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

 

 

09/9/12

A Stream of Prophets – Jesus

The biographical sources of Jesus’ life are mainly the four gospels of the New Testament; Matthew, JesusMark, Luke, and John. As well as other books such as the Gospel of Thomas, one of fifty-two texts included in the Gnostic Gospels. It has been estimated that all the books combined account for anywhere from six to forty days of Jesus’ life. He is estimated to have lived from about 6 BC to 31 AD.

The books of Matthew, Mark and Luke are similar in their content, though the fourth book, by John, is different in its approach. The book of Matthew was written primarily for a Jewish audience showing Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah, an aristocratic, rightful and legitimate king born to a wealthy family in Bethlehem who descended from David and Solomon. According to Matthew’s story, upon his birth Jesus was visited by three kings bearing gifts and writes of Jesus as being a powerful and majestic sovereign.

The book of Mark, the shortest of gospels, portrayed Jesus as performing as many as eighteen miracles and being a servant, constantly serving others. The book of Luke was written for a Gentile audience. Luke was the only Gentile disciple and a Greek doctor, who portrayed Jesus’ family as poor carpenters who moved from Nazareth to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born in the poverty of a manger. There he was visited by three shepherds. Luke portrayed Jesus as a meek, lamb-like saviour. While the most theological of the four books, the book of John, deals mostly with the actual nature and will of God, as revealed to people.

The focus of all these books was that Jesus was the Son of God, the Father and that they are addressed to the world at large. They also paid more attention to conversations and teaching than the earlier written books of the Torah (Old Testament). The four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written over the course of two different time periods, with the first books appearing from about 66-74 AD, thirty to forty years after Jesus’ death and the others written from 132-135 AD, more than one hundred years after his death.

The Gnostic Gospels meanwhile were found in 1945 at Jabel al-Tarif, a mountain of honeycombed caves in Upper Egypt. Written around 50-100 AD, the fifty-two texts include the book, Gospel of Thomas, which suggested that Thomas was the twin brother of Jesus and that Mary Magdalene was indeed Jesus’ wife for he “loved her more than all his disciples.” The books also included, Book of Phillip, Testimony of Truth, Gospel to the Egyptians and the Apocryphon (secret) of John. Many of them contained the same sayings from the New Testament and the four gospels, but in different contexts, perhaps suggesting other dimensions of meaning. The Gnostic Gospels, as well as others attributed to Jesus’ followers, are called cryptic translations, with the originals written in Greek, the language of the New Testament. Many of the Gnostic gospels, though written about 1500 years ago, seem to be copies of even more ancient manuscripts of the Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians and Zoroastrians.

While history suggests that Jesus could also have been Jesus of Nazareth, a Zealot, much like many young men at the time, rebelling against Roman rule, persecution and oppression. The countryside at the time swarmed with gangs of disciples. Unemployed, they would sometimes enter the Roman policed cities and fight against the tyranny of the Roman puppets, the Judean Kings and their harsh control of the populace. At the time of Jesus, most all people hoped and desperately needed a saviour. And perhaps a Jesus of Nazareth, through doctrine written decades after the fact, could be transformed into a being the people still so desperately needed, a Jesus of Christ.

Jesus is vaguely mentioned in the writings of Roman historians, Tacitus, Suetonius and Josepus, as well as some anti-Christian Hebrew writings. But the historical Jesus we know very little about, though he was known to be literate, nothing was written down when he was alive, much like Socrates and Confucius and  many other prophets up to this time, Jesus spoke to disciples who transmitted orally and in later in writing, the wisdom that was preached.

Jesus’ sayings, teachings and symbolic acts were seemingly ironic, in that the intended meaning of many of his words was often in direct contrast to their usual sense, much like the Bible in its entirety. It is filled with contradictions and inconsistencies. Thus we have no way of judging the accuracy of either form of the communication, especially considering the fact that after the Bible was put together at Nicaea in the 4th century, no one but a few could even read it. It would be more than a thousand years later that it was translated and printed and finally read by people outside the church- a mere five hundred years ago.

In Bethlehem, Judea, at the time of the winter solstice, when the three stars of the constellation Orion reached their ascent and lined up brightly to form its belt, Jesus was born as the first son of the virgin, Mary or Miriam, of the tribe of Judah and descendent of David; and wife of Joseph, a carpenter.  A poor family making the best of hard times, left to their own devices with faith in their fate. Jesus would become a disciple of John the Baptist and charismatic reformer of spirituality.

Before his birth, a rumour had made its way across the land of the coming of a messiah. Driven somewhat by Judaism, the tale also became a dream for many as the reality of the time was of oppression, civic and social persecution and intermittent rebellion. Where only a few hundred years before, the Babylonians ravaged the lands and peoples of Judea, now it was the Roman Empire’s turn for supremacy of the Middle East.

The dream for a rightful king to appear and deliver the people to freedom brought much hope. King Herod, the king of Judea at the time, who was appointed by the Romans heard the rumours and announced the persecution of all innocent new born children. Joseph and his family, with many others, were forced to flee to Egypt and upon their return years later, moved to Nazareth. Jesus is believed to have followed his father’s trade and became a carpenter. At twelve he was known to sit in the square and endlessly talk, argue and discuss with the scribes who gathered there. Jesus accepted spiritual responsibility by becoming a student at the synagogue like every other Jewish boy. Although young he seemed to be already aware of his unique relationship with his spirituality. For the next 18 years, nothing is known of his life, until his baptism at the hands of his cousin, John the Baptist, a cousin to his mother, in Jordan. This rite gave Jesus the first divine intimation or hint of his life’s mission. John himself was known as a prophet of the one God and through visions was given the task of preparing the people for the way of the Lord. John preached far and wide about reaching salvation through the forgiveness of sins.

Judea at the time of King Herod’s reign was filled with cruelties and atrocities, for he was a man overcome by jealous fears with the backing of the mighty Roman Empire and the Jewish Sanhedrin, a high court of 70 men who met in the great Temple, in Jerusalem. The authorities in Rome allowed the Sanhedrin to pass any sentence under Jewish law except the death penalty. Jerusalem represented the central government and its large administrative cabinet was the centre for all business and trade in the region. It was also the religious capital. In Jesus’ day the population of Jerusalem was about 250,000 people, with most its people speaking Aramaic. There were many markets with shops, stalls and restaurants, but away from Jerusalem and beneath the covers of society, there was much infighting and feuding, with mutually destructive strife and rebellion.

Away from the big cities, the wealthy class of rulers and officials had bought up all the land and oppressed the poor. Family farms disappeared and were replaced with huge estates, with the people having to hire themselves out as farm labourers. Slums appeared first in the villages and then within towns and cities, with the bigger and better homes of the rich usually built on large estates on the outskirts of a town. Within each community, the poor suffered tremendous hardship and tyranny. Thus when prophets such as Jesus, cried out against all the injustice and inequality, the people listened and began to believe in the hope for a saviour to save them from the drudgery of their persecuted lives.

Around 6 AD, Judas of Galilee began a highly militant revolutionary movement called the Zealots. When Jesus began his own ministry years later, the Zealots had by then assumed a prominent role in Palestine affairs. Palestine had been split into two provinces, Judea and Galilee, with Judea under direct Roman rule. Heavy taxes became the norm with much torture and a climbing suicide rate. But to many, these Zealots were revered for their activities against the oppression of the Romans. Jesus was still a child during this time, but it is conjecture that this time covered the eighteen years of his life which has gone unrecorded. We have no way of knowing who or what his influences were growing up. We do know however that when Jesus reappeared in historical accounts, the situation in Judea had become critical.

The rebellion would escalate until 66 AD, when the whole of Judea rose in revolt against Rome, albeit futile. Within four years Rome defeated all the rebel forces that fought against her and occupied Jerusalem razed the city and sacked and plundered all the temples. The fortress at Masada would be the final nail in the coffin for the Jews in Palestine and the Diaspora of the Jewish people began. They scattered to countries far and wide, feeling in exile. While the blossoming new religion of Christianity arose and within only a few hundred years became the Roman Empire’s official religion.

When Jesus reappears he is being baptised by John and afterwards Jesus felt so full of the Holy Spirit he would spend forty days in the wilderness alone, wrestling with doubts and fears, but was successful arguing against numerous temptations, even from the devil himself. In one of these temptations, Jesus rejects the traditional Jewish role of the militant Messiah who was to raise the Israelites to world domination by the sword. Besides showing moral character, Jesus’ rejection of this temptation would have a dynamic effect, for it showed the conception of the Messiah in a new light and with a new power, not evident before.

Upon his return from the desert, Jesus gathered twelve disciples around him; Peter, Andrew, Thomas, James the Less, John, Jude, Matthew, Matthias, Bartholomew, Philip, James, and Simon, as well as his companion, probably his wife, Mary Magdalene. He encouraged them all to go out and preach that which he was to teach them; only the positive and pure contents of the Old Testament and that his teachings were for all men equally, no matter the race. They were to go out and tell the people that the kingdom of God was at hand. The goal would be to provide hope and create a believing community. He was a very charismatic individual and seemed to carry himself confidently often using human and earthly analogies to explain spiritual and eternal concepts and moral issues, teaching that man’s true battle lay within. He warned people against careless talk and blasphemy against their God and that all of God’s children were to correct one another, to pray for one another, and to forgive one another. This demanding focus on others was very radical for the time.

During one of their journeys across the land of Judea, they eventually made their way to Nazareth, where Jesus, who still considered himself a Jew, as did all the apostles, entered the synagogue. Many elders were in attendance, and as Jesus entered he was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah, which he immediately opened and told all who gathered that, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are down trodden and to proclaim the favourable year of the Lord.” Finishing, he handed back the book and sat down. At first, you probably could have heard a pin drop. All eyes were upon him, no doubt some mouths agape, for here was a man proclaiming he alone to be the prophet of their God. The silence was soon enough broken as they then began to argue against him in rage, a cacophony arose. But word began to spread of this man, Jesus.

He was once asked by a lawyer, “Which is the greatest commandment of all?”, he answered that there are two commandments on which all the laws and the prophets are based, and that is to love thy God with all your heart and soul and, secondly, to love thy neighbour as thyself. He undertook at least two other missionary journeys through Galilee, where he is said to have performed many miracles, including the miraculous feeding of the five thousand by blessing a scant number of loaves and fish. He spoke revolutionary words at the Sermon on the Mount, where he emphasised love, humility, meekness, charity and service to God.

