting in perception management, this was a specialty of groups that function no matter who is in office. They may be tasked with coming up with emotional keys such as "yellow cake" and "mushroom clouds" for an administration, they are as capable of manipulating a simpleton like George W. Bush as an average American.
Yet, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, to be blunt.
The case of Gabby Petito is tragic. Her family is devastated. The boy friend's family is also suffering, though his parents' refusal to talk with investigators has not shed them in a sympathetic light. Her murder will cause pain in her community. That should not happen to any person, though it continues to happen all too often. The Petito case has no doubt brought up painful memories of similar cases for many of us. For but one example -- and I could list a half-dozen -- a good friend who I had a mad crush on in 9th grade went to visit her mother in Florida. She was murdered by a freak with a chain saw. I can still clearly see her beautiful face in my mind's eye as I write this.
While a single, isolated tragic case sometimes make the national news, it rarely gets the amount of coverage as the Petito, Ramsey, or Elizabeth Smart cases. One could conclude that this is intentional. The target audience is obviously those who identify innocence with white, blonds, cute females. This causes some negative responses, not always expressed, by those who are aware that white, blonds, cute females are not the exclusive victims of "going missing." Intentional or not, the media can create divisions within groups that should be united by such violence against women.
Watching various news reporting on Gabby's case -- including an internet site from a station in the community she lived with her boyfriend in -- it is evident that emotions tend to block out rational thinking. Viewers were texting questions that suggest they had zero understanding of how investigations work, much less the Constitution. A crowd of citizens gathered on the murderer's parents' lawn, and while public gatherings are also covered in the Constitution, there are obvious potential problems when a group of grasshoppers can turn into a mob of lucusts. This phenomenon only takes place when emotion trumps rational thought.
I've been discussing this topic on an internet forum, with members of a group that excludes Trump supporters. It is similar in some ways to the unstable behaviors of Trump supporters. I've outlined it in the contexts of individual versus group psychology, with overlaps in a sociological view of societies under the stress and anxiety of change -- including social decay. Many people respond on an emotional level,, and believe whatever gets those emotions sparking in their brain. And that is mechanical functioning.
It is not putting the parts of the brain that evolved to make us potentially a fully conscious human being. I do not use that term in the way that "woke" -- while potentially a good concept, can be a shallow fad -- is currently used and abused. I mean conscious, rational, organized thinking, the type that accepts that others have wants and needs. The type that recognizes the distinction between Gabby's social media posts, and the police footage. The type that identifies the seemingly never-ending numbers of teens and young ladies who go "missing" as unacceptable. And that, by no coincidence, is the type of thinking that identifies the actions of the Trump cult as unacceptable, too.
Fear is never overcome by more fear. Anxiety is not dealt with successfully with more anxiety. Frustration is not curbed by more frustration. Hatreds are not cured by way of more hate. An unconscious mind cannot become conscious unconsciously.
Rather than allowing the Petito case to serve as a national distraction, we should use it as a model of how emtions are manipulated on a large scale. It is not that different than the way in which those who practice perception management -- be it lies about incubator babies on concrete floors, yellow cake and mushroom clouds, or how the 2020 elections were stolen -- have manipulated the 40% of the unconscious American public.
"We must seek out the spiritual people, because only that is going to help us survive. We have a great force -- a great brotherhood. This brotherhood involves all living things. And that, of course, includes all of us. We are talking about the natural world, the natural force, all the trees, everything that grows, the water. That is part of our force.
"But when you gather spiritual force in one place, you also gather the negative force. We begin to perceive the enemy now, the power and presence of the negative force.
"There is a great battle coming." -- Oren Lyons; Faithkeeper; Iroquois
Chief Paul Waterman, who sat on the Grand Council with Oren, and I used to enjoy sitting quietly near a creek. He used to say that it is good to hear the voice of the water. That was no woo-woo, it was common sense. It's good to know about the water in your area, including in different seasons. Sight and hearing are involved in having a relationship with the water.
As a kid, I used to sit with my brother on the mountain behind our house. Springs of cold, clear water gushed out in the spring time. If it was a wet summer, a few of those springs would produce luke-warm, less clear water. Paul told me that as a child, the mountain springs were his favorite place to get a drink. He knew that fresh water was an essential part of nature's life force.
It's a shame that children today do not have access to clean spring water. Most of their experiences with drinking water involve plastic bottles, faucets, or a public drinking fountain. These do not always deliver clean water. In our society, the general public has been moving further away from a direct relationship with water. If they are lucky, they may visit the beach and ocean, or picnic near a lake, in the summer. If they are unlucky, they are drinking highly contaminated water, like in Flint, Michigan, and thousands of other communities across America.
