I recently drove past St. Louis’ Lambert International airport. You can easily see the boarded up main terminal from the highway. Tornado season has been pretty busy here. The tornado that touched down on Good Friday took out the airport raked a devastating path of destruction all the way from Warrenton, Missouri, far west of the airport all the way to Madison, Illinois. While driving down Riverview Drive that runs along the Mississippi River just north of the city, I ran across an area of freshly splintered trees. No doubt the path the tornado took as it crossed the river to Illinois. And earlier this year a tornado touched down on the north side of the city damaging or destroying a series of homes. That same day a tornado touched down in the suburb of Sunset Hills devastating a number of neighborhoods.
What happened in Alabama and all across the southern states yesterday is just the latest round of twisters to occur in a seriously busy tornado season. As I listened to the local public radio station (probably the only station dedicated to reporting real news on this royal wedding day), it was estimated that the death toll from yesterday’s storm was just shy of three hundred.
As far as tornado activity goes, April is shattering all kinds of records. And to make matters even worse, April isn’t the tornado season’s busy month. That title falls to May. And what if this year is no different than the norm and May picks up right where April left off and then some? Are we looking forward to daily reports about killer tornadoes? And what if this year’s tornado season goes into overtime and June continues to kick our ass?
Is all this related to global warming? Who knows? According to some meteorologist on the PBS news last night, there is a simple scientific explanation for what’s going on and it’s nothing to get alarmed about. From what I can remember there’s this unusually strong jet stream screaming along the upper atmosphere that’s spawning all the tornado activity and not global warming. But is it not possible that it is the affects of global warming that is causing the unusual jet stream? Who knows for sure? The only thing we really can do is wait and see what’s going to happen in the future. The only way for us to know for sure what the weather is going to do tomorrow is to wait for tomorrow and go through it. No matter how refined our weather science gets, for the most part it remains a crapshoot.
For many people, it’s just a coincidence that the past few years has bore all kinds of killer storms. Tornado and hurricane activity has risen to record breaking levels almost on a year by year basis. One hundred and five hundred year storms are happening every few years now. And some of us continue to think that the jury is still out on whether or not we need to do anything to prepare and help minimize the damage we’ve done to our atmosphere. Taking the steps to stop the pollution that might be aggravating our weather problems is way too expensive. Building levees and other defenses to counter devastating weather’s affects would cost too much of our national treasure. We should wait until it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that there is a connection between human activity and our weather system. And if the proof comes only after we see an even more intense increase in catastrophic weather, oh well. At least somebody is bound to get rich while the rest of us continue to wait for proof.
In the meantime, corporate America will save money by continuing to do what might be helping to give our weather more energy to kick our collective ass. And while somebody is saving money, we will continue to watch the news (when there’s no royal wedding) and see more stories of people who just lost all their worldly possessions. We will continue to watch in amazement at the tornadoes and hurricanes and waves of waters along the coast strike homes and businesses. We will sit back and watch the annual five hundred year floods impact entire cities. We will look at pictures of neighborhoods wiped clean off the face of the earth and will dismiss it all as nothing more than business as usual.
However, if we as a people really took a long critical, thoughtful look at what’s actually going on, we really would see that it would be smart to hope for the best and prepare for the worse. We shouldn’t wait for proof or for things to get worse before we take action and do what we can to protect ourselves. The weather might change back to its more docile and usual self. But it is rather foolish to sit back and think that such wishful, hopeful thinking is enough, especially when the next five hundred year tornado or hurricane or tidal wave or flood is forming in your neighborhood or the neighborhood of your loved ones.
By many measures 2008 was a helluva year. Baba Orunmila said that this would be a year of great change. To quote Baba, “This will be for good, better, and yet also worse. Oya is blowing and the landscape of life will begin this beautiful metamorphosis that is change. Do not be confused as change is wonderful. But ugly things can, and do, happen during the process.” Truer words were never spoken. And boy did Iya Oya blow.
2008 started off with some of the craziest weather seen in forever. A monster blizzard in China just in time for the Chinese new year brought that country to a screeching halt and threatened many people’s ability to celebrate the coming year of the rat. Snow in Los Angeles of all places. There were reports of tornadoes taking out targets in Tennessee in early February. We saw satellite photos of the Wilkins Ice Shelf collapsing into the ocean off the coast of Antarctica in the southern half of the globe and glaciers in the northern half that have existed for thousands of decades are on the verge of extinction. But for many people global warming continues to be nothing that warrants attention. A cyclone hits Myrammar and kills tens of thousands. An earthquake hits China and kills tens of thousands more. The changes in our natural environment are beginning and we are woefully prepared for what is to come.