This Sermon began when those who had gathered around him, some from as far away as Decapolis, Jerusalem, Palestine, Syria and Jordan, became many, and he began to speak of many things in detail as he stood above them on a hill. He spoke about ethical living, about not seeking revenge for injury, but forgiveness of wrongdoers, about going beyond the minimal requirements of law and courtesy, in order to show true generosity of spirit. He blessed the poor, those who mourned, the gentle, those who sought righteousness, the merciful, and the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who had been persecuted for the sake of righteousness in their lives. He told them he was not there to abolish the law or the prophets, but to fulfil them. That, whomever commits murder shall be liable, those angry with others for no reason shall be guilty, and those who called a fellow person good for nothing or a fool, shall be guilty; that you shall not commit adultery, nor make false vows, speak the truth even if it is simply a yes or no response that is only needed. Give when asked and do not turn away from someone who wants to borrow. That one should love thy neighbour as well as their enemies, and to pray for them. To not practise your righteousness before others simply for the sake of being noticed by them and when you give to the needy there is no reason to blow your own horn.

When praying, Jesus stressed the need to pray in private and not bring undue attention to one self, to “go into your inner room and when you have shut the door, pray to the Father in secret and the Father, who sees in secret will repay you. And when you pray, pray in this way – Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”.

Jesus talked about not amassing material things or “treasures of the earth”, “for they decay and rust and thieves will break in and steal them”. Gather instead, the goodness of one’s heart. Not to worry or be anxious about life, one’s body, what one wears or what one eats and drinks. Who, he asked, can add even a single hour to his day by worrying. He spoke that one should not worry about tomorrow, “for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” And not to judge others, for you too could be judged. Ask and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and the door will open for you. Do to others what you would have them do to you and to be leery of false prophets.

Jesus ended his Sermon on the Mount by saying that, for those who understood the messages he had spoke and who would go forth and practise such values and norms in their daily lives were wise and would be like those who build their homes on solid rock. While those who listened but have no intention of living in such a way were people who build their homes on sand.

The essence of the Sermon was trying to get people to believe in the things their god once held sacred and important, without the militancy that had become so much a part of it. With the New Testament not yet written, the majority of the populace followed both the written and oral traditions of the Torah and were ruled by a hateful, revengeful and jealous god. Jesus was speaking about the opposite.

Of course when the ruling Sanhedrin and the militant Pharisees heard about the Sermon they thought it to be rebellious with dangerous implications, especially in keeping the populace controlled. Though Jesus had only visited Jerusalem once or twice, the Sanhedrin already knew him as being a religious and political troublemaker who had gained a reputation for healing, for exorcism and for challenging the religious authorities. On an earlier visit to the temple in Jerusalem, people had gathered around Jesus, so he decided to sit and talk with them. The priests suddenly brought in a woman, saying to Jesus that she had been caught in the act of adultery and according to their laws should be stoned. Jesus ignored them at first then said, “He that is without sin among you, let them first cast a stone at her.” One by one the accusers left the temple. After they had gone Jesus asked the woman, “Where did they go, has no one condemned you?” “No” she answered. “Then neither do I condemn you”, Jesus declared, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Such actions would beget much resentment amongst the Jewish elders.

They were especially offended and insulted that Jesus appeared to possess an insight to reality and the fatherhood of God. They were also disgusted with the fact that he ate and drank with the castoffs of society and taught forgiveness, compassion, and humility. The idea that God was closer than they had been led to believe, disturbed them.

After the Sermon, Jesus and his disciples began to feel the pressure from the authorities and had to seek refuge in the Gentile territories of Tyre and Sidon. There Jesus secretly revealed that he was the promised Messiah and that their God is one who cares for his people in this life and prepares them for their next life in heaven. Jesus held five great priorities as the central roles in a Christian’s life and stressed that he would not ask anyone something he would not do himself. The priorities were: a life of Surrender to God; a life of Service; a life of Obedience; a life of Communion, where God’s laws and expectations are not just for the Jewish nation, but are for all of God’s people; and a life of Witness, to be courageous in their convictions and emphasising that personal commitment matters most, whatever the cost.

Then came a day where he gathered his closest disciples around him and told them that he must soon die and that they would not believe him. Perhaps reading the writing on the wall, Jesus realized his destiny and resigned himself to the likelihood that he was going to be wrongfully put to death. He calmly continued to be seemingly in control of every situation, while his disciples were perplexed and dismayed.

Jesus then made his way to Jerusalem, a week before or after the Festival of Passover Feast, which commemorated Moses leading the Hebrew tribes in their escape from enslavement in Egypt. It was held on the 15th day of Nisan (Hebrew calendar), represented by March and April in the Gregorian calendar. It was at this time that Jesus and his disciples sat down together, to break bread for the final time and talk, discuss, argue and whisper. Fifteen hundred years later an Italian, Leonardo Da Vinci would give us his depiction of this gathering in his painting, The Last Supper.

Later betrayed by Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, Jesus was arrested and deserted by his followers. His disciple Peter denied Jesus three times in court, and he was tried without proof by the Sanhedrin, for blasphemy, for claiming to be the son of God and condemned for practising sorcery and leading Israel astray. The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate also questioned Jesus, not about blasphemy, but of treason for his claim of being the King of the Jews. Jesus replied that his kingdom was not of this world. Pilate found no fault with this and passed Jesus off to King Herod, who taunted Jesus and sent him back to Pilate.

This condemnation of Jesus took place at the time of Passover, where each year at this time, the people were allowed to decide freedom for a prisoner of their choice. Pilate asked the crowd if it should be Jesus, but it was an angry crowd and they shouted for the release instead, of the assassin Barabbas. Jesus refused to defend himself to Pilate or to the crowd, which was becoming angrier and more insistent. The earliest texts of the New Testament stated that Jesus was then handed over to a Roman guard for crucification. Later manuscripts had him being handed over to the Jews, “so that they might crucify him”. Pilate finally condemned Jesus to death on a Roman cross between two thieves, in public. At his end Jesus was at first suffering, crying out in despair, “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken me”, soon though came the words of resignation, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” and finally, near his end he whispered, “It is finished.”

He died and was buried. Three days after his death it is said that he arose, made several public appearances and then rose aloft and into space, where he would continue to provide leadership to his followers. It is believed that, as well as being murdered for perceived heresy against the laws of the time, the spiritual corruption of society and the oppressed way, in which people were treated, he also died for humanity’s sins.

Jesus’ death and resurrection is commemorated each year at Easter, the most important religious date, on many religions calendars. The Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, established the date of Easter as being the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon (14th day of a lunar month), following the spring equinox, on or about March 21st, which varies the date of Easter between March 22nd and April 25th. Easter represents the day Jesus was resurrected, having died three days earlier on what is known as Good Friday. Besides Easter, the spring equinox has also been known for millennia, as the time of re-birth and/or awareness; the time when the seeds of the crops begin to sprout from the earth. The Roman calendar associated the Ides of March, a festival that celebrated the planet Mars, with celebration and military parades, to be the middle of the month of March 15th, the day Julius Caesar was murdered in 44 BC, and the day the Christians celebrate the Passover. The spring equinox is also the first day of the astrological year and the first full day of the sign, Aries.

Even though Jesus’ ministry only lasted approximately three years, his disciples continued to spread his word of peace, love, compassion, purity, worship and service to God far and wide, and a few would soon write of his story and teachings. By doing so they would elevate a man, Jesus of Nazareth, into the embodiment of the Holy Spirit, represented by Jesus Christ, and upon this they would build his church.

Interestingly enough, considering our social ills of today and on through the millennia, one third of all the parables and one sixth of all the words recorded as being said by Jesus and what topics are addressed, the most often in all scripture relate to our treatment of the poor, the distribution of wealth, of resources, and the danger of wealth to our souls. And yet, most Christian societies today are associated with militarism, interest paid for the use of money, gross inequality and violent assault upon the environment.

The often used symbol for Christianity, a fish, is not from the Bible calling the Apostles, fishers of men; it is because the letters of the Greek word for fish, ichthus, stands for the Greek phrase, Iesous Christos Theou Uios Soter (Jesus Christ, Son of God, and Saviour). The symbol of the fish first appeared in Christian art from about 100 AD and was used as a symbol of Jesus and the newly baptised. As to the known “seven deadly sins” mentioned in Christianity, these were first compiled long after Jesus’ death, around the year 600 AD, by pope Gregory I, and are pride, covetousness, lust, envy, gluttony, anger and sloth.

After Jesus’ death, the continuing Roman persecutions only helped in strengthening the new belief among the people that he, now called Jesus Christ was the messiah, and that he had died for them. By the Fourth century, in Nicaea, the present day city of Iznik, Turkey, Christian theologians edited Platonic metaphysics and transcendences of spiritual and ideal characteristics into their theology and decided which books would make up the Bible. Soon after, Christianity became the Roman Catholic Church, and the official religion of the Roman Empire upon Emperor Constantine’s conversion.

Meanwhile the Gnostic gospels and hundreds of other documents were banned and denounced as blasphemy and heresy, with the writers of this material deemed as heretics. While in fact, a heretic is from the Greek word, gnosis, or knowledge; through observation, experience and insight.

As Christianity became an officially approved religion, possession of books became a criminal offense with all copies burned or destroyed. The Christian bishops, who were once victimized by the police, now commanded them. Penalties handed out for misbehaviour escalated and it was announced that there would be no salvation for anyone outside the church, while whoever argued with its teachings and principles was declared a heretic and expelled, or worse. The New Testament was translated into Latin, which hardly anyone could read and a few hundred years later the paranoia and cruel aberration escalated into an era of violent persecution, which today is known as the Inquisition.

The books that became the New Testament perceived the many Christian prophets as being individuals inspired by God, through the Holy Spirit to deliver a message about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. But one of the problems with Christianity, as well as with Islam, is that Jesus, along with Muhammad, were both misinterpreted as the final prophets, while in reality there were many who came later, from all different cultures, all over the world.

 

 

 

 

Photo by James Shepard

http://www.flickr.com/photos/biblevector/

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

08/18/11

Some Creation Stories Part 3

Part 3 of 3

Incan – Judaism/ Christianity – Mandinka – Islam – The Big Bang and Darwin – Summary

 

The Inca

There are many different versions of the Inca’s creation as their empire was ever expanding, with each tribal community having their own idea of how and when they were created. Most all share two basic and similar foundation stories, that the world was created around the Andes mountains and that the source of all life came from the sacred waters of Lake Titicaca.

In the beginning the earth was covered in darkness when the “Creator of All Things,” Wiraqocha ( Viracocha) Pachyachachic, emerged out of a lake called Collasuyu ( Lake Titicaca). Wiraqocha quickly began creating humans, with the first beings made from gigantic solid blocks of stone, Wiraqocha soon realized that these first people were way too large. So he then created a new humanity in the form we are today. He ordered these new people to live together peacefully, but before too long, pride and jealousy appeared and the world became embroiled in greed and conflict. These first peoples lived in darkness, for Wiraqocha had not created light yet, and were very primitive; not really knowing how to do anything, including not knowing about clothing or building shelter. Their behaviour soon enraged Wiraqocha. He turned many of them into stone, then sent down rains for sixty days and sixty nights and a great flood washed away all traces of the beings of his earlier creation. He kept only two people alive, which were to act as his servants.

