About the Name of this blog

This blog's title refers to a Dani fable recounted by Robert Gardner. The Dani live in the highlands of New Guinea, and at the the time he studied them, they lived in one of the only remaining areas in the world un-colonized by Europeans.

The Dani, who Gardner identifies only as a "Mountain People," in the film "The Dead Birds," have a myth that states there was once a great race between a bird and a snake to determine the lives of human beings. The question that would be decided in this race was, "Should men shed their skins and live forever like snakes, or die like birds?" According to the mythology, the bird won the race, and therefore man must die.

In the spirit of ethnographic analysis, this blog will examine myth, society, culture and architecture, and hopefully examine issues that make us human. As with any ethnography, some of the analysis may be uncomfortable to read, some of it may challenge your preconceptions about the world, but hopefully, all of it will enlighten and inform.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Price of Acceptance


America has lost its drive.  Both as a country, and as citizens of that country, we have lost our refusal to accept the status quo, our desire to be better than we are, our dreams of the angels of our greater nature.  We now accept that things can’t be better; we have largely decided to give up the fight.

In our individual lives, we no longer make the changes necessary to improve our condition.  We accept and endure, rather than fight and change.  I mentioned this in an earlier blog post on the pursuit of happiness.  Rather than trying to alter unpleasant circumstances, we just say that that’s the way it is, life sucks, and it bleeds through all levels of civic discourse.

That is not an American attitude.  This is a country that overthrew its colonial overlords because they were imposing unacceptable conditions on our country.  This is a nation that rose up and fought a Civil War to end the horror of slavery.  This is a land that busted trusts, provided the weakest among us with the basic dignities of life, marched and demanded that the dictate that “all men are created equal,” actually mean something.

Over and over again, throughout our history, whenever we see injustice, we stand against it.  This is a country that throughout history has tried to shine the light into the dark corners of the world and make the world a better place.  Sometimes we are late, sometimes we go about it the wrong way, sometimes we just plain screw up, but for most of our history, we have tried to pass a better world on to the next generation.

This is why movements like Occupy Wall Street are important.  I may not completely agree with some of their ideology, like ending the Fed, which I happen to believe that we actually need.  That said, the protesters in Zuccotti Park represent people for whom the status quo is not acceptable, citizens who want to see fairness return to the country, Americans who are tired of being told they must make sacrifices when those responsible for the disaster seen to pay no penalty.

The solution to America’s problems being put forth by Herman Cain in his 9-9-9 plan devastates the middle land lower classes.  This proposal is akin to a group of eye witnesses being arrested and charged with murder, because they didn’t stop the homicide, while the murderer gets off free with the defense that “no one stopped me, how was I supposed to know it was wrong.”

We allow our leaders to run the country off a cliff without any real accountability.

But wait, you might say, haven’t we shown accountability?  Didn’t we have three “Wave Elections” in a row?  Isn’t the country throwing people out of office right and left?

Yes, we are, but that’s not accountability.  Accountability is holding people’s feet to the fire, forcing them to do their job and serve the citizens.  It is not chucking them out of office at the first chance, and replacing them with another group beholden to a different set of special interests.

Actual accountability is demanding that the people who wrecked the economy pay to fix it, accountability is demanding that those who benefit the most from this country contribute something back to it, accountability is demanding that elected officials who break the law and violate the constitution be hauled off in shackles to face judgment for their crimes.

Voting them out of office changes the playing field, but doesn’t effect change unless the new occupants are held to their constituent’s expectations.  It is time to draw a line in the sand and say, “This is it; you have no more.  You will not continue down this path, we will not let you.”

It is time to elect people who will listen to the citizens of this country, but it is more important that the citizens then demand that their elected officials actually do listen and act.

We can no longer afford to settle.

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