The Difficult Words of Chief Seattle, 1852Mature

"The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? The land? The idea is strange to us. Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, all are holy in the memory and experience of my people... The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers... The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father...

The rivers are our brothers. They carry our canoes and feed our children. If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us. That the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also recieves his last sigh.

This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth... Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself.

Your destiny is a mistery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all staughtered? What will happen when the secret corners of the forrest are heavy with the scent of many men? And the view of the ripe hills is blotted by talking wires? The end of living and the beginning of survival.

When the last Red Man has vanished with his wilderness and his memory is only a shadow moving across the prairie, will these shores and forrests still be here? Will there be any spirit of my people left? We love this land as a newborn loves his mother's heartbeat. So if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it as we have cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it..."

Chief Seattle, 1852

 

Talk about heartbreaking right? Not only did we fuck up the air and water, but don't you eat them blueberries! They taste metallic (metal is what we use to build those oil derricks. You know those things that look like they're giving head to the ground? It is a kind of rape of sorts in a manner of speaking). You'd be better off licking the business end of a Duricel. And you know that little brook where you met your wife ChillsWithTheBeavers? The postindustrial English term for that place is now "Costco's parkinglot". A sacred place with way too many handicapped spaces. I mean how do they expect me to schlep a ninety-pound box of Top Ramen eighty whole yards to my Civic? How do they expect me to fit that box into my Civic in the first place? Fuck it, I'll just eat half of it right here. Chopsticks?

See man, that's the problem right there. When you read Seattle's words, first you get real sad. Then you feel the urge to run out and join Greenpeace, or the Sea Shepards or something. Then you know what happens? Your born-in-the-later-part-of-the-20th-century-gland starts kickin in. That's the gland that causes you to make fun of anything earnest and effecting so you don't have to actually emotionally respond to it.

What's your brain-chatter like? Who's doin the talkin in your head right now? Ray Romano (Oh Neeohowww Debra!)? He's in there whether you want him to be or not. You don't even particularly like that show. The Allstate commercial ("Are you in good hands?")--you know, that black dude from "Waiting to Exhale" who can't get a job doing anything else? He's got a spot in there. Rob and Big. The world's most physically lopsided gay couple. They have a spot in your poor little brain. God knows what they do with that skateboard when the cameras aren't around, etc.

What was going on in Chief Seattle's head back in 18-twenty-whatever you think? What were the audibles slamming around that identically human skull? Hmm... the rippling sounds of running water? Yeah probably. The comforting chorus of chirping insects at bedttime? Sure, that must have been there. Any voices? His own perhaps ("ChillsWithTheBeavers is givin you that look son! Time to do work! Like foreals! The kids is sleep! The wigwam is a'silent!"). Maybe his God(s')'s ("Look upon the prairie as you would look upon a parent you will someday lose, my son. See them hills a'yonder plain? Next year some white-skinned folks is commin over them hills with something called guns, and somethin else called smallpox, and herpes, and a little thing they call money, and that will be the end of you, and the prairie. A horror movie-style end. Which I know you don't know what a horror movie is yet, but believe you me, it's bad,"). All that was probably goin on.

Point to all this convoluted shite is that, whatever was goin on in Chief Seattle's brain is not nearly as cluttered and agenda-laden as what's goin on in yours. It wasn't just a bunch of voices whose root message was: "Buy some Colgate idiot, now. Like right now. Your breath kills. And on your way to Safeway stop at Chevron 'cause you need gas. And on your way to Chevron there's a 7-11. Wouldn't a Slurpee be nice? And adjacent to the 7-11 is a Burger King. And boy, you haven't had a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger in a while. Why don't you hit that up right quick? Etc.". Not that it was all 100% noble back then. It probably wasn't ("That long-haired asshole PlaysWithHisDickAlot is giving ChillsWithTheBeavers a rather suspicious kind of a look. Imma kill that muthafucka! Literally. With an arrow, biatch!"), stuff like that.

But whatever his brain chatter was, it wasn't nearly as slick and refined and strategically planted as what's manipulating your post-millennial head my friend. It was closer to human somehow. Less slave-ish. It probably didn't make fun of people when they said something that they really, heartfeltedly meant. The difference is a matter of cleanliness.

 

The End

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