Wiraqocha felt one of the reasons the first humanity had become so immoral was because they lived in darkness, while the earth consisted of only rocks and mountains. Still determined to create humanity, he felt these other matters should be dealt with first before he would attempt to create people again. So he created light at the lake Collasuyu, calling forth the sun (Inti) and the moon (Mama-Quilla) from the waters. He set them in the sky and told them to take turns decorating the earth with light and darkness. In the beginning the moon was the brighter one, but the sun took offense, throwing ashes into the moon’s face and ever since, the moon is the paler of the two. Wiraqocha then began to create humanity a second time.

With the help of his two servants, he made statues and images of all the people from stone. They were painted distinct colours and had costumes that each community would wear. After this was done Wiraqocha then instructed his servants to memorize each new persons’ name, their countries, and the prominent landmarks of where they were to live. He then brought them all to life by reciting their names. He sent one of his servants to the ocean in the west, the other he sent east into Amazonia, while Wiraqocha himself stayed in the Andes, where he called forth to all his people and told them who they were and named every peak, cave, lake, and stream. Later, Wiraqocha came to a place he named Pacariqtambo, the “Inn of the Dawn,” a cave from which he summoned forth four brothers and four sisters who would be the parents of his new race.

The first to emerge would bear the title, “the first Inca,” his name was Manqo Qhapaqh (Manco Capac), the “first Rich Ancestor.” Next was his sister, Mama Oqllu ( Plump Mother), who Manqo Qhapaqh quickly married. With them came Ayer Awka and his consort Mama Waqo. Then Ayar Kachi and his wife, Mama Kura, arose, with Ayar Uchu and Mama Rawa arriving last. From these eight siblings the entire Inca nation would descend and from their beginning they believed their destinies were to be the conquerors of a great empire. As Mama Waqo soon told her brothers and sisters, “We are born strong and wise and with the people who will here join us, we shall be powerful. We will go forth from this place to seek fertile lands and when we find them we will subjugate the people and take the lands, making war on all those who do not receive us as lords.”

Wiraqocha then made his way to the Pacific Ocean where he addressed his people for the final time. Wiraqocha was content with what he had done, feeling everything was in its rightful place and rightfully named. He told his people he was returning to the celestial realm, but from now on the ruler of the heavens was to be his son Inti, the god of the sun, who lit up the sky, made life possible, warmed the earth, and allowed crops to grow. Inti was to marry Mama-Quilla, goddess of the moon, whose natural rhythms would form the Inca calender. Wiraqocha also told his people that one day he would send them two messengers and that they were to always beware of intruders. When he was finished speaking, Wiraqocha, with a few servants at his side, strode out across the ocean, walking on the crests of the waves until disappearing over the horizon. From then on, though the people never really worshipped Wiraqocha, they forever honoured him.

Another foundation story of creation was that a great being, Con Tiqui (Viracocha) emerged from Lake Titicaca, bringing  human beings with him.  Con Tiqui (Viracocha) quickly created the sun (Inti), the moon, and the stars to light the world. Out of great rocks he created more human beings, many of them women who were already pregnant. He sent these people to the four corners of the world, keeping a male and female with him at Cusco, “the navel of the world,” near the sacred place,  Machu Picchu. The founder of the first dynasty of the kingdom of Cuzco was Manco Capac. In one legend he was brought up from the depths of Lake Titicaca by the sun god, Inti. In another he was the son of Con Tiqui Viracocha. However, commoners were not allowed to speak the name of Viracocha, which is possibly an explanation for the need for two foundation legends that follow.

In one myth, Manco Capac was the brother of Pachacamac, both were sons of the sun god, Inti. Manco Capac himself was worshipped as both a fire and a sun god. He and his siblings were sent to the earth by Inti, by way of the cave, Pacariqtambo. Carrying a golden staff called ‘tapac-yauri’, Manco Capac and his brothers and sisters were instructed to create a “Temple of the Sun” in the spot where the staff sank into the earth at Cusco. They combined their efforts and built such a temple where they could honour their father, the sun god Inti. In another version of this legend, instead of emerging from a cave in Cuzco, the siblings emerged from the waters of Lake Titicaca.

In the Tici Virachocha legend, Manco Capac was the son of Tici Viracocha of Pacari-Tampu, just south of Cuzco. He and his brothers – Ayar, Anca, Ayar, Cachi, and Uchu, and sisters – Mama Ocllo, Mama Huaco, Mama Raua and Mama Cura, lived near Cuzco at Paccari-Tampu, and united their people to conquer the tribes of the Cuzco Valley. This legend also incorporates an ornate golden staff, which is thought to have been given to Manco Capac by his father. Accounts vary, but according to some versions of the legend, the young Manco jealously betrayed his older brothers, killed them, and became the sole ruler of Cuzco, the capital of what would become the Inca Empire.

Besides the many differences in their creation stories, the Inca people universally believed the creation of humans and the creation of the earth were two entirely different things. Their early consciousness was developed around their relationship with their environment; the rocks and mountains of the Andes, and believed that no Inca should ever feel the need to subdue or master their environment. They felt they did not just inhabit their environment, but instead the landscape inhabited them. They felt the rocks, nature and the mountains of their world were firmly established and could not be changed, much like the eternal divine presence of life itself and humanity. They believed that the creations of both humans and the earth existed in endless cycles of tragedy, upheaval, and re-creation, with each cycle lasting one thousand years. Though each cycle brings about both hope and fear, each one also brings about an improvement in the human condition.

The first creation was when Wiraqocha created the giant stone people who lived in darkness. The second creation cycle was when the sun appeared and the new people learned to clothe themselves, build shelters, and begin to farm. During the third cycle, systematic agriculture, spinning and weaving, mining, and metal working would evolve, with gold coming from the sweat of the sun and silver from the tears of the moon. But rivalry between communities also came into play. The fourth creation was filled with conflict, suspicion, animosity, and war. Tribal divisions began to form. The fifth creation was the thousand years before the invasion by the Spanish in the 16th century. It was a golden time; a classical age of order and stability. But then Francisco Pizarro and Christianity appeared, and nothing in the Incan world was ever the same.

Judaism and Christianity

The book of Genesis in the Bible tells of two different accounts of creation; each perhaps simply a difference in perspective on creation. The first account being gods’ perspective, when the earth and heavens were created, and the second being, humanity’s perspective.

The first account tells that in the beginning, Elohim (God), created the heavens and the earth, but the earth was nothing more than a formless, dark void. So Elohim created light and the earth appeared. And since this was the first day, from then on, before each new day he would create morning and evening anew. On the second day he created the waters and the skies. Then on the third day he separated the waters from parts of the land and upon this dried earth sprouted vegetation, plants bearing seed of their kind and trees bearing fruit, with seed within the fruit, of their kind.

On the fourth day he began to populate his creations, and created heavenly bodies for the night and day skies. There were two great lights, a greater light to govern the day, and a lesser one that would govern the night. The next day, the fifth day, he created birds to fly above the earth, and told them to be fruitful and to multiply and fill the skies. Then he created all the sea creatures, including the Leviathan and the Rahab, and told them to also go forth and fill the seas.

On the sixth day Elohim created animals, “living creatures and cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth.” Lastly he created man and woman in the image and likeness of himself, the one god, Elohim. And he told these first people they also should go forth and multiply and to be fruitful. They were to fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over all the fish, birds and animals. They were to use the seeds of the plants, and all the vegetation and fruit was to become their food. And Elohim stood back and looked over all that he had created and saw that is was very good, so the next day, the seventh, he rested and blessed and sanctified this day as a day of rest, for in six days he had created the heavens and the earth and all their inhabitants.

The second account of creation begins after the moment that the earth and heaven had been created. In the beginning there were heaven and earth. There were no plants, shrubs or trees yet because Yahweh Elohim (Lord God) had not sent rain upon the earth, nor a man to cultivate its fields; but a mist arose from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Yahweh Elohim then formed man from dust off the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils and man became a living being. Yahweh Elohim then planted a garden in Eden, and out of the ground grew trees which were both, pleasing to the eye, and could be used for food. One great tree grew out of the middle of the garden, the Tree of Life. Another nearby tree was called the Tree of Knowledge, of good and evil. He then created four rivers; the Pishan, that flowed around the land of Havilah, where gold, bdellium and onyx were; Gihon, the river that flowed around the land Cush; the Tigris, that flowed east out of Assyria; and the river Euphrates. All becoming the great rivers of the Middle East. He then set the man upon the earth to cultivate it and care for it, and told the man that he may eat from the garden freely, except for the Tree of Knowledge, where both good and evil lay. From this tree the man should never eat for if he were to, he would die. Yahweh Elohim then thought how lonely it must be for this one man and that he needed a helper, so he created every creature on the land and every bird in the sky. He allowed the man to name each creature and as he did, they became living creatures. But the man still seemed lonely so Yahweh Elohim put the man into a deep sleep. And as the man slept he took out one of the man’s ribs, then healed the flesh there. And when the man awoke, Yahweh Elohim showed him what he had created and told him he had used one of the man’s ribs.

Naming this new human was left up to the man and he decided to call her woman, for she was taken out of himself. “The bone of my bones, and the flesh of my flesh.” This first man and woman coming together, represents that from then onwards when a man takes a woman he shall leave his father and his brother, and take her for a wife, and they become one flesh. Man and woman lived in the garden of Eden. The man toiled in the fields and though they were still naked they were not ashamed.

Of all the creatures created, the serpent was the most crafty and one day he told the woman that if she were to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge she would not die, but instead have her eyes opened and like the, Lord God Yahweh Elohim, she would know good from evil. When she saw that the fruit of this tree would be good food, and that eating the fruit would bring her wisdom, she plucked one of its fruits and ate it, giving a piece to her husband, who ate as well. Suddenly, the man and woman saw that they were naked and they quickly sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. Yahweh Elohim confronted man and woman, asking why did they eat from the Tree of Knowledge. The man admitted that his wife had picked the fruit but that he had also eaten. The woman blamed the deceiving serpent. Yahweh Elohim went to the serpent and vowed that because he had done this, forever shall he be cursed and onto his belly he will go, to eat the dust for the rest of his days. To the woman he said; from now on a woman’s pain in childbirth will greatly multiply and only with this pain will you bring forth children. Woman will also be forever cursed with the blood of menstruation, and her only desire will be for her husband, and that he rule over her.