I used to talk with Oren and Paul about Handsome Lake, the Iroquois prophet who spoke of specific environmental crises that would result from human's pollution. They would say it's here, with great damage having already been inflicted. If you listen to water, you know that a small group of small changes create a big change, and we are seeing the power of a number of those big changes this summer. And, of course, it's not just water, it's the pollution in the air, the soil, and in living things.
The local radio says there is a "severe thunderstorm" coming this afternoon. When I was a homeless teenager, I used to enjoy sitting in the hay loft of an old barn, listening to the rain on the metal roof. Paul always loved listening to thunderstorms. I was thinking of these things this morning, when I fed the cats, birds, and fish, and then hurried to bring my daily meal in from the garden. This has been the strangest summer weather-wise in my life-time.
Rubin Carter told me a story years ago, that I was thinking about today.. A tribe of isolated hunters and gatherers, completely hidden from the modern world, came upon an airplane near their settlement. They found the seats very comfortable, never questioning where they came from. Eventually, a young adult figured out how to drive it along the ground, and they were amazed by this automobile. But they never learned the plane could fly.
This story, of course, relates to people both as individuals and as groups. I haven't been a hunter-gatherer since my early childhood. My gardening connects me with the agricultural phase of human history, and tending to the kittens, fowl, and fish imitates the pastoral phase -- especially when I feed the birds and fish bread. Still, there are many times I like to sit in a comfortable chair to make snarly comments on the internet that only I think are funny. And there are still times that I'm driven to take furthr actions, including contacting politicians to express me opinion. This includes those politicians I support, and those I oppose.
Yet, when I consider the synergy of negative forces currently gathering as a storm on our country's horizen, I recognize that chairs and automobiles alone are not up to the task of protecting civilization. I don't need a weatherman to know which way the winds are going to blow, so to speak. I'm convinced that my 1975 bumper-sticker was correct: "There's Only One Innocent Hurricane."
This unacceptable Texas "law" restricting abortion should serve as evidence of the negative forces combining to threaten society. It has united two groups that are opposed to a sane society that provides for justice for all. I hesitate to make fun of anyone's sincere religious or spriritual beliefs, I really do. Being Irish, I make an effort to only do so in private when possible. But when a minority of rigid right-wing christians want to impose their childish superstitions upon others, when they want to inflict their misinterpretations of Santa God and Stained Glass Jesus on people who do not share their superstitions, we need to take that threat seriously. And abort it, before it grows.
The rabid remnants of what was once known as the republican party has been seeking to join forces with christian right, and the Texas situation provides fertile ground. It's a cultural petri dish growing a toxic infection. It's not that the alt-white people really want an increase in poor and non-white citizens, of course. No more than the protestants in the region called Northern Ireland favor the increasing Catholic population. No, they like this for other reasons.
I think that this $10,000 bounty is the christan right's appeal to the greed of fanatics that would otherwise feel encouraged to murder abortion providers. Such killings hardly reflect well on the "right to life" crowd in the media. The alt-right is counting on a conflict between the federal government and "states' rights," to be carried out in specific regions where they believe they have the upper hand. This may have sounded far-fetched before January 6. But people my age recognize the birth of the mutant offspring of the opposition to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and '60s. We have heard members of Congress talking about "bloodshed" in opposition to Human Rights in days of old.
We need to unite to create a front to oppose the sum-total of groups that require unhealthy beliefs and actions from their membership. Because they are forming -- indeed, they have already formed -- a front against us. We've seen the red sky in the morning. Our front needs to stop the often petty divisions that lead directly to loses in elections, and focus on our real opposition. They are our real enemy in this growing conflict.
There are all types of people in the Democratic Party. But we are all Democrats, and we are confronted to what is at least as much of a threat to this country's future as the Civil War or the Cuban Missile Crisis. That Civil War was terribly violent, although the good side won. The leaders of two nations that were considered to be enemies resolved the missile crisis with only one death. They did this, despite both men being opposed by those who favored a victory in a war with atomic bombs on both sides.
We need to fly. In my way of thinking, President Kennedy flew to new heights in the missile crisis. Dr. King flew to new heights, when he advocated for Human Rights for all of humanity's family. Both require civilian control of the police and military. I'll speculate that none of us here want the current republican party to have that control. To do that, our united front needs to determine how and where we contest our opposition. Let's go for the JFK option of going with the resolution that requires the least violence. Let's go with King's strategy of flanking the opposition on a level they can't compete on.
It is an option that is available to each of us as individuals and as a group. I think it is the best option available right now.
Thank you for reading an old man's rant.
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