January 2008

Thinking globally and acting locally

By Art Goodtimes

STEPPING UP … In a democracy real change is supposed to start from the bottom, the grassroots. And then work its way up to the national. Grassroots democracy is one of the American Green Party’s 10 key values. As an elected representative answerable to all folks in San Miguel County, especially our most active citizens, I strongly believe in speaking up on issues local, regional, national and international. It’s time to take back the helm of our federal government from out of the pockets of corporate Beltway lobbyists. I think we can never be reminded too much that power resides in the people. I know that’s not what we’ve been taught. That’s not what we see on TV. The people are rarely in control in the movies. But in the gestalt of the real universe we live in, let me repeat – power resides in the people … That was the message I learned in 1980 at the Survival Gathering that the American Indian Movement held in the Black Hills, when John Trudell spoke about power. Not the instruments, not the executive committee, but the full membership of the human family … Abe Lincoln, a Republican (back when that was a respectable word), said it best when he ended his speech at Gettysburg, promising “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” … Everyone likes to shout about their “rights” – a right to work, a right to bear arms, Ouray County even enforces a “right to farm.” But few remember that with rights come responsibilities. Something that Oren Lyons of the Onondaga Nation Haudenosaunee of upstate New York used to love to point out. To be a responsible citizen of a nation that guarantees us the rights of free speech, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness I think we ought to exercise those rights and give our elected representatives in Congress and the state legislature a clear understanding of what we believe … That’s why the San Miguel County commissioners have been taking some (I think important) stands on issues far outside our boundaries … On the international level, the United Nations passed the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples this past fall, 144 to 4. The U.S. under the Bush administration was one of the four nays. I believe most Americans would not have endorsed that administrative vote if they had known about it, or had the chance to participate. I know citizens of San Miguel County would not have endorsed that vote. So, I drew up a simple resolution that calls on the Congress, and more specifically our state congressional delegation, to vote a resolution endorsing the U.N. vote … The county resolution should be loaded soon onto the News tab on the newly redesigned county web site, www.sanmiguelcounty.org.


The Rockies

it’s funeral & yet
an encore bow
as even the best of us

dance off
into the mystery
each brilliant

as we are, fading
into the more-than-human
rock heart of this place

SPEAKING OF OREN LYONS … Back in 1997, Chief Lyons gave a landmark speech to open the 15th session of the U.N. Working Group on Indigenous Rights – the source of the U.N. Declaration on Indigenous Rights that was recently adopted. You can find a copy of Lyons’ word at the Indigenous Peoples’ Center for Documentation, www.docip.org/anglais/update_en/up_en_19_20.html# opst. And I urge every local citizen to read this eloquent plea for utilizing native wisdom for our continued survival on this planet … But what I wanted to share here was his invocation to that speech, words that came from opening remarks he made in 1977 from an earlier talk to a U.N. gathering in Geneva, Switzerland, which speaks to an understanding of Gaian complexity and symbiotic interaction that our science is just beginning to explore. What Oren speaks of is the foundation for the deep ecology thinking of my teacher, Dolores LaChapelle, and her Way of the Mountain … Says Lyons to the U.N. assembly, “I do not see a delegation for the four-footed. I see no seat for the eagle. We forget and we consider ourselves superior, but we are after all a mere part of the creation. And we must continue to understand where we are. We stand between the mountain and the ant, somewhere and only there, as part and parcel of the creation” … It’s this interconnected attitude towards the material world, a more inclusive embrace than the solely human, that has become the basis for my own earth-based spirituality.

WEEKLY QUOTA … “Indigenous Peoples have something to offer in this equation for survival. We have the perspective of time. Living in one place for thousands of years has given us an understanding of the complexities of life forces. Our languages are libraries of knowledge that may contain keys to survival, and I use that word advisedly. One of our Elders said a long time ago that there will come a time when we will cease to live and begin to exist. For the sake of life and our grandchildren, we cannot let that happen in our generation. We have common goals and responsibilities, and I say that you, the leaders of this great hope of the world's people, the United Nations, should be working with us and not against us, for peace. We submit to you that as long as you make war against Etenoha (Mother Earth), there can never be peace.” — Oren Lyons, Onondaga Nation Haudenosaunee

NEW BLOG … We’re moving into a new cyber world. The Watch Newspapers are hosting my old and new columns on a new blog site, www.artgoodtimes.blogspot.com…

CREEPING TOWARD FASCISM … Of course, it couldn’t happen here. Not in our free society. Fascism is something we defeated a half-century ago. It’s dead and gone … If you haven’t been paying attention to what’s happening in the Land of the Free, you might still subscribe to these comforting nostrums, but you could be wrong … Read about the Homegrown Terrorist bill (below) … Or watch Mark Molaro’s YouTube interview with Naomi Wolf, author of “The End of America.” (Thanks to Stewart Warren of Denver).

SENATE BILL 1959 … The number of this bill takes us back to the McCarthy Era, and the reality is even worse! SB 1959 — the “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007” — sets up a national commission to decide if any individual, even one advocating “social change,” is a terrorist … If this bill is passed, it will empower this new commission to declare someone who writes and/or speaks on behalf of an “extremist belief system” as a “homegrown terrorist,” resulting in the stripping of U.S. citizenship, making them subject to torture and/or execution, with no habeas corpus rights … To see a full PDF text of the bill, go to http://tinyurl.com/3a3y2z (this will link you to <rs6.net> and the bill itself) … Thomas Jefferson would have been deemed a terrorist, under this act, for writing these words: “What country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.