The economy burst out the gate erratic. While the recession was far from being official, unofficially it was way too real for a lot of people. Back in January something like sixty thousand jobs were lost. But that was just the start. Well over a million American jobs were lost in 2008. And while the petroleum giants were raking in their astounding profits fueled by four dollar a gallon gasoline, automobile manufacturers hit bottom and were asking the government for help. A variety of financial institutions ceased to exist as independent entities. But others, believed to be too big to fail, received the nurturing handouts of government sponsored bailouts. While AIG and other financial institutions get a no strings attached bailout easily topping one hundred billion dollars that can be used for anything and everything like executive retreats at lavish resorts and seven figure executive retention payments that look amazingly like end of year bonuses, automobile manufacturers have to agree to an hourly wage cut before they can get a dime.
And do we really need to point out the changes in politics, at least in America? After well over two hundred years America is finally going to have a President that is not a white male. That’s the news of a couple centuries. Political change was coming even if President-elect Barack Obama was not elected. If the Republican presidential nominee had won we would have had our first female Vice President. Thankfully, America dodged that bullet like a President dodges a couple of Iraqi loafers. But that’s not all. Louisiana made a couple of politically historic moments as well with the election of Republican Bobby Jindal as the first Governor of Indian American decent, and the election of Republican Anh Joseph Cao to Congress makes him the first Vietnamese American to go to Washington.
Baba Orunmila also said that many have overreached and are looking for Orisa to come to the rescue. How many people pray for better days? And true, relatively speaking not many people pray specifically to Orisa. But a lot of people are clinging to their faith in these hard times. Whatever people’s beliefs, they pray to their spiritual entities for some kind of relief for the mess they have made of their lives. This past year, like every year of our lives, should have been used as an opportunity to make adjustments and wiser choices. The potential for loss is great and people who try to face the ways of the world separated from the support of family and friends would do better if they had true allies.
I wonder how many people actually heard Baba Orunmila’s reading for last year and took it to heart. I wonder how many people actually took the steps necessary to make adjustments in order to better prepare for what was coming last year. And now that the year is over, how successful were we in our preparation or lack thereof.
Like many people I could have done better this year. But I also could have done so much worse. Thankfully, I had my family around me and with me in every endeavor I had to make this year. Like everyone else I have to take the somewhat vague things that Baba Orunmila tells us and figure out for myself the best way to respond. Regardless of what many students of Ifa claim, children of Orisa don’t get a free pass or any advantage when it comes to facing the challenges of life. We can live and we can die just like anybody else. How we chose to live is based on the same choices that, for the most part, apply to everyone else. We have the choice to take the reading to heart and try to prepare or we can disregard what was said and take our chances with the spiritually deaf and dumb.
I have yet to hear the reading for the next year. I’m willing to bet it will be very similar to 2008 if not worse. I hope to hear the word of Orunmila and take it to heart. Listening to the reading and then making changes to stay in harmony with nature and the environment can be extremely difficult. But change is the only constant in the universe and the changes to come are bound to make the changes we’ve been through pale in comparison. But as humans, if we take the time to build our social strengths we are more likely to survive changes together with less fuss than we are as individuals too rigid to compromise. Whether we want to or not the next year is coming. I look forward to hearing it.
I talked to my sister in Houston, Texas late Saturday afternoon. She had to call out because any attempt to call in was met with a busy signal or an all lines were busy message. She was okay and the rest of our family in the area was okay as well. Hurricane Ike had came through and moved on. By the time we talked, Ike was pretty close to Arkansas. But in the hurricane’s wake, what are normally blue skies and sunny, was a maelstrom of the most ferocious thunderstorms my sister said she ever experienced.
The year before I moved away from Houston I would regularly go to the coast and spend the night on one of the barrier islands. I would head south on Texas 288 to Clute, Texas and then take Texas 332 to Surfside, Texas hang a left onto Texas 257 and the Bluewater highway and head east towards Mud Island. The night mosquitoes on the beach would be relentless. But the sounds of the ocean and Yemonja, the constant breeze of Oya, and watching the sunrise over the Orisa of the horizon are well worth the effort. The dreams such closeness to nature inspires are truly a phenomenon on their own.
