12/26/12

The Borborygmus that is Palestine – An Essay on Apartheid

Chapter 1

The first time, the area between what was Phoenicia (today – northern Lebanon and Syria), and Egypt to the south, and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, was clearly called Palestine was by the Greeks in the

5th century BC. Though Palestine had always been there and has been called many other names. The region was among the earliest to see human habitation, animal domestication, agricultural communities and civilization.

The descendants of earlier peoples, such as the Kebarian culture, who lived in the area from about 20,000 to 12,000 years ago, were the hunters and gatherers, the Natufian, who created an Eastern Mediterranean culture which would be the first to implement the concepts of agriculture; originally developed to feed their livestock, and the first cultivation of cereals, specifically rye. The Natufian dominance lasted from 14,500 to 11,500 years ago. One of its settlements, now called Jericho, is the oldest inhabited city in the world. It lies near the Jordan River in the West Bank.

The next peoples were the Canaanites, a mix of many tribes, whose languages and cultures would be influenced by the civilizations of Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Phoenicia, Minoan Crete and Syria. Later, the region would be controlled by the Babylonians, Persians, Ancient Greeks and Romans.

About 4,000 years ago, other groups of people began to arrive from the Aegean Sea region of Greece and Turkey and mix with the tribes of Canaanites and over the next couple of centuries, the many tribes of Palestine would become collectively known as the Philistines. Many of the people of Palestine had by now inhabited the area for over eight thousand years and were living predominately within small city-states and while the area was once covered in cedar and pine forests, over the centuries it had been nearly stripped clean by various empires, specifically the Ancient Egyptians, and the area had become a barren, eroded, hilly country with few and limited resources, nothing but a narrow ribbon of land squeezed between desert and sea, as little as 65 kilometres (40 miles). It also possesses the saltiest body of water on the planet, and the lowest point on its surface, that being the Red Sea, at 412m (1352ft) below sea level.

At about the same time, around 1900 BC, in Upper Mesopotamia (present day Kurdistan and Northern Iraq), an Ur, of the tribe of the Chaldees, and descendant of the ancient Sumerians, began to have visions, and a voice in his head telling him of a new promised land to the west. The voice told him that his tribe were the chosen people, and that they would have to toss aside their devotion to their numerous pagan gods and believe in only one god, which the Ur called El. After the death of his father, this Ur, forever known as Abraham, gathered up the few small tribes of the Chaldees and left their ancestral lands forever. Already being somewhat of a nomadic people, they migrated out of Mesopotamia, constantly wandering about in search of water and grazing land for their flocks of goats and sheep. Making their way through Syria and Jordan, they would eventually end up in Egypt, where after only a few years would be banished for “indifference” to the pharaoh at the time, Nebkaure Khety IV. They gathered their flocks and headed into the Sinai wilderness and onwards to the land of Canaan, which they entered for the first time, eventually settling down in Hebron, about 30 km (19 mi) from Jerusalem, in about 1850BC.

Both very elderly by now, Abraham and his first wife, Sarah, had never been able to have children together, though Abraham had gathered many wives. One of them, Hagar, had given birth to his first son, who had been named Ishmael. Sarah, now well past child bearing years became spiteful and talked Abraham into banishing Hagar and Ishmael from the tribe. It is said that with a heavy heart, Abraham banished them both into the Arabian Peninsula. But Hagar and Ishmael survived, with folklore and oral traditions recognizing Ishmael as the founder of the Arab nation.

Abraham had continued to have visions and spoke with his god El often, who one day told Abraham that Sarah, though very old, would produce a son as a “gift from God”, in his appreciation of Abraham’s obedience and discipline. Sure enough Sarah gave birth to her first child, a son whom they named Isaac. Still jealous and resentful of  Abraham’s other wives, Sarah became ever more protective of her son’s inheritance, and once again talked Abraham into banishing another favourite wife of his, Keturah, along with the six sons she and Abraham had together. This was also carried out, and Keturah, her sons and a small group of supporters headed out into the Arabian wilderness, where they would eventually become the ancestral tribal leaders of the Midian, in north-west Saudi Arabia. where 3,000 years later, the prophet Muhammad and Islam would be born. Dying in about 1830 BC, Abraham and Sarah were buried in the cave of Machpelah, in Hebron. A Muslim mosque marks the spot today. Abraham would become the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Isaac meanwhile, would lead his father’s tribes into becoming the Hebrew.

It is said, that this is the point in time where the seed of hatred began between Arab and Jew and would accumulate, and cause all the future confrontations between them, even up to the present day in the Israeli-Arab conflict, where they wish each other to be erased off of the planet. Four thousand years of resentment and loathing caused by, basically, a family feud and what particular god each family believed in.

 

Chapter 2

Meanwhile, Canaan at the time was inhabited by dozens of tribes, split between nomadic herders, and farmers huddled around springs and wells. Most all of Canaan’s city states would grow up either on or near a well, where eventually walls would be built to protect the precious water from the goats and sheep of the herders. Because of this and either times of unrest, famine or drought, the herders had to often immigrate to surrounding areas to feed and water their flocks and themselves, or just as often becoming enslaved and relocating as refugees or slaves.

With one of the first civilizations in the world, the Sumer of Mesopotamia, disappearing into history and the Egyptian pyramids already more than 800 years old, many tribes in Canaan, including the Hebrew would end up in Egypt, as slaves, farmers, herders and craftsmen.

The Hebrew tribes emigrated, perhaps enslaved, to Egypt a couple of centuries after Abraham’s death and would stay for two hundred years. Over the generations the majority of them in fact did quite well, with many arising to respectful positions as craftsmen, traders, scribes and advisers to the Egyptian Royal Courts. One of the Hebrew, Moses, had been raised by the pharaoh’s daughter and had become a prince of the Royal Court, as well as a respected military commander. But after killing an Egyptian for beating a slave, Moses headed for the hills. Over the next few years he became a herdsman and wandered the hilly desert country as a nomad. Meeting other Hebrew herders and their small clans, Moses came to learn that the Hebrew people were descendants of Abraham, the patriarch with whom their one god had formed a covenant. Growing up reading and writing various texts and languages, he had studied ancient Sumerian, Ur and Babylonian tablets, which told epic stories of great floods and described the laws of the earlier Sumerian people. Linking oral traditions of Moses’ ancestors and earlier cultures, along with these readings, he began to discover his own roots and the origins of his own people, as well as enhancing earlier ideologies into the narrative which would become the concepts of Judaeo and Christian traditions. He also began to have visions and a voice in his head, which also spoke to him through his staff, rocks and burning bushes. Moses was told that he should lead the Hebrew back to their promised land. The voice in his head introduced himself as Yahweh, the only one true god of the Hebrew.

Around 1400 BC, Egypt entered a time of environmental and economic collapse, which coincided with one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history, the Santorini or Thera eruption, which destroyed the Minoan civilization, and effected most all the populations of the Eastern Mediterranean area. It was at this time that Moses would return from his self-exile and then lead the Hebrew tribes out of Egypt.

After leaving Egypt, the Hebrew would spend the next fifty years wandering about the Sinai wilderness. Moses explained to his people that Yahweh not only promised them their land around Hebron, but all of Palestine, and that it was their divine right. But they could not enter their promised land until the generation of people that had come out of Egypt with Moses, along with their ungodliness behaviour and attitude began to die off and a new generation could emerge to carry out their god’s will. And sure enough, soon after Moses died the tribes of Hebrew would swarm out of the hills of the Sinai and sweep across Palestine, bent on war and conquest. The earlier aspects of their faith – extinction of will, passive meditation, mournfulness, mysticism, and the softness of the Sun of Abraham’s time, would not do. To achieve victory they now needed their god Yahweh to become a fierce and jealous god of vengeance with an “eye for eye” brutality. And he did.

Palestine was inhabited at the time by many powerful and prosperous kings, in strong walled cities surrounded by agricultural communities, the population a melting pot of tribes, including the Ishmaelite, Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, Midianite, and Qahtanites, with much of the population still living on lands where thousands of generations of their ancestors had lived, hundreds of centuries before Abraham.

But over the next four hundred years, the Hebrew would pillage, raze cities and towns to the ground, and beat much of Palestine into submission. Attacking the peoples that had always lived in these lands with the modus operandi; after conquering a farm, village or city, every man, woman, child, and domesticated animal, be put to the sword. It worked. By 900 BC many of the original inhabitants of Palestine had been killed, displaced or assimilated into the surrounding populations, losing nearly all of their distinctive and vibrant cultures. Eventually the loose confederation of Hebrew tribes would unite to become a nation themselves. Samuel, a religious judge, was appointed the king of the new united kingdom of Israel. With Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin proclaimed king and war-leader soon after.

 

Chapter 3

The still being written books that would make up their bible, the Torah (Old Testament), gave birth to their distinct religion, which they called Judaism and themselves, Jews. From the beginning they placed themselves apart from all other humans and religions, by making Judaism only for their race and no other, and very unique at the time, they only had the one god. Though the Torah speaks about tolerance, this attitude of Judaism would foster racism and the Jewish people would from then on become persecuted for such beliefs.

In about 600 BC, the Babylonians would invade Palestine and Israel, and then return to Babylon with nearly half the Jewish population in tow as slaves, though many would return over the next decades, with many having worked once again as scribes and advisers, and studied in the greatest libraries in the world at the time, in the greatest city of it’s time Babylon. Soon after returning, the books that make up the Torah would be copied and edited a few more times and eventually became the collection of books it is today.

Less than five hundred years later a greater Diaspora would occur when the Romans, having already conquered and attempted to subdue Palestine, would squash the rising of the Jews fighting against the oppression of Roman tyranny and the Jews would leave Palestine en mass. During the hostilities and rebellions, a Jew called Jesus was crucified, and nearly a hundred years later another new religion would come into being, centred on both, the Torah and the teachings of Jesus, and be called Christianity. At about the same time the Diaspora had run its course and very few Jews were left in Palestine after 100 AD.

Over the next 1800 plus years, the Palestinian people would be controlled by the Byzantines, the Sunni Arab Caliphates, the Shia Fatimid Caliphate, Crusaders, Mameluks and Ottomans. During the “war to end all wars” in 1917, the British captured Palestine and Jerusalem from the Ottomans-Turks and were awarded a mandate to govern the region in 1922, though revolts by non-Jewish Palestinians were a continuous thorn in their side, the way they carried on about wanting rights and such things.

In 1920, the League of Nations reported that there were 700,000 people living in Palestine, with 80% being Muslim, including small groups of Arab Bedouin and peoples of mixed races. There were some 77,000 Orthodox Christians, who also spoke Arabic, and other minorities of Latin and Greek Catholics, while the Jewish population was about 76,000.

From about 100 to 1850 there were always only a handful of Jews in Palestine, by the end of the 19th century perhaps a couple of hundred, but after the persecutions in Russia and especially after World War Two and the holocaust, the Jewish people began to return to Palestine in greater numbers. By 1948 the population of Palestine had risen to 1.9 million, of whom 68% were Arabs and 32% Jews. The intolerance, racism and hatred each race held for each other, and the British, escalated and continued unabated until 1947, when the British had had enough and wished to terminate the mandate.

The United Nations General Assembly recommended partitioning Palestine into an Arab state, a Jewish state and a resolution that the city of Jerusalem be designated a Special International Regime. The Jewish leaders agreed while the Arab leaders did not, and the day after the establishment of the State of Israel was declared in 1948, civil war began before the sun was up. More than 700,000 Palestinians had to flee or were driven from their ancestral homes and would be never allowed to return. More than 110,000 refugees made their way into Lebanon, the rest into Jordan, Syria and Egypt, while in the three years after the war, about the same number of Jews would immigrate to Israel from surrounding Arabian areas. The Arab-Israeli war of 1948 would last for nine months with over 15,000 deaths and many times more causalities. When the smoke cleared, Israel kept all the area given to them by the UN, took control of almost 60% of the land that was given to the proposed Arab state, including Jaffa, Galilee and territories in the West Bank and captured West Jerusalem. Jordan captured the remainder of the West Bank and East-Jerusalem, while Egypt took the Gaza Strip. No Palestinian state was created.

The heart of Palestine has always been Jerusalem, the holy city of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. During its long history, Jerusalem has been completely destroyed, twice, withered under siege 23 times, attacked over 50 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. The place may be the shrine of the three main religions but the stench of violence, hatred and intolerance that pervades over it forever lingers. Even today, the status of Jerusalem is one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Nineteen years later, during the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel would capture East Jerusalem and then annex it, though the international community rejected this annexation as illegal and consider East Jerusalem a Palestinian territory under Israeli military occupation. Israel refers to Jerusalem as their “undivided capital” even if no one else does, and though all branches of the Israeli government are located there, Israel’s commercial capital city is Tel-Aviv. Today there are more than 720,000 people living in Jerusalem; 465,000 are Jews, mostly living in West Jerusalem and about 250,000 Palestinians, mostly Muslim and mostly living in East Jerusalem.

Besides East Jerusalem, the Israelis would also capture the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria. Overall, Israel’s territory grew by a factor of three, gaining at least 300 km in the south, 60 km to the east, and 20 km in the north. And though the Camp David Accords of 1978 would return the Sinai to Egypt, Israel would keep the rest, for as US president John F. Kennedy stated years earlier, “Israel was not created in order to disappear, Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom.”

Israeli casualties numbered about 800 killed, 4,500 wounded, 15 captured, with 46 aircraft destroyed. In contrast, Egypt alone had 10-15,000 killed or missing. All be told, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq’s casualties were over 22,000 killed, 5,000 captured and untold numbers of wounded. They also lost hundreds of tanks and had an estimated 452 aircraft destroyed. For every Israeli who was killed, 27 Arabs would lose their lives. But then as proven 3000 years ago when the Israeli’s first conquered Palestine, they are very adept at killing fellow human beings and would ever become more proficient at it as time went on.

 

Chapter 4

The Palestinians, now led by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), were devastated, with over one million Palestinian Arabs placed under Israeli military control in the newly captured territories. The PLO would relocate its headquarters to Jordan, already home to thousands of Palestinian refugees. During the war 300,000 Palestinians had fled from the West Bank and Gaza to Jordan, Egypt and other Arab countries, while in the Golan Heights about 100,000 Syrians also had to flee. The end of the Six-Day war launched new Israeli policy to secure their captured territories through the process of creating permanent settlements. Dozens of villages were destroyed, both as punishment and to chase away those who lived there. In a few cities a third of the homes would be razed to the ground, evicting thousands of Palestinians. In the Jericho area alone, over 70,000 Palestinians had to flee; altogether, over 25% of the population of the West Bank were either forced and intimidated to leave or fled voluntarily in panic and fear. Though a few months later Israel announced that it would allow the return of these refugees, in reality perhaps 16,000 were allowed back.

The PLO, founded in 1964 by Yasser Arafat, Palestinian leader and President of the Fatah political party (founded in 1959), would grow in importance and strength after the Six-Day War, with Arafat spending much of his life fighting  for Palestinian self-determination; “where a state has the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status, with no external compulsion or interference so long as such rights are based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, with no concern as to how the decision is to be made, or what the outcome should be, whether it be independence, protection, some form of autonomy or even full assimilation.”- Geneva Convention.

The PLO’s ideology would further embrace the concept and political strategy of what would become known as Sumud, meaning “steadfast perseverance” or “firm and unwavering,” through the understanding of the nature of “logical argumentation of oppression and resistance.” There are two forms of Sumud. The first is “static Sumud” which is passive and defined as the “maintenance of Palestinians on their land.” The second is “resistance Sumud” which is much more forceful and whose aim is to seek ways of building alternative institutions to resist and undermine the occupation of their lands.

By September 1970, King Hussein of Jordan felt he was losing control over his monarchy with the influx of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees, and moved to suppress the militancy of Palestinian organizations operating within his borders. Thousands, especially Palestinians, died. By July 1971, the PLO and thousands of its fighters would be finally driven out of Jordan. They would flee to Southern Lebanon, joining hundreds of thousands of fellow Palestinian refugees from the war in 1967.

By 1975 there were over 300,000 refugees in southern Lebanon, with the PLO creating a state within a state, which caused a demographic imbalance within Lebanese society and its democratic institutions. With the PLO’s arrival, fighting along the Israeli-Lebanese border escalated. The PLO would align themselves with the Lebanese National Movement, a coalition of Muslims, and Arab nationalists and leftists who opposed the rightist, Christian, ancestral Maronite-dominated government of Lebanon, and before too long civil war broke out in Lebanon which would fulminate for ten plus years. Eventually Iranian-supported Shi’a militant groups from Syria would also join in on the fighting.

In 1982, with the civil war spilling over its border and concern over Syrian influence of Lebanon, Israel invaded southern Lebanon. Initially Israel’s objective was to push the PLO forces back 40km (25mi) to the north but after attacking the PLO, Syrian, leftist and Muslim Lebanese forces, they found themselves occupying all of southern Lebanon. After surrounding the remaining PLO and elements of the Syrian army in West Beirut, the Israeli’s laid siege, killing upwards of 5,000 fighters and civilians. Under a truce and International peacekeeper protection, Arafat and the PLO were allowed to relocate to Tripoli and within a few weeks of fighting, Israel’s forces would defeat most of the Palestinian militants left in Lebanon. By 1985, with continuing international outrage over Israel’s role in Christian led massacres of Palestinian refugees, as well as the Israeli population’s disillusionment with the war,  Israel would withdraw to a 10km (6mi) occupied strip of South Lebanon.

The 1982 Lebanon War lasted but a few months while the actual conflict would continue on in seemingly tit for tat skirmishes up to the present day. The human cost of the war was typical for this holiest of lands; either 368 or 657 Israeli’s killed versus 9,800 Syrian and Palestinian combatants, along with perhaps 16,000 Lebanese civilians, with over 30,000 wounded.

The resistance movement of Islamic militant groups, such as the Shi’a and other Palestinian guerrilla forces, would consolidate with the Shi’a political party, Hezbollah, and the Lebanese party, Amal, and with remnants of the PLO, would carry out guerrilla warfare against Israel over this tiny occupied strip of southern Lebanon for the next 18 years. Though by the early 1990’s, the Palestinian organization’s political and military infrastructures in Lebanon, which had taken 15 years to build, ceased to exist. The Lebanese civil war abated in 1990 when Syria would establish complete dominance over Lebanon.

The Palestinians, in their ongoing struggle for national liberation and an end to the Israeli illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza would continue to fight and retaliate up to the present day, countering apartheid and the Israeli “defence forces” might and technology, with everything from armed attacks on Israeli soldiers, police and civilians to suicide bombings, launching rockets and mortars into Israel, kidnapping of soldiers, shootings, assassinations, stabbings, stoning and lynching to non-violent actions such as civil disobedience and resistance, mass protests, general strikes, graffiti and barricades.

To counter the Palestinians wrath, the Israeli’s created their “Iron Fist” policy. A policy devoted to erasing any idea of Palestinian nationalism whatsoever. A policy “founded on brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers, and daily intimidation, humiliation, and manipulation,” with an “all-pervading element of humiliation.” Over a six year period in the eighties the Israelis would arrest more than 120,000 Palestinians. By 1990, one Israeli prison alone, in the Negev, held about one out of every 50 West Bank and Gazan males older than 16 years. Israeli tactics also included seriously curbing Palestinians movements, with checkpoints and enforcing a strict curfew in certain areas. This was accompanied by economic integration and increasing Israeli settlements such that, the Jewish settler population in the West Bank alone, nearly doubled from 35,000 in 1984, to 64,000 in 1988, reaching 130,000 by the mid nineties. With both sides guaranteeing that all future generations of both Muslim and Jew would grow up with continuing anger, racism and hatred towards each other just from the daily stress of potential conflict.

 

Chapter 5

Since 1988, when the Palestinians put forth their “Palestinian Declaration of Independence,” three-quarters of the world’s countries recognize the West Bank and Gaza as being the State of Palestine, except by the United Nations, Israel, the United States, Canada and a few other Western nations. To this day Palestine has more ambassadors around the world than Israel does. In 1993, for the first time face to face, Israel would meet with the PLO, the representative of the Palestinian people, in what would become known as the Oslo Accords. It provided the creation of a Palestinian interim self-government, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), who would be responsible for the administration of the territory under its control. The Accord also called for the withdrawal of Israel from parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Main issues such as Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, Israeli settlements, and security was not discussed and neither the Oslo Accords nor the 1995 Oslo II Accords, promised Palestinian statehood. As to the Gaza Strip, Israel would finally get around to withdrawing their settlers and military presence in 2005, though maintained control of the airspace and coast, while they continue to systematically set up illegal settlements in the West Bank.

The Oslo Accords also declared that the West Bank territory to be divided into three separate areas and administration divisions. Area A, covering about 18% of Palestinian land and 55% of the Palestinian West Bank population, would be under the control of the Palestinian Authority and include most of the major Palestinian cities, the PA would also be responsible for security control. Area B covers 21% of the territory and about 44% of West Bank Palestinians and is mostly  rural communities, under Palestinian civil administration and joint Israeli security control, while Area C is under complete control by the Israeli’s and includes all the areas they have established settlements. Today Area C encompasses more than 60% of Palestinian territory, yet only 4% (about 150,000) of the Palestinian population live there because they face severe restrictions on planning, building and accessing services and the area’s natural resources, with 70% of the area off-limits to Palestinian construction and a further 29% heavily restricted. Israeli plans call for less than 1% of Area C to be for Palestinian development.

There are now about 350,000 Jewish-Israeli settlers who live in Area C, with about 15,000 added every year. As of 2010, there were 192,000 Israeli’s living in settlements in East Jerusalem, with a further 100 settlements not officially recognized by Israel and which are illegal under both the Geneva Convention and even Israeli law, but none the less have been provided with infrastructure, water, sewage and other services by the Israeli authorities. In 2011 alone, Israel demolished more than 560 Palestinian structures, including 46 rainwater collection pools, in Area C, instantly making more than 1,200 people homeless. Today more than half a million Israel settlers are living in enclaves within the Palestinian territories. The consensus of the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab league and the majority of legal scholars, hold that all Israeli settlements on the West Bank beyond the Green Line (the demarcation line set out in 1949) are illegal under international law.

The eventual conclusion for Area C, according to Israel, is for all the Palestinians still living there to move to Areas A and B, where it will be easier to contain them, a’la Gaza. But truth be told, they need the land for their ever growing population. Make no mistake; Israel’s number one concern is its maintenance of its Jewish demographic majority. Indeed much of their policy making is based on the threat of non-Jewish population growth, immigration and water rights. While the key issues we are told through the media are mutual recognition, borders and security, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements and Palestinian freedom of movement.

The governments of Palestine and specifically Israel are placing incredible pressure on the current stress levels of their populations and environment, especially considering how small the area is and how densely packed their cities are. Including the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, Israel covers 22,072 square km (8,522 sq mi), with a population of 7,933,200 people as of 2012 and is the 34th most densely crowded country in the world. 78% are Jewish, (nearly 6.2 million), 20 % are Arabs (just over 1.4 million), while the remaining population is listed as “others.” In contrast, the Palestinian territories cover 6,220 sq km (2400 sq mi) with a population of an estimated 3.8 million people, including the 1.7 million living in the open air prison called the Gaza Strip, with 10 to 11 million Palestinian refugees, scattered in nearby countries and around the world.