Yahweh Elohim then turned to man and told him that because he had listened to his wife’s voice and had eaten from the tree, he would forever be a slave to the cultivation of the fields, all the days of his life until he dies and returns to the ground, “For you are dust. And to dust you shall return.” The man would be named Adam, the woman, Eve (mother of all living). Yahweh Elomin made garments of skin and clothed them both. He then sent them out of the garden of Eden and out into the fields to cultivate the ground  from which man was originally taken. By eating from the Tree of Knowledge, man and woman now knew good and evil and to prevent them from eating from the Tree of Life, Yahweh Elohim placed cherubim and a flaming sword to guard it. Adam and Eve headed off into the fields and before long, began to have children, who would eventually populate the earth.

The primitive, innocent world came to an end with Adam and Eve. The temptation of the unknown, the all too human quest for knowledge had become the “mortal sin,” and started mortal man’s struggle and suffering in the descendants of primeval Adam.

Adam and Eve named their firstborn Cain. Their second child, Abel. Cain became a farmer of the fields while Abel became a herdsman over his flock. One day Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil to Yahweh Elomin. Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. It was no contest. Yahweh Elomin preferred the fat over the fruit, which enraged Cain. Later that day he ambushed his brother and killed him. Cain was banished and became a nomad. While wandering Cain found a wife and they had a child, which he named Enoch and soon after settled down to build a city, which he would name after his son.
When Adam and Eve were 130 years old they had another child, Seth, born in the likeness and image of Adam. Adam would live for 930 years and would father many sons and daughters. Seth would also have many children and lived for 912 years. Each generation afterwards would last hundreds of years, with Methuselah the last to live over 900 years. One of his sons, Lamech, would also have many children and when Lamech had lived 182 years he fathered a son, Noah.

It had been thousands of years since the creation and man had multiplied and covered the face of the earth, But Yahweh Elomin saw the wickedness of man and that the intent of their hearts was only evil. He saw how violent and corrupt the world had become and was sorry he had made mankind and was grieved by it. So he found a righteous man, Noah. After Noah was 500 years old, he fathered three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. One hundred years later, Yahweh Elomin instructed Noah and his sons to build an ark and to fill it with all the creatures of the sea, sky and land. At first he told Noah to gather two of every living thing, male and female. He then changed his order to say gather seven of every clean animal, including  a male and female, and Noah was to also include a male and female of every unclean animal. They were all loaded onto the ark, including Noah, his wife, their three sons and their son’s wives.

To destroy the evil in the world, Yahweh Elohim then sent a rain that didn’t stop for forty days and forty nights. All the flesh that moved on the earth perished, whether man or beast, with all living things being blotted from the earth. The water covered the highest mountains and after the forty days and nights of rain, the earth was flooded for a hundred and fifty years. The waters then began to subside, but it would take months before even the mountain tops would become visible. After the ark had come to rest on the side of a mountain, Noah sent out a raven which flew back and forth and dried up much of the earth. Then he sent out a dove, but the dove returned, unable to find anywhere to land. Noah waited seven days then sent out the dove again. This time when the dove returned it held a freshly plucked olive leaf in it’s beak. Waiting another seven days Noah sent out the dove a third time but this time the dove did not return.

After the flood had subsided entirely and the earth was dry once more, Yahweh Elohim made a covenant with Noah and blessed him and his family. He then told them to go forth, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and from then on the fear and terror of man shall forever be on every beast, every bird, everything that would creep on the ground and all the fish in the sea. Every moving thing that is alive and all the green plants were to become man’s food. And that from this day onwards man was to worship Yahweh Elohim, as the one true Lord God.

The descendants of Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth would go forth and populate the earth. One of these groups of people would become the Hebrew and be led by men such as Abraham, Isaac, Moses and Joshua, who would eventually make their way to Palestine and conquer the peoples living there and claim the land as theirs, the land promised to them by God.

The Mandinka

The Mandinka was the largest ancient West African empire and today makes up the majority of the Mande people. They believed their creation began with the god Mangala, a singular, powerful being who was perceived to be a round, energetic presence who resided in a vast expanse of nothingness. Within Mangala existed four divisions, which would become symbolic to many things, including the four days of the week (time), the four elements (matter), and the four directions (space).  Mangala felt bloated all the time and was tired of keeping all of this matter inside. Mangala removed all his insides and compressed it all into a seed. This represented the creation of the world, but the seed was not strong enough and could not hold all of creation within it and eventually exploded. Disappointed, Mangala destroyed the world he had tried to create, but did not give up and decided to give it another shot. This time Mangala used two sets of twin seeds, planting them in an egg-shaped womb. As the original sets began to gestate, Mangala kept adding sets of twin seeds into the womb until he had eight sets of seeds. Over time the gestating seeds transformed into fish, the symbol of fertility in the Mande world. Mangala saw that this time creation was going to be successful and concentrated on maintaining its perfection. But soon enough chaos slowly crept in and caused one of the male twins to become ambitious and he tried to escape from the egg. This chaotic character called, Pemba, was a trickster figure whose first trick was to steal a piece of the womb’s placenta and throw it down into the void where it landed and made the earth. Next, Pemba  tried to re-fertilize what was left of the womb, but he could not find it. Mangala had taken the remaining pieces of the placenta and had used them to form the sun. So Pemba stole male seeds from Mangala’s clavicle, and took them to the barren earth and planted them there. Only one of them could germinate in the dry earth, a male eleusine seed which grew in the blood of the placenta. But because Pemba had stolen the seed and it germinated in Pemba’s own placenta, the earth became impure and the eleusine seed turned red. Darkness and the night would become associated with Pemba.

Mangala was very upset about all this and decided to sacrifice Pemba’s twin brother, Faro to save what was left of his creation and to purify it. Faro was castrated then cut into sixty pieces which fell to the earth where they became trees. Faro was then raised from the dead and transformed into a human being and was sent down to earth in an ark made from his placenta. With him came four pairs of male and four pairs of female twins who became the original ancestors of mankind, all made from Faro’s placenta. The ark also held all the animals and plants, which also carried the male and female life force. Faro was then taught, by Mangala, the language of creation. Faro’s knowledge of words would become very powerful and was the tool he used to defeat Pemba’s mischief. Faro and the rest of the newly created twins then came to earth and soon married other humans, apart from themselves. A being named Sourakata, then arrived from out of the sky with the first sacred drum, made of the sacrificed skull of Faro, and a hammer. Sourakata began to play on the drum and sang for the first rain to come. But the rain would not arrive, so the ancestral smith came to the earth and grabbing the hammer, struck a rock. Only then did it begin to rain. Sourakata was a magical being who could control nature, and he taught Faro and his followers how to achieve this to their benefit.

Faro would go on and create all the world from the descendants of Mangala’s original egg seeds. Then one day he caused the land to flood, to once and for all wash away the impure seed of his brother, Pemba, and to rid the world of everything that had gone bad. Sheltered on Faro’s ark, only the good were saved.

Islam

The creation story of Islam is split among many verses in the Qur’an, which is written in Arabic and is considered authoritative only in that language. So please excuse my ignorance. The myth is similar to the Judaism-Christian accounts of creation, since the Islamic creation myth was recited, then recorded after the Old and New testaments had been written, over five centuries earlier.

In the beginning the sky and the earth were separate and stood apart from each other. After going through a phase where they were covered in smoke, they simultaneously came into their present shape and joined together to become one, the “unit of creation.” The whole process had taken six days or eras. The one all-powerful god, Allah “The God”, spread out, stormy, wind swept waves across the earth and created the depths of swollen seas. Though the waves clashed, surged, and tried to leap over one another, Allah subdued much of the agitation by pressing down the weight of the earth with his chest. When the chaotic seas reached his shoulder blades, they meekly submitted and became tame and obedient, forever becoming the prisoners of disgrace. The earth continued to spread itself out and became solid in the depths of the waters. Continuing to spread, it became solid even in the stormy depths of the water. At which time the earth finally ended the feeling of pride, self-conceit, and superiority the waters had held. The earth then gained control over the strength of the water’s flow and it became less of a disturbance.

The waters subsided around the earth’s sides and beneath the weight of the high mountains that Allah had placed upon it, and then from these mountains Allah flowed springs of cool water and distributed them throughout the plains and low places, and then controlled their movement by placing rocks and mountains along their routes. When all the trembling came to a standstill, high mountains stood on the plains, and deep valleys were formed from the mountains that grew downwards. Then Allah created a vast atmosphere between the earth and heaven that held blowing winds. Thus, the world and the cosmos were created.

Allah then created all the creatures of the earth and the water. Some he made to fly, some swam, some slithered and some crawled, and some walked. He next created the angels, and then the sun, moon, and stars, which would all reside in the heavens. He then made one big cloud, by collecting together a bunch of smaller clouds. When the water was heavy within this one big cloud, lightning began to flash around it and Allah brought forth strong winds to push against the great cloud and it began to rain. By the time the great cloud reached the ground emptied of its water, vegetation began to grow on the plains of the earth and herbage on the slopes of the mountains.

The rain, which had poured down in torrents had broken up the soil and brought forth the corn, the grapes and olive, palm, the fruit trees, the grass and all other vegetation. When this was done, he told the world’s creatures to spread out over its surfaces. Then while looking around, Allah noticed that there were still places, barren tracts of the earth, which did not have water to feed its life, so he created floating clouds which would regularly nourish these unproductive areas with rain. The earth finally felt at peace, being so decorated with gardens covered in soft vegetation and the beauty of its blossoms upon it. Allah had created all these things as the means of sustenance for the people that were to come and feed for all the creatures.

Allah then took clay, earth, sand, and water and mixed them together, which he then used to mould a model of a man. He breathed life and power into it, and it immediately came to life. This first man was to be named Adam. Allah then guided Adam to a beautiful, wondrous garden called paradise, where he created Eve (Hawa), the first woman, from out of Adam’s side. He then taught Adam the names of all the creatures and brought him to the angels, where he had them all bow down before Adam. Allah then told Adam and Eve that they could eat whatever they wanted from the garden, except the fruit of a forbidden tree. But Iblis (Satan) tempted them to disobey Allah and they ended up both eating the fruit. When Allah found out that they had disobeyed him he cast them out of paradise.

In the creation myth of the Old Testament, much of the blame of this “original sin” was placed on Eve, and both she and Adam were kicked out of Eden, forever. Their god also told them that from that time forward, death would be the wage of sin. Allah would treat the situation very differently.

Allah did not blame Eve and eventually forgave the pair, and also stated that death is not the wage of sin, it is a reality. Death does not happen because of misbehaviour, but because all humans are to be tested throughout their lives, by life itself, and then will be brought back to the one god Allah, through death, and only then, will they be judged.