Early Sunday morning the affects of Ike were all over the news. I saw pictures of the destruction of so many familiar stomping grounds of mine. I saw picture of Bilovar Peninsula with so many empty piers that once held beautiful vacation homes. Entire neighborhoods swept away as if they never existed. The only things left behind are the streets and the sidewalks. I saw pictures of the debris along the Galveston Island’s seawall. I’m surprised to see the San Luis, the giant hotel built on a pier that juts out from the seawall and over the water, still standing. I saw the pictures of the water flooding the interior of Galveston. I saw the flooding along The Strand. And Sunday morning I saw the National Guard distributing supplies and water from the back of trucks.
Only hours after the storms cleared the area the National Guard was on the scene setting up shop to help. President Bush was on television telling the world that this is what our country does after a disaster or some other superfluous nonsense. I’ve gotten to a point that I don’t expect him to say anything but the obvious whenever he gives one of his infamous say nothing speeches. I was upset with the noticeable difference between what happened after Katrina and what happened here. But nevertheless, people are upset that the government was still dragging its feet.
The aftermath of Katrina looks like it will forever be the standard for incompetent government. Four days after the storm cleared the area the people in New Orleans and the surrounding municipalities were waiting for some kind of help from the federal government. People sat in the shadow of the Superdome and waited for help, and waited, and waited, and waited. The storm not only inundated the city with water, it besieged local and state governments while the federal government pussyfooted around in an uncanny impersonation of the perpetually loosing Washington Generals to the finesse of the disaster’s Harlem Globetrotters. While people were suffering the President, the Vice President, the National Security Advisor, and the director of the Federal Emergency Management Association acted as if it was business as usual.
This go round has people at least trying to respond. Although clearly overwhelmed the President at least acknowledged that there was a disaster. That in itself is a good thing. The rest of the executive branch is actually trying to mobilize and get people to safety or to provide some relief for the people who stayed behind. There was an extreme amount of damage to our structured, civilized world and all the preparation in the world can’t counter some of nature’s more intense moves.
If I was one of the people in Galveston who waited in the long lines for water and other supplies for my family only to be told that supplies ran out I have no doubt that I would be angry and frustrated and ready to slander the people there to help as everything incompetent and first class examples of ineffectiveness and stupidity. I would conveniently forget that I made their jobs that much harder and the amount of supplies needed just one more family greater. I would forget that I have contributed to their daunting task at hand. I know that chances are good that I would forget that the people in New Orleans waited four days for any help while people are there to help me within hours after the storms clear.
But by any measure one cares to take the response to Ike has been a gargantuan improvement over the gross incompetence and indifference we’ve seen our government capable of. I hope I can remember that whenever I’m caught in a disaster of historic proportions, especially when the need for someone else to respond to my need for help or rescue is partially due to my decision to stay or my inability to leave.
I have family in Houston, Texas. Hurricane Ike has me concerned for their safety. I wanted them to leave before the hurricane got there. I called my sister and suggested she head for safer pastures Thursday night when the highway looked clear. I went to Google and looked at the traffic map for the city. All the highways had green flow bars. Open highway to safety.
But my family made that evacuation trek just before hurricane Rita a few years back. They spent seventeen hours on Interstate 45 to get to Dallas when there wasn’t much of an impact to Houston. In fact, I was living in Houston at the time when Rita came ashore. I was out of town and decided to stay away until after the hurricane came through. The only damage to my home was a section of fence went down that spent the majority of its time down on the ground. Rita managed to get me off my ass to repair that fence once and for all. However, for the most part, Rita was a bust.
Ike is different. While Rita was smaller, weaker, and actually came ashore east of Houston, over Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, Ike is much larger, stronger, and its eye will fly almost directly over downtown Houston and the city hall. As I write this, just after six this Saturday morning, Ike is now on the north side of the fourth largest city in America and it’s still rated a category two. Sustained winds are still in excess of one hundred miles per hour.
Much of the electricity in the Houston and Galveston area is out. Phone lines are busy. I’m cut off from my family. I’m watching the news and I see video of places I’m familiar and it’s unbelievable. And like a lot of people, all I can do is wait and watch and hope that my family is okay.