In comparison, the largest island on the west coast of North America is Vancouver Island, at over 32,000 sq km (20,000 sq mi) with a population of 759,366 people. An area larger than Palestine and Israel combined. Most Vancouver islanders live on its southern tip, in the 13 municipalities which make up the Greater Victoria District, an area covering 2,341 sq km (903 sq mi), though metro Victoria actually covers only about 696 sq km (268 sq mi), with a combined population of just over 340,000 people. The Gaza Strip meanwhile is only 41km (25mi) long, 6 to 12km (3-7mi) wide and a total area of 365sqkm (141sqmi), one-sixth the size of the Greater Victoria district, but with a population of 1.7 million.

Though many attempts have been made for a Palestinian state, with the reasonable and logical solution of a two-state solution, the fighting is seemingly never ending, whether conducted by regular armies, paramilitary groups, terror cells, secret police or individuals. Not only do the Israeli military and Palestinian freedom fighters loathe each other to the point where they view each other as not being human beings, their societies despise each other as well, even though, according to a number of polls taken in 2007, the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians prefer the two-state solution as the means to resolve the conflict. An independent Palestinian state living alongside an independent Israeli state is a great idea, the most logical for sure. But with only about 3.8 million Palestinians still existing by surviving in the present day territories and Israel bulging at the seams with its ever growing population of  7 million and need for land, water and resources, I sadly see why the Israelis do what they do, which causes retaliation and ever more hatred. I am sure they would love to just go for it all and erase the Palestinian people off the planet by however means and then just move in. And then after another decade, their population growth and need for resources and water would dictate they expand even more, maybe Lebanon or Jordan or even Syria would be next.

 

Chapter 6

The most significant threats to a two-state solution are the Israeli settlements within Palestine, the number of Palestinian refugees, and as mentioned, water. First off, the enclaves that Israel sets up in occupied territories are populated with “settlers” we are told. The word bringing up thoughts of families made up of good and hard-working folks, moving into the frontier to create a life for themselves, a just, empathic, tolerant and law-abiding people, simple homesteaders. While in reality any “settler” who decides to move onto land that is not theirs, and which was only recently vacated of its native population through incitement and cruel violence would have to be psychotic. Each “settler” knows very well what environment they are entering and are no doubt very well prepared, supported and armed. Then after moving in they often wake up in fear of their very own survival. Not a place for a family or a “settler,” but as already mentioned, in May 2012, over half a million Israeli settlers illegally live on Palestinian soil. To-date Israel has ignored nearly 100 UN Security Council resolutions calling for them to withdraw to pre-67’ borders. In May 2012, 27 ministers of the European Union condemned the escalating incitement and settler violence. Israel paid them no mind.

In 2008, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, determined that; the segregated road network in the West Bank, with 500-600 checkpoints throughout the territories; the continuous construction of separation walls of monolithic proportions; the expansion of Israeli settlements and restriction of growth of Palestinian towns; the discrimination in granting of services, budgets and access to natural resources; blatant violations of human dignity; and the ethnically cleansing underway in Jerusalem is “reminiscent of the Apartheid regime in South Africa.”

Today there are approximately 4.7 million Palestinian refugees, 1 .5 million of them living in refugee camps, scattered throughout, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank. Most were born outside of Israel, but are the descendants of the original Palestinian refugees who had to flee in 1948 when their land was given to the Israelis. Israel, above all else, is a country which lives in constant fear of the Palestinians returning to their original lands en force. But this would not be allowed to happen because realistically, two to five million Palestinians returning to Israel would be the end of Israel.

As to water, Israel receives most all of its water from two large underground aquifers, both running under the 1948 boundary, the Green Line, and into the West Bank. Israel consumes 95% of the output of the Western Aquifer and 82% of the North-eastern Aquifer, not leaving much for the millions of Palestinians in the West bank and Gaza. In 2012 it was reported that the 450,000 settlers living in the West Bank used more water than the 2.3 million Palestinians who also live there. Because of climate change, where in 2012 the Jordan River ran at its lowest level in recorded history, water will become much more an issue in the near future, not only for Israel and Palestine, but for many areas of the planet. Globally, wars over water are already being fought, with many more just around the corner, for as the population of the planet escalates each artificially distinct society of the one species of man will want to be the lone survivor.

The estimates for people killed between 1948 and 2009 in Palestine vary from 13,000 to 30,000 though these numbers are even more inaccurate when taking into account the true civilian death toll, which most always seems just a guess and/or afterthought, and the unknown hundreds, perhaps thousands of deaths from landmines and explosive remnants of war. After reading multiple lists and numbers, it seems the “official” death toll, from direct conflict between Israeli and Palestinian for the fifteen years between 1987 and 2011, and attributed to either Israeli military operations, artillery shelling, rocket attacks, search and arrest campaigns, barrier demonstrations, targeted killing and settler violence, is 8,096 Palestinians killed, 1,633 of them under 16 yr s, with 1,514 Israelis killed, 147 of them under 16 yr s. More recent estimates determine that altogether, deaths from the Israeli-Arab wars from 1945 to 2010, exceeds 92,000 people.

 

Chapter 7

Then there is the Israeli controlled ghetto, the Gaza Strip; 41 kilometres (25 miles) of beach, 6 to 12 kilometres (3 to 7 miles) wide; with a 11 km (6 mi) southern border with Egypt, a 51 km (32 mi) western and northern border with Israel, a population of 1.7 million Palestinians and a 3.2% growth rate, the 7th highest in the world. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but remained in control of anything or anyone going in or out of Gaza, whether by air, land or sea. In the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, the Palestinian Sunni Islamic organization Hamas, garnered the majority of votes and by 2007, after scrapes and skirmishes with the Palestinian political party Fatah and the Palestine Authority, held control of the Gaza Strip. Israel, United States, Canada, the European Union and Japan classify Hamas as a terrorist organization, countries that do not include Iran, Russia, Turkey and several Arab countries. Hamas was freely elected by the majority of Palestinians in Gaza to be their government on a platform based on their reputation for brutal honesty and that they are averse to corruption. Ever since, the Israeli’s have carried out a systematic, collective punishment on Gaza’s population while pretending to focus on the lunatic extremists that live within. While in reality Israel is creating terrorists faster than they can kill them, with their treatment of all non-Jewish people in Gaza about the same as South Africa’s treatment of non-whites was.

Daily life for a Palestinian living in Gaza is often made up of being harassed at checkpoints, imprisoned arbitrarily, denied clean water and sanitation, induced malnutrition and stressed of air bombardment or ground invasion that could happen at any time. Most of the population are permanently mentally scarred, living each day with the sound of either, jets, helicopters or drones overhead, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. There are no safe places in Gaza.

In June 2005 there were 3900 factories operating in Gaza with over 35,000 employed, by June 2007 only 195 factories were still operating with 1750 employed and only at 25% to 50% operating capacity. That same year Israel banned most all imports and exports and suspended 95% of Gaza’s industrial operations. In Feb.2008 Israel reduces electricity it sells to Gaza by 10%. The month before, knowing  a person  needs a minimum of 1200 calories per day to prevent a humanitarian crisis; Israel subtracts 8% to adjust for the “culture and experience of the Gazans” by intentionally allowing fewer trucks and supplies in to meet that need. While in the West, a Burger King Triple Whopper is 1,240 calories alone. In 2010 Gaza’s unemployment rate was 40% with 80% of its population living on less than $2.00 a day. Imports such as pipe and other building materials, which are being destroyed each time the Israelis strike, but which Israel deems could be used to make weapons, are banned.

In 2008-09, the 1st Gaza War, which the Israelis called “Operation Cast Lead” was fought and lasted three weeks, with over 1,400 Palestinians killed, including 930 civilians, and  9 Israeli deaths (3 civilian), 4 of which were from friendly fire. Of the Palestinian deaths, what sort of stands out is the seemingly intentional targeting of its hospitals and ambulances, with 17 health personnel killed and 26 injured, with a total of  29 ambulances damaged or destroyed by bombs or crushed by armoured vehicles. Emergency vehicles were often denied access to sites until it was too late to save the wounded, and then once they received clearance to enter, the Israelis would fire upon the site for the second time. Altogether 48% of Gaza health facilities were directly or indirectly hit by shelling.

Later that year, in Nov. 2009, a panel of international jurists, all veterans of human rights investigations in Sudan, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia, along with a detailed UN sponsored investigation which confirmed human rights abuse, came to the conclusion that war crimes were being committed by both Israel and Palestine. The United States immediately condemned the decision for failing to absolve Israel of any responsibility and blocked the United Nations from investigating.

The 2nd Gaza War,” called “Pillar of Cloud”, a “defensive action” by the Israelis, was fought from Nov. 14th to the 21st, 2012. It started weeks before, with Israel indiscriminately killing Palestinian civilians in several isolated incidents, including the deaths of a couple of youths out kicking a ball around, and then began in earnest after they assassinated the chief of Hama’s military wing. Gaza retaliated, duh. Israel stated that their aims were to stop such indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza and to disrupt the capabilities of extremist organizations operating within Gaza. Hamas declared that they, being victims living under violent occupation had the right to defend its people and respond to Israeli attacks. Indeed, the Article 1 (4) of protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention states that even a non-state, such as Palestine, or “any state or people under oppressive occupation, has the right to resist and use force to pursue the right of self-determination.” To suppress such actions goes against the Geneva Convention, UN Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. Though in this case, and once again, The United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and other Western countries supported Israel’s right to defend itself, even though Israel is the oppressive occupier.

The Israeli military struck over 1,500 targets in Gaza, none being surgical in nature, for with Gaza being so dense, even one grenade takes out many and damages much. The strikes paid no heed to collateral damage such as actual people, targeting houses, apartment blocks, civil institutions, police stations, farms, the Islamic National bank, and numerous offices housing Hamas government ministries. Also hit were media outlets, suspected rocket launch pads, cache sites and Hamas command posts. The bombardment of Gaza was by air, land and sea, with the sky abuzz with drones, helicopter gunships and jets. Many neighbourhoods were reduced to rubble, displacing more than 10,000 Palestinians. In eight days of fighting, over 160 Palestinians would be killed, 90 of them being civilians, including over 30 children. An estimated 1,300 to 1,500 Palestinians were injured. For the population it would have been very hard to even just think clearly under such conditions, let alone survive through the trauma of each day. It has been estimated that the majority of the 1.7 million people and nearly all the children in Gaza suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).

At the same time, Palestinian militant groups fired over 1,400 rockets into Israel, with another 142 falling short and exploding within Gaza itself, killing Palestinians. Of the rest, 875 rockets fell in “open areas”, 58 actually hit urban areas in Israel, and more than 302 were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system. All told, Palestinian rockets killed four Israeli civilians, three of them in a direct hit on a home, two Israeli soldiers and an unknown number of Palestinian civilians. Israel announced afterwards that there were 21 Israeli’s injured by shrapnel, 28 injured during alarms and in the rush to hide, and more than 200 Israelis treated for anxiety. Since 2007, when Hamas came into power, up to Dec. 2012, the total number of Israelis killed by rocket, mortar or anti-tank fire from Gaza- 56, the number of Palestinians in Gaza killed by Israeli fire over that same time- 3,054.

The Palestinians in Gaza have no army, air-force or navy, nor airport or seaport. Their fighters consist of approximately 10,000 al-Qassam (Hamas) militant brigades, 10,000 other security forces and about 8,000 extreme Islam Jihadists. Israel had their entire Southern Command participating as well as 75,000 reservists prepared and ready to go on a moment’s notice. The deadliest weapon Hamas possesses is the longer range, 75km (46 mile), Fajr-5 rocket with an explosive payload of 175 kg (385 lb), the Israeli military prefers to strike back using their own MPR-500 advanced-penetration precision-guided bomb, which carries an explosive payload of 900 kilos (2,000lbs); and then there are the physical characteristics of the area, in that Gaza is only 365 sq km (141 sq mi), while Israel is over 20,000 sq km (7,900 sq mi).

Israel’s new toy, the U.S. backed Iron Dome missile defence system, consists of five truck-towed batteries of radar-guided interceptor missiles which engage only when rockets threaten populated areas of Israel and often will fire two interceptor missiles at once. Each battery costs about $50 million, each missile $62,000, while the estimated cost of one short-range Qassam M-75 rocket built in a Gaza workshop or garage, about $800. Israel has plans to eventually have 13 batteries in its Iron Dome system. During Pillar of Cloud they shot off about $30 million worth of missiles. But with overwhelming American support, in vast amounts of money and arms from their industrial military complex, Israel sees no reason to quit in its goal to become a colonial empire and fortress in the Middle East. In fact, besides the $3 billion per year the U.S gives to the Israeli military machine, two weeks after Palestine was recognized as a non-member state in the UN, the United States agreed to sell Israel $647 million in munitions to make up for what Israel expended during the eight-day Pillar of Cloud ravaging of Gaza. The deal included 6,900 precision bomb kits and 10,000 bombs of various kits. It is generous of the States, the three or four of the richest corporations in America will become even richer. Hell, weapons manufacturers and NRA (National Rifle Association) lobbyists in the States are making billions from their own population alone, not including the trillions that American weapons manufacturers and security companies are making and have made in Iraq and Afghanistan. With no iota of concern for such things as deaths, especially children, it is simply the cost of doing business.

During the Pillar of Cloud operations, 35 Palestinian children died from Israeli bombardments, of armaments mostly made in the United States. Five times the number of all Israeli deaths combined, which included no children. Meanwhile the United States has killed 168 children by drone attacks in Pakistan since 2006; another 231 children killed in Afghanistan in the first 6 months of this year alone, and another 921 children killed by US air strikes against insurgents in Iraq; in Yemen the numbers could be higher. While at home they are just as proficient. There have been 16 mass shootings in the U.S. just this year, leaving 88 people dead, including the 20 children killed with a military semi-auto in Newtown, Connecticut, where some of the children killed were shot up to 11 times, at point blank range. If one were to add the other 400 children in the US under the age of 15 who die from gunshot wounds each year and the tens of thousands of adults shot and killed, one could say the NRA and America’s leaders are responsible for killing more Americans in one year, than their enemies, real or imagined, even bin Laden, had at any time over the past twenty years. As it is, a gun kills someone in the United States every 20 minutes; twice the death rate of AIDS. In Duval County, in Florida, there have been 100 murders by guns in the past year, more than all of Britain, a nation of 63 million people. As one can see, wars don’t kill Americans, Americans kill Americans.

 

Chapter 8

While in Palestine, over 53% of Palestinians are under the age of 18, growing up in basically concentration camps, with limited access to necessities like running water, food, electricity and education. Their daily lives are filled with the pressures of persecution, brutality, hatred, coercion and injustice, each child trying to deal with the stress from the ever potentiality of conflict, bombardment, and/or extinction of their race. It is estimated that over 92% of Palestinian children are coping with some sort of trauma, while the cloaking smell of revenge, oppression and death is quickly erasing their dreams of peace and security in their future. They are of a generation who are becoming numb to further pain and suffering. A generation of children who not only have abandoned hope for a better life but who also have had their dreams taken away from them, a life where common sense and compassion do not exist any more.

Other ways Israel is defending itself, before, during and after the latest Gaza War, include the concepts – since 70% of Palestinians in Gaza live on fishing, their fleet is limited to fish only up to 4.8 km (3 mi) offshore, instead of the Oslo Accords guaranteed 32 km (20 mi) limit. Often fired upon, the fleet is totally blockaded from leaving the beach at least a couple of times per month, though for only 2 to 3 days at a time, with the Israeli’s knowing full well if such blockades go longer than 4 days, people in Gaza would start starving to death, and people would complain. As it is about 80% of Palestinians in Gaza exist on food aid, with an anaemia epidemic running out of control. Another reason for the 3 mile limit could be because 5 km (3.5 mi) off Gaza lies a natural gas offshore drilling rig, which in reality should be a Palestinian drilling rig.

After a ceasefire was reached in the latest hostilities, Israel seized 35% of the agricultural land in Gaza, as a “buffer zone.” Any Palestinian farmer who gets too close to the newly erected fence is shot without warning of any kind. Israel also seized aquifers and seawater desalination plants which is quickly turning much of Gaza’s water supply into a health hazard, though many areas of Gaza have had no running water for years, while current and escalating restrictions have created such a breakdown of sewage infrastructure, that within ten years, Gaza could very well be not fit to be lived in. Another technique the Israeli’s employ is, in areas of Palestine and Gaza under night time curfew, anyone outside after dark is shot without warning, and then regardless of who they are, is listed as a terrorist. And lastly, Israel controls the Gaza economy, what little there is left, by occasionally withholding import taxes. What it all means is that Israel has dehumanized their prey, just like all true killers do. And yes, Palestinians dehumanize, retaliate and become killers as well.

This is not saying all Jews and Muslims of Israel and Palestine are psychotic serial killers, far from it, but when Israel states they are defending themselves by punishing an entire population and occupying Palestinian territory is simply wrong and immoral. In reality much of the violence and overwhelming suffering  in Israel and Palestine is not created by the general population, but rather by fanatic extremist jihadists that Hamas cannot control, and other groups, such as the out of control and vicious Jewish settlers, whom Israel can’t or won’t control, and its racist military. And though both sides have committed great immoral transgressions against one another, Israel is much more capable in the killing department. Israel is by far the strongest military in the entire Middle East, in fact, the 2012 Global Militarisation Index, put out by the Bonn International Centre for Conversion, listed Israel as the world’s most militarised nation, followed by Singapore, Syria, Russia, Jordan and Cyprus. Israel also has one of the world’s highest standards of living and is heavily supported by the fading superpower, the United States. The Gaza Strip meanwhile is but an oppressed, impoverished ghetto with a weak government barely in control, making it through a complete and total blockade, living one day at a time, alongside a few thousand madmen.

While Israel and its Pillar of Cloud defensive operation was blitzkrieging Gaza, with Hamas and other Palestinian groups continuing to retaliate and fight for their independence and freedom, the Palestinian Authority was preparing for the upcoming meeting of the U.N., where it would be put to vote whether or not to give Palestine, United Nations “non-member observer state status”, and confirmation its state includes the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. You’d think this would no doubt force the resumption of a peace deal and get both sides talking as grown-ups should, abiding by international laws and values of humanity. But after decades of trying to negotiate an agreement with Israel to stop annexation and settlement in the West Bank and though they have, by as much as they can control, cooperated on many levels with both Israeli and American security forces, they have never even come close to getting an agreement or even initial dialogue with Israel for a formal two-state settlement. With Israel it is never going to happen, because it goes against its manifest destiny vision of a “Greater Israel” which includes all the Palestinian territories.

Before Pillar of Cloud, the Palestinian people were very aware of the upcoming UN decision, the Palestinian Authority had been working on it for decades, trying their best to stay off the angry road Israel strutted, and to instead pursue state status at the UN by adopting the non-violent, diplomatic and multilateral approach to gaining their freedom and dignity back, while at the same time trying to control the often foreign, gathering of lunatic extremist groups within their own population, and withstanding the extreme oppression of their people by Israel.

Preparing for the forthcoming UN decision, it was reported that the Palestine Authority, the military wing of Hamas and several Israeli civilian peacemakers were close to creating an agreement for a long-term ceasefire, while the world contemplated their hoped for status in the UN. For one reason or another, this was proving difficult to reach, but a short-term ceasefire agreement was being agreed upon. But just before such an agreement could be signed, the Hamas military’s leader was assassinated by an Israeli jet launched missile that bulls-eyed his car, as he drove downs a busy street in Gaza. Pillar of Cloud began soon after.

Eight days after the Pillar of Cloud Israeli assault on Gaza began a cease-fire was reached, negotiated by Egypt’s fundamentalist president, Mohamed Morsi. Then eight days after that, on Nov 29/12, the UN’s General Assembly met in New York City, 65 years to the day since Palestine was first partitioned by the UN. One hundred and eighty-eight countries of the world participated in deciding whether Palestine would be elevated to a “non-member observer state.” Of these, 138 nations, including the European nations France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland voted yes, 41 nations, including Britain and Germany abstained, while only 9 nations voted unequivocally no – Israel, the US, Canada, the Czech Republic, Panama, the Federated State of Micronesia; which the US is wholly responsible for their defence,  the Pacific islands, Marshall and Palau; also influenced by the US, which provides both with defence, funding grants and access to social services, and another Micronesian nation, Nauri, the world’s smallest republic covering 21 sq km (8.1sqmi), with a population of just over 9,000 people. Also located within the Micronesian group of islands is Wake Island, the US Air Force base, airfield and missile facility.

 

Chapter 9

Another recent UN resolution, approved by a vote of 174-6 with 6 abstentions, called on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) “without further delay” and open its nuclear facilities for inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Joining Israel in the negative vote were once again, the United States, Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.

The NPT was a treaty signed in 1970 aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and technology and to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy. As of 2012, 190 parties have joined, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the United States, Russia, France, the UK and China. More countries have ratified the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement in history. Not in the NPT are India, Pakistan, and North Korea, with all three having openly declared they do indeed have nuclear weapons and have openly tested them. Israel stands alone, admitting nothing behind an opaque curtain. At the same time they demand that other Middle Eastern countries do not, under any circumstances, develop nuclear technology.  Estimates of Israel’s nuclear capacity range from 75 to 400 nuclear warheads, capable of being delivered by intercontinental missile, aircraft, and submarine. Israel most worries about Iran and its nuclear program, originally started and financed by the US and other Western European countries in the 1950’s and ending with the Shah of Iran’s exit in 1979, at which time the Iranians themselves continued any development and research. Israel worries of the Iranian rhetoric about wanting to erase Israel off the planet, while in reality if Iran ever did develop a weapon, somehow tested one, and then fired off a couple at Israel, they would, within seconds, be taken out themselves, entirely and completely, seriously, not a win-win situation. But then when has madness made any sense.

Though Palestine still cannot vote at the General Assembly, becoming a state rather than an entity does allow them other benefits such as membership in other UN agencies and organizations like the International Criminal Court (ICC), which scares the bejesus out of Israel. The fear that Palestine will bring forth a case over the illegal annexations and construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and/or the attacks on the West Bank and Gaza and/or war crimes, is one of the main reasons Israel and its supporters were adamantly against the General Assembly’s passing of the resolution. Palestinian officials have since stated that they have no immediate intentions to take such a road.

After the vote was taken, the Palestinian Authority Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, addressed the representatives of 188 countries; “The moment has arrived for the world to say clearly: enough of aggression, settlements and occupation.” He also spoke about the need to resume negotiations with Israel and called the successful resolution the “birth certificate of the reality of Palestine,” at the conclusion of his speech the seated members of the UN General Assembly rose to a standing ovation, while those who voted against stayed seated and became invisible. It is clear that the Palestinians are trying to “create momentum for progress and credibility for legal and political solutions.” For beneath the hatred, oppression and persecution, the Israelis and Palestinians themselves are the ones who have to start listening to each other and find a way to live side by side. But for any negotiations to work Israel and Palestine, must start abiding by the laws of nations and humanity itself, and to know, like any human, we are or rather should be, held accountable for our actions. Their disgust for each other, the extreme ingrained insecurity they both possess, and plainly show to the world, and how both of their hypocritical scriptures have somehow replaced sorrow, compassion and empathy with hatred is beginning to wear thin with many fellow inhabitants of the earth. Collective disgust towards Israel and Palestine is accumulating the world over, unfortunately history has proven the next step is most always, more and more people will simply stop caring.