All events in a person’s life would be seen as a trial. All the circumstances of human experience, no matter how one perceives it to be, are preparations for the eventual encounter with Allah. From that moment on life would be proclaimed to be only a test; for Allah’s believers have no reincarnation or son of god. Their reckoning is with Allah alone and each person is held accountable by their choices and actions. That success in life will not be in the accumulation of material goods, or in self-gratification of one’s physical desires, or their seemingly, virtuous actions. Actual success will be defined as being able to turn away from anything that causes one to lose sight of the will of Allah; in other words to ignore and turn away, from the temptations of the world and any self-centered approach to life. This daily struggle with life and one’s own faults and worldly desires would be called jihad, for all that Allah required of humans is both moral behaviour and devotion.

The rest of the Islamic creation myth is intertwined with the Judeo-Christian story. Islam, roughly meaning “submission,” as in to god, but also means “peace,” believes that Abraham, Moses, Noah, and Jesus were all prophets of God, which to them was Allah. But the most important prophet of Islam was Muhammad, who would be the instrument through which Allah would pass on his divine revelations and scripture. This would be achieved through visions that Muhammad would have. Whatever Allah had said to him, had to be memorized and recited out loud by Muhammad and his followers. This would later be written down and become the Qur’an. The people of Islam would become Muslims, “those who submit” to their gods will.

The Big Bang and Darwin

In the beginning there was nothing and then at a finite time in the past, there formed a very small, infinitely hot, and infinitely dense dot, about the size of a period on this page. It held four forces of nature within it. The “weak force,” what keeps the particles of an atomic nucleus together; the “strong force,” which allows particles (quarks), that make up the protons and neutrons in a nucleus to stick together; “electromagnetism,” which keeps solids from falling apart, and “gravity.” All four forces of nature compressed into a single force, the “grand unified force.” There was really no explosion but more of an expansion and as the dot began to expand, it also began to cool. The gravitational force separated from the grand unified force, then the strong force separated and finally the weak force separated from the electromagnetic force. This all happened by the time the universe was only about one-ten-thousandth of a second old. At this point the temperature is calculated to have been more than 100,000 million degrees Centigrade.  At one-one hundredths of a second and with more happening in that time than in the next million years, the universe had expanded to about the size of a pea, and by 60 seconds the temperature had fallen to 10,000 million degrees. Then quarks began to form and combined to form particles. In comparison to today, the universe’s average temperature was -270 degreesC (-454 degrees’ F), just three degrees C (four degrees F) above absolute zero, the lowest possible temperature. By the age of 100 seconds, the first nuclei had formed and the dense expanding mass became matter, with the dominant form being cold dark matter. A few minutes after the beginning, neutrons began to combine with protons to create Helium and Hydrogen nuclei.

This new universe of space, time, matter, and energy continued to expand and cool and it wasn’t until about the 300,000 year old mark that the universe cooled down enough to become transparent. Around this time much of the incredible heat began to cool and a form of radiation called cosmic microwaves, began to expand outwards. This cosmic background radiation, a remnant of this beginning time, still blankets the entire universe to this day. One hundred thousand years or so later, electrons and nuclei combined to create atoms, mostly Hydrogen.

A billion years after the beginning, the denser regions of the ever expanding, unevenly distributed matter, mostly Helium, Hydrogen and a variety of subatomic particles, gravitationally began to attract nearby matter and grew denser, forming gas clouds, quasars, stars and galaxies. Then began to move away and outwards from the starting point at unbelievable speeds. Still, to this day, all the galaxies and stars are heading away from us, with the farther away they are, the higher their velocity, though at the same time there is no geographic center to an expanding universe.

Because of the incredible pressure that formed within these stars, the original two elements of Helium and Hydrogen evolved into the other 88 naturally occurring chemical elements of the universe. These complex chemical elements evolved within the ancient stars and when these stars would end their stellar lives and die, the elements would be released as great clouds of swirling compounds. These clouds of chemical elements formed solar systems, including our own.

About 4.5 billion years ago one of these molten masses of matter became the earth and as it cooled off it became a solid, dry rock. Because of its heat and the cooling of the universe, moisture formed and rained upon the earth with vapour being brought in from impacts of asteroids and meteoroids for millions of years. Eventually this process would form great oceans. The first atmosphere was about 80% water vapour, 10% carbon dioxide, 6% hydrogen-sulfur with traces of many other compounds. With the earth nearly, entirely covered in oceans, the water would enrich carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and various other inert gases. These oceans also contained sorts of ammonia, methane, phosphoric salts, light, heat and electricity. Eventually within this soup of water and dissolving rock, the first self-replicating organic systems spawned and produced simple single-celled organisms, and the very slow process of evolution began.

Before Oxygen (in the form of ozone) the earth had no protection from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and the primitive compounds were bombarded with huge amounts of radiation from the sun. This form of energy promoted the self organization of simple molecules into organic compounds, which formed themselves into proto-cells, then eventually into true organisms. These micro-organisms gave the earth an oxygen rich atmosphere about five hundred million years ago.

The evolution of the cell, the basic unit of life, began with prokaryotes, single-celled organisms, or bacterium, which had no bound nucleus and their DNA was not organized into chromosomes (the hereditary information necessary for life). They inhabited the Earth approximately 3–4 billion years ago.

Over the next three billion or so years, through variation, reproduction, and selection, the inherited traits of groups of these organisms changed from one generation to the next, with new traits (genes) arising through mutations in the genes or transfer of genes between groups and between species.  Each cell would become a small, miniaturized factory containing thousands of pieces of molecular machinery and made up of thousands of millions of atoms. Nearly all life was now made up of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid), meaning a full set of chromosomes with all the inheritable traits of an organism. The DNA molecule had become an incredible micro, digital, error-correcting, redundant, self duplicating, information storage and retrieval system, with its own inherent language, that had the potential to develop any organism from raw biological material. Basically, the DNA contained all the instructions for making and controlling every living thing and very tiny DNA changes could make profound differences.

Within cells are strands of DNA that associate with proteins to form condensed structures called chromosomes. A specific location within a chromosome is its locus. Genes on the other hand are parts of the DNA molecule that can be deemed the units of evolution. The mechanism of evolution are natural selection, mutation, and the influence of the environment it lives in, which gives such diversity of life on our planet. It is not the number of genes that give all life such diversity, but how they are used. The genetic code for all living things consists of four letters, which in unlimited combinations make up each being’s genetic code. Codes which make all living things grow and survive. Our species have three billion letters in its genetic code, while our human genome has 23,000 genes. Strangely enough, the same number of genes as a chicken, and actually less than an ear of corn.

Inherited traits of an organism are controlled by these genes, and together make up that organism’s genome, with the complete set of genes within an organism’s genome is its genotype. These inheritable traits are then reproduced between generations via the DNA molecule. Each gene specifies a single functional unit.  The complete set of observable traits that make up the structure and behaviour of an organism is called its phenotype.

Multi-cellular organisms first appeared in the oceans, then on the shores, and included sponges, brown algae, Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), slime moulds and myxobacteria (a gliding bacterium). The oldest existing fossils found are from this time.

About 600 million years ago photosynthesis had caused the level of oxygen to rise on the planet and its accumulation was probably somewhat accountable for the single cell evolving into remarkable biological diversity. And from these earliest beginnings nature would prove that nothing happens in isolation, that one event or action affects another and that the activity of one living organism will change the lives of other organisms. The world would now become a very complicated place.

Amid all the complexities of the evolving world, all living things on the planet earth, human or otherwise, would share common processes and traits, such as everything would have to feed, which in most cases causes growth. To assist in converting the food eaten into energy, all living things respire to take in and use the gases found in the air and water, and all living things excrete their waste material. They also reproduce in order to carry on their species, and all are sensitive and react to outside stimuli. And finally all animals, as well as most plants, have the ability to move.

Plants and fungi colonized the land, and were soon followed by arthropods and other animals, with some of the life forms of this time appearing in fossil records. These more complex creatures and plants began to evolve slowly over millions of years, by random genetic mutations that occured within an organism’s genetic code. The beneficial mutations were passed on to the next generations and over time these beneficial mutations accumulated and resulted in an entirely different organism and species, with the record of evolution remaining in an organism’s genome which revealed when species diverged through mutation.

Geographically, the surface of the earth was mostly water, except for the super continent of Pangaea, the Greek word for, “all the earth.” The single great ocean that surrounded it was the Panthalassa, Greek for “all seas.” Much like the fact that all living things contain a large proportion of water, a simple compound of oxygen and hydrogen, the earth also was and is mostly water.

Around 300 million years ago Pangaea began to slowly move and break apart through continental drift. Hundreds of a million years later it would form the current configuration of the continents. And still today, very slowly, its crusts continue to shift upon the earth’s surface creating earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The earth also changes through cycles of weather patterns and ice ages, with most all ice ages usually lasting about 100,000 years. There were brief warm periods in between, lasting anywhere from 10,000 -20,000 years. Changes are also brought about by all sorts of other natural occurrences, such as impacts from celestial objects. All these factors combined, have been what dictates the growth and evolvement of every species on the earth.

Amphibians first appeared around 300 million years ago, followed by early amniotes (vertebrates with an embryonic sac), then mammals around 200 million years ago and birds around 100 million years ago (both from “reptile”-like lineages).  The age of the dinosaur began about two hundred and fifty million years ago, and ended in extinction 140 million years later. In their one hundred plus millions of years of evolving, the dinosaurs would go from two legged herbivores, called Prosauropods, who were smaller grazing animals to creatures who would dominate the land. These earliest dinosaurs would eat so much that over time their bellies would grow and eventually they would evolve to where they would drop down on all four legs, to support the weight. These were the Sauropods with huge bodies, four legs, a small head at the end of a very long neck, and who consumed huge amounts of foliage, especially trees. Twenty million years ago the monkey appears and evolves, branching off into different directions until about 14 million years go by, and then a fully walking, upright, bipedal, tool-making humanoid appears on the scene. The humanoid, Ramapithecus, was the first ape-like creature who had fingers and could grasp things; who had a thumb that was able to swing around and “oppose” the other fingers, and also had a more rounded tooth area, allowing for a better diet. American physical anthropologists Richard Wrangham gives the name, Pan Prior, for the species from where we and the chimps descended.

These new creatures would come out of Africa, the birthplace of man, humanity’s garden of Eden, and were dark, hairy, and ape-like. About two million years ago, tools are invented and when the human species, Homo-erectus appeared, about one million years ago the technology of fire was mastered. About 400,000 years ago the first shelters began to be built, with the short-limbed, thick-bodied, and cold-climate, adapted Neanderthal man, showing up about 200,000 years ago. At 100,000 years ago, we began to hold burial ceremonies and before 50,000 years ago art and language would  appear. Outwards from Africa the evolving humans spanned out over the planet. Anatomically modern humans, Homo-sapiens, became the predominate species and began to blanket the globe 100,000 years ago. They migrated to Asia and Australia 65,000 years ago, Europe 32,000 years ago and finally into the Americas about 15,000 years ago. For thousands of years Neanderthal and Homo-sapiens would alternately occupy the Middle East and parts of Europe until about 30,000 years ago, when the Neanderthal became extinct due to either being killed or they died off due to decreasing numbers. More likely they were simply assimilated into the species Homo-sapiens.

