I just received James Gilliland’s essay “The Real Problem Behind Crime and Violence ” in email. While I always appreciate Gilliland’s writing, and his ideas and perspective, I felt his intelligent, aware analysis left out some very important things.
We can only think about what we know, and we can only write about what we think, so I hope my additions are not taken as in any way derogatory or dismissive of James Gilliland or of his work, or his ideas. I respect him and appreciate this essay; that is why it inspired me to write my own essay sharing my perspective.
What I know and think about come from my own life experiences and studies which are quite different from Gillilands. Those who are born into colonized society and have no introduction to decolonize, cannot be expected to know what they have not lived or been exposed to, and those who do not have something affecting their own life may not consider that thing very important.
While I do find these things integrally important and hope others will see and appreciate their importance, I do not in any way intend this as an argument with his essay, only an addition, a counterpoint. I stress this because there is no need for any more fighting, fractioning and disruption.
It really is time to come together. For it is only when we come together, in respect and love for one another, that we can see past the false divisions that keep us mired in difficulty and strife.
A Decolonizing Perspective on James Gilliland’s The Real Problem Behind Crime and Violence
Those who ignore, or do not know, history are doomed to repeat it. While I agree with much of Gillilands essay, I feel a strong need to bring up what it misses and leaves out.
The US Constitution and Bill of Rights were written by a group of elitist white men, who were founding a nation based on and in the mass murder, rape and genocide of the people and Nations who WERE ALREADY HERE.
What kind of “freedom” can come out of murder, genocide, lies, broken treaties and the subjection and oppression of everyone who was not a landowning white male?
The nations that were here when the US was founded were egalitarian for the most part-they had greater freedom than the US has ever had, even now. People were equal, everyone had a voice.
The consensus form of governing as was used by the 6 Nations is much more fair, and provides for everyones needs to be met rather than for some of the people to impose their will on others-while those others become angry and wait for their chance to impose THEIR will on the first group.
There is an old saying, ‘you reap what you sow’.
Those who seek a return to the original Constitution either knowingly dislike and distrust living in the forms of equality that we have managed to carve out using this system, or they simply do not know the truth about history.
For the most part, I think people simply don’t know the truth about history.
The Constitution guaranteed rights ONLY to landowning white males. It contained provisions to maintain the enslavement of African and Native American slaves and the similar enslavement known as “indentured servitude” which was simply selling yourself into slavery because you had no choice. This group were mostly Irish, Scottish and other “undesirable” Europeans-ie the poor ones.
The militias we hear so much about re the 2nd Amendment were created to police the slaves and keep them enslaved. How much FREEDOM are we talking about here? And for whom?
Women were property of their husbands and fathers, legally. They could not earn or own money or property of their own-if they worked the pay went to the male who owned them.
In Native societies women not only owned property but were often politically important people. Many nations did not go to war unless the grandmothers allowed it. In Native societies those who escaped enslavement in the US or colonies were accepted as normal citizens-no matter what “Color” they were. There were no landowners, no class divisions.
People say of slavery and oppression of all kinds “it was the times”.
Well it wasn’t the times in indigenous communities, but their times were limited by the desire, or let’s be blunt, the greed of those who would have their resources and land as even now we murder the indigenous in Africa, Peru, East Timor, and Afghanistan to take theirs.
The drones may be new as far as tech toys but their job is as old as colonization. Indeed the first official use of the drones on US soil is not some upcoming thing to fear-it was against the Mohawk Nation at Caledonia in 2009.
Why do we have violence in our communities? Why do people shoot up movie theaters, schools and malls?
Is it because they have guns? Well I guess they would have to do something ELSE if they didn’t have guns, but there are plenty of societies with guns that don’t have the random mass shooting meme.
For the most part, those societies were not founded on mass murder. They were not built by using genocide to clear the land.
When the dominant people in those countries arrived, even when they were conquering another people who already lived there-there was not a concerted plan based in saying the people living there had no souls, were not even human, their societies the work of satan such that murdering them was considered a blessing.
You cannot build a solid house on a base of sand, and you cannot build a just and free society on a base of genocide and slavery.
You cannot commit genocide, enslave millions of people from one continent and use them to build your wealth on another continent that you cleared of 500 nations of people and then have a utopian vision of freedom as your new creation.
Derrick Jensen explains this far better than I can in ‘A Language Older Than Words’ but the bottom line is colonized society, America being the most glaring example, is based on violence. It is designed to work on violence, on top down, power over, someone is pushed down so someone else can climb on their back-that is not an accident, it is the way it was designed to work.
The system is not broken, it was made this way.
Therefore you cannot return to some utopian version of it, for it never existed. It was ALWAYS unfair, it was always run by and for the greed of a small elite at the expense of the people.