The countries who voted against the UN resolution were livid. US lawmakers, both Democratic and Republican voted that they would cut-off aid if the Palestinians used their new-found status against Israel in any way. Palestine I am sure is well aware of the cost they will be further taking. In 2011 Palestine was granted membership in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in retaliation Israel withheld millions of dollars in tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority, which is always in financial distress, with the US following along and withholding millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians, as well as cutting off their financing to UNESCO entirely.

Canada announced angrily that they will take “retaliatory measures against the Palestinians for forcing the statehood issue onto the world stage.” Though not revealed, the most obvious option would be for them to suspend aid to the Palestinians, even though on the Canadian Foreign Affairs website it states that, “Canada believes that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority must fully respect international human rights and humanitarian law which is key to ensuring the protection of civilians, and can contribute to the creation of a climate conducive to achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement.” The tongue in cheek was well hidden, considering both Canada and the US have no qualms about looking the other way whenever Israel decides it should defend itself.

Israel declared that, “The Palestinians unilateral step at the UN is a blatant and fundamental violation of the agreements vouched on by the international community.” The next day they announced their plans to unilaterally build 3,000 new homes/enclaves within the area of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, called the E1 corridor, the illegal settlements would for all intents and purposes permanently slice the West Bank in half. As if human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law are not unilateral enough.

Both the US and Canada had to back pedal a bit. Condemning the move, they called Israeli ambassadors in to have a little chat. But Israel would go on to remind the world that “no matter the symbolic political games the UN General Assembly wishes to play, Israel alone controls the land, water and air of the Palestinian territories and will not waver on their intentions to permanently annex all three” and that the economic blockade of the Gaza Strip will continue. A few days after the UN resolution passing, Israel would confiscate over $118 million of tax revenues that they collected for the Palestinian Authority for the month of November, stating it was to offset continuing Palestinian debt to the Israel Electric Corporation.

Chapter 10

Israel’s tone continues to clearly show they have no intentions of allowing talks about any peace process and seem to be literally dead set against one. The arrogance of Israel’s ethnicity and religious beliefs has blinded them. They continue to be oblivious to many aspects of the realities of human behaviour, such as when people realize that they are a part of the problem, only then do they tend to then become a part of the solution, and that those who gain the greatest opportunities and accomplishments in life and society are those who master the “we.” Or further, that the most respected leaders’ minds work selflessly, with mutual respect for mutual benefit, and understand that influence only begins when a person or population feels they are being listened to and that they are understood. They also understand that compromise is rarely win-win, because rarely are both sides truly pleased, but that creative cooperation most always leads to success. Proving such realities have been thrown to the side of the road years ago, not only in Israel but nearly everywhere else in the world as well, especially in the US and Canada, an Israeli government minister declared during the attack on Gaza, that Israel should “send Gaza back to the Middle Ages,” and when a popular Israeli model admitted she had prayed for the welfare of the people on both sides in the conflict, she was accused of being “an enemy of the state.”

As to Hamas, which combines Palestinian nationalism with Islamic fundamentalism, it is the bee in Israel’s bonnet. Israel may not agree much with Hama’s ideology and policies, but terrorizing an entire population is not the remedy for such a situation, especially considering that, though deemed terrorists by Israel and her allies, in reality Hamas devotes 90% of their estimated $70 million annual budget to social, welfare, cultural and educational services. Most of their budget comes from Saudi Arabia, other Arab countries, Muslim charities, Palestinians living abroad and which is the ire of Israel, they receive about $20-30 million from Iran. But since the situation in Syria started in 2011, Hamas, the majority of which are Sunni-Islamic, have distanced themselves from Shia-Islamic dominated Iran due to their support of the Syrian dictator al-Assad. And in the past couple of years it seems their disposition towards a more central-is tic decision making process is growing rather than diminishing, with the rhetoric of their founding charter calling for the destruction of Israel slowly changing and becoming old news. They have recently stated that they would promote a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and accept a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders. Israel would rather this fact not be broadcast too loudly, once again totally ignoring the fact a two-state solution is the only answer.

The people of Palestine, and no doubt most decent Israelis, wish for peace and to simply just getting along as neighbours should, where the citizens of each have a sense of shared values. They obey the laws and act peacefully within their society, which hopefully possesses a certain degree of equality, and where unrealistic fears are diminished so that racism and abhorrence to a fellow human being’s existence passes and empathy moves in and embraces. Instead of comparing the best of one’s own ethnic culture to the worst of another, Palestinian Arab and Israeli Jew must somehow wake up and realize they are both of the same species, with the same needs, wants and desires, with the majority of each other’s populations innocent.

The problems lie with the hateful, egotistical and ambitious elite at the top pulling the strings and playing games. Living within a realm where there is no differentiation between politics, religion and business, for they are all but engines of consumerism, with the industrial military complex making the majority of the money by influencing government leaders to continue to seed their populations with fear, anger and insecurity. As the collapse of the international economy continues and climate change escalates, in droughts, flooding, the decline in crop yields, rising food prices and dwindling fresh water, the elites become an ever more secluded group, living within protected enclaves and fenced compounds gorging themselves on nothing but the best and lots of it. Meanwhile enraged populations the world over have become even more enraged as their societies break down. To keep the current inequality and severe imbalance in place between the haves and the never-will haves, the new paradigm of “modern warlords awash in terrifying technologies and weapons,” is turning many countries in the world into fascist police states, where freedom is lost and replaced with security.

Will Israel’s diplomatic, financial and military supporters continue to ignore, seemingly with near disdain, international law and basic human rights and continue funding Israel’s apartheid-like ways? As a Canadian I can say that though Canada has stated they will support Israel in its defence, whenever it goes on the offensive, it is a decision made by the Harper government of Canada alone. I and my fellow Canadians were certainly not asked of our opinion, much like also not being asked our opinion of how embarrassing Canada’s behaviour and attitude is at every international meeting that is dealing with climate change or how proud we are of being awarded the “Dodo Award” from the international environmental community.

If Israel, with its extreme nationalistic Zionism as its official value system, which opposes the assimilation of Jews into other societies and makes a key legal distinction between “Jew” and “Non-Jew”, continues unabated the end game is a Greater Israel that is erased of all non-Jewish peoples and settled by the Jewish people alone. Much like South Africa’s original intentions under their official value system of apartheid and which also made a key legal distinction but between “white,” “coloured,” “Indian” and “Black.”

 

Chapter 11

Today Israel stands at a crossroads. One road leads to the above. It would be a violent road. Each step it took Israel would be increasingly at odds with civil society and then, hopefully, with other governments, as it takes over Palestine, expelling and killing every non-Jew in their path or who resists. Devastating sanctions would be made against Israel, much like what is now done to Syria, North Korea and Iran. In reality such a thing happening, as in Israel fulfilling their “destiny”, would involve so much maniacal violence and ethnic-al cleansing that peoples and countries would be unable to support them and not just stand aside and allow it to continue. At least one can only hope. Because the question remains, will enough people finally stand up, ignore the 24 hour news cycle, and demand their will upon their leaders to have the courage to do what is right for humanity and not for corporate, soulless entities?

Another road for Israel, which would also lead to violence and further bloodshed, is the road of not trying to exterminate the Palestinian people outright, but just take complete control of all Palestine. This would still create a Greater Israel, but the Jewish people could become a minority very quickly, just by the birth rate alone, and this goes against all that is Zionism. The entire area would become palaces, Jewish enclaves and city-forts, ghettos and the largest concentration camp ever, all on complete security lock down, with a population densely packed together like a Gaza Strip on steroids. Hatred, racism, revenge and intolerance would continue dripping off of people, as it does today, generation after generation.

The only solution is two distinct and separate countries living beside each other, just like the rest of the world does and for the most part quite peacefully. Security would be easier to establish and each country would then be judged on its own intrinsic worth and not by how much violence each one could inflict on the other.

Sadly, this will not happen, no matter how much the Palestinian Authorities become recognized and go about their quest for the right to self govern themselves in their rightful lands through the courts of international law and the United Nations. Because the Israelis continue to elect right-wing fanatical governments who still feel they need to strut around like the typical bully, and who have become both, very predictable and ever the more isolated. But then being imaginative and willing to engage in dialogue has never been one of the Israeli’s strong points. They also do not understand that in the reality that is war, even when you win, on many levels you lose. Indeed, I’m sure to many people all over the world who might care or have even heard of the Arab-Jewish conflict, Israel and Palestine have become yet another pair of bad actors, in an often repeated bad film where everyone knows how it will end and everybody dies.

While the Israeli, American and Canadian leaders were condemning Hamas, who were being merciless bombarded “hopefully back to the dark ages” in the latest Gaza war, not one of them realized that the true threat to Israel comes not from tiny, impoverished and oppressed Gaza but from the policies of the Israeli government itself. The holocaust of the Second World War we are told should forever be remembered so that it will never happen again. Yet it has happened many times since, from Cambodia to Rwanda to Serbia and to the Sudan, and it is what is happening in Palestine today, just not so quickly, but more apartheid-like, so nobody notices as much.

When Israel, and the few remaining countries in the world that support them, say the Palestinians should just go back from whence they came and allow a Greater Israel state to be created, there is a serious disconnect happening, while the words – delusional and ignorant – spring to mind. Because where the Palestinians came from is exactly where they are living now and therefore, there is nowhere else for them to go. So either the occupation ends and a two-state agreement is signed or everyone should just step aside and allow the Israelis to continue to immorally ethnically cleanse the territories they illegally occupy to the very point of Palestinian extermination. Then let the world condemn them for their actions, and at the same time allow the Palestinians the right to fight for their lives, their land and their existence by all means possible. Would they then be condemned by the world for their re-actions? The stench of unmentionable horrors each side would inflict on each other would bring outsiders into the fray, especially religious and corporate psychopaths. Then the supposedly holiest place on the planet would continue to be one of the most unholiest and nothing but a black hole of violence and hatred, while the rest of the world stands on the sidelines and watches. And then after the dust settles we’ll tell ourselves that we must remember what just happened and never forget, lest it ever happen again.

“Elites Will Make Gazans of Us All”,   Chris Hedges

It’s mostly punishment…. Testimonies by Veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces from Gaza and the Occupied Territories, Oded Na’aman

Ten voices on the Palestinian bid for UN membership, CBC News

 

 

10/2/12

CAMA? Say it isn’t so Stevie Harper.

Why does the Prime Minister of Canada, Steven Harper hate science so much? I pondered.

Over the past year I’ve written many articles of my opinion or rather confoundedness, over the decisions made by the Harper government of Canada. Besides the ever quickening pace of trying to sell and export our limited natural resources as fast as possible, our government is also picking up the pace as to selling the companies that extract said resources, mostly to China. The government openly panders to the energy corporations, yet hinders working Canadians, all the while chiseling away at our basic human rights and civil liberties, especially women’s and children’s, and specifically dismantling most environmental protections and controls. At the same time our government gets rid of the jobs, shuts down the work and tapes shut the mouths of a world renowned, respected science community, especially in natural resources and environmental science and technologies. From constant barrages of omnibus bills to funding cuts to nearly every government agency that deals with the environment and people or the safety and care of both.

We pull out of the Kyoto agreement yet have no national plan to battle climate change and carbon pollution. Local environmentalists and First Nations are branded foreign radicals, with Greenpeace called a “Multi-issue extremist group.” The charitable status of any group that dares to criticize the governments environmental performance or its subsidies for fossil fuels are threatened to be revoked, while journalists follow the lead of their corporate controlled employers by way of the Prime Minister’s office. Anything to do with safeguarding our streams, rivers, lakes and oceans has been gutted or dismantled, such as the Navigable Waters protection Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Fisheries Act.

The incredulous concepts that are entering government policy making should be scaring the bejesus out of you, it does me. Each new decision the federal government makes gives an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. It has all seemed so confusing. But if you know history it is yet another remake of the chapter we’ve all seen before and which I will name at the end of this article.

We are already degrading our land and creating ever more inequality amongst people, what’s suddenly the big rush? What is taking prestige over reason? Why the desperate maddening pace and disregard for the earth? Why has reform become a dirty word to politicians? Why is the Harper government so adverse to science and rational debate?

But then a couple of weeks ago a friend asked me if I had heard of CAMA, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, no I answered, having no clue. “Check it out”, he replied. And so I did. And the confusion I once felt is gone, now I’m seriously afraid.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance, was formed in 1887 by the Canadian evangelical pastor Albert Benjamin Simpson. Simpson, born on Prince Edward Island in 1843, was raised in a strict Calvinistic Scottish Presbyterian and Puritan tradition, though later he converted to Evangelicalism and was ordained as a Presbyterian pastor. He served churches in Canada and the United States and by 1880 arrived at the Thirteenth Street Presbyterian Church, in New York City, where he began to put together doctrine which emphasized global evangelism. Moving to what is known as the New York Tabernacle he began to preach his word and eventually his and others words would transform over the decades to become the Christian and Missionary Alliance. CAMA is based out of New York with a strong base of operations in Alberta. There are about 500,000 members in the States, mostly all Republicans and about 130,000 in Canada, mostly all Conservatives and mostly all living in Alberta. They have about three million members worldwide.

The tenets of CAMA’s gospel are; Jesus our savior, sanctifier, healer and coming king, as well as the “pursuit and promotion of the Higher Christian Life.” Their commitment is to promote a biblically-based world view centered on Jesus Christ.

Their values  include developing their pastoral and lay leadership; where women are strictly not allowed, nurturing the pastoral staff and their families, belief in Biblical conflict resolution, encouraging creativity and innovation in submission of spirit, empowering churches and strategic building of churches in all communities of the world. They also have an Environmental Transformational Plan, which describes their “life zones” or spiritual realities, but the plan has taken ecology completely out of context.

CAMA’s Church Planting Life Zone for instance believes in an environment perpetually growing, where “church planters and church congregations pregnant with new church planting ideas would be welcomed, encouraged and assisted in giving birth”, which means building a new church and finding new members is encouraged and would be supported by CAMA, and of course, “sources of funding would be accessed in order to provide a steady stream of resources for church planting opportunities.”  Further, in each Church Planting Zone, “multiplication-minded leaders are motivated and encouraged by catalytic events designed to expand their thinking and accelerate their passion.” Other life zones include the Global Seamless-Link Life Zone, Leadership Life Zone and Pastoral Health Life Zone, all placing much importance upon the church, its executive and the Second Coming of Christ.

Their core values begin with the authority of the bible, literately every word of it as it is written, and leadership, where they state that they intentionally identify and train “godly” leaders. They uphold biblical justice, minister to the poor and oppressed of only their communities, and encourage and strengthen marriages and families. Divorce is frowned upon and if caught as an adulterer one loses their right to ever remarry.

As far as stewardship of the earth they view “all our resources and possessions as God-owned and we use them with integrity, accountability and maximum effectiveness.” The world was created for them to use as they will, that God is sovereign over creation and therefore humans can do no permanent damage.

As to prayer they believe, “We do nothing until we pray”. The Canadian members pray for Canada and its government and that “Godly agendas are required through minority rule.” They pray for those “utterly unreached people group-those under the domination of Islam, closed Hindu and Buddhist nations, etc.” All non-believers of their doctrine are considered the “lost people’. They also pray for their church leaders, pastors and executive to receive the spirit of their God in “remarkable new ways” and for them to be “strategic in service.”

CAMA members truly believe the Second Coming is “imminent and will be personal and visible”. Much like the evangelical Jehovah Witnesses have believed that every year is going to be the last one, since 1870; where Jesus Christ will physically appear on earth and will reign for one thousand years and then there will be the Final Judgment. After which time, the universe, including the microscopic parts of heaven and earth, will be renewed to become a new and fresh heaven and earth. They also believe the world to be only 6,000 years old.

To survive the second coming they pray that their churches have the “budgets, decisions and staffing that reflect their kingdoms values.”  Only those who repent and believe in Jesus Christ will be born again and “justified, sanctified and granted the gift of eternal life as adopted children of God.”

Fields of flowers, blue clear skies, cold crystal clean water and natural resources will be renewed and the chosen one’s will live on, to use the world to their will and a vicious cycle would seemingly begin anew. I know the Bible well, and unfortunately nowhere does one find a story about a Third Coming.

Other  beliefs of CAMA include that the free market is divinely inspired, with libertarian economics being God’s will and that God is opposed to government regulation or taxation for he created government for limited purposes only and whom should never intervene in the workings of a free market economy. They also oddly enough, though I am sure Charles Darwin isn’t their kind of scientist, seem to believe in the new social Darwinism, where the adage has been changed to the survival of the richest, not the fittest, will somehow benefit society and everyone else are simply lacking the motivation and ambition to help themselves.

Besides not having any regard for the environment and not putting any belief in science, they have utter contempt for homosexual relationships, abortion, stem-cell research, euthanasia and the use of marijuana. They demand the complete loyalty of their members to their organization, possess extreme disdain for mainstream media, but then don’t we all in its current state, and believe wholeheartedly in the Dominion Theory, where humans were made to subdue and rule over all of creation. Because when it all collapses, no worries, God will fix it.

Because the Christian and Missionary Alliance do not put any faith in the notion of climate change due to human contribution and don’t think much of science in general, they are closely affiliated to another appendage of themselves in the Cornwall Alliance, a right wing coalition of scholars, evangelicals and economists, many who are Christian Alliance members, and formed in 2000 with the introduction of the Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship. Their motto is Dominion, Stewardship and Conservation; they “aspire to a world in which liberty as a condition of moral action is preferred over government-initiated management of the environment as a means to common goals.” Their main threats are science and anything to do with monitoring the environment.  They indeed have a very evangelical biblical view of the planet, but then as do so many other faiths and organizations. It’s why they all despise each other so much, would like very much to rid each other off the planet and to be just left alone, to be the only one left when human endeavor drives off the edge of the cliff. While extremists at both ends of the spectrum seem to have no qualms on creating an Armageddon themselves if they have to, just to prove their points.

Within the Cornwall Declaration are statements that were surreal to read, seemingly out of this world, time and place. I kept looking around, thinking someone was playing a joke on me or perhaps I was even being punk’d. The statements within the declaration include that policies to combat climate change would and are, destroying jobs. Besides, they say the trillions of dollars it would take to combat our affect on the planet would bring “no net benefits.” They also assert that any impediment on economic development such as raising energy prices, would take away the ability of the worlds poor to rise out of poverty, thus “so condemn millions to premature death.” They believe one of the worst things to do would be to continue trying to reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, because it will only increase the price of energy and harm the world’s economies. In fact they flat out deny that carbon dioxide is harmful to the planet because it is “essential to all plant growth.” Believing the energy from their God’s planet must be abundant and affordable until the day he soon arrives, they feel fossil and nuclear fuels as being the perfect sources for this. Policies to control global warming they deem, “fruitless and harmful”, because the earth is “self  regulating and self correcting” and besides the earth was made to be used, so that humanity may flourish and display God’s glory.

As far as alternative and renewable forms of energy, they believe that such things as wind and solar power will only be good enough for either “poor or rural peoples.” Going further into the declaration; they do not feel that humanity is only consumers and polluters but instead we are producers and stewards. One of their main goals is to reduce the need for collective ownership and control of both, the earth’s resources and corporations, and if there is to be any collective action it must be taken at the most local level possible. They also wish everyone would just recognize their proper place in their God’s created order.

I began this article asking a few questions about the madness that seems to be enveloping Canada. The denying of science’s role in environmental and social decisions; cutbacks to fading social programs such as unemployment, pensions, health and welfare; the attempt to become a militaristic badass in the world;  the ongoing destruction of our basic human rights; the death of our will to vote; and the insane and desperate need for the status quo to continue.

The outcome of the last federal election, where 39% of those who voted elected a majority Conservative government, brought forth once again, the Harper government. It would seem we Canadians have a democracy problem. According to the Harper government’s agenda and policies, especially at the quickened pace as of late one can only surmise what’s behind such asinine decisions. Well surmise no more.

Yes, kept behind Oz’s curtain, glimpsed at only briefly, with nearly no one knowing, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been a member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance for nearly twenty years. He has always been questioned of perhaps having a hidden agenda. He does and it could very well be his God’s agenda, heaven forbid.

Other notable members of CAMA include many TV pastors and healing evangelists such as F.F. Bosworth and Clement Humbard; Billy Graham’s first African-American evangelist, Preston Manning; founder and former leader of the Reform party of Canada, and the now deceased, American Evangelist Billy Graham, who became a member of CAMA in 1933 but who was actually a Democrat and not completely on the religious right, once saying that Jesus did not have a political party.

Another long standing CAMA member is former Canadian Conservative cabinet minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Chuck Strahl, who in June 2012 was proudly given the chairman’s position of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the lone watchdog which oversees Canada’s Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), by his close friend Stephen Harper. The sounds you should be hearing are the goose bumps bubbling out of your skin.

Is the Prime Minister of Canada really basing his decisions on what Canadians need and want today and tomorrow or instead on what was written by many and then translated dozens of times, two thousand years ago? His positions on research, statistics, protestors, journalists, First Nation’s people, women, children, pipeline opponents and climate change cannot but make one wonder what is exactly going on here. Though with his buddy Strahl now in charge of Canada’s Secret Service we may never know. Heck I could even disappear or be tagged as a radical dissident after this article is posted.

I am not anti-religious, I do believe in spirituality; the spark of energy every living thing on the planet possesses and that we all share. Most organised religions have made a lot of money and gained much power over the millennia trying to control that spark. Usually by making that spark of energy negative and flawed as it were born and the only way to bring light back into it is by sacrifice, devotion and fear of either one god or many gods. On the flip side, whatever belief system a person has to keep them feeling centered, their lives rewarding, fulfilled and honest is right for them, for the Canadian Charter of Rights protects the freedom of religion, but it also protects our rights of freedom from religion. This is one of the reasons Canada is such a diverse place, where no matter one’s personal religion or race, its live and let live.

But if a Republican evangelical belief system enters the Canadian Prime Minister’s office, we Canadians should know about it, and seriously consider “the virtues of democracy over theocracy.” Remember, everyone not within the republican evangelical tribe are the “lost people” or “the others”, especially if you happen to be disabled, elderly, poor or a veteran.

More frequently, the Harper government’s policies are going against most Canadian’s values, with the words irresponsible, unethical, blatant and arrogant being bandied about more than usual. Any programs for promotion of renewable energy and home-energy efficiency have been thrown to the wayside. Yet in reality, investing in renewable energy will create more jobs than the fossil fuel industry ever could and the investment would be highly likely to pay off, it has to, for survival’s sake. Unfortunately the Harper government is continuing to rely on our economics to grow their way out of the problem of climate change and  haven’t realized yet that it will be too little too late and will not work. The earth does not care about economics. Instead of dealing with the causes of climate change it seems the world’s leaders would rather “watch the ice melt and then divide up the spoils.”

The English writer Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was often referred to as the “prince of paradox” for his prolific and diverse published works. He was a true radical, meaning he sought the root or origin of an issue, any issue and eventually became a Catholic to boot. Over seventy years ago he would write, “The old hypocrite was a man whose aims were really worldly and practical, while he pretended that they were religious. The new hypocrite is one whose aims are really religious, while he pretends that they are worldly and practical.” He felt government was going to operate in a way where, “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected”, quite astute that Gilbert, I do say.