Being so spread out humans soon began to develop their own cultures, language and way of life, according to the environment that they lived in. And through human variation through physical adaptation to their climatic conditions, the races of humanity would begin to form and continue to evolve.

In the northern regions, with less and weaker sunlight, the humans there would become more pale. To aid in the proper growth of bones, their body took vitamin D from the sun’s energy. With less sunshine the skin had to lighten to let more of it through. Conversely, humans in equatorial latitudes needed more protection from the sun’s UV rays, so it began to secrete melanin into the skin which is the bodies’ natural sun screen. The effect of the sun on skin affected our DNA and caused the skin to protect itself by becoming thicker and browner. This sun screen reaction is, in reality, an anti aging product of the human body. The whole process of a black human becoming a white human or a white human becoming a black human takes about 25,000 years.

Burial ceremonies would become important and beliefs in an afterlife would evolve. The original gods were the sun, the earth, and all the life that dwelled upon it. Before civilizations and religions, the inhabitants of the earth had what we now call pagan beliefs. Wherever on the planet, modern humans migrated, they worshipped the sun and lived their lives according to the cycles of seasons that the celestial realm provided them. The seasons determined their ability to survive, and represented life, death, and rebirth.

The time when the earth goddess was reborn as an infant, and the darkness of night represented the womb became the winter solstice. This, the shortest day of the year, was worshipped for representing renewal and the rebirth out of the darkness of winter, for after this day, each day’s light would grow.

Then came the spring equinox, where daylight and darkness are in balance. It is the time when plants and animals awaken from the death of winter. It would be then followed by the summer solstice, the longest day of the year and represented the earth goddess at the peak of her fertility, sexuality, and power. It was the time for commitment to one’s beloved and where the hope and promise of a new life were to be found. At the same time the summer solstice would also represent a time of mourning, and worry for the often murderous heat, and killing drought that were to come.

The fall equinox would complete the cycle of life, representing the harvest was complete, and that the earth would no longer bear fruit. The earth goddess was seen as passing into a menopause. It was the time for giving thanks to the harvest and hope that it would be enough to see the people through the coming darkness of winter.

These early modern humans would prosper and would eventually build great cities and develop incredible technologies, invent music, art, and the written word, all by themselves, with no outside assistance from any gods whatsoever. Where once they used sticks, leaves, and mud to build their homes, like the birds and the beaver, they would eventually build majestic skyscrapers, apartment buildings, and sprawling suburbs, like the bees and ants.

However, despite the evolution of all the larger animals, including humans, the smaller organisms, similar to the types that evolved early in this process, continued to be highly successful and dominated the earth. The majority of both biomass and species covering the planet today are single celled organisms and bacteria.

All organisms on the earth are descended from a common ancestor or ancestral gene pool, all related, in the fact all living things share the same set of nucleotides (having the basic components of DNA) and the same amino acids. For instance, all human DNA has forty-six chromosomes, arranged in 23 pairs, and oddly enough, the largest human cell is the female egg cell, which can be seen with the naked eye as a tiny dot, while the smallest human cell is male sperm.

The diversity of the current species that makes up the planet, is firstly because of a long series of speciation, meaning the formation of new species as a result of geographic, physiological, anatomical, or behavioural factors that prevented previously interbreeding populations from breeding with each other. Secondly, the many extinction events that occurred over the millennia. In a nut shell, all things on the planet have adapted to their environment through biological and natural evolution, with the mechanism of evolution being natural selection. If it was able to adapt, it survived. If it was unable to adapt, it either evolved into a new species, moved away, or died.

Today there are about 1.8 million species of living creatures. Nearly 95% of animal species, more than 1.2 million species, are invertebrates, animals without a backbone. All told there are one million species of insects, 59,000 species of vertebrate, 30,000 of fish, 8,240 of reptiles, 10,000 of birds, 5,415 of mammal, and one species of human. Though the largest populations of living organisms on the planet, by far, is the 5 to 10 million species of bacteria and the 74,000 -120,000 species of fungi.

It took Albert Einstein to come up with the theory that time and space do not have an existence independent of human experience. If all material things, like the stars and the planets, including earth, were to disappear out of the universe, it was formerly believed that all that would be left was time and space, but according to his Theory of Relativity, time and space would disappear too, along with everything else. It concludes that there are incredible and vast energies contained within a single atom and that all matter is nothing but another form of this energy.

The energy represented in the atom is the energy of the sun. It provides the synergy of all living things, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Its essence is the value in its differences, which should be respected, for synergy builds on strengths so that they can compensate for weaknesses. Nearly all of our energy comes from the sun. Nothing can live, move, grow, give off light, heat, or make a sound without energy.

It begins when sunlight touches a plant, which converts the sun’s energy into chemical energy and stores it in its leaves through the process of photosynthesis. We humans then eat the plants and/or other animals who have also fed on them, and store that chemical energy within our bodies. The energy is then released through chemical reactions that occur within our bodies. This process is performed by mitochondria, which are parts of the cell, called organelles, that break up food to make energy. These reactions need oxygen, which is why we breathe in air. When we exert ourselves, we get short of breath, because the body is turning chemical energy into kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion. This same chemical energy that reacts in our bodies is also stored in food, fuel, batteries, and many other forms. These chemical reactions are then able to become electrical energy, which can be converted into light, sound, or heat energy.

Though in reality, it seems that human behaviour is often far more complex than events in the natural world or the energies that created the universe, and that the six billion people living on the earth today are members of a single biological species, Homo Sapiens. We all come from the same place and from the very beginning strived to just get along and love each other, which we are still trying desperately to do today. Because of this, it has been said  that compassion will test our ability to survive as a species, not cleverness.

Summary

There are hundreds of creation stories, most all are supernatural, mythic-religious tales, explaining the beginnings of humanity, the earth, life, the universe, and representation of the stars and planet’s movements. Putting the shapes and movements of the sky into rhythms which humans could relate to; stories that try to explain these movements in reflection of own lives.  They share the same themes, such as, the forming of life out of primordial chaos, or the earth emerging from an infinite and timeless ocean, or simply from a  creation out of nothing at all. This is very similar to the fact that, beyond a reasonable doubt, astronomy and physics have also shown that indeed we had a beginning; before which, there was nothing, and then afterwards, there was the universe.

There are even creation myths in existence that include the beliefs that aliens from space, another species, landed here once, and perhaps still do, and over the millennia, have tried many times to create life on earth. The myths insinuate that millions of years have been spent trying to grow different life forms which would survive on a planet of rock. These aliens then gave the earth’s core an energy source that permeates through all things on the surface, while celestial objects do the same from above. And maybe, they began to get it right, after a meteor extinguished the dinosaurs. They then created one species, humanity but had to re-create them a few times to get it right, at least something which they were happy with. That would be modern man. Then about 12,000 years ago they would give us food. We quickly ate up all the big game, so they had to return and bring more food, the four basic food groups we still survive on today and that which we can grow ourselves; wheat, rice, corn, and potatoes. But maybe they were just trying to find out where they themselves, came from.

The most interesting thing about creation myths is that most became prominent about 5,000 years ago, when the first civilizations were arising in Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Mediterranean, India, China, Mexico, and Peru. Cities were being born, populations expanding and the written word came into being. Many of these civilizations were geographically separated from one another, yet half of them built themselves up from nothing, with just as many not suspecting there was another civilized race in the world. Though there is still so much we simply don’t know about or have found yet as to ancient history.

What we do know is that just as the earth’s population exploded, with many new technologies and inventions, cities grew ever larger and creation myths appeared. Strangely enough, it is also the time when the ego of humans began to dictate the way things were going to be.

Some creation myths seem quite absurd or extremely fictional, if not illogical. But though they may or may not be factual, in the literal sense, most of them do pass on certain basic truths about the meaning and purpose of life on the planet earth. Most are not, religious in nature, and more often than not, they are related to worldly things that are not even connected to religions or sacred meanings. They are myths created by humans and not supernatural beings and/or mythological figures. But because we are a symbolic species, our reality is not necessarily action or feeling, but meaning. The majority of people perceive the world only in terms of the symbols that represent their language and culture. Any symbol that represents a particular meaning or ideal, recognized by the people who share the culture, becomes a belief.

This belief defines our identity to ourselves and to others by shaping what we believe into something that may be true, and then through the use of ritual practises, the belief then is transcended beyond the limits of our knowledge. The symbol then becomes sacred, thus, it becomes magnificent, high and mighty, and people become filled with awe. This is the main reason why many creation stories are very closely linked with the belief systems and religions that arose from them; for creation myths are the seeds of creation for such beliefs and religions. Though the problem that has forever been is unfortunately an idea which turns from a philosophy into a religion. It becomes extreme in one way or another, and most always brings only conflict.

The idea that all creation myths are somehow interconnected is common, even among most of the largest religions of the world.  Some people interpret creation myths as poetic descriptions of the sun, moon, and stars’ behaviour, which has been distorted over time into tales of gods and heroes. Others are leery toward creation stories because they are suspicious of the broad viewpoints of myths, “particularism.” Then there are others who surmise that perhaps, Enki, Atum, Kinich Ahau, the Grand Unity, Purusha, Brahma, Zeus, Quetzalcoatl, Odin, Hah-gweh-di-yu, Wiraqocha, Elohim, Yahweh, Mangela, Allah, the Great Creator, the Great Ruler, Mother Earth, Father Sky, and a tiny, incredibly hot speck are all different manifestations of one single god and that they are all one in the same.

Many of the creation myths are also very comparable, in that most all have a flood story of their local area, and which is viewed as a punishment on a previous people for their disobedient behaviour. There is most always some sort of creative sacrifice, with a god dying then being reborn. Nearly every creation myth includes a life-death-rebirth god. There also seems to always be a most supreme being, who after he creates the world, and especially if he was also a life-death-rebirth god, cuts off contact with humanity and becomes “deus otiosus,” an idle god. Obviously proving the process of creation is an exhausting enterprise. These supreme beings are then sometimes replaced by a stronger and younger group of gods, called a titanomachy, who most often would gain their powers by either struggling with or conquering an older group of gods who usually represented some sort of chaos. Shamans and priests then created a belief system based on what all creation myths are based on and that is a founding myth.