America took the colonizers dreams that were previously hampered by the Church, by common law and common decency and allowed them free reign to grow to their full greed bloated fruition while feasting on the suffering and the lives of millions and millions of innocent people-Africans, Native Americans, Irish, Scots and later Eastern Europeans, Chinese and Japanese immigrants and then everyone from everywhere-they democratized the suffering but not the wealth.
Much of what Gilliland writes of is very true but it is not new, it did not start with Eisenhower’s speech on the military industrial complex. Bretton Woods was not its Birth, it was its coming of age ceremony, it’s Ivy League degree.
How did the colonizers manage to enslave so many and take over the world?
They “locked up the food” (‘Ishmael’, Daniel Quinn), they Enclosed the Commons, and they purposefully set out to atomize and splinter the extended families, clans and tribes that had for the first 2 million years of human existence created the stability, support and community that enabled us to survive and thrive as a species.
They have now completed their project-we are so atomized and separate we think that weapons are our safety, (whether our own, or those held by government agents like police and soldiers).
(Recall Orwell -War Is Peace, Hate is Love….Violence is Safety)
We allow and even encourage the destruction of the ecosystems that make life possible in order to have “jobs” and get “profits” since we have been trained to equate pieces of paper with food and survival instead of the soil, the forests, the rivers and the seas from which our survival actually comes-and must come-we cannot live on the pieces of paper, we need living ecosystems and we need to be functional parts of them to be WHOLE, and to be FREE.
Guns don’t make us free-and lack of guns won’t make us safe.
Community-both our own human communities and the Natural communities of which we are inarguably a part, make us both free and safe. Without them we will never be either-no matter how many guns, pieces of paper or soldiers we have.
So if you want to be a slave go on fighting one another over guns and all the rest-for or against it doesn’t matter.
But if you are tired of being a slave, tired of anyone being a slave and you want an end to it all for all of us then stop fighting, stop trumpeting why you and only you are right!!! Stop shouting down your neighbors and start listening to one another.
Start conversations with those you think you disagree with-instead of shouting matches, cursing, ignoring, demeaning, insulting.
Actually look at those “adversaries” as fragile, living beings just like you-beings with needs, with feelings, with stresses and dreams and hopes.
Try thinking about how their needs and your needs come from the same place-even if you phrase them differently, even if you see opposing solutions, realize you both need the same things at the deepest levels.
On guns, we all want to protect our families-so why don’t we scrap the NRA and the Govt plans and start from stratch?
Why can’t we get together in small groups, a few from each perspective in our neighborhoods, at our elementary schools even, and start the conversation about what is wrong and what we can do to make it right.
Leave the preconceived solutions home, start from the premise that banning guns or putting guns/people with guns everywhere to “protect” us are both no go-because half the people already oppose each of those.
Are we really sure those two polarities are the only ways to solve the violence in our country? or are they just the cheap ways, the low input, no thinking ways?
And since this is our national obsession today, lets do this one first and what we learn from these conversations we can use to build our next round-there are more than enough problems to tackle. But luckily we have 300 million people with hearts and brains, life experiences, talents and creativity to bring to this design team.
I know that most likely everyone will ignore this, but what if we didn’t?
What would our world look like in 10 years if instead of wasting all our energy complaining and fighting with one another, playing pointless tug-of-war with elections and corporations controlling everything, we all decided that we were “all in”?
What if we invested as much of our energy and ourselves in actively SOLVING the problems rather than blaming everyone who won’t just “do it our way right now”?
WHO are we waiting for? Al Gore? Rush Limbaugh? Jesus? Seems like they are busy these days, or maybe its just not possible for any one person to solve any of our problems because the problems affect us all.
We are all part of a system, a web if I can use an analogy. Can any one thread of a web separate out and fix the whole web? If it separates from the web, the web falls apart.
We are no different, really. What is impossible for one tho, is more than possible, it is easy for all working together. Just as we used millions of home computers to parallel process data for NASA, so too can we set up the human race to work in parallel.
Enough home computers working together can out work a Cray Supercomputer. Put a billion human brains working together to solve a problem and how hard can it be?
Of course that involves letting go of the preconceptions that some are better, smarter, more important than others. It involves letting your defenses down, and admitting we really really are all in this together.
It involves dumping The Hero’s Journey in favor of the People’s Pow Wow-but you know all that dancing and drumming is a LOT more fun than all those angsty, lonely monster battles isn’t it?;-)
(You can read Gilliland’s essay at Jean’s blog here http://jhaines6.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/james-gilliland-the-real-problem-behind-crime-and-violence/#comment-97513 )
[tags Guns, James Gilliland, Decolonized response to James Gilliland,