Meanwhile we Canadians have another three years with PM Stephen Harper as our country’s leader. The question of where does his ideas come from, whether from fellow Canadians or from God, needs to be asked. Is policy, especially towards the environment, really being motivated by religious faith over reason? But then whether religion is a factor in government policies or just plain old greed, they are both of the same cloth. It is being proven daily that the diffusion of aggressive social conservatism based on evangelical beliefs is impossible to keep out of politics here or in the States. The difference is in the States they are oblivious to how ignorant they are to their ignorance and in Canada we just don’t hear about it and simply don’t ask. As far as the media and Stephen Harper’s religious affiliation goes it’s been mum’s the word.

The vision of a conservative society, where the privileged few would rule but understand the responsibility that came with such power, of being accountable to all citizens, whether they be poor or not, and who would act only for the common good, was held by many great leaders over the past century. Since killing off some of these great leaders in the late 60’s, the new religion that has become termed “conservatism” has arose, widening even further the inequality of our society, ignorant to any responsibility to the people or the public good, and is ego maniacal, quasi-psychopathic and greedy.

What will our environment and society look like in three years? Will we have sold off most of our resources by then and continue to ignore extreme weather and a ravaged oil soaked land and sea, as our infrastructure crumbles around us, with too high food prices, more starvation and ill health?  Will most social programs once supplied by the government be gone and communities will be more on their own and somehow funding themselves instead? Will homosexuality once again become stigmatized, forbidden and eventually against the law like abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia and protest of any kind could very well be?  Will a new private prison corporation build more prisons to house people who were either caught or even suspected of smoking a joint? Perhaps more fines, impoundments, licence removal and in many cases, jobs lost, because there will be zero tolerance for drinking and driving, with the limit point oh oh. How far shall I go here? Switch over and start reading George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, all over again to verify how much truth and foresight both authors spoke? Especially Orwell’s notion of “doublethink”, which means holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously, which could be the Harper government’s problem believing in greed and God at the same time.

The Conservative right, on both sides of the border, may have abandoned truth and fact but we must not. The facts are the obligations to the things that matter in our lives, such as our health, meaningful work, family and our environment. One of the reasons our cultures are fracturing apart and decaying is because of our use of disengagement and distraction as an excuse for our ignorance; it is eating away at our souls. We continue to buy what corporate governments sell and lose value in the simple truth. While empathy, which has been taught over the past few decades as being “soft” and which is nearly extinct in many places, is actually as powerful as intelligence and knowing the facts in being a force with which to act. But we have been disengaged for so long we’ve forgotten how to drive standard.

First gear definitely has to be asking if indeed our future is being planned by ourselves and those who represent us or being dictated upon corporate ideology and make believe. Switching gears should be easier after that especially when more and more people realize that they are not alone. There are so many good things being done to better the planet and our lives, by many people, companies and yes, even a few corporations, the world over. Unfortunately the richest corporation’s ravenous quickening pace is leaving a diseased, spoiled wasteland behind.

I’d love to ask Stephen Harper; What if we destroy the ecosystems and non-human species of the planet, change the climate, melt the polar ice caps, acidify the oceans and rivers, use up all the earth’s resources and Jesus Christ does not arrive? No sign at all, no phone call, nothing, what then?

Ending this article as if I had included a drawing I did of Muhammad, I ask what of humanity in the scenario above? Would the laws that would have been put in place by then, which is not so far off as many think, be similar to the laws that became the Nuremberg Laws of Citizenship and Race, released in Germany in 1935, by the degenerate psychopathic Adolf Hitler? The first law of this doctrine is similar to many documents worldwide, though in this case “kindred blood” sort of curls one’s nose hairs. But say the word “Reich”, was replaced with the Harper Conservatives of Canada, if indeed influenced by the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and the word “German” perhaps replaced with Evangelical. This could be the new Charter of Rights they desperately seek. The Republicans in the States would fit the bill as well and we know what carrot they are blindly following.

“A citizen of the Reich may be only one who is of German or kindred blood, and who through his behaviour, shows that he is both desirous and personally fit to serve loyally the German people and the Reich.”

And so it began. More laws were to be added, starting with the simple banning of homosexuals, Jews and most all religions, foreigners, undesirables, the homeless and poor and elderly, writers, dissidents, thinkers, artists and many other “lost people”, whether man, woman or child. The banning would then become incarceration in work camps, with the final step being the Jewish issue, which was taken care of a few years later when Hitler attached another law, a Conservative Harper, omnibus type bill, which was called the “Final Solution” and after the smoke cleared, more than14 million people, 6 million of them Jews, had faced their Final Judgment and would die, because they were not members of his tribe.

Do we not bring up such past evils and horror; so that we can make sure they never happen again? This time though, the earth will soon be incapable of handling the human drama of our egos, the way we live, think and treat each other and it. We must not continue on being dismissive any longer or go “quietly into the night”. The Second Coming is nearing, but it’s got nothing to do with God and everything to do with us and our actions as a species today.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

Further reading;

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/religions-fair-game-if-it-motivates-politics/article4450326/

http://www.macleans.ca/culture/lifestyle/article.jsp?content=20060220_121848_121848

 

01/24/12

A Stream of Prophets – Abraham and Moses

The “New Chronology”

The chapters, Abraham and Moses, are based on the theory of the New Chronology and the books by David M.Rohl, “From Eden to Exile” and “A Test of Time”, as well as archaeology and biblical history. Thus, some of the biblical references or stories included here have actual archaeological evidence to support them. Over the last couple of centuries scholars have inadvertently reconstructed the ancient timeline of the pre-Christian era in such a way that it has become artificially over-extended by some two hundred to three hundred and fifty years. What this means is that the civilizations of the ancient Near East have been misaligned with biblical history, so that many events in the Old Testament cannot be found in the archaeological record. Many researchers have found that this stretched timeline detached the historical accounts of the Bible from its true archaeological setting; archaeologists have been searching for evidence of the Old Testament stories in the right place but in entirely the wrong time. For example: If you were to look for the fallen walls of Jericho in the levels of the Late Bronze age at Tel es-Sultan (Arabic name of the ruins of Jericho) when it was supposed to have happened, you will not find them. But if you dig several metres deeper, the fallen walls of Joshua’s Jericho are there to be unearthed. Indeed they had been, but were unrecognized for what they were.

Scholarship says the bible is almost entirely mythological fiction, books of lessons taught through parables. The hypothesis of the New Chronology proposes that the Old Testament is essentially correct in most of its major events and characters but certainly not in every detail. The New Chronology has readjusted the timeline, removing the extra years introduced by modern scholarship. Most of the  books were also written centuries after the fact and there has proven to be far too many translation errors of the original texts to deem what is written to be actual fact in all cases, but the New Chronology now makes it perfectly feasible to fit the biblical story into a more true and workable framework.

This theory of the New Chronology is put forth by noted British, historian, author, pre-eminent Egyptologist and archaeologist, David M Rohl, as well as many other scholars and specialists from many different scientific and historical disciplines, including Peter James, et al in their 1991 work, Centuries of Darkness.

The Institute for the Study of Interdisciplinary Sciences (ISIS) has published nine volumes of the Journal of the Ancient Chronological Forum (JACF) and is now established as a recognized forum for the debate on the New Chronology thesis, as well as other chronological and historical issues raised by Old World archaeology.

Abram (Abraham)

Abram, who lived from approx. 1900 to 1825 BC, is known as the patriarch of the Hebrew people. He was the son of Terah and eldest brother of Hahor and Haran, from the Sumerian Town of Ur (Ur of the Chaldees people) in Upper Mesopotamia (present day Kurdistan in Northern Iraq), where his family, an ancestral tribe of herders, had settled. Traditional oral genealogy of Abram’s tribe claimed descent from the great ancestor Shem, son of Noah, who himself was a descendant of Adam.

By 1900 BC the Sumerian Early-Dynastic period had ended along with the Egyptian Old Kingdom. Many of their pyramids and ziggurats, already more than eight hundred years old were still standing, though decades of drought, famine and a series of earthquakes destroyed many of the old Sumer cities and lands of the Mesopotamia plain. The people had migrated into the countryside, becoming nomadic tribes wandering about with their small flocks, forever seeking water and pasture, simply just trying to stay alive. They had numerous gods.

Eventually Abram’s father Terah, brought the family to Haran (ancient city of Mari), a trading center on the Euphrates River, in present day Iraq, where Abram would marry Sarai (Sarah) and become a wealthy landowner. In approximately 1855 BC, Abram’s father passed away leaving Abram responsible for their people. Before long Abram started hearing a voice in his head, who he determined to be the tribal god of the moon, El. The voice commanded him to leave Haran for a new promised land and to become the founder and leader of El’s people. Abram would wander off from time to time and have discussions with El, who asked for Abram’s people’s devotion and that they were to only worship him alone as the one God.

Through visions El spoke to Abram, instructing him that the members of his family were to never marry outside of their clan and that they would develop a new race. They were also instructed to worship and honour their one god through animal sacrifice. Abram soon gathered together his and his nephew Lot’s families and with their flocks of sheep and goats, started moving towards their promised new home in Palestine. Giving up his pagan beliefs, numerous gods and ties to his people.

They passed through Syria and made their way to Shechem, known today as Nablus, in Jordan. There he built an alter to El near the sacred oak tree of Moreh, and prayed to El, who appeared and promised once more, that Abram would indeed be given, as promised, the land known then as Canaan. The voice of God in Abram’s head would be with him all his days, and even though he sometimes lacked faith, and often demonstrated a lack of patience, Abram was a man always concerned about his fellow man, often praying to his god for guidance for sinners including himself. He believed in accountability. This trait no doubt was integral to him becoming such a respected leader amongst his people.

They continued on their journey through the hills of Jordan until they reached the Negeb, an arid region that bordered on the Sinai near Egypt. The trip from Haran to this place had taken them two years. Each place they came to brought the hope of settling down, but the severe famine conditions continued to prevail over the area. For years after great earthquakes ravaged the land around the Nile Valley and the heartland of Sumer which lay along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and lands became ever the more arid, with the deserts expanding. Famine was everywhere. As many other starving, nomadic bands from the near east were doing, Abram took his growing tribe and flocks across northern Sinai into Egypt.

As a foreign tribal leader of some stature, Abram had to pay his respects to the Egyptian king at his summer palace at Hat-Rowaty-Khety, which later grew into the great Egyptian city of Avaris, in the district of Goshen. Today it is known as Tell el-Dab’a in the north-eastern region of the Nile Delta. When Abram stood before the Pharaoh, Nebkaure Khety IV, he couldn’t help noticing that the pharaoh was openly infatuated with his wife Sarai. The pharaoh simply could not keep his eyes off of her. Abram feared for his life if he spoke out, for the pharaoh was all powerful, so he told the pharaoh that Sarai was his sister, not his wife. Over the next couple of weeks the Pharaoh could think of no other and finally he had Abram appear before him once more, where he asked Abram that perhaps Sarai could be given to him as a diplomatic gift. Abram stayed solemn feeling he could not refuse, and agreed to his wife being taken to the royal harem to become a queen of Egypt.

Over the next year Egypt began to suffer, first from a very hot and prolonged summer, where animals and people died in the thousands, to the oppressive heat. This was followed by a winter which was much the same- hot and arid. Asiatic plagues then swept through Egypt affecting much of the population. Spring arrived but the rains failed to appear in the area of the Nile’s source, the highlands of Ethiopia, and the river dropped to its lowest level in Egyptian memory. Famine and insurrection began to rear their ugly heads. With his realm disintegrating around him the Pharaoh summoned his advisers to counsel him on a remedy and to seek ways to appease the gods. In their discussion one of his courtiers revealed the fact that the Queen Sarai was actually Abram’s wife, not his sister. The Pharaoh now understood why, ever since their marriage Sarai had spurned all his advances to share his bed with her. The Pharaoh decided that perhaps if he were to return Sarai to her rightful husband, the gods would be appeased and his country given relief. He confronted Sarai who could not deny the rumour. He arrested Abram who confessed to the deception, and admitted he did it only out of the fear for his own life. Abram was lucky that Nebkaure Khety IV was a wise and respected leader of his people, and seeing no advantage to killing them, he banished Abram, Sarai, and their people from Egypt.

Abram and his people re-entered Sinai, once more to seek a place of their own. Abram’s nephew, Lot, with his own extended family and followers were themselves the size of a small tribe. With both tribes having large herds of sheep and goats, they decided to part ways to find richer grazing and water for their herds. Abram’s tribe remained on the plateau near the village of Hebron south of the town of Shalem with Mount Hebron towering over the plain, with Jerusalem nineteen miles (30 Km) to the northeast. Lot’s tribe eventually settled down on a fertile stretch of coastline on the west side of the Salt Sea (the Dead Sea) near the city and mining metropolis of Sodom, in present day Jordan.

Years go by and then one day, while sitting beneath an oak tree near Hebron, Abram is confronted by exhausted refugees who brought news of a great battle in the Jordan Valley, where four powerful rulers of Mesopotamia had attacked the Amorite and Amalkite cities around the south shore of the Salt Sea and that his nephew, Lot, and his family had been taken as slaves.

That night Abram gathered three hundred and eighteen of his best fighting men and over the next few days shadowed the Mesopotamia army as it victoriously marched back up the Jordan valley. Finally one night, Abram saw an opening and made his move; they attacked the soldiers guarding the prisoners and released the captives, then filtered back into the night, saving Lot and his family from a life of enslavement.

All their years together Abram and Sarai had not been able to have children, though they prayed to their God endlessly for a healthy child. Their one God eventually answers and tells him that Abram would have as many descendants as the stars in the sky and changes his name from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of the multitude). Sarai is changed to Sarah, and because of their devotion they would bear a child.

Twelve years before, Hagar, Abraham’s Egyptian concubine and one of his many wives, had given birth to his first son Ishmael, which had infuriated Sarah. But now, at long last and well past childbearing age, Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Sarah was proud of the fact that since she was the tribal leader, Abraham’s, principle wife with Isaac now outranking Ishmael in status and inheritance. Out of Abraham’s many wives, open conflict grew between Sarah and Hagar. In a fit of jealousy Sarah went to Abraham and demanded that Hagar and Ishmael be banished. She refused to allow her son’s status as heir to be undermined in any way. With a heavy heart, Abraham agreed to her wishes. Hagar and Ishmael were banished but not before their God appeared and said Ishmael would be blessed and become a father of twelve princes and would make a great nation. They would be fruitful and multiply. Ishmael and his mother eventually settled in the southern Desert of Paran in Sinai among the Bedouin tribes. Ishmael is recognized in Arabian folklore as the founder of the Arab Nation and with the arrival of the prophet Muhammad, centuries later, Islam would be born.

Abram also had a second concubine named Keturah, who bore him six sons. But Sarah continued her jealous ways and at her insistence, Keturah and her sons, along with supplies and the protection of a loyal band of retainers were sent away. This second exiled group headed east into the lands of present day Jordan, where they became the ancestral tribal leaders of Midian in north-west Saudi Arabia. The formation of traditional lifelong enemies between Arab and Jew begins here.

Life at this time was often brutal, with violent storms, floods, heat-waves, plagues, famine and earthquakes, which continued to ravage the entire area. Abraham and his people lived a nomadic life. Their homes were large goatskin covered tents, floored with carpets and comfortable, though they had to be moved often to find fresh pasture and water for their flocks and herds. The wells they did find, were dug out and lined with stone, and can still be seen today.

The way the people chose to deal with all the hardship became desperate and drastic. In order to appease their one true god through worship and great personal sacrifice, the institution of the sacrifice of the firstborn comes into being during these very difficult times. Whether animal or human, the first born would be sacrificed to God, so families began to sacrifice their firstborn children, most times by fire, hoping to show their gods their loyalty and devotion. This practise continued for many years and in many places.

When Abraham’s son Isaac was in his teens, Abraham had another vision where his God talked to him and told him he was very displeased with his people for burning their sons and daughters and demanded the ultimate sacrifice from Abraham. The next day, grieving terribly and with an unbearable weight pushing onto his heart, he loaded up some wood and headed north to the designated place of sacrifice on Mount Moriah, above the city of Shalem, with his son Isaac. As they stood before the altar there with the wood neatly stacked, Isaac realized he was going to be the burnt offering and in an act of total devotion to his father allowed his hands to be tied and quietly laid down upon the altar. No words would be able to express how either of them felt. Just as Abraham was lifting the bronze dagger over his son, he heard rustling in the bushes and looking over saw that it was a young ram stuck in a thicket. He took this as a sign that his son’s sacrifice was no longer required. Isaac was released and helped his father bring the ram to the altar for sacrifice, where its blood ran red. From this day on, Abraham’s people forbade the taking of human life for sacrifice, though the firstborn of animals could still be chosen. The tradition of parents blessing their children at birth began.

After the death of his beloved Sarah, Abraham would buy the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron from the Hittites, who had traditionally lived there. He also chose a wife for his son Isaac, the granddaughter of one of Abraham’s brothers, Rebekah, as well as selecting another wife for himself, Keturah, with their sons becoming the ancestors of the tribes of Dedan and Midian.

After giving away all his possessions to Isaac in his final days, Abraham finally dies in about 1815 BC, according to the Torah, at the age of 175, but in reality was probably closer to 75. He was well known as an overly righteous man and the father of the Levitical priesthood. Honoured for his consistent obedience to his one god and is quoted as being the Bible’s most outstanding example of faith. He was buried with his first wife, Sarah, in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron. Abraham’s body was carried into the cave by his two sons Isaac and Ishmael, assisted by the sons of Keturah, who were close enough to attend the funeral. A Muslim mosque marks the spot of the cave today. His son Isaac and grandson Jacob are also buried there. The tribes of his people would become known as the race of the Hebrew.

The world’s oldest monotheistic religion, Judaism, holds its founder to be Abraham, and the story of the ancestors and descendants of Abraham would be passed down through oral histories and traditions, until finally being written down over one thousand years later. The stories became formalised as a religion, after the Jews were taken into exile in Babylon in 586 BC. Abraham is regarded as the father of not only Judaism, but of Christianity and Islam as well.

Moses

Moses, (Hebrew Mosheh, Egyptian Mose or Ramose) was inspired by his God to set the culture of his chosen people, the Hebrew, in motion towards their perceived territorial and divine inheritance of Palestine. Living from approx. 1525 BC to 1407 BC, Abram was the son of Jochebed and Amram of the Hebrew tribe of Levi and born in Egypt. The pharaoh at the time, Khaneferre Sobekhotep IV, had decreed to cull all the male infants of the expanding Asiatic population, especially the Hebrew, because of their warrior background and tribal structure. Throughout the land newborn baby boys were killed. Moses’ parents and sister, Miriam, inspired by the earlier stories of Sargon the Great, who lived from 2117 to 2062 BC and was the founder of the Agade dynasty, which would eventually become the Babylonian empire of Mesopotamia, was put into a basket as a baby and placed on a river, where the daughter of a chieftain found him and adopted him. Moses, originally named Hapimose, was also placed into a basket and floated away, to be found by Meryt, one of the pharaoh’s daughters, who would likewise adopt the infant.

Moses was raised and educated as a member of the Egyptian Royal household, and taught to read and write- hieroglyphic signs as well as the cuneiform of Akkadian. His education included Egyptian and Mesopotamia epics and stories, including the great Hammurabi Law Code of Sumer and the Epic Adventures of Gilgamesh, which included a story about a great flood. Over the next forty years he rose to become the pharaoh’s chief advisor. As an Egyptian Prince he fought for the pharaoh in a war in Kush and became ever more embroiled in dynastic rivalries and intrigue. While out riding his chariot one day he witnessed the beating of a Hebrew slave at the hands of an Egyptian, he became incensed at such cruelty and killed the Egyptian. Fearing a trial for murder and possible execution, he fled into the Midian desert. There he married a nomadic Midianite priest’s daughter and for the next forty years lived a simple life as a shepherd, raising a family.

It was during these years that Moses came to learn that the Hebrew people were descendants of Abraham, the patriarch with whom their one god had formed a covenant. With his skills of reading and writing with various texts and languages, he studied Sumerian and Babylonian tablets, which told epic stories and laws and rules for the earlier Sumerian people. Linking oral traditions of Moses’ ancestors and these readings, he began to discover his own roots and the origins of his own people.

The Hebrew people had been in Egypt for over 200 years, ever since Abraham’s great grandson, Joseph who had been sold to the Egyptians as a slave by his brothers and would later rise in stature to become an advisor to the Pharaoh’s court. His whole extended family, seeking refuge from famine in Canaan, soon followed him to Egypt. They became traders, prospered and grew in numbers. Before much time had passed they were perceived as a threat to the pharaoh and the court’s power and were enslaved, along with other Asiatic and African people and forced to work the fields and in construction. Although enslaved they believed in the new deity, Aten, familiar to the original, supreme Egyptian god Amun-Re (The Sun). Atenism was a very rare Monotheistic faith at that time. The sun god, Aten, was pictured as benevolent and humane, spreading the warmth of his rays and essential goodness equally to all men. It included the belief that the sun, by its daily movement, represented resurrection; life of the day, death at night and rebirth in the morning dawn.

While Moses was still a shepherd, it is said that one day a burning bush, representing his God, told Moses, to return to Egypt and free the Hebrew slaves. Moses’ god also revealed his holy and personal name, Yahweh (the Lord). Another day while out tending his flock, his staff transformed into a snake and then returned to the staff he knew. Once, he watched as his hand became leprous and was then restored. It is also said that his brother Aaron, a high priest among the nomads of Sinai, had a rod that could turn into a snake as well as sprout buds, blossoms and almonds overnight. Though Moses knew he should go back to Egypt and speak for himself and his people, it was a difficult decision to make. Eventually, in spite of his lack of confidence, he decided to bring his older brother, Aaron, to aid him and with his wife, Zipporah and his children he returned to Egypt.

The year was about 1450 BC and upon returning, Aaron and Moses began to petition the present pharaoh, Djedneferre Dudimose, who spent much of his time at his palace at Avaris (biblical Ramesses), for the freedom of the Hebrew people.

The pharaoh refused them each time because the backbone of the present economy was the slaves, not just Hebrew, but of many races. From cleaning the homes, to clerical work, to labour, the enslaved peoples of Egypt were productive elements in each level of society. At this time, Egypt’s population was about three million, with a bonded servant population of perhaps six hundred thousand. Those employed in full-time state building projects represented well over fifty per cent of the country’s entire labour force.

Moses warned the pharaoh that there would be trouble if he did not let the Hebrews go, but still he refused to consider the matter. But the word of Yahweh was spreading among the enslaved and attitudes were changing. Even the Egyptians themselves were beginning to change, with their empire now on the decline. The pyramids had been standing for well over 1000 years, but the pharaoh had lost much power since the earlier rulers for life was becoming more Asiatic than Egyptian, especially in the eastern areas of the Nile delta (biblical Goshen) where most of the population lived. The land seemed to be in constant upheaval, from earthquakes, to one of the most explosive volcanic eruptions ever seen, which happened more than 700 kilometres to the north; the island of Santorini, in the Aegean Sea.  The eruption created climate change that affected the whole Middle east for decades. Famine, drought, floods and plague forced the abandonment of most Sumerian cities, with many city states and monarchies disintegrating.