A myth becomes the origin for the customs, rituals, and identity of people. There were and are many ancient and traditional societies that justified their actions and customs by claiming their gods were the ones who established them in the first place. Ignoring the fact that they were actually created by man. Even today, many cultures are still based on belief systems created  thousands of years ago, with Evangelical Christians and Muslims especially, acknowledging that their core directives are timeless, and to this day, read their respective scriptures the same way, literally. The Bible and the Qur’an, are both deemed to be the direct word of god and the absolute truth handed down for all time.

Most all creation myths also have an “axis mundi.” A place or thing, where north, south, east and west meet, as well as being the point where contact with the other levels of the universe can be made. The “axis mundi” is represented as either, the Sacred or Cosmic Tree of Life, the center of the world or its navel. Each culture has its own impression of where the center is, and it appears in many different forms. Many times it is a place, like a mountain, or a temple, or even a pile of rocks. Most times it appears as a tree, sometimes a vine. The Tree of Life in the book of Genesis, grows in the center of the garden of Eden, from which four rivers flow and nourishs the whole world. The Mayans had their World Tree, even the beginning of the big bang theory has a center.

The “axis mundi” could also be a god or human figure, like the Buddha. It would also be represented in the hearth, and the altar. Our earliest dwellings, besides caves, were circular structures most often with a central pole holding everything together, the hearth at the center dug out of the earth. Then it progressed to square homes with the hearth in the middle and from there to square homes surrounding a fountain and a courtyard. Simple altars became the pyramids and great cathedrals. These are all “axis mundi” centers, and are continuing to be built on an ever more massive scale with today’s “axis mundi”  represented in our landmark skyscrapers, which are even sometimes called centers. Other representations are the remaining ancient stone formations or mounds, in various locations around the world. In many cases, humanity is obsessed with always looking somewhere else for the center of the world, when in reality all they have to do is to look within. This then brings us to mono myths, the hero’s story. Nearly every single creation myth possesses the same or similar structured, classical stories of the hero. It is characterized in many different ways and has been and still is, the basic story line in much of our present day art, music, literature, poetry, religion, and film. It is also a story that is representative of a human’s life, though there never seems to be enough people willing to follow the path that leads to true peace, like heroes do.

Usually, after a miraculous birth, and after maturing into adulthood, the hero ventures out from the ordinary world into a supernatural realm. There they face fantastical forces, but are eventually victorious. The return journey is just as adventurous and filled with toils and troubles, and upon the hero’s return, he shares the knowledge and powers he has attained with his people. The story is of departure, initiation, and return; a very familiar tale of life, death, and rebirth.

They all begin when something or someone causes the hero to become aware of a new situation, an adventure he did not know about. They are told that they are desperately needed, that the life or death of humanity and/or creation is at stake. At first they refuse to help out, using the excuses of a sense of duty, obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy perhaps, and even love. Suddenly the hero becomes a victim to be saved. But once the hero commits to the journey there soon appears, consciously or unconsciously, guides that will assist the hero. It is usually an old woman or an old man. Their knowledge makes them representatives of the protecting power of destiny. Soon the hero realizes that all the forces of conscious, even mother nature, are at his or her side. The hero leaves their known world and departs from their self, and who they thought themselves were. The hero nearly dies, but is healed and/or reborn. They are then put through trials or series of ordeals or tests, usually three of them. Afterwards the hero feels unconditional love for the first time with a fellow human. The experience is overwhelming, and makes them feel very complete. Then comes some sort of physical or material temptation of life, such as morality, lust, cruelty, or greed.

The high point of the story is now reached, with the hero confronting whomever or whatever holds the ultimate power in the hero’s life. Many times, it is the father or a father figure who possesses powers over life and death. The hero is now faced with the hardest part of his journey, forgiveness and redemption, which requires the abandonment of the attachment to the ego. This is what is so very difficult. But when attained, the hero experiences a period of calm fulfilment and peace with their inner spirit. They come to realize that the immortal, indestructible being they just overcame was not what they were after at all. The benefit of achieving the goal of their quest was actually not the being itself, but the power that sustained it, and its grace, conscience and virtue. Much of Eastern philosophy is based on this principle. “We seek not to imitate the masters. Rather, we seek what they sought.

Having realized profound bliss or enlightenment, many a hero refused to return to the ordinary world. Some even stay and become immortal, others stay and die. The ones who decide to return often need help in the journey, for though they are at peace with themselves they are, more often than not, wounded or weakened in some way. Rescuers or guides appear to help them along their mythical flight home. This represents the classic and all too common, chase scene.

When the hero finally makes it back to their normal world, it is usually a very difficult time for them. They ponder how they are to integrate back into a normal life. The wisdom they have gained has changed them. They are masters of comfort and competency in their inner world, as well as the world around them. And because of their atonement, they are able to give up the attachments of their own personal limitations, traits, hopes, fears, and no longer are willing to live their lives by just going through the motions. The hero is now  willing to settle down and relax in the present moment, and whatever they may face – they deal with life as it happens. They contribute to their communities and to everyone they meet. They have come to understand that one earns respect by respecting others, which then gives peace of mind. They neither anticipate the future nor regret the past. They simply make each present moment count. And this is why the true heroes of the world are usually kind, generous, and patient. They understand that no one is perfect and that no one will ever know everything, and that all there is, is how one acts right now in the present moment, and they understand the power and importance of forgiveness. They achieve such awareness through the disciplines of body, mind, and spirit. Their heroism becomes simply, grace under the pressures of life, and their own conduct during times of temptation. They become beings with moral character, who put the interests of others above their own and possess the divine with reserved dignity and patience.

The opposite to the heros’ story is what too many of us have become over the years, and that is, individuals strutting around thinking a spotlight and camera are following us. Indignity is now all the rage. Human nature has now become rarely unbiased or unprejudiced. Instead it is always operating in the extreme, either to the right or the left, and not very often in the middle way with compromise. We’ve become opinionated, rash, angry, and loud. Living lives of illusion.

Besides the themes already mentioned, there is much to be learned from creation myths. The main problem has always been in how they have been interpreted. Like the foolishness of thinking we are here to rule and subdue the planet and all that dwell on it and to strip it of its resources, instead of the ideological viewpoint of favoured living in harmony with nature and our fellow human beings. But then that is the main problem with language and deep human thought, both are limited only by the metaphors available.

Thousands of years ago a simple group of people, after the men had returned from hunting down some game and the women had gathered up roots, berries, and grubs, they would sit around the fire and watch, listen and tell stories about their adventures of that day. They used various tones of grunting, body movement, gestures, and facial expressions, like smiling or titling the chin or rolling one’s eyes to explain their adventures. Or maybe the group would just sit back and with a clear focus, whittle away on a bone and make it into something or chip away at a stone to make an arrowhead. And then perhaps they’d just lay back upon mother earth and stare up into the expanse of space and wonder about all those twinkling lights. Then over time, some of them, at first with just their finger then a stick, would draw in the dirt and sand, and later hand paint the walls of their caves. Eventually scratching and carving the stories in shapes and symbols representing their tribes’ sign, on stone and pieces of bark, would detail the oral traditions and legends that would be passed down over generations. They believed that they were one with nature and that they would progress forever forward by simply continuing to share and compare the knowledge they gained.

Scribes and priests would begin to record these stories, transforming language into the written word, using their own interpretations and then creating world-views. Many of the first civilizations would then use these stories on which to base their beliefs, tenets, rules and hierarchy. Everyone would soon succumb to the fears presented to them, which these institutions would then distort into an unconscious need to conquer, defeat and impose their own way of life onto others by force. For a few thousand years the first civilizations would be only concerned with growth, expansion, war, and mega-projects, while the majority of the ever growing population’s concerns were strife, famine, and drought. Illusions would be created and still are, illusions that enter our minds and become realities, for indeed we are simply myth making mammals.

Creation myths aside, every single life form on the planet behaves in uniform, species-specific ways, most being guided by instincts, such as biological programming. However compared to all other living things, a human’s creative power is vast. But we now rely on culture, rather than instinct to ensure the survival of our kind. At one time, though rare today, we had biological forces within us, called instincts. This is where our soul resides. Where once we listened, we now most often ignore that “gut feeling,” and go in the direction our ego wants to go. Our souls have become cloaked in our egos, capes woven from our reactions to being in the world. This has translated into suffering, struggle, attachments, vulnerability, fear, insecurity, and anguish that comes from our particular society.

Our soul is the core of our being. It is the energy that is held there, a frequency if you will, but which is voiceless. It is where peace, calmness, composure, love, concern, and unlimited understanding reside. Though we have become beings that have gained tremendous mental power, we instead occupy ourselves with fashioning the natural environment into something self-serving, to ourselves and to our culture, according to where one happens to have been born and raised. Today it seems, far too many people have forgotten that they even have a soul and for various reasons, all created by the ego, far too many people are willing to forever be victims. The willingness to no longer be a victim comes from the soul, it allows us to either be free to suffer or free to stop suffering. The ego, creation myths, and many religious doctrines, cloud this truth and want us to be unaware that we have this choice. They try to dictate what our conscience is to be, because the act of thinking is what enslaves the soul and our conscious freedom. If one’s soul is free, they are able to meet suffering, to be aware of it, and then consciously choose to let it go.

When it comes right down to it, most all creation stories are make-believe, but where do they end? Will it be extinction, enlightenment, or evolvement? We are the first species, which we know of, to have the ability to stave off extinction, if we decide to. Enlightenment would lead to a better way of living allowing us to make the proper decisions, based on the realization that to stay alive, we need to keep the planet alive. This would be by creating a world of limited, earth-friendly consumption, with technology working for us, as a friend, and not working against us like the enemy much of it has become. So basically, evolvement can go either way, enlightenment or a world overpopulated with robots, drones, and worker bees. A world where the privileged few defend that privilege with obese establishments of weapons and propaganda, while the majority of the world faces poverty, desperation, and death. A world of  food and water rationing, with the food that is available, genetically altered. A world where many live indoors or underground when the sun is out. A world of acid rain, rivers and oceans. A world where people are wearing paper-masks when meeting other people, with our thoughts and behaviour dictated by big brother and the corporate elite.

Perhaps we should learn to once again, respect the characters of the creation myths that created such myths. The true creators of life are the sun, the moon, earth, water, the sky, and nature, who don’t care what we call them. At this stage of our history the only way to achieve this is through community and to return to family values, a sense of self, and awareness, for this is where love is found, as well as through mutual cooperation and respect, instead of our present values of corporate greed, television, and egotistical materialism.

Some people will hold their belief in their own particular creation story. Each one based on religion or science. Indeed creationism and evolution have become major issues with many people. The war between religion and science has been at the core of many disputes ever since creation stories came to be, with each side proclaiming the truth. While in reality, the truth happens when true science and true religion are in harmony with each other.