The initial eruption spewed massive amounts of ash into the air; days were dark and the sky became a cloud of acid particles and ash. It spread over 128,000 square kilometres as it blew southward over Egypt and Palestine. The tidal wave was beyond anything ever experienced and for months, as the volcano collapsed into itself, it continued to cause tidal waves and surges that created havoc on the southern coastline of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Along with the tidal surges and waves from the continuing effects of the Santorini eruption, the annual summer flood of the Nile, this particular year, as Moses pleaded his case for his people’s freedom from the pharaoh, seemed to be transformed into blood. A microscopic organism called red tide broke out upon the Nile, killing all the fish which were left rotting on the shores. Six to seven days later the amphibians (mainly frogs) moved toward the land, unable to survive among the rotting fish and lifeless water.Mosquitoes and fleas feasted on the dead fish during the day and bit into both humans and animals during the night. At first the people allowed the livestock to continue drinking from the river, until they too started to die by the thousands. The animal corpses attracted swarms of flies carrying the Anthrax virus began to feast on the living. The virus ran rampant. Upon their bodies boils and lesions appeared, followed by death. After the devastation of the red tide a vicious hailstorm swept across the land, hurling golf ball size lumps of ice upon the fields, wrecking the crops, destroying the homes and killing more livestock.

Another few months go by and a swarm of locusts moved through the Nile Valley from the south, a phenomenon which continues today and consumed everything before it. This was soon followed by a great dust cloud from across the Sahara hitting the Nile Valley at dusk. Still raging the next morning, there was no dawn light. The storm raged for three to four days and was devastating. The pharaoh and his people were in shock, with the economy in shambles, and the population starving. Death seemed to be everywhere. To try to stop the terrible natural events happening to them, the people, Egyptian and Asiatic alike, began to kill their first born to appease the gods to make it stop and to make the madness go away, even Dudimose killed his eldest son, an Egyptian Prince.

Amidst all this chaos, Moses kept warning the pharaoh to let the Hebrews go. At the same time, the classes of Egyptian society were being upended and began to collapse. Poor men became wealthy because the Hebrews began to plunder the city of all its valuables. Slaves “were no longer”. Greed and violence became everyday life and they knew no bounds, with the ego and personal desire ran amok. Palaces were sacked and rebellion was everywhere. Thousands had been killed by the forces of nature and the smell of death was everywhere. Rotting corpses, garbage, vomit, blood and waste filled the streets, with broken pottery carpeting the steps of the temples.

Finally the pharaoh succumbed and pleaded with Moses and the Hebrews to get as far away as possible from Egypt. Moses and his fellow leaders wasted no time and moved their people quickly. After digging up his ancestor Joseph’s coffin and taking all that was in the chamber, Moses gathered up his surviving family members, including his sister Miriam, who was also a leader amongst their people, and prepared to leave. The Hebrews had stripped the palaces of their gold, lapis lazuli, silver, turquoise, carmelion, and amethyst. Moses and 35,000 of his people headed north-east with thousands of ox carts, obese with what they carried, and as many sheep and goats. They met up with other groups of fleeing peoples along the way and by the second night, on the shores of Lake Timsah, (biblical, Etham), in the Nile Delta, their numbers swelled to nearly 40,000. And there they were confronted by a man-made channel that flowed northward. This crocodile infested waterway linked swampy, reed-lined lakes and extended from the Gulf of Suez in the south to the Mediterranean Sea in the north. This whole complex of pools, lakes and water channels acted as, part natural, part man-made, eastern border of the Egyptian empire. The canal known as Ta-Denit (the Dividing Waters) prevented Asiatic refugee and military incursions from crossing Egypt’s eastern border. Unable to cross, the Hebrews headed north and soon reached the “mouth of the canal” (biblical Pi-Hahiroth) where an Egyptian-made sand causeway was located. The highway to Canaan, known as the Way of Horus, began here. The causeway was very narrow and capable of taking only a few people abreast at a time. It was protected by the fortress outposts of Zile and Migdol, each garrisoned by a platoon of border guards. And as Moses’ followers now numbered 40,000, it would take too long to get everyone and their carts and baggage across. The causeway was flanked by the waters of Horus (Egyptian Shi-Hor) to the north and the shallow swamp, known as The Reeds (Egyptian Pa-Zufy, biblical Yam Suph or Sea of Reeds) to the south. Running out of room and time, Moses had led his followers into a trap. On their third night of their trek they camped beside the Sea of Reeds.

Back in Avaris, pharaoh Dudimose surveyed the destruction around him. Mobs roamed the streets seeking ways to vent their anger. Palaces and temples were plundered by the once enslaved. The Pharaoh regretting having sent the Hebrew slaves away and also very much angered by them, assembled an army of six hundred chariots to chase after and capture the Hebrew horde. When Moses and his followers awoke the next morning they could see in the west signs of the Egyptian army closing in on them; a great grey cloud laying just over the horizon. But as dawn broke, a violent wind blew up from the northeast, creating an impenetrable sandstorm. It was followed by another tidal surge caused by another piece, of what once was the island of Santorini, breaking off and crashing into the sea, hundreds of miles to the northeast. The shallow waters of the Reed Sea began to be pushed back by the increasing wind, exposing the sandy floor to the south of the causeway. A passage across to Sinai, about 100 metres wide, opened up and though burdened with their plundered loot, possessions, and driving their flocks of goats and sheep before them, Moses and his followers crossed the two kilometre long land bridge to safety. By midday the wind began to ease and the sandstorm abated yet the path to the Sinai remained open. The Pharaoh could see the Hebrews had made their way across and ordered his chariots to pursue them.

The chariots swooped down into the exposed bed of Pa-Zufy and as they closed in on the stragglers of Moses’ horde, the wheels of the chariots began to bog down in the soft, wet delta mud. With the wind lessening, the water of the marshes returned, and a tidal surge roared back into the path. Horses became panicked and the ground held the Egyptians in check like quicksand. The more the soldiers and horses floundered and tried to escape the more they sank into the mud. They soon found themselves up to their chests in a deadly mix of sand and water, and as the tide swept back in, man and horse alike, heavily dressed in trappings of warfare, were swept beneath the surface. In minutes Egypt’s military pride was decimated by the Sea of Reeds. The Hebrews now safely on the far shore, watched the carnage of both man and animal and cheered and rejoiced at the death and destruction they had just witnessed. Moses’ sister Miriam, led them in joyful singing and dancing in triumphant worship to their God.

Moses quickly moved his followers into Sinai, leading the mass of repressed, illiterate and ignorant people into a somewhat better life. They would wander the Sinai desert for 40 years and would become known as the twelve tribes. Their camps on this painfully slow journey through the Sinai wilderness were many, with food and water always in short supply because of their numbers. Though with their large flocks and herds of sheep and goats, there was plenty of meat and milk, along with flour and oils. A dietary treat was the resin that seeped out of the Tamarisk tree of the southern Sinai desert. Composed mostly of sugar, it was like a wax which melted in the sun. Sweet and aromatic, dirty-yellow in color, it was a respite from a basic diet. Unfortunately it would spoil in one day, and the Hebrew began to call it manna. During these years in exile they also began to worship their one god, now called Yahweh, together as a group, which was unusual for that time for worship had always been a solitary affair.

As the tribes ceaselessly wandered the barren deserts and mountains of the Sinai Peninsula, there was much hardship with limited food and constant drought. With increasing unrest, rebellion and fighting became common amongst the many tribes who as a whole became a grumbling and complaining lot. Impatience, idolatry, and immorality lay thick in their dust filled air.

Because of the people’s unruly attitude and self defeating ways, a few years after their exodus had begun; Moses announced to the chosen tribes, that because of their behaviour, they had proved themselves unworthy. So they would continue to wander in the desert for forty years, until such time as this present, unworthy generation would be dead. And only then, would the tribes be allowed to enter their “promised by their god,” the land of Canaan.

At one time, as his people camped nearby, Moses climbed Mount Sinai, where he disappeared for some weeks. When he reappeared he was carrying stone tablets upon which were carved the words of the covenant his people were making with their one god, Yahweh. These were the Ten Commandments. The first four are directed to man’s relationship with Yahweh and the last six to man’s relationship with man. The tablets themselves were written in the world’s most ancient alphabet, Egyptian hieroglyphs, but using Semitic letters, which later evolved into Greek. While he was away on the mount the people fell to selfish desires and digressed on many levels. There was idol worship of a gold calf they had sculpted and there was much debauchery. Upon seeing this, Moses became enraged at their ignorance of their one and only god. He smashed the tablets upon a rock and sent forth warriors. Many of his people were slain in punishment.

Moses then returned to the mountain and after some days returned with a new set of tablets, once again detailing the Ten Commandments. An Ark of the Covenant was built to house these tablets and the people carried them where ever they went. The Ten Commandments that Moses carved into the tablets were: Thou shall have no other gods; Thou shall not create, worship or serve any false idols; Thou shall not take the name of your Lord thy God in vain; Remember that six days you will work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath, and must be kept holy; Thou shall honour your father and your mother; Shall not commit murder, nor adultery, nor steal; One shall not bear false witness against your neighbour; And one shall not covet thy neighbour’s house, his wife or anything that belongs to him.

Both five hundred years later, when Israel was united and the Torah finally recorded by dozens of scribes, or over the many generations after Moses’ death and orally passed down, or even while he was still alive, the one God gave the people specific instructions and collections of rules. It is written that God passed on all this information himself, speaking from a great, dark cloud, that had hovered over the people after Moses had climbed down from the mountaintop.

The information contained all the rules the Hebrew would need to live their lives, including proper worship ritual, and moral, civil, and religious laws. They were the directions for their new nation, in how to live in relationship with their God, and to each other. Most all of humanity’s values, still to this present day, towards marriage and interaction between relatives and blood relations is based on these laws, with many of the laws dealing with practical, everyday difficulties of community life. These values included how to offer sacrifices, how to carry out ceremonial law, the duties of the priests, festivals to be celebrated each year, and worship rituals. There were financial arbitration laws. Money could be lent to the poor and needy, but interest could not be charged. There were even rules for the priests in what they were to wear (blue and gold), and how to adorn themselves, as well as hundreds of laws such as: If you buy a slave, he shall serve for six years and be set free in the seventh, without pay, and many other laws governing the treatment of slaves. The rules stated that he who strikes his mother or father shall be put to death; One will not wrong a stranger or oppress him; You shall not carry a false rumour, nor gossip, and will not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness; You will not follow a multitude in doing evil; You shall cultivate on your land for six years and gather in its yield, but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow. And there were many laws dealing with such matters as theft and loss of property, crime and monetary fines and penalties. As to theft, if you were caught red-handed, you pay double the value or cost. It also covered such things as food and health laws, pledges and promises, offerings, and community purification and rules to guide judges, kings, priests, spiritual leaders, offenders, warriors, families, worshippers, divorces and the caring for the poor. One was to always judge fairly, hate was forbidden and though one was allowed to reprove, no vengeance or holding of grudges was tolerated. All together the Laws of Moses contained 613 specific commandments, of which 365 were stated negatively and 248 positively. The first two of the Ten Commandments came from Yahweh, and 611 commandments are said to have been given through Moses.

When the tribes of Moses made it to the regions of Kadesh and Moserah, and the Wadi Musa (Valley of Moses), they settled and stayed for many years. It was there, some say, that Moses, who had multilingual skills and the education of a prince of Egypt, began to compile the sacred history of the Children of Yahweh into the books of Genesis and Exodus. They were written on leather scrolls. Borrowing from texts he had read and studied earlier, of the Sumerian, Egyptian, and Babylonian cultures, Moses gave old traditions new meanings. The first two books of the bible, Genesis and Exodus are attributed to Moses, as are the next three, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, but the latter three were likely written by other scribes over many hundreds of years. These first five books of the Bible become known as the Torah and told of the creation and that there is one and only one God with ultimate authority and who possesses final dominion over the universe. Also that his people should share a common destiny and sense of collective purpose and responsibility to one another, as well as following the guidelines and rules their god, Yahweh, has passed down to them through his prophet Moses. Above all else, the god Yahweh tells Moses, that he demands loyal worship and obedient service.

Then came the day when Moses, now a very old man, made his way up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo and to the top of Pisgah, opposite Jericho, one of the earliest of all settlements. Yahweh met him there, appearing beside him and showing Moses all the land that lay before him, from Gilead to Naphatl, the land of Ephraim and Judea, as far as the Mediterranean Sea, the Negev to the south, and the plain in the valley of Jericho, as far as Zoar. And the god Yahweh said to Moses, “This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, I will give it now to your descendants. I have let you see it with your eyes, but you yourself will not go over there.” Moses would not be allowed to enter their promised land because earlier the tribes had complained about having not enough water, so their God had told Moses to speak to a rock so that it could produce water. Instead, Moses struck the rock with his staff, his only disobedient act, and for this one act God determined that Moses would not enter the Promised Land. Moses made his way back down the mountain, and died soon after in the land of Moab. Moses, the servant of the Lord God Yahweh, performer of miracles, Hebrew prophet and lawgiver was buried in the valley where he had died, but no man knows his resting place. It is written that when he died, Moses was 120 years old.

The twelve tribes that had left Egypt decades before at last headed out of the wilderness and, prepared with Yahweh’s instructions told to them and written down by Moses and kept in the Ark of the Covenant, they headed down into their “Promised land”. The many tribes of people of Canaan were collectively known as the Philistines and had already inhabited the area for over eight thousand years, living within city-states. Once covered in cedar and pine forests, the area had over the centuries, been nearly stripped clean by the Egyptians. Moses’ followers would find Palestine to be a barren, eroded, hilly country with few and limited resources; a narrow ribbon of land squeezed between desert and sea, as little as 65 kilometres across. Interestingly, this area included the saltiest body of water on the planet with the lowest point on the face of the earth, the Red Sea, as well as being one of the world’s most active earthquake zones.

The Hebrew, Joshua, son of Nun, Moses’ servant, led his people into war and conquest; to take what Yahweh had said was rightfully theirs. The earlier aspects of their faith – extinction of will, passive meditation, mournfulness, mysticism, and the softness of the Sun would not do. To achieve victory they now needed their god Yahweh to become a fierce, jealous god of vengeance with an “eye for eye” brutality. And he did.

The Promised Land was inhabited by powerful kings in strong walled cities, but over the next four hundred years, the chosen people Moses had taken out of Egypt, pillaged and beat much of Palestine into submission and finally a time came when the loose confederation of tribes finally united to become a nation themselves. Samuel, a seer, religious judge, and prophet was appointed as their king of the new united kingdom of Israel. Saul, the son of Kish, the head of a wealthy and influential family of the tribe of Benjamin was proclaimed king and war-leader soon after. The Hebrew’s new nation was called Israel and by 600 BC the now completed Hebrew bible, the Torah, gave birth to their own distinct religion, Judaism.

Although there are many prophets in the Torah, the Talmud, a collection of Jewish commentary written in about 400 AD, after the Hebrew people had once again had to flee, and had left Israel in what would become known as the Diaspora, recognized forty eight male prophets and seven women prophets. The women deemed prophets were, Sarah, Miriam, Devorah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, and Esther. Of the male prophets, Moses would become one the most important and respected. The words and acts of these prophets of Judaism would continue to guide the Jews, wherever in the four corners of the earth they scattered and settled. Unfortunately, though the Torah spoke of tolerance, as did many religions, it often fostered racism and the Jewish people would forever be persecuted, wherever they lived. Unlike other religions, Judaism is not for everyone, but only for the Jewish people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11/13/11

A Stream of Prophets (2009) Prologue

“If people bring so much courage to this world, the world has to kill them to break them. So of course, it kills them. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these, you can be sure that they will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.”       Ernest Hemingway,   “A Farewell to Arms.

Prologue

The central message of many of the great teachers of wisdom that have come along, as well as the multitudes we do not know about, and yet who have entered each of our lives at some point in time, is that they all stressed a spiritual awakening, and the need to rise above materialism, fear, inequality, and/or persecution. They appear to help us rid ourselves of the physical substances we identify with such as the essential natures of who we are which only keeps the ego, the collective madness of our species, in place and imprisons each of us separately within our own conditioned personalities and the voices in our heads.

In many cases these teachers are simple, humble heroes, courageously facing off against the forces of greed, fear and the lust for power. Forces that are forever being pushed along by humanity’s ego and which have a thirst made never to be satisfied. Its infection comes by way of warfare and violence, and its presence has tainted nations, religions, beliefs, and personal relationships. This gap between the way human behaviour is and the way it ought to behave, is from where many philosophers speak and teach. They realize that empathic consciousness overcomes this gap; for there is no dividing line between what one is and what one should be, for they are one in the same.

The earliest of prophets taught about the need for enlightenment, salvation, and awakening. They were talking about transformation. They spoke of sin, suffering and delusion and they also shared the insight of a transformation of the nature of the human condition and of what lies within our consciousness. Trying to become a better human being is a great idea, but unless there is a change of consciousness it is yet another form of self enhancement, the desire for a better self image. One cannot become good by trying to be good. One must find the good that is already within us, and allow it to emerge. But to emerge, there has to be a change in our state of consciousness.

In most cases, the message that the prophets were trying to get across arose from their concern for their people, and their collective sense of existence. What they are trying to communicate often times goes against the grain of the framework that our sense of existence is based on, our world-view. Strangely enough many of us don’t really acknowledge a world view, but most prophets had a very good understanding of this. The world-view is what was created by individuals who ran and continue to run societies and are basically behaviour control methods. They include laws, patriotism, religion, propaganda and nationalism and operate nationally, at the community level and the unconscious level. The princes of capitalism don’t like people walking around preaching spirituality and world peace, let alone inner peace.

For many of the prophets, after they had been ridiculed, reviled, spat on, stoned, beaten, imprisoned, or killed, their messages would often be misinterpreted, distorted, and misunderstood by the disciples that followed them. Other men took the teachings and organized them into books; and the belief of a religion came to be. Soon there was no more need to seek enlightenment, but instead, in the belief of one god, and to serve and worship him on the basis of guilt.

And that was one of the main problems with the teachings of many of the prophets, especially before the 16th century. Nearly all religions had stubbornly resisted any attempt to translate their sacred texts into languages everybody could understand. It became more important to believe, but not think.

Over the years many things were added and edited that had nothing to do with the prophet’s original intentions and lessons. Incredible publicity campaigns grew up after them, spreading the word. With the best scribes and much influence from the literate elite of society who attained much wealth along the way, the original teachings of many of the prophets, and the changes they brought about, created cultures. Culture became the beliefs, values, behaviour, and material objects that constitute many peoples’ way of life. Our culture and where we live, not only shapes what we do, it also forms our personalities. The religions that formed from these original teachings became divisive and not unifying at all, because they brought more violence, hatred and racism and a greater lack of tolerance for other people and other religions. They became ideologies, belief systems that people could identify with and use to enhance their false sense of self. They who believed were right while all others were wrong. Others were either nonbelievers or wrong believers and could be killed because of it. Convert and repent or die. If you did not think as they did, you were considered evil. As religions grew it soon became all about conflict between the dominant and disadvantaged, the rich and poor, the black and white, Aboriginal and Anglo-Saxon, Westerner and Asian, Christian and Muslim and on and on and on.

Far too many people do not realize the differences between spirituality and religion. Having a set of thoughts regarded as the absolute truth, dictated by a belief system, does not make you spiritual. The more one tries to make these fabricated beliefs a part of their thoughts and identity, the more one moves away from the spirituality within themselves. That is why the original teachings of many prophets, such as the need for mankind to transform consciousness, have arisen again, but this time outside the structures of most organized religions. Though structures are still needed in modern societies because of the size of our population and the fact that our species is flawed, in that we are a menace to ourselves because we continue to fall into disasters caused by our passions. Thus man-made systems have to be created and put into place to keep our desires in check and on an even keel.

Many of the prophets were spiritually enlightened individuals who liberated themselves from attachments that led to selfish desires. They were people who preoccupied themselves with thoughts, feelings, and aspirations for their fellow human beings. True prophets believe in the value of human life, any human life. Both preaching and open dialogue are used. And more often than not, the messages indicate that there is always a reason for what happens in our lives. It may not be the most obvious reason, but if you look hard enough you will find it, as nothing really happens by chance. The proof lies in the universe itself, which has proven time and time again, and against all odds, that it is a very meaningful place indeed.

Appropriately enough, the journey to enlightenment, bears many comparisons to the composition of the classical heroes’ tale. Though a few prophets do reach the final stage of enlightenment, the reality is, it is very rare. The majority of prophets are simply, mere mortals, who have flaws just like everyone else; ambitions and regrets, wives, sons and daughters. But something inside them would arise, and above all they held dear, even their own personal safety, they felt compelled to throw themselves onto the tears in the fabric of our existence. To stand up and say what was needed to be said. And if they were righteous and true in their stance and point of view, many would come to support them, and to revile them.

Reaching enlightenment is where one feels to be a part of the realization of spirit, of the energy that exists in the global human community. The enlightened do not necessarily believe in a god, but they seem to carry a grace that makes them more aware and complete than other fellow humans. They do not think of themselves as perfect, rather they think of all humans and nature, and hold dear the aspect of each.

The enlightened are able to get along with anybody, and are able to have dialogue with all people, no matter their stage of spirituality or faith-based tradition. They live each moment as it happens. The problems the enlightened and many prophets have, as mentioned earlier, are the structures that make up our societies, the world-view that has been constructed by despotism and religions. These structures are what we sustain ourselves with for personal and corporate survival and which are significant, to our existence. Structures of institutions, habits, culture, and tradition, are the things that people cherish, and which brings about social cohesion, religious faith and national pride. But if these values disappear and we no longer have our distractions and allegiances of the ego, then the majority of the populations of most countries would then clearly see their exploitation and with the curtain drawn back would see the flagrant, harsh, and unadorned reality of the differences between the corporate elite and the worker. It is why many who reach enlightenment are murdered at the hands of those who they had hoped to change.

According to Ken Wilber’s “Integral Spirituality,” there are six stages of spiritual evolvement. The first stage on the road to enlightenment begins when we reach about the age of seven years. Before and after birth we make no distinctions at all about anything. By seven, our thoughts are made up by what we’ve learned from our parents, the surroundings of our childhood and interactions with other children. As for spirituality, our thoughts are made up of unconscious and mostly religious fantasy. The next stage is when we begin to hold certain aspects of these myths as literal and absolute truths. We also start believing in miracles. The third stage is when we move beyond our family’s faith and start accepting the judgments of others, such as teachers, the media, and priests. This is when we first start developing a loyalty to a certain ideology, group or lifestyle, whether it is religious, the military, artistic, sport, economic, or political.

The fourth stage is where self, our inner being, comes into contact with the ego. Spirituality suddenly becomes more of an individual struggle. One becomes more reflective, concerned about achieving their full potential through creativity, independence, and a grasp of the real world, and to take more responsibility for their beliefs. It is the time one starts asking if there is anything beyond this deity-ruled world. Much of what they seek is hidden behind words and language. It becomes a time when one stops ignoring those little voices in our head that are forever questioning orthodoxy and when one will begin to seriously examine other religions and belief systems and many times coming to the realization that some of one’s personal convictions are very relative to them. Many organized religions fearfully believe that this stage is the “mortal sin” of humans in thinking of self and not ego controlled thoughts. To seek knowledge and to ask questions, to be more confident or to use reason have all been deemed “evil thoughts” by many of the faithful. The most important characteristic of this stage is when we realize that each one of us has a choice in how we live our lives. Allowing the masses to know they have a choice is what most scares the few at the top.

The fifth stage is integration. It is when we recognize our weaknesses and can see truth over contradictory and absurd beliefs. We no longer take literally the stories of spiritual and cultural traditions, but instead seek the truth which is deep within each one of us. We study all the philosophers and scriptures, using their symbolism to bridge the gap between rational and intuitive. Both sides of our brain working together allows us to seek that which is not directly visible in the material world.