Scientific knowledge and modern technologies are racing forward at an ever quickening pace, yet our societies are still based on concepts and principles created centuries ago. In far too many ways humanity and its morality are being left behind in the dust. Present human activity and all its effects on the planet, the atmosphere and ourselves has been shaped by thinking patterns that are based on structures, needs, and values used by our ancestors six thousand years ago. Our present day societies are burdened under the heavy load of  traditional religions, or otherwise considerations of the past. The bulk of scientific knowledge that we have gained has only contributed to environmental degradation and has given us the illusion that our world is better because of it. When instead, science should make our lives better, with the driving force being concern for our welfare and the protection of the environment. The problem with science in the last few centuries is that all its focus has been on the sciences of matter, which do nothing to change the natural conditions and spirituality of life itself.

Up until recently the focus of the sciences of human behaviour have been primarily on people themselves, and not on the environmental conditions that created that individual. But we must continue to develop all the sciences of life and start to allow our inner being to make its way from beneath our manufactured, conditioned, personalities. Biology, physiology, and psychology are the only courses that could lead to positive change in our quality of life, not the fabrication of yet a bigger screen television or a faster car or an ever more powerful god. Just studying the individual does not identify the factors regarding that person’s behaviour. It is not human nature, but human behaviour that we need to be concerned with. And up until now, much of our behaviour is based on religious thought, cultural influences and the belief in creation myths.

I’ll end this essay with some interesting ways of looking at science and the world, for I believe the future does not just happen, other than natural events of course, but instead comes through the efforts of people and is determined by how well we are informed, of both sides of the story. There need not be so much polarity between us. There is absolutely no right or wrong, instead there are only points of view. If what we want to create, are fairness, balance and understanding then we need to give these things to others.

One of the most recent belief systems to have emerged in the world, one of the youngest of all religions, is the Baha’i faith which believes that humanity is indeed a single race and has the fundamental belief of the equality of men and women. One of its fundamental principles is of the harmony of religion and science. They believe that religion without science is merely superstition, and that science without religion is materialism. They believe truth to be one entity, the unity of science and religion. They  cannot be opposed for they are both aspects of the same truth. As Einstein once said, “Science without religion is lame, while religion without science is blind.”

The Baha’i faith believes that a human’s reasoning power is all that is required to understand the truths about religion and that whenever conflict arises between religion and science it is always due to human error, either through misinterpretations of religious scriptures or through the lack of a more complete understanding of science. Religious leaders who only accept the truth by what has been written in scripture many centuries ago, could learn much from scientists who are mortal humans also seeking the truth. The difference though is that the most important trait a scientist must have, is to admit when they are wrong, which then enables them to go on and find perhaps the right conclusion.

The written word of divine scripture is based on one of the main problems with language since it was invented, in that it is extremely limited because it is based on metaphors and comparisons. Most scriptures are interpretations that, more than likely, have nothing to do with the original texts that they are taken from, nor have they survived intact through the multiple translations. Many of them are primitive tales of legend and superstition. Another problem with a lot of scripture is that many people believe it is a goal, when instead, the words that are contained within are actually tools. Though there are some religions that do understand that most all scriptures are human attempts to try to understand the incredible actions of the universe, but their attempts were limited by the particular time and culture, in which they were originally written down, more than two thousand years ago.

In most all faiths, when a person’s perception of themselves becomes fundamentally separate from other people, things and obstacles that they encounter, and even separate from the divine, it becomes very difficult to attain spiritual growth. They create limitations upon themselves. For developing a meaningful and personal spirituality takes work, and is an ongoing job. It is a way of walking, not talking.

The powers of logic and reason are also just as limited as is language, when it comes to a belief, for true realization in a faith comes from something that is far simpler and more innocent than logic. The ancient Greeks came to believe that logic (logos), the reasoning side, was only one of three distinct parts that made up a human being and in no way was the most important. There are also the positive and absolute, the (pathos), from where feelings come and which is based on our relationships. And finally, there is character (ethos), our integrity and the trust that one inspires.

As to logic, no matter what our ego thinks, we are not inherently rational. Formal logic is a very recent creation of humankind. It was brought about so that humans could ignore inner knowledge. Our more natural methods of thought is doing what feels right, based on experience and custom, intuition and instinct, and simple gut feelings. We modern humans seem to be happier and feel more comfortable talking about the logical reasons for doing something, instead of being honest and admitting that many times we simply don’t know and go with what we feel. For seeking to understand requires consideration, while seeking to be understood takes courage.  Once again we return to Mr. Einstein who stated,  “I didn’t arrive at my understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe through my rational mind.”

Einstein thought of himself as an agnostic in that he did not believe in a personal god, for he felt god was simply an expression and product of human weakness. But he felt himself to be very religious, as he once explained, “If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitutes the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.” He believed that there were
three styles of religion. The first being fear with the weak understanding of causality, of cause and effect, which then creates yet more fear, and the invention of supernatural beings. The second style is the desire for love and support, which then creates a social and moral need for a supernatural being. The third style does not have a concept of god per se, as in a non-human creature or a being that has human characteristics, but instead, “The individual feels  . . .  the sublimity and marvellous order which reveal themselves in nature  . . .  and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole.” As Einstein, and countless others before him were able to do, and which we must do today, is to give ourselves the freedom to rise above our present realities and seek new and creative ideas, to get past the log jam that we have created.

One way to do this would be by pulling our heads out of the sand, shutting up the voices in our heads, living and understanding the moment, start looking out for one another and find the lost emotion of empathy. Far too many of us feel we must believe in an almighty protector and saviour, and that this deity’s divine power is the source of help and support, and makes us feel secure in the thinking there is someone watching over us. Reality may be that we simply start showing just as much compassion to our fellow members of the human family, as we do to a god, that may or may not exist, we will attain help and support, and always have someone watching over us.

I myself try to understand all sides and enjoy doing so, and believe that society is not fixed by a god’s will or by human nature. It is a system that we can study scientifically and based on what we learn about our world and its nature; we can act deliberately to improve, whether it is us or our planet. And yet the flip side of this coin is that many scientific findings are based entirely on mathematics and cannot be practically tested or proven. So one then has the choice of believing or not. Thus, in many ways, science could also be defined as a belief system.

It seems that the essence of the universe is the same energy that we all share, and it is this which we need to become more aware of. To realise that we are all a part of and share the energy source of the atom and therefore we all share the same soul and that our imperfections are what makes us the beings we are. As the revered Leonard Cohen so wrote and sang, “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

If indeed there is a creator, a supreme god, or even a group of gods, whether male or female, mortal or supernatural, man or animal, I can only imagine what they would be thinking as they look down upon their creation today. I wonder if its sadness, disappointment, or embarrassment? Or maybe they have no thought on the matter whatsoever, knowing that regardless of the ignorance of humanity, the future will force us to behave differently, whether we like it or not. If it is true that they can see everything, do they notice that much of the life that they created is gone from the earth, with the remainder abused, used, assaulted, and raped? Do they not see that untold numbers of plants and wildlife have become extinct from their creation? What do they feel about our madness in soiling our own nest, the earth? Are they downcast and shaking their heads because we failed to understand that each living thing on the planet has the divine essence within it or that the messages hidden within their scriptures were not interpreted properly or maybe ignored? Perhaps they are rolling their eyes at us, and trying to figure out why we did not just listen to our inner being. Our spirituality is the wisdom that we each carry within. What do they think about when they see that the world they created has been re-created by a very few, for the many? Or is it that good and righteous are more often than not, overshadowed by evil and immorality. From their vantage point, I’m sure they notice that the majority of us are living lives that have not changed since the first civilizations. We continue to make lies truths, and that we dream and don’t act, and that far too many of us are moving through our lives on paths of least resistance and distraction. Most people are simply being functions of their culture, living out scripts, based on opinions, perceptions, and standard patterns written by parents, friends, the church, and society. They must feel embarrassed seeing their own followers, the ones that believed in them, more concerned with their own salvation than the planet on which they live or their fellow human being. This to me, seems somewhat of a paradox.

No matter how evolved or sophisticated we think we are today, much has stayed the same for us since creation, though in many other ways we have digressed. No longer believing we are all interconnected, we first separated ourselves from nature. We then separated god from creation, ourselves from other groups of humans, and then went a step further where we separated ourselves from our own families and even our own selves and now find ourselves believing we can do anything we want for our own reasons. We spend our time wandering around looking for the right person, when we should in fact be trying to be the right person. It was a shocking point in time for humanity when it was discovered that the earth was not the center of the universe, though today, we have come to believe as individuals we are the center of the universe.

Too many of us have lost our relationship with our inner selves, our souls, and need something to fill the void. Our soul is the representative of the natural energy that all living things share. Organized religions and the perceived values of our cultures are what usually fills this void when our soul is forgotten and/or ignored, or just missing and lost. They fill the void by dictating how we are to live, how we should feel, and what we are to think. While those without a soul at all and who only listen to the voices in their heads, eventually become ever more greedy and violent. Creation myths and most organized religions are based on these dualities of humankind. Ego represents evil, and good represents the divine, that is within each one of us.

In reality we humans do not need much to seek and develop our true spirituality, which when realized, should benefit all. We need few things, one being to live peacefully, in comfort and ease; secondly, the ability and freedom to explore. We need to test new frontiers, challenge some myth, work on becoming more aware, try new foods, try once in awhile to think outside the box, and be free from the drudgery of regular routines. And finally, we all need a support system to keep us in check whenever we wander, and to believe wholeheartedly, that though we may not be able to control our thoughts all the time, we can act and control our actions.

Besides creation myths, one could look back over the short time we humans have resided on the earth and agree that we have created and re-created our worlds and ourselves, in countless ways and continue to do so, each and every day. Which direction we go in from here, is simply up to us. Should we even worry about where we came from? Should we learn what has already been taught and seek further knowledge by placing the greatest importance on simply being concerned for what we do today? This is only going to happen but once, and will dictate what happens tomorrow. As for yesterday, well, it already happened, lets learn from that.

As a species we will eventually homogenize and all start to, no doubt look the same, but it will be a very slow process, controlled by our genes, language and cultural, financial and economic choices. But we should always continue to discuss and never lose sight or perspective, that all individuals, no matter the race, are deserving of the same rights and opportunities. And that no matter the where, how and why we were created, or what creation story one happens to believe, we were created at the same time, from the same place. Living together on one planet among many revolving round the sun and that if we were to die off as a species the earth and life would continue.

“History is not what was, but what is.”  William Faulkner

 

 

 

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/osvaldorove/5976998701/    (Machu Picchu)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/neilspicys/2349783572/sizes/z/in/photostream/      (Waterfall)