The final stage is enlightenment and being aware of each moment of each day. It has nothing to do with what you do with your body or mind; it has to do with what you do with your soul. One does not need classes, religious ritual, or seminars to find out who they are. Love without exception, without requirement, and without wanting or needing anything in return. One achieves enlightenment when their life possesses happiness, peace, and wisdom, and they share these with others. They see that life is no longer just about them, but instead is about everyone else that their spirit touches. It is this final stage of enlightenment that the earliest priests and rulers tried to hide from the masses.

After the first cities arose more than five thousand years ago, they had quickly begun expanding outwards. In conquering nearby lands for room to grow more food to feed and work their increasing populations, they rolled over other cultures and cities for their wealth, natural resources and people, who would become their slaves with generation after generation of warfare, enslavement and bloodshed, compounded regularly by drought, famine or flood. Every city-state was busily rushing around using humanity as fodder with each frantically trying to claim the biggest piece of the pie.

No doubt because of this Dynastic Age world-view, which lasted two thousand years, in about 800 BC, many cultures would come to similar solutions to the war and violence that plagued their respective societies. Before this time, the majority of the planet was ruled by their kings, pharaohs, priests, and hundreds of gods, with two prophets, Abraham and Moses standing out because they would be among the first to believe in only one god, were respected and feared leaders of their own distinct tribe and their stories would become written word.

But after 800 BC, what the German philosopher Karl Jaspers would call the Axial Age began and gradually ended about seven hundred years later. The Axial Age was an explosion of spiritual growth and influx of prophets all over the planet. It was like the world had decided to come up for air, and by taking a big breath, it brought out its consciousness. But then that is what a true prophet’s role in society is, promoting change, based on their messages and actions.

The similar solutions these respective societies would come to, was the development of four great religious traditions; Confucianism and Daoism in China, Hinduism and Buddhism in India, Monotheism, from which would arrive Judaism, and later on, Christianity and Islam and the philosophical rationalism in Greece.

By 800 BC the Hebrew tribes had conquered all of Palestine and Israel and finally laid claim to their promised land. At last there was a measure of peace. The scribes began writing and copying the books of the Torah, which would become known as the Old Testament and be written for only the Jewish people. The stories of Abraham, Moses, the history of the Hebrew tribes, and the belief in only one god, were finally being recorded and fine tuned, though all around them were tribes who believed in many gods. The preceding centuries had created much waste and injustice from mankind’s unending and brutal violence upon itself. And it would have an effect on the Hebrew, where, though their god was still the father, demanding, and threatening, and still existed outside of humanity, he would now become more of a personal god, more responsive and the sole creator of the universe.

At nearly the same time, the Greeks, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle threw themselves into the roles of being prophets of humanity and nature, through the theory that reason provides the primary basis for knowledge rather than experience, authority, or spiritual revelation. They also brought about a new system hoping it would end the carnage of the past. It was a system where the exchange and discussion of ideas were allowed, a system that protected the right of each citizen to hold their own view and opinion, no matter their strength. This system, based on interaction, would become democracy.

In the East, Buddha, Confucius and Lao Tzi brought forth simplicity and inner and cultural peace by taking the concept of a god and accepting it as a force, but a force that could only be found through enlightenment. God became a consciousness one could be connected to on the inside, instead of a god one had to please by obeying his laws and rituals. It was a shift in awareness for the Chinese, an opening that brought their collective consciousness into harmony and security.

Oceans away, the Olmecs and Aztec would soon construct their pyramids and temples, and begin sacrificing the blood of their people to appease their own gods.

Many of the Axial Age prophets were not concerned with doctrine or the supernatural. The belief was in the behaviour of humanity. “What mattered was not what you believed, but how you behaved,” behaviour that was characterized by an emptying of the self, the abandonment of egotism and materialism, and having compassion for others. The focus was now about how one treated their fellow man, and the idea that there was nothing wrong with who or what you believed in, as long as those beliefs impelled you to act with consideration toward others, especially strangers. These were new ideas to many people of the Axial Age, especially the realization that one’s behaviour, rather than one’s belief, was what was important in both life and community.

The main principle these prophets gave was hope. They made changes that in practical terms, brought people out of an abyss. They taught that the quest for happiness and harmonious interaction between individuals and groups, involved some kind of spiritual journey, whose completion, though sometimes beyond the limits of human emotion and ordinary understanding, would bring fulfilment and remove the pain, tribulation, tragedy, worry, and confusion. A sense of purpose of why we are here began to develop. They also emphasised the importance of resolution, of being vigilant and aware of one’s path. And most importantly, when journeying to fulfilment, one should not look back.

The concepts of the Greeks, Asians, and the knowledge contained in Babylon, would have a profound effect on what would eventually become the Bible and later the Qur’an, as well as on the rest of the world. But unfortunately much of what was envisioned during the Axial Age would be pushed to the sidelines, hidden and banned with Christianity, and then Islam, arising after the Greeks and the Romans were no more. By 900 A.D., most Western cultures would revert back to adopting a religious view that society expressed God’s will. Christianity and Islam saw their societies and their worlds as the product of supernatural forces and lived their lives guided by selfish human nature and the worship of different versions of the same god. Social thought became focused on what society ought to be. And it would not be until 1500 A.D. that social thought would be based on the need to understand society as it existed. The changes in the spirituality of humanity during the Axial Age had profoundly affected people, and it had continued to run deeply until the 16Th century, where it once again arose from the mist, and sprouted the prophets, thinkers, and philosophers of the Scientific Revolution and humanity would develop a new world-view of heaven and earth. Then arrived the Age of Enlightenment in late 18Th century Europe, which would begin to shape the modern Western world.

The words of the prophets do overlap on many issues and what was and continues to be written of their teachings; identifies fundamental points of observances and rituals, and characterize ancient wisdom with contemporary language. They seem to share a common resource and spiritual heritage which allows its believers within a particular tradition, to identify, support, and commune with others, though not all of their new found knowledge went to the common people. In many cases, the theories and discussions and understandings were for the elite of society, who in most cases were the only ones who had the idle time to spend their days arguing points of philosophy and life, as well as being, in most cases, the only ones who could read.

The Greek philosophers, as well as men like Confucius taught only aristocratic men, sharing their wisdom with just a privileged few, mostly males of noble birth. Throughout much of human history, formal schooling was generally only available to the wealthy. Indeed, the Greek root of the word school, is leisure. Many of their beliefs and philosophies did eventually make it to the common man, but unfortunately not until hundreds of years later.

Many prophets were simply figureheads, patriarchs of beliefs that arose from their visions, meditations and reflections. Some scholars suggest that the visions and insights of the earliest prophets could very well have been a result of schizophrenia. And though some of the teachings of the prophets might very well have been based on haphazard fantasy, undeniably most are based on some sort of a sense of other levels of reality; forms of awareness that we in the modern West gave up in order to develop a more rational and more efficient way of thought.

Virtually all the brilliant thinkers of the ancient world were more interested in envisioning the “ideal” society rather than caring about the actual society around them. What they achieved worked its way down the chain eventually, but even then, only to the educated.

Other prophets dealt with issues, for social change, and brought forth values and norms for society. Values that would serve as guidelines for social living, and which would be culturally defined standards, such as desirability, goodness, and beauty, while beliefs would become specific statements on what the people held to be true and of what ought to exist in their lives. The norms of cultures are the rules and expectations by which a society guides the behaviour of its people. Values and norms do not describe actual human behaviour as much as prescribe how people of a society should act. The most important thing many prophets brought, besides hope, was change, because it is a fact, that new ideas create change in sociological thinking within a culture.

Since the first ancient civilizations, our lives have been framed by the social forces at work in our particular time and environment in which we happen to live in. Society is a complex system, and has always been characterized by inequality and conflict, which at times has created social change. However division in society has always been based on social inequality. Unequal distribution of wealth, income, education, power and prestige are all linked to the factors of race, ethnicity, gender, and age.

Typically, social structure benefits some while depriving others. But what often rises above these truths is the fact that shared values or social interdependence generates unity among members of society. And this is where most prophets have made their mark.

In religion, a prophet (or a prophetess) is a person who has encountered the supernatural or the divine, often one who serves as an intermediary with humanity, an agent of god. Though there are also prophets in music, science, philosophy, literature, and even in our daily lives, all of whom made a difference to our sense of existence, and who are not divine or supernatural in any way.  That is why authentic prophets by some are false prophets to others.

But ethical leadership is what the world desperately needs today. Our modern age came about after an age of enlightenment, while today it has become an age of entitlement. There is less gratitude and more attitude in today’s society because too many are living lives of flagrant consumption and yet at the same time acting so hard done by. Our attitude of not appreciating what we have, because of so much concern with what we want and can get is what is not allowing us to behave in a civilized manner anymore, to ourselves and to others.

This essay contains only a few of the untold numbers of prophets who have made a difference in their fellow human beings lives’, whether culturally, spiritually, scientifically, or behaviourally. It also includes prophets who preached a simple life apart from the materialistic world, and some who were prophets for justice, equality and peace, and strangely enough, most of the greatest prophets seem to always show up when their neighbours, people or culture, needs them most. Many of these prophets have also admitted, at least once in their lives, that when everything is said and done, “the most cherished thing we could do for each other, is to simply be a little kinder.” Or as the respected Jewish rabbi, Hillel, once answered a skeptic who had asked him to teach him the Torah, ” What is hateful to yourself do not do to another. This is the whole Torah, go and study it, the rest is commentary.”

10/6/11

Grand Deluges (2010)

Having spent considerable time staring out a wheelhouse window, where the only thing before you is sky and water, with no land or creature in sight, I could very well imagine what it would be like if the earth were to be engulfed in water. Once being a skipper of large vessels, I often wondered how I could have fit every creature on the planet on board, and of course what would happen when the fuel and food ran out, or in Noah’s case, when the wind died down. The smell and noise would be unbearable.

Considering the fact that 70% of the earth’s surface is water, it is of no wonder that most all creation myths contain a story of a great flood that, in most cases, erases all life from the planet. Though millennia ago, the earth was not yet known as a planet and nearly everyone had rarely ventured much farther than ten or so miles in any direction from where they lived. This is true even today. So if that area were to flood, to them, their whole world indeed was flooded. For even if a particular flood was on a global scale, there would be no way for the earliest peoples to know this. Indeed only a few hundred years ago we still believed the world to be flat, with the earth at its centre. Though any flood, at any point in time, most often devastated the known world of the people who lived there. Even today, a rise of only half a metre in the sea level would be devastating to many areas on the planet.

Reality is that the earth is a couple of a billion years old. Hominoids have been around for a million years, while anatomically modern humans, who evolved from an Archaic Homo Sapiens, have been around for only 200,000 years. Suffice to say, there has been flooding of the earth since, like forever. In truth, floods have only really affected humans to a large extent, since we stopped our endless wandering, hunting and gathering way of life. When our wandering began to intrude on other wanderer’s, when we had hunted, many to extinction, most of the larger animals residing with us on the planet and when our populations rose enough to never have enough food for everyone, the climate began to change as the last ice age slowly ended. It had changed enough by 12,000 years ago that we eventually figured out how to grow our own food.

Some might look at the number, twelve thousand years, and think, wow that’s a lot of years. While in reality it is but a blink of an eye compared to the lifespan of the planet earth. One needs perspective to appreciate the time it really represents. Imagine if you will a true tome of a book, one thousand pages long and titled, The Story of the Earth. Near the end of the book, as you begin to read page 998 you’ll read about how the continental drift of the African land mass bumped into the European land mass and began to form the Alps. At the top of page 1000 you’d read about the first Hominids to appear. The last line on this final page would be about the Neanderthal, with the last eight letters representing the beginnings of the first great civilizations that we know of, Sumer and Egypt. The final two letters would describe the Roman Empire and the period at the end of the last page, of this 1000 page book would barely represent the last 100 years. This would conclude that, as far as flooding goes, it’s been happening for much longer than how it has affected us as a species and in truth is far more natural to the planet than we think we are.

Before 12,000 years ago much of humanity lived along the shorelines, as we still do today, though at that time the shorelines were on the edges of the earth’s continental shelves. In some areas of the earth, these shelves lay dozens, even hundreds of miles off of our present day shorelines. So it only makes sense that as the ice age ended and the water rose, humanity would be affected by flooding. Only after 12,000 years ago would floods and other natural events of the earth begin to have a more profound effect on us as humans as we began to evolve from being simple nomadic bands into sedentary farmers. We were basically large family groups who wandered about hunting game, scavenging and gathering wild foods such as fruit, berries, seeds, grubs and roots, into stay at home farmers who began to grow our own food.. And of course the most fertile ground was nearest the water. In truth we had always lived near water, as do most all flora and fauna, because all life needs water to survive. Whether in river valleys or alongside their banks, within their deltas or along lake and sea shores, most all living things are dependent on their proximity to water. The earliest humans, who existed only by hunting and gathering, would move their encampments every few weeks, and would set up each new camp near a water source, but were able to move on more quickly after any flooding, for any materials they had they could carry and in most cases were very aware of what nature was doing around them, and were probably more proactive with nature than we are today. With the development of agriculture, flood and famine would begin to affect the human race more severely and on a larger scale; though the truth of the matter is flooding has always affected all that has lived upon the earth. The Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Chinese, and Native Americans all thought that the earth had been covered in water many times, and of course their regions were affected by flooding. Many of these stories of catastrophes and upheavals were not all just simply great flood stories brought about by an angry divine being. There were and are many reasons why they happened.

Many of the ancient flood stories share similarities such as the sky turning red, earth tremors, and torrents of muddy rain, thunder and lightning. This seems to suggest that most of these floods were caused by the upheaval of the earth. Nearly each and every story also tells that after such days of darkness and chaos, some humans survived and continued on, persevering against all odds, which must have been uplifting to the people, who would later hear these tales. The ancient peoples led sometimes hard and punishing lives, and to hear stories of people surviving the most terrible things that nature could bring upon them, no doubt brought hope to their daily lives.

Natural flooding provides water resources to areas in arid or semi arid regions. It recharges ground water tables and makes soil more fertile by providing needed nutrients. Freshwater flooding is very important because it maintains eco-systems along rivers for flood plain diversity. The nutrients are so very important to everything that lives in the water, especially when it comes to spawning. Indeed periodic flooding was essential to the growth and well being of ancient communities along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the Nile, Indus, and Yellow Rivers, among others.

The earth has been changing and evolving for millions of years, with each geological era lasting millions of years, each ending nearly every time from the effects of an impact from a large celestial object on the earth. These impacts could even have been the source of putting water on the planet in the first place, when it was still believed to be still just a big rock covered in lava, billions of years ago. Meteorites and asteroids slamming into the planet, over millions of years could have brought billions of tons of water vapour and carbon dioxide with them. This vaporization in the atmosphere from the impacts could have covered the earth with seas. The theory is the condensation in the atmosphere accumulated over about 20,000 years or so, and delivered enough water to cover the planet at least one inch deep. Then over millions of years a greenhouse effect would have made the earth warm and wet enough in which life could grow.

Since that time, truly great flooding has been caused by either the process of expansion, which is the movement of the earth’s crusts, the impact of celestial objects, the melting of glaciers, or deluges of monsoon proportions. Flooding would become the natural actions of water runoff from substantial rainfall and/or rapid snow melt and caused by monsoons, hurricanes, tropical depressions, thunderstorms, cyclones, or earthquake generated tsunamis. All these also cause sea tidal and storm surges. Most great floods today, and for the last many millennia, have occurred locally or regionally, not globally. There are two reasons for this, earth has not been hit by a very large celestial body for many millennia and though most of the planet is covered with water, there is simply not enough volume to completely cover the earth. But when something very large slams into the earth everything changes.

About 60 million years ago a giant comet, asteroid or meteor, slammed into the earth where the Gulf of Mexico is today. Estimated to have been about 10 kilometres wide, it hit the earth with the force of at least one thousand times the power of all nuclear devices on the planet today. The initial crater was more than 300 kilometres across. The cloud plume of the impact would have pushed through the atmosphere. Its fireball radius would have expanded outwards for thousands of kilometres with three hundred mile an hour wind sweeping around the globe. It would have completely dried out much of the flora, including most trees. Two thousand degree rock vapour would disperse into the atmosphere, and then fall as white-hot grains, starting fires worldwide. It filled the atmosphere with dust so thick that for years the sunlight was completely cut off. Temperatures dropped to near freezing, worldwide. In a fairly short time 50 per cent of all plant and animal life, including the dinosaurs, became extinct. Mass extinctions like this happen on the earth about every 26 million years, and of all the creatures to have ever lived upon the earth, 99 per cent of them, are extinct.

When an object of size arrives from space and slams into the earth, it is travelling at about one hundred and sixty thousand kilometres per hour. It is one of the fastest things in the universe. When comets are shooting around in space, their tails alone can stretch a hundred million kilometres behind them. Large impacts are cataclysmic to the climate and to the earth itself. Even passing by too closely would prove fatal to earth. Millions of years ago the earth was hit with asteroids, several hundred kilometres across. Some so large that the meteorite’s tail-end did not feel the impact, or be near the atmosphere until the front was buried 20 kilometres deep into the earth.

As recently as thirty-five thousand years ago, a meteorite about 50 metres in diameter and travelling about 11 kilometres per second crashed into present day Arizona, its crater, the Barrington Crater, is 200 metres deep and 1.2 kilometres wide. The earth is covered with many impact footprints. Comet and asteroid impacts are actually happening all the time, fortunately the majority of the earth is water and desert, and most explode at high altitudes when they enter the earth’s atmosphere. Fireballs are recorded fairly regularly all over the globe. The 1908 Tunguska event in Siberia was an airburst of an asteroid about five miles above the earth, levelling an area of uninhabitable forest of more than two thousand square kilometres. On average, a large meteorite, weighing upwards of 50,000 tonnes or about the size of a cruise ship hits the earth once every 100,000 years.

Besides asteroid hits, the earth is constantly in turmoil, undergoing dramatic change from within its depths and from the movements of its crust. There is nothing that happens in nature that is by chance. Some of the changes are slow to happen, while others happen very abruptly, often without warning. Even today more than six-hundred active volcanoes spew sulphurous smoke and fire into the earth’s atmosphere, with more than a million earthquakes recorded annually. Japan alone registers up to one-thousand tremors a day. Ninety per cent of the three thousand earthquakes of various intensities recorded every day worldwide occur around the Pacific Rim, with most others in a band running from Spain, through the northern Mediterranean to the Himalayas and Indonesia. Imagine all this natural activity happening over millions of years. And then, very recently, frail and minuscule, Homo sapiens appear.

At the peak of the last Ice Age the sea level in most areas was about 120 metres lower than it is today. This suggests that there could be evidence of earlier peoples we have not found yet, as the remains possibly lie under water. Consider the continental shelves, mentioned earlier, which at one time were the shoreline. It would have been easier to travel along its shorelines than inland and over valleys, swamps, deserts and mountains.

The greatest sheet of ice at the peak of the last ice age was an unbroken land mass that ran from deep in Siberia, across the Bering Shelf and 640 to 800 kilometres into North America. Many scientists call this ice sheet, Beringia. Covering much of North America were two huge ice sheets, the Laurentide and the Cordilleran. About 18,000 years ago the ice slowly began to melt. At the peak of the last ice ages, many of the glaciers that had crept southward from the Arctic, and to a lesser extent northwards from the Antarctic, were upwards of three kilometres in height. Their weight alone is hard to comprehend. Roughly 12,000 years ago the melting accelerated, and the glaciers began slowly retreating, leaving behind a gouged out and compressed landscape, covered by tundra. When Beringia eventually separated the earth into two huge land masses, Eurasia-Africa and the Americas, it also separated two groups of humans, who would each further develop, for the most part, unaware of each other’s existence. In North America, the retreating glaciers were leaving behind massive lakes. One of these has since been named Lake Bonneville, and was centred on the present day states of Utah, Idaho and Nevada, in the United States. One of the lake’s remnants is the Great Salt Lake. It was at least 350 metres deep and covered more than 51,000 square kilometres. It was formed about 32,000 years ago and 14,500 years ago it broke out and through a natural mountain pass called the Red Rock Pass. Breaching Red Rock Pass, the flood crest was perhaps 120 metres high and travelled about 110 kilometres per hour. The flood scoured out the present day, 180 metre deep, Snake River Canyon, with the waters eventually reaching the Pacific Ocean, via the Columbia River; causing sea levels to rise about 9 inches, in many parts of the world.

Around 12,000 years ago the earth seemed to have gone through another series of great upheaval. Many different events all over the world were happening. The earth seemed to be in a fight for its life. According to D.S.Allan and J.B.Delair in their book, “When the Earth nearly Died – Compelling Evidence of a Cosmic Catastrophe of 9500BC”, they suggested that some cosmic body, whether a giant meteor or a fragment of an exploding nova, was thrown through our solar system. Though not actually hitting the earth, it was close enough that as it sped by, it left a trail of wreckage in its wake. They surmised that it tilted Uranus on its side, tore away a moon that went spinning off into space to become the planet Pluto, and created a field of asteroids. As it passed earth, it increased the tilt of the earth’s axis, causing the earth’s crust to shift.

Egyptian writings based on oral histories, tell of a great shaking of the earth around this time, and that a flood had nearly destroyed the earth. Some have suggested this is related to the Egyptian word that calls this time, Zep Tepi (the Beginning). Another nearly identical tremor and flood story could perhaps be associated with the Haida Gwaii, off the west coast of Canada, who say that their forefathers had once lived in a global community, but then there had been chaos in the world, the earth shook and the earth was flooded. The myth tells how the Haida survivors escaped in large canoes and made their way to safety, landing on a mountain top that had risen out of the water.

In “The Cradle of Man” by Arthur Posnansky, it is asserted that this is the time the Andes rose up as well, where the area of Tiahuanaco in the Andes was destroyed and rose more than a kilometre above sea level and is present day Lake Titicaca. At the same time in North America, at least 25 animal species, including the mastodon and sabre tooth tigers were wiped out in a few short years, though this could also be attributed to early man and his evolving hunting prowess and technology. As well as the fact that in the earliest times large animals were not afraid of humans, as we were simply a smaller and weaker species and could get up close. Other theories suggest North America was hit by an asteroid that had broken up as it passed through the atmosphere and slammed into the continent like a shotgun blast; the fragments spreading out like pellets.

At the same time the ice sheets of the last ice age began to melt and the sea level began to rise. The introduction of farming around 8000 BC began to change many aspects of a human’s life. Not everyone had to go out every day to forage and hunt. Populations began to rise. Life expectancy rose. Agriculture was becoming more and more relied upon to feed everyone, just as more and more people had less to do. By about 6500 BC, farming had nearly become global. Even today we still survive on the same four basic foods that these early farmers grew and survived on, potatoes, rice, wheat and corn. Though today, the largest crop in the world, by far, is sugar cane.

Nearly all of the earliest civilizations had a constant struggle against nature and the flooding of its arable lands. Myths and stories began to develop through oral history. Many of these great flood stories could have been inspired by ancient observations of seashell and fish fossils found inland and upon mountain tops. This hypothesis by Adrienne Mayor, in her work, “The First Fossil Hunters” makes sense when one considers that before the last ice-age much of the land that was above sea level, at its height, had at one time been beneath the water.

As elsewhere, Europe was also experiencing continual change. Many millions of years ago a severe earthquake dropped the surface of the Mediterranean more than 1500 metres below its present level, then over the millennia and through the process of expansion Africa was and still is, slowly moving northwards. About seven million years ago Africa bumped up against the European land mass, trapping the Mediterranean Sea by closing off the Strait of Gibraltar. Because not enough rivers ran into it at the time, the basin dried up to form a group of three to four lakes, each separate from the other, much like the great lakes of North America. The Nile and Rhone rivers have deep gorges in solid rock under them, suggesting these rivers once poured great torrents of steeply, dropping water into the Mediterranean basin. Then about five and a half million years ago the Atlantic started to break though again at the Strait of Gibraltar. Caused by continental drift, it was perhaps the greatest waterfall in history, and maybe fifty times higher than Niagara Falls in North America. But had maybe more than one thousand times the greater volume of water pouring through to fill the Mediterranean basin, though it would take about a thousand years. The Mediterranean basin is as much as 4800 metres deep in places, however by 18,000 BC the sea level had risen to a height that was still at least 120 metres lower than it is today.

Much of Europe at this time was still very near to the retreating glaciers and would have been a harsh environment; while most of Africa was a semi desert. Comparatively the Mediterranean would have been a temperate, if not warm, climate for much of the year, and it was fairly well populated with early peoples, especially the area known as the Fertile Crescent, where agriculture would soon begin.

A thousand or so year go by, and in about 7545 BC, another great flood happens, caused by the impact of not just one comet or asteroid, but according to the theory put forth by geologist Alexander Tollmann and his wife Edith, by at least seven hits. They surmise that one great celestial object broke up into seven chunks as it passed through the earth’s atmosphere. It is recorded in many myths and oral histories that around this time seven Stars fell to the earth. “The Book of Enoch” speaks of seven burning mountains hitting the earth. In other accounts the earth was attacked by seven burning suns. The Tollmanns’ suggest the impact sites included the south-western tip of South America, west of Panama in the Pacific Ocean, the mid-Atlantic, the North Sea, the Indian Ocean area, Southeast Asia, and south of Australia. These impacts would have been truly devastating and would have caused huge tidal waves around the globe, with much flooding. The sky would have been darkened for years by the dust and there would have been extreme climate change, including drought. The land bridge that had once existed and nearly connected Asia and Australia is thought to have been submerged by the rising waters caused by these strikes.

Another thousand years go by and then perhaps one of the greatest floods of all time occurs. This flood caused a series of events that would greatly impact the human populations of the Mediterranean, Eurasia, North America, the Middle East and various other places around the globe. All of these people would include some of the aspects of these events in their creation myths and religious beliefs, which were soon to be created.

The cause of this particular flood was a great prehistoric lake of ice located in northeast North America, now named Lake Agassiz. At its greatest extent, 13,000 years ago, it covered Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Western Ontario in Canada and Northern Minnesota and Eastern Dakota in the United States, perhaps covering as much as 1.5 million square kilometres with a volume equal to at least fifteen Lake Superiors. It was formed from glacial melt-water. As the ice sheets which lay atop Lake Agassiz melted the water drained north into the Arctic Ocean, adding much to the rising sea levels worldwide. By about 9900 BC Lake Agassiz had refilled, but then in 8400 BC it drained completely. The deluge initially broke through at Hudson’s Bay in Canada, and eventually also surged down the Mississippi River valley to the Gulf of Mexico, into the Atlantic by way of the St. Lawrence and Hudson River valleys, and north into the North Atlantic.

Since the peak of the last Ice Age, the sea had risen in surges, and after nearly 10,000 years the sea level was now a couple hundred metres higher than what it was at its peak. But so great was the Lake Agassiz flood that the sea levels in many areas rose possibly 6-10 metres, with the global sea level rising at least 2-3 metres in the first couple of months alone, and then eventually raising the sea levels to their present levels.

The Yaghan people, who have inhabited the islands of the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, on the southern tip of South America, for at least eight thousand years, have an interesting creation story. “Lexuwakipa, who was very moody, felt offended by the people. In revenge she let it snow so much that an enormous mass of ice came to cover the entire Earth. When it eventually began to melt, there was so much water that the Earth became completely flooded.”

Lake Agassiz’ final outburst occurred beneath the massive glacier called the Laurentide ice Sheet, which was under so much pressure from the gushing lake water that is was lifted by the outflow and moved northwards across Hudson’s Bay. It poured forth millions of tons of freezing water into the seas. Soon other parts of the great Canadian ice sheet followed, and in a couple of years the glacial Lake Ojibway, centred over the present day Great Lakes area, overflowed into the Atlantic and added perhaps over a metre of water to the rising sea levels.

The effects of this great flood would be felt for hundreds of years. Indeed the retreating glaciers and subsequent floods of these humongous volumes of fresh water had cleared a path for the first peoples to enter North America’s prairie regions. The lakes of freezing water took at least a year to drain with many theories suggesting that this caused, what is now known as the 8.2 Kiloyear event. The freezing waters caused a sudden decrease in global temperatures causing worldwide cooling which affected the planet for at least 400 years. The flood’s waters entered the Mediterranean Sea with such force that the island of Malta, which sits east of the narrow Sicilian Channel, sustained incredible damage. Temples and stone block walls collapsed, with some of the larger temple stones thrown distances up to eight metres. Most of the destruction was primarily on the western side of the island, the direction from which this deluge arrived from.

When the flooding mass of water reached the eastern end of the Mediterranean the surge raced through the narrow channel of the Dardanelles and confronted the natural dam at Bosporus, in present day Turkey. It is now about 5800 BC and the Black Sea was an inland lake with its sea level at least 100 metres lower than what it is today and was fairly well populated. For at least two years the sea level of the Mediterranean rose and eventually caused the waters to breach at the Bosporus gap. At first, it no doubt started as a trickle and within a year the flow was twice as strong. Finally the barrier began to crumble causing the water level of the inland lake to rise about half a metre a day. The torrent’s current poured in at about 100 kilometres per hour. The waterfall itself was at least 110 metres in height. The peoples that lived there would have had to move northward at the rate of a mile per day just to keep ahead of the flood. Eventually the entire area was transformed into a giant sea, but oddly enough, it would become a sea where the water would not circulate, and would be called the Black Sea.

Elsewhere in the Mediterranean, the rising waters flooded the Nile Valley with the seawater reaching as far as Aswan, 900 kilometres inland. There is proof this flooding of the Nile reached nearly four metres above today’s highest flood line.

By 4800 BC groups of people were on the move. Many made their way to Mesopotamia plain, and with the people that had already been there, settled along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and formed communities. Some of these people could have been survivors of the great Black Sea flood, bringing with them their myths, beliefs and oral history.

The Mesopotamia plain was an environment of levees and marshland, with much of the travelling having to be done using canoes. The arable land they found was rich and fertile. Farming a couple square kilometres of good soil brought them the ability to support a farming village of more than one hundred people, with the people mostly living in fragile reed huts. Lacking metal and stone, their tools and utensils were made from fired clay. Their society was egalitarian, with little distinction between class and rank. The plain they lived on was extremely flat, only rising a few metres over hundreds of kilometres. At the time one of their first cities to be built, Ur, was located about 160 kilometres inland from the sea. Today its location lies 240 kilometres inland, and even at this distance the plain is only about four to five metres above sea level. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers flowed within levees and banks that were higher than the surrounding land. Though these rivers would flood annually, their deluge was usually withstood by the channels, small canals, and crude reservoirs that even the very first settlers had learned to construct.

These people advanced and grew to become one of the first civilizations of man, the beginning of the Sumerian dynasty. By 4000 BC they had already devised ways to keep track of inventory, using tokens and beads and soon were well on their way to inventing written script. Born from administrative needs, the more organized they became, the greater the need for record keeping. The first written records were mostly bookkeepers’ records, including transactions or listings of commodities and would eventually evolve to include stories and poems. Over the generations, one of the first legendary stories of the Sumerian, and then Akkadian age, would become known as the “Epic of Gilgamesh,” which was derived from songs that minstrels had sung for hundreds of years. First written down in about 2000 BC, it was a story based on the trials and tribulations of the great and adventurous Gilgamesh Ruler of Sumer, King of Uruk (2500-2450 BC). One of his adventures was the story of a great flood. It tells that sometime after man, plants, and animals had been created; kingships are established in five special cities all along the shores of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Because of the disobedience of the people that lived in these five cities, the gods decided to bring a flood and destroy mankind. Some of the gods didn’t necessarily agree with the extreme severity of this decree. One of them, Enki (Ea), told the mortal human Ziusudra (Utnapishtim), who was known for his humility and reverence, that he should build a large boat to ride out the coming flood; “To save himself, his family, the seed of all living creatures, the game of the fields and all the craftsmen.” And a flood then swept the land, “raining for seven days and seven nights.” After surviving the flood, Ziusudra kneeled before, An and Enlil, two of the leading gods. They were so pleased with his god-fearing humility that they gave him the “Life of God” and “Breath Eternal,” and carried him off to the paradise-like island, Mount Dilmun, “the place where the sun rises.”

Similarity the flood as described in the Bible, was about a man called Noah, a man of virtue, a good man. While praying one day a voice carried on the wind spoke to him and told of a coming deluge. The voice said it would rain for forty days and forty nights and that he should build a boat. Specifications were even given as to its size; three hundred cubits long (138 metres) and 50 cubits wide (23 metres). It took Noah and his sons eighteen months to build the large reed, bitumen covered ship. All the animals were to be saved and somehow taken on board, all 1.8 million species of them, in pairs. If they were unclean animals, such as crawling creatures, eagles, owls, tortoise, swine, snails, and ravens then it was a pair and seven of every clean animal such as cattle, goats and sheep. According to the book of Genesis, before the flood a human’s lifespan was about 900 years. By the time of Abraham, this would drop down to 175 years. The flood wiped out the human race but after the waters had receded, Noah, his wife, and three sons were able to begin repopulating the earth.

The Epic of Gilgamesh and the story of Noah bear many similarities, and what no doubt ties them together, is Abraham, who will be discussed later in the text. In each story after the deluge, birds were sent out to find land and there appeared a symbol of divine remorse to signal the end of the flood. According to the book of Genesis, it took 150 days for the flood to subside. It is generally believed that the flood of Gilgamesh could also have been a memory of the earlier Black Sea flood, the story which had been passed down orally over the generations. Though for the most part, it was describing the flood that devastated the Mesopotamia plain around 3100 BC, with the story of Noah, based on the earlier flood of Gilgamesh. For around 3100 BC, the earth once again goes through catastrophic turmoil.

Though there is still some debate over the actual cause, about 3119 BC, the world would become engulfed in chaos. Immanuel Velikovsky, in his book, “Worlds in Collision,” theorizes that at that time a giant planet, he named Jupiter as the culprit, underwent an explosion that hurled large pieces of itself into space. One planet-sized chunk was thrown down a long orbit toward the sun. This new, blazing red-hot planet would become Venus and as it passed the earth he surmises that it would have caused devastating damage.

Minoans, Chinese and Mayan all record some sort of celestial change at that time, in fact the Mayans start date of the present Mayan earth cycle is 3114 BC. They then declared that the planet Venus was “born,” but it could also have meant that some passing meteor caused Venus to start revolving in the opposite direction. A Mayan earth cycle is some 5,200 years and the present cycle is due to end in 2012 AD. The Mayans also record 3114 BC as the start of the “sun cycle,” which they calculate to happen every 18,139 years.

What we do know, is that many scholars and scientists of today agree that in about 3119 BC, the earth did indeed go through much upheaval, starting with a massive eruption in the Aleutian Islands, which would prove to have worldwide effects. Millions of tons of ash and sulphuric acid were thrown up into the atmosphere. For years people worldwide endured extreme change in temperatures, which affected the crops and brought famine and events that were worse than death itself. The world would become a continuously deep grey, cloudy existence on the verge of becoming total darkness.

In Mesopotamia, the build-up of snow and ice in the Zagros and Taurus mountains did not melt that spring and summer, so the next year’s spring flood waters did not arrive. The land began to dry up and crack. Famine became more severe with each passing failed harvest. According to the Sumerian epic, Atrahasis, “When the second year arrived, the people had depleted the store houses. When the third year arrived, the people’s looks were changed by starvation. When the sixth year arrived, they served up their daughters for a meal then served up a son for food.” Tales of these hard and trying times are recorded by many people all over the globe.

After six years the sun started to penetrate the dark, grey clouds, which were saturated with sulphuric acid crystals, and soon the air in the highlands began to warm and the ice and snow that had built up upon them began to melt. By the seventh year, the rivers and the seas were rising and the sudden heating up of the atmosphere triggered great electrical storms, while great winds would ravage the land. The rising water levels, caused by the melting ice from the mountains and the torrents of acid rain from the skies, soon poured over the flat Mesopotamia plain. Globally, the world became a very violent place to be, if one was a human. Nature acted in a nearly uncontrollable frenzy of destruction. If there were gods, they had gone mad, and had completely lost it.

The flooding of all the habitable land on the Tigris and Euphrates delta, surrounded by mountains and desert, covered more than 128,000 square kilometres. To these early Sumerians it would truly seem to be that the whole world had flooded.

For the survivors of the flood, life was to be very tough and unforgiving. They had lived through seven years of incredible depravation, starvation and death, but these early Sumerians had seemed to have found a new resolve for stronger and more resilient communities. They became galvanized to somehow, someway, better protect themselves from nature, which to them, were represented by gods. In places all over the globe early peoples began to form civilizations and build temples and pyramids. The original cities of Sumer were rebuilt on a much grander scale, with much of their traditions now being recorded as before-flood and after-flood. Their great temples (ziggurats) were rebuilt on enormous mud-brick platforms. Civilization slowly began to reassert itself. And the myths and stories that arose from the previous years of utter chaos began to develop and become oral history that was passed on through the generations until writing came into being hundreds of years later and they were finally recorded.

The Sumerians especially, were convinced that they were alive for one reason only, and that was to serve the gods by paying regular tribute, through praise, worship and sacrifices. The Sumerians believed they had originally been made from clay by the gods, to serve only them, and believed that humans were helpless in the force of their divine wrath. And like most of the people the world over, it was believed that a human’s life was to be beset with uncertainty and insecurity. The people were not troubled at all, unlike modern man, with the question of “free will.” They were peoples convinced that they were created to be slaves and servants of their many gods. They were a meek and timid people, accepting all divine decisions of their priests and shamans, unjustified or not.

One of the tribes within this ever expanding population included the descendants of Noah, and in about 1900 BC with the Sumer dynasty experiencing its final days, an Amorite of the Sumer city of Ur and descendant of Shem, son of Noah, Abram (Abraham), took up the calling of the tribal god El (god of the moon) and began shepherding his people toward their promised home in Palestine. Migrating across the Syrian plain, he brought with him the knowledge of his peoples’ history, including the popular epic story, of Gilgamesh. And a thousand years later this tale of a great flood would be recorded by Israelite scribes as the story of Abraham’s ancestor Noah.

One of the final, ancient, great floods to occur happened at about the same time that a Hebrew named Moses led his people out of Egypt. When considering what the world was about to go through, it was probably a decision made on the basis of survival and not the word of any God.

The year is now about 1400 BC and in its wake there would rise stories such as the Greek epic, the Story of Deucalion. About a man who is told to build a boat and then survives a deluge that destroys the known world. This could also be when and where the story of Atlantis arose. What is interesting about this catastrophe, other than the same global problems of extreme climate change afterward with the sunlight blocked by clouds of ash, cooler temperatures and crop failures, was that at the exact time, major civilizations began to go into decline, such as the Egyptian, Sumerian/Akkadian and the Harappa kingdom of the Indus valley. One civilization, the Minoans, disappeared completely.

One area that continued to undergo change was the region of eastern Turkey and western Greece. It is an area of full scale collision between the African and Arabian land masses driving north upon their plates of the earth’s crust and colliding with Eurasia. Proof of these collisions is the Alps in Europe, but also a swath that runs from Spain eastward to the Himalayan Mountains. In the past two thousand years alone, this area has experienced more than 600 earthquakes greater than 7.5 magnitude.

Seventy miles north of the island of Crete, in the Aegean Sea was an island named Santorini (Thera). It was a part of an area called the Kikladhes (Cyclades), which today is a chain of islands that includes Milos, Paros, and Naxos. The island of Crete was the center of the brilliant Minoan civilization, with a population of about one million people. They developed a sophisticated form of writing, enjoyed sports such as boxing and wrestling, used an early concept of the flushing toilet, channelled winds to air-condition their homes, as well as produced superb vases, ornaments, and art. Minoan ambassadors and merchant fleets roamed the oceans of the ancient world. Then they vanished, the entire Minoan race and culture just seemed to disappear. The reason was an island called Santorini.

At the center of Santorini rose a 1500 metre mountain, which in about 1400 BC, literally exploded. The volcanic eruption had to have been, pure unimaginable violence. Its force was perhaps 90 times that of the Mt. St. Helens eruption in the United States, thirty-five hundred years later. The aerial energy released by Santorini was equivalent to the simultaneous explosion of several hundred hydrogen bombs. As it began to collapse upon itself, seawater began to enter its vent, causing another explosion of magma and gases. The amount of steam that blew off then exploded as well, making the blast, what’s called ultra-explosive, simply hell itself.

In comparison, the Krakatoa eruption in the East Indies in 1883, blew a column of dust over 450 metres across, well over 50 kilometres into the air. It hurled huge parts of itself 80 kilometres away. Its dust cloud circled the globe. When the eruption had spent its force, the empty shell of the volcano collapsed into a 200 metre crater in the sea. This caused tidal waves that destroyed nearly 300 towns and drowned 36,000 people. A ship was hurled three kilometres inland. The roar of the blast shook houses 760 kilometres away and could be heard some 3200 kilometres away. Krakatoa deposited nearly half a metre of ash over thousands of square kilometres worldwide.

What remained after the Santorini blast was buried beneath over 30 metres of burning ash and because the wind was blowing from the north, most of it spread over a 128,000 square kilometre area to the south and west. This caused Greece, just to the north, to escape a lot of the volcanic fallout but was almost wiped clean by the blast and the waves that soon followed. Even today, southern Greece is mostly bare rock.

After it had emptied itself, the central portion of Santorini dropped into a deep gaping hole 360 metres below sea level. The sides of the now hollowed out mountain continued to collapse into this hole creating tidal waves and surges which lasted for weeks or even months. The initial tidal wave is estimated to have been at least half of a kilometre high at the vortex, roaring away at about 320 kilometres per hour. It very quickly smashed into Crete with successive walls of water more than 30 metres in high. Less than three hours later it engulfed the Egyptian delta, 720 kilometres away, and still had enough force to drown cities in Syria, 1000 kilometres away. Egyptian documents from the time of Moses’ “Exodus” described “The land is perished, and the sun veiled and shines not. Darkness covers the land for three days.” It tells of tidal waves surging up the Nile for weeks afterwards and in one instance, “the army is drowned beneath the waters.”

There have been and always will be disasters related to the natural changes in the earth and the universe. As far as earthquakes go, they are so devastating because we have always lived near fault lines. Indeed, today ten of the largest cities on the planet are situated near or on a fault-line, because this is where the cracks of the earth are and where the resources important to us; such as minerals, metals and water are brought up from the earth’s core. We have always needed to live near a water source. In the ancient world they did not think of them as natural so much as the wrath of the god, who brought forth disasters upon the people who thought they had done something wrong or inflammatory to the gods. By 3000 BC, cultures around the planet, simultaneously and independent of each other, became fixated on being able to forecast and keep time. The purpose was to mark seasonal changes for the growing and harvesting of crops, and more importantly to keep track of rituals and to keep their gods happy. To do this, temples, pyramids and ziggurats sprouted up everywhere on the planet. They became instruments by which to study the skies and were used as places of worship for the people and a place to communicate with the gods to hopefully cease the assault of such disasters upon the world.

In summary, considering that the modern era we currently dwell in is only a few hundred years old, and that millions of years of changes have happened to the earth and are still to happen, the belief we have of our newly discovered technologies and progress has made us think we are much more in control of our world, than say the Sumerians, or even Neanderthal man. Natural disasters today are thought of as inconveniences that nature has untimely brought upon us. “How dare that hurricane destroy my car and house” or “Damn it! I had things to do today.” Today we have replaced the temples and pyramids with malls and sports arenas.

Drought, famine, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and floods still happen every single day. But unlike the situation a millennium ago, we humans are in greater numbers and are using up the earth’s resources much, much faster. At the height of the Roman Empire in 200 AD, the world’s population was estimated to be about 200 million people. The addition of the next 200 million took over fifteen generations, while the last 200 million were added to the planet in the past three years. The world presently has a population of well over six billion people, with more than 75 million added every year. One million children are being born every four days. The rate of growth is staggering. Consider that the 54 million lives lost during World War II were replaced by the natural occurring process of the surplus of births over deaths in only ten short months. The latest estimates (2009) put the world’s future population at about nine and a half billion by the year 2050, with most of this increase happening in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The scary thing is that most of this growing population will be concentrated in the countries that will be the least able to feed themselves, and will represent almost 45 per cent of the global population growth by 2050. Consider that currently two-thirds of the most malnourished people on earth live in seven countries. Over the next few generations there is going to be about one billion people born in these seven countries. The acceleration of the rising world population is currently putting incredible strain on our planet; let alone what would happen in a couple of decades from now. China alone is adding a city the size of Chicago, Illinois to its region every three months. This rise in population will be the world’s next greatest deluge, a flood of humanity.

No matter our advancement in technology or our attempt to ignore the natural occurrences of the planet through regular delusional routine, if we open our eyes and actually look around, we will see how vulnerable we humans are to the forces of our environment; much like the people of ancient times.

What is most concerning about floods is that the flooding is usually salt water which is of no relief to crops and makes rivers, streams, and lakes of fresh water undrinkable to humans, animals, in addition to the crops. Floods have always proven to be very good at not only damaging crops and soil, which affects the ability of the planet’s inhabitants to feed themselves, but also very adept at killing humans and animals with equal abandonment. What usually goes hand in hand with flooding is its opposite, drought, which is just as devastating because once again, it affects the planet’s food supply and available fresh water.

Estimates by numerous international institutes state that by 2010 around 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa alone, nearly a third of their population, will suffer from malnutrition because of intensifying drought. The United Nations Environment Program reports that 450 million people in twenty-nine countries currently suffer from water shortages, and by 2025 an estimated 2.8 billion people will be living in areas that will have increasingly scarce water supplies. Even today, 20 per cent of the world’s population lacks access to safe drinking water. The Peruvian Andes have lost at least 22 per cent of their glacier area in the last 30 years alone, with two-thirds of Peru’s 27 million people living on the coast, where only 2 per cent of the country’s water supply is found.

Along with drought and the growing lack of fresh water, floods still happen, but now because of the increasing population, the majority of which live along rivers, lakes and coastlines, each one can be more lethal and have farther reaching effects.

In the last five hundred years, floods in China alone have killed more than four million people. The 1931 flood of the Huang He (Yellow), Yangtzee, and Huai Rivers killed more than three million alone and it is estimated that 200,000 drowned in their sleep. The Yangtzee river valley had just over half a metre of rain fall in less than a month. At Hankou, the river rose 16 metres above normal, flooding more than 87,000 square kilometres. In northern China, in 1969 -71 famines caused by flooding, killed about 20 million people. More recently, in 1998 the Yangtzee flooded and left 14 million homeless.

Paris, France in 1910 saw three months of heavy rain and snowfall causing the river Seine to rise more than eight metres above normal. An estimated four billion cubic metres of water contaminated with sediments and municipal sewage flooded nearly 25 square kilometres. There were 150,000 casualties, and more than 20,000 buildings affected.

The 21st century has brought some of the worst floods in recorded history. The cost to humanity in deaths from natural disasters in 2010 alone is more than 260,000 souls and will probably be much greater when Haiti’s final death toll is included. In fact 2010 has been the deadliest year since 1976, with more than twice as many people dead from natural disasters than from global terrorism in the same time frame.

The 2007 African floods have been quoted by the U.N. as being one of the worst floods in recorded history. On Sept.14th, 2007, it began to rain and eventually flooded more than 14 countries; through the middle of Africa from Senegal on the west coast, through Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Ghana, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. More than 2.5 million people were affected. They were hit again with similar flooding in 2009, which caused more than $152 million in damages.

The worst natural disaster to occur in Europe in nearly 200 years began with heavy rainfall in May 2010. Two months of rain came down in one 24 hr. period. In what would be called the Central European Floods, most crops, especially wheat, would be destroyed. Hardest hit was Poland, but Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Serbia, and the Ukraine were also affected. At the same time the Cumberland River in the United States, would gorge on torrential rains and crest at a height of nearly 16 metres in Nashville, Tennessee.. The end of 2010 saw three-quarters of the state of Queensland, Australia, engulfed with surges from a cyclone. The flooded disaster zone covered more than 70 towns, with more than 200,000 people affected and $30 billion in damages.

Besides loss of life, natural disasters now come with huge price tags. The 1987-89 drought in the United States, covered 36 per cent of the country, which was less than 70 per cent of the area affected in the 1934-40 Dust Bowl, but at an estimated cost of $39 billion makes it one of the most expensive natural disasters in American history. In comparison the damage associated with 2005’s hurricane Katrina has, as of 2008, cost $81 billion and continues to rise. The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake killed more than 250,000 people in eleven countries. The tsunami’s waves were as high as 30 metres. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. With a magnitude of 9.2, it was the largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph. It lasted about nine minutes and caused the entire planet to vibrate, which triggered earthquakes all over the world. Humanitarian aid to date has been more than $7 billion. The energy released by this earthquake, on the planet’s surface alone, is estimated at 26.3 megatons of TNT, more than fifteen hundred times that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, by the Americans in 1945. Humanitarian aid to date has been more than $7 billion.

Since our first ancient civilizations developed, we as a species have advanced considerably. As the gods of our man-made organized religions instructed us so long ago; go forth and multiply and subdue the earth and all upon it. Well we have. Our current unrestrained exponential growth began five hundred years ago in Europe, which at the time had a population of perhaps sixty million people. At the time, European society was heading down the toilet, the stench of despair and misery were everywhere. Both in substance and spirit, the people were lost. They had no belief in anything other than to survive another day and hopefully stave off ever present disease and hunger. They had no values to rely on, nor governments to lead the way. Everyday life was simply survival, filled with violence, starvation and plague. Many felt the world was truly dying and that the end was near. But then a fellow who strongly believed the inevitable end decided to head out into the ocean and seek salvation or wealth, whichever came to him first. This is where our Modern Age began and our current deluge started, over five hundred years ago.

In his lecture, The Columbian Legacy and the Ecosterian Response, Kirkpatrick Sale details four essential components by which the Europeans spread across the globe and dominated not only other peoples but other species as well. Such exploitation would bring us to our present day crisis where once again people are lost, in spirit and substance, with the world seemingly headed for the abyss. The difference today is that far too many people aren’t willing to recognize this reality because they have drunk the cool-aid, living within an illusion.

The four characteristics Sale outlines which would get the current age started are, firstly, the rise of humanism; “The declaration and celebration of the human species as the most important species of all.” This brought forth the God-given right to have dominion over other species, the elements and the resources of the earth. Secondly, the rise of rationalism, which through reductionism, would spawn science and would become our way of asserting control over nature. The third component is materialism. Things of the world would become corporate and everything had a measure of value, which led to accumulation and possession, with the only consideration being to not let anything interfere with the always and immediate goal of profit with the exchange of goods. This would become our new belief-system. The final component is nationalism, where various “royal families” would create institutions which would become nation-states, which would eventually lead to the central institutions in our daily lives. Deposing churches, associations for mutual aid, the promotion of common interests, city-states and community and the individual would become acceptable. To sustain these nation-states, standing armies became the norm and the philosophy of militarism. The crest of this wave grew with each passing century and is now upon us. What we must realize today is that these characteristics of the modern world are not natural, inevitable or eternal conditions; they are constructs, inventions of a particular time, place and people.

These characteristics of our societies and our present day technologies have indeed changed much of our lives and the planet, but the changes we have made in our environment and to our planet are not necessarily in our best interest. The industry of living on this planet, using up its resources for an ever growing population, is warming the atmosphere globally. This causes climate change. Some places will become wetter, other places drought stricken. Some areas will become much colder in the winter and then much warmer than usual in the summer. It is becoming all about extremes. Temperature changes in the Polar Regions, north and south, are resulting in continuing glacier and ice-sheet melting, sea ice retreat, coastal erosion, rising sea levels and extinction of species of birds, animals, and marine life. Deforestation, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, ocean acidification, soil erosion and other aspects, all related to our present climate crisis, will only intensify. With the warming by only a couple of degrees, the Greenland Ice sheet would be in danger of disappearing thereby raising the sea level perhaps as much as four to five metres. As of the summer of 2007, the Polar Ice sheet shrank to its lowest extent in recorded history. Further melting of the earth’s ice sheets would submerge the lowest lying countries and all it will take, is for the earth’s temperature to rise by only a few degrees for flooding to change the world as we know it.

If the present sea-level rises one metre, or even say the length of your arm, the cities of Miami, Venice, and New York, among hundreds of others, will have to be hidden and protected by dikes to survive. In New York, if it was not for subway crews and 753 electric pumps, within a half an hour the subway system would fill up with water and reach a level where subway trains would be unable to travel. Within 36 hours everything beneath New York’s streets would be filled with water, and overflowing into the streets themselves. The eastern shoreline of the United States sea level has risen one foot in the last one hundred years. Adding another foot of water, the high-water line in Florida will move inland over 300 metres, in Louisiana it will be several kilometres. Let alone sea levels rising, present levels of coastal erosion projected over the next couple of decades on the same shoreline, will take out all homes located up to 150 metres inland. Low Countries everywhere will be devastated with places like Bangladesh completely under water. Consider the $21 billion English Channel tunnel, the Chunnel. The Coquelles, France terminal, on the Calais Plain, is only about five metres above sea level.

In the past, most all natural disasters were happening naturally, something we of course had no control over, and even to this day we never really plan and prepare for them at all. The difference now however is that rather than say an asteroid hitting the planet, or a great flood happening, or the earth’s plates violently shifting, or thinking it to be the wrath of a god, today, many of the natural disasters, we the people, cause. We are the ones polluting our rivers, lakes and oceans, and filling our atmosphere and ourselves with toxins. Over 70% of commercial fish stocks are depleted, over-fished, and exploited beyond maximum yield sustain-ability. Today one in every three fish eaten by humans is farm raised. Soon the oceans will be left with the smallest fish and plankton and with the continuing acidification and oxygen depletion of many parts of our oceans; these too will disappear. By then the remaining sustainable areas of the oceans will probably be overpopulated with jellyfish, which are immortal. Consider the tiny sea creature, the Turritopsis Nutricula. It is a jellyfish-like hydrozoan, about five millimetres in length. While most all jellyfish die after they produce their young, this hydrozoan switches back to its juvenile form once it reproduces through a process called transdifferentiation.

We continue to clear-cut our forests, erasing entire species of animals off the planet. Knowing how silly and ignorant we have become could fill volumes, but then that would take up a lot of trees. Yet nearly three billion, or half the world’s population, still use wood as their primary source of energy. And 85% of the energy the world’s commercial industry uses is from fossil fuels. In fact, the root of most socioeconomic problems in many developing countries is land degradation. Included in our thirst for wood, over 1.8 million board metres of temperate and tropical hardwoods of mahogany, walnut, and teak are cut down every year just to make coffins, which are then buried back underground. How crazy is that?

I find our biggest challenge is to just admit that as a society we have been fooled and deceived since the 1970’s into believing global warming and climate change was a debate, where in actual fact the earth is in crisis. We seem to have an inability to face up to the fact that the environmental crisis of this planet is human induced. Any policy to do something about it gets postponed, ignored or defeated. Humanity’s efforts so far remain inadequate. The earth has always gone through cycles of global warming and cooling, the difference now is that it is not just a natural cycle the earth is going through but a cycle we have brought on ourselves. And we’ve got to stop denying the fact. If we continue to deny the effects of global warming, we will reach a point where it will be too late to reverse it. We will have gone from denial right into the arms of despair. If we continue on this path we are walking, we will run out of fresh water to drink and will be unable to grow enough food to feed everyone, and then when that happens, it will become a very, very scary world. As it is, more than nine million people starve to death each year.

But looking back over the ages, there is one thing we must remember and that is, after each natural catastrophe humans have dusted themselves off and adapted. We are now at the point where, because of the sheer number of people on the planet, we must not settle for any short term responses or remedies. Instead we must get past our ignorance and provide massive intervention on an international and long term scale. Climate change is a planetary issue. We cannot continue to think of only the drought problems in our own backyards or in our own countries. Drought is a global problem. We are all interconnected and until we start believing we are not and never have been masters of the natural world, we are surely doomed as a species.

An indicative article, The Deepening Crisis, written by Jeffery D. Sachs seems to explain quite well our dysfunction toward the earth’s growing climate crisis. The risks cited in the article, about sustaining our cultures globally, have developed rather quickly over the past two generations. The problems are scientifically complex and involve many uncertainties, which both public opinion and certain sciences must address. The problems are global and unfortunately politics is local and nationalistic. This does not bode well for timely, coordinated, international action. Many governments are in power for four years or less and more often than not, decisions and reforms are based on the next election, while instead much of the earth’s problems are unfolding over decades. While corporate interests control the media, they have the dissemination of propaganda and deliberate misinformation, down to an art form.

We must stop forcing our own agenda upon nature. Many of us must also stop thinking that the end of time will be taken care of by a god. Believing in the “rapture,” is a cop-out and as the bumper sticker correctly implies, is simply not an acceptable exit strategy. Many millions of people are actually looking forward to the end-times and put no effort whatsoever into fending off such catastrophic events; although we humans, will be the cause. Many fundamentalist Christians and extremist Muslims are quite happy in fact, that things are getting worse rather than better. These believers are not concerned with the planet at all, instead only their own individual salvation. They believe a time will come where all the unrighteous and nonbelievers will die horrible deaths. But they also believe the dead will be resurrected, though they continue to disagree about who is righteous or not and to what sort of planet they will be returning to.

Buddhism and Hinduism on the other hand believe that everything will start over from scratch. But science does not offer such principles, beliefs, or criteria. We must begin to control our appetites and our rising population, and to gain the courage and the wisdom to make, sometimes agonizing and disturbing decisions. As draconian as it may be, limiting every human female on the planet to bearing only one child, no matter the sex, would be a huge step in the right direction. As it is, the poorest countries in the world have the highest birth rates. If the status quo continues to dictate that we stay on this course of unsustainably and with our reluctance to change course, the end-game may very well be where it’s simply not allowed to have children, at least not allowed to have children because of egotistical and careless thinking, that copies of ourselves will make the world a better place.

We must become partners with the natural world once again, to show it the respect it deserves and to show each other more respect, and become an ecologically sustainable culture. We need to get reconnected to the earth’s ecosystem and prepare for natural events, before they occur, instead of being shocked when they do. We have got to put our heads together and develop a way of life that meets our present needs without threatening the environmental legacy of future generations. We already have the technology, but it is being used in other materialistic endeavours, such as war. We must not overlook or forget one of our greatest assets which are opportunism and the ability to adapt.

Perhaps our optimistic nature is what causes us to be inflexible and persistent in our unwillingness to accept that the worst may actually occur. A human’s survival instincts have always included optimism, but also denial, defiance, and ignorance to such portents. We are afraid of the changes that could occur and of the fright that would be inevitable. But if we allow these traits of ours to fool us into waiting until it is too late, then we have lost. Instead, the fear of such portents should fortify our resolve, and propel us into action. Even if one does not believe the earth is in trouble that should not take away the fact that we must change the way we use the earth’s dwindling resources. Even the Catholic Church recognizes that the present ecological destruction of the planet is a moral problem. The current Pope has stated that, “there is and always has been a covenant between human beings and the environment.”

But before we can be optimistic we must be realistic. Environmental crises have been driven mainly from the consumptive habits of the richest 15% of humanity with economic growth driving up our energy use. Our societies have created too many elitists, who all demand the best of everything, to excess. We must learn to control our ravenous appetites, which for many will be very difficult, for most of us are ego-driven, which can never be satisfied. But no one wants or is willing to slow down the world’s economies. Capitalism moves ever forward, so very flawed, in that it is based on infinite growth operating in a finite system. We must seek an economic alternative. Because the issue is not to make sure everyone on the planet has equal opportunity in owning a house, a car, a big-screen TV, but it’s whether they will be able to feed themselves, breath the air, and have enough fresh water to live on, no matter their material wealth. Much like the often quoted adage, insanity is doing the same thing we have always done, while hoping for a different result. The reality is our environment is the economy, and we must start living within our ecological means, instead of arguing over the spoils of its industrial wealth. For what is behind the threats of habitat destruction, loss of wetlands, unnatural flooding, urban sprawl and pollution is capitalism and the fact that 40% of deaths worldwide are caused by water, air and soil pollution and with the rising growth in world population, rapidly increasing human diseases. We are killing ourselves and the planet for economic prosperity. But we are not moving fast enough in making changes to our environmentally destructive mind-sets because of the constructs that shape our daily lives, such as religion, politics, the economy, current and past ideologies, marketing and the media, and our consumption patterns. We think technology and science will save us from ourselves and our exploitive nature, our unchecked population growth and deem everything on the planet as a resource. Though there are many scientists working on ways to use technology for the betterment of the planet, no one technology can do it. They must combine their discoveries and work together. The challenge is that all the technologies that could slow or cease carbon emissions, everything from geo-thermal technology to solar panels are still extremely expensive. Once we put enough effort into making them cheaper, only then will we begin to make a difference. Many technologies, such as wind power are very effective but unfortunately no one wants it in their backyard.

Sadly though, human society oversees the planetary controls. The sheer size of the human population, our perceived affluence, our consumptive habits and our technology, which we only use to meet our perceived needs are driving global disintegration and destructive changes. We have come to dominate the planet without taking the responsibility of managing it, including the balancing act of maintaining populations of all species and ecosystems on one side, and maintaining the flow of goods and services that provides for humanity on the other. Unfortunately, far too many of us cannot even manage ourselves. Even if all growth in population and economic activity were to cease right now, this very moment, just continuing on exactly how we do today would still bring about serious molestation and destruction of the earth’s habitat and its resources. The price of our economic success extends beyond environmental deterioration. For it includes widespread loss of livelihoods, social tensions and conflict and staggering economic costs. To save our planet we have to realistically and morally change the way we think. It’s not so much, are we responding properly to environmental threats, which we aren’t, what we should be worried about and should be asking ourselves is why are we not responding.

James Gustave Speth, who wrote the book in “Red Sky at Morning,” believes that we used to have some slack with Mother Nature, but that is now gone and we are currently playing out the end game with our traditional, historical relationship with the natural world. Any aware person, opening their eyes and really taking a good look around would surely have to agree. For most of us the real and only concern of our daily lives is our next meal and pay check; not worrying about the destruction of the planet or that half of the people living in the developing world, who get by on $2 a day. It is estimated that 57% of the global population is malnourished. As to the environment, many don’t care because they believe it probably will not be at the 11th hour until after they are dead and gone. Others, especially the very wealthy, think they will be able to buy their way out and that their wealth will insulate them from the earth changing. How unrealistic is that?

We can’t just run and hide anymore, cloaked within routine, ignorant to the environment. We seem to be playing the delayed reaction game. We think about preparedness and only take action after a catastrophe has happened. And when enough time passes we ignore it until the next natural disaster happens, where we are once again shocked and unprepared for the disruption in our daily routine. As our world continues to change so must we, but what is most important, this time we are going to have to be much quicker, and decisive about it. We simply cannot wait any longer or it will be too late. We must all start working together for the good of the earth, and we who live upon her. Simply start to treat our environment with more respect, and just as importantly, for each other, because we are all in this together.

As humans we tend to be overwhelmed, uncomfortable, and feel alone when faced with such large scale problems. Thinking we cannot make a difference or that we have to change immediately and completely. This “all or nothing” mentality creates pressure and is the best way to fail at changing. This type of attitude also takes away the impetus to change. It would be better to break issues down to a more local level and stop trying to jump four stairs at a time. Just take one step at a time. Some people will have a sense that they must do something as unwillingness to act is simply not acceptable to their strong moral code. This is where discomfort in an individual comes from and we scramble to bury it. This is the stage where one’s character takes over; to have the courage to seriously look at their discomfort and ask why. This is where the beginning of hope dwells. To be brave when being asked to make changes is really asking, what it is do we believe about ourselves. Change doesn’t have to be a great act. It is being the change you seek.

Our best tools are information, human adaptability and strong leadership. Though what we use instead is disinformation, denial, and allowing a lack of leadership. Over the last decade there has been a groundswell of support and agreement among people trying to create change. Many on the planet are trying to make a difference, for our consciousness is evolving. Nationalism effects the need to change as well because one country can strive to be responsible for the welfare of the environment, while another can continue to soil the nest they live in. Reality is, we all live on the same planet.

So what can one do about it? The answer; there’s lots we can do, but the importance lies in the fact we must do something now. Stephen Hume of the Vancouver Province newspaper and Rex Weyler, one of the founders of Greenpeace, both argue for getting the right information; to get out there and do your homework, research national science academies and organizations. Get educated on how society and nature work. Be engaged citizens and not simply consumers. Most importantly, don’t be intimidated by the consequences of having a conscience. Practise self-reflection, for our greatest failures are most often ego driven. Possess the “quiet courage of decent people doing the right things.”

Among the many who are concerned, the consensus is that we must all start thinking globally but acting locally. One can’t force another country to act, but one could lead by example. Hume, as well as many others, has the most excellent idea to shift certain redundant taxes to provide incentives for good behaviour, while discouraging bad behaviour. This should be implemented on many levels of our societies. Many on the planet, the most fortunate anyway, are supposedly living in democracies. Well then, speak out. Let all levels of government know empty rhetoric will not be tolerated, regardless of their “party.” Many people have completely tuned out politics, simply not interested. Some people, especially the young, believe there is nothing they can do individually by voting, that it would not make a difference in the result, with most people merely concerned with just trying to make a living. It’s sad that in totalitarian states people will risk their lives for the right to vote while in democratic states the majority of people don’t even bother to vote.

We must rebuild community ethics and attack urban sprawl. There should be incentives for people who develop under-used urban space. Underdeveloped property should have high tax rates, while high density developments, lower tax rates. Public transit must be convenient, efficient and inexpensive, because it can, but refuses to be.

Make it so anyone who removes a tree has to replace it with six, and then plant them everywhere. Harvest forests in 300 year cycles. Rethink work schedules, because most businesses today are working hours based on 19th century factory models. If one has to attend a work-site on a regular basis, make public transit a benefit. Continue to invest in wind, tidal, solar, geothermal, and hydrogen power, in fuel cells, carbon sequestration, electric and magnetic rail technologies, electric car grids, desalinization technologies and most important, more efficient air, land, and sea transportation.

Begin to hold one’s own self accountable. Drive less, walk more, ride a bike or take the bus. If you eat meat nearly every day, cut it back to a couple of days a week. Don’t flush every time you take a leak. Grow a garden. Mandate recycling and then recycle everything. Shop second hand. Turn off the television. Above all else, believe in your abilities to change.

We are facing an expanding population deluge, which will affect everyone equally no matter where you live. The most important way to control such a flood is we’ve got to start controlling our behaviour. We continue to try to control human behaviour with laws, fines and treaties. Punishment is always after the deed is done. We abuse the planet or each other and after the damage is done we pay money or we are jailed. What if instead we start to focus on changing the physical conditions most responsible for wrong behaviour in our communities, such as poverty, malnutrition and homelessness? To be concerned that far too many of our children lack direction or interests because they have very few good role models to emulate. They are bombarded with violence in the media and in sports, dealing with stresses in their daily lives and dwindling family life. Society has become impatient and arrogant. We define success in money and not character, thus women have it harder because instead of character they continue to be judged by their sexuality. There is unfortunately no positive vision for many communities to work toward. This is our fault, each and every one of us. But we can create change.

As far as unnatural flooding and as to what we can do about it, reality is we can’t do much about it. But we can prepare for the inevitability of it happening and apply common sense in where and how we live. Climate change has altered the way the planet earth operates; it has and will continue to affect its natural cycles and rhythms. And what must be stressed is that the pace of the earth’s deterioration is quickening. We are hugely affected by unnatural flooding and drought. Besides loss of property and lives, it jeopardizes our food supply, which of course affects everyone. The two largest wheat producers in the world, Canada and Russia, lost much of their 2010 crops because of unnatural flooding. We also should not worry so much about a global, grand deluge happening, for any river in any country, alone can kill millions all by simply overflowing its banks. What is needed most is a deluge of consciousness, to rid ourselves of and dispel the grand deluge of illusion that our materialistic and capitalistic societies have thrust upon us. History has proven that when humanity acts, it extinguishes the feeling of hopelessness and that daily actions by individuals can make large-scale changes possible.

In spite of the changing climate, doom or die world economics, rising seas levels and quickening of the size of the earth’s population, there is now more than enough food and material goods on earth to take care of everyone’s needs. But resources need to be managed properly and not strictly controlled to gain wealth as they have become today. There is enough for everyone to have a decent standard of living, as long as we use technology intelligently so that it’s not harmful to people or the planet and which doesn’t waste time and energy. We must start managing our resources, just like we have to start managing ourselves. The corporate and economic models we are operating have seriously misjudged the importance of the earth’s environment and the impacts of industrialization. It is now time to change. We are seeing the effects now. The real worry should be for children and their children and their children, who will be faced with what we have left of the planet after we are gone. This is the most important aspect; indeed, it is what drives environmentalism and the only reason we should care about saving the planet. For heaven or hell is a condition not a place. We are racing for the edge of the abyss and we’re all fighting over who should steer, or at least who gets to sit up front. Not realizing that if we do drive off into the abyss, we might be taking nearly every other species of plant and animal, and most of the earth’s ecosystems along with us. Today there are about 1.8 million species of living creatures known to science, including us. Nearly 40% of these organisms are currently endangered and soon to be extinct. The bottom line is that it is time to get our priorities straight and, in the language we can all relate to, we have got to seriously get our shit together people.

“Making a stand for a principle sharpens our own ideas and induces others to sharpen their ideas. When one person stands up, others are inspired to stand up.” Rex Weyler.

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.” Confucius

Photo : http://www.flickr.com/photos/cafrine/4956791360/