Oya and Yemonja and Sango are coming through hard on this one. A few days ago hurricane Ike filled the good majority of the Gulf of Mexico. The phenomenon looked massive and menacing. There were predictions that it would reach a category four. But it never got that strong. But such a massive storm at a relatively low category two is still a freaking hurricane.
I don’t even bother trying to discuss what’s happening with Baba Orunmila. This hurricane was predicted days ago and my family, along with a number of other people in the area, decided to take their chance and ride out the storm. Now I could be superstitious and give a couple of ebos to Oya, Yemonja and Sango to do what I think will persuade the Orisas to keep my family safe. But ebos are not an effective replacement for common sense. Besides, I seriously doubt if a ten dollar bottle of rum is all it takes to affect a change on such a massive phenomenon of nature.
It will be a few hours before the storm passes through the city. I will wait along with everyone else to see what’s happened to the Houston area. My family lives well inland so there really is little danger from serious flooding. But it’s a fair bet that there will be enough soggy floors to initiate some new carpet and other flooring purchases in the near future. I don’t think anyone thought to board up their windows. There might be some new window acquisitions as well. I’m pretty sure my family is safe and will have many stories to tell. But you never know.
One of my personal beliefs is that when your time comes, your time comes. Contrary to what a lot of Ifa practitioners believe you can’t make deals with Orunmila to change your fate. Things happen for a reason. My family members may have thought it was their choice to stay. But it is possible that they made the choice to stay because they were destined to lose their life in a hurricane related accident. It could be something as straight forward as a water related drowning or a projectile driven by hurricane force winds. Or it might be something as freakish as a leaking roof with water dripping on the floor making it slick and someone slipping and hitting their head just right, or just wrong depending on perspective.
I hope my family is okay. I won’t know until I can talk to them. And then again I might be worried about my family members in Houston only to find out something happened to another family member in a city nowhere near Ike and his projected path. The reading for the year said that we should keep close to our families. This year of Olodumare is a year of great change and we never know how that change will manifest itself. The greatest reading in the world isn’t going to reveal what Orunmila doesn’t want us to know. Sometimes we just have to go through it and figure it out for ourselves.
I am too embarrassed. I like to consider myself a conscious student of Ifa. I like to consider myself in tuned with nature and less likely to take nature for granted. I have been watching the happenings of flooding along the Mississippi river practically right in the back of my own neighborhood. The level of the river water has risen significantly. I have seen the Mississippi flood, but I cannot remember the last time I have seen the river so swollen.
Last night I drove across the big 270 highway bridge just north of St. Louis, Missouri to check up on some property I have in a storage locker just across the river. The river looked like a lake. The little road that runs along the river on the Missouri side was a lot closer to the water than it should be. As I drove into Illinois there were soggy puddles of standing water in the fields just on the other side of the river levee. I marveled at all the water. The Chain of Rocks canal that runs parallel to the larger river is no longer visibly separate from the river adding to the lake affect. It was another impressive manifestation of nature.
My property was safe by the way. Now that the family has a minivan, I parked my blue 1992 Honda Accord wagon in covered storage with some other items that are hard to keep when a family is trying to stay in a large one bedroom apartment. In order to keep the car in good shape, I start her up once a week and let her run for a few minutes. The river will crest in the next day or so and it looks like the levees will hold easily. I was prepared to move my things. I was even prepared to lose a few items. But it looks like the wagon and the other items will be safe.
However, it wasn’t until this morning that I realized that had not acknowledged the Orisa Osun at anytime during this ordeal. When I saw the storms traveling through the upper Midwest, my mind automatically went to the Orisas Oya, Yemonja, and Sango. I saw the winds blow and the tornadoes spin and I would give praise to Oya! I saw the rain fall and I would give praise to Yemonja! I saw the lightening strikes and I would praise Sango! I saw the rivers swell and I said wow. I have been severely lacking in my appreciation of Osun. I would like to take a second and correct that mistake.
Osun, the Orisa of the river, plays a seriously important role for humanity. The river has done so much for humanity. We have used for travel. We use it as a source of drinking water. We have disrespectfully used the river as an open toilet for our waste products. The river water has quenched the thirst of our crops. We have used the power of the river to light our houses. Man is so smug to think that we can build river damns strong enough to hold the river at bay. We think we can build levees that will keep the river confined to a small channel of water that is guaranteed to hold the water for five hundred years!
The river must be the Rodney Dangerfield of nature. It gets no respect.
Orisa are interdependent. In nature, it is rare for one Orisa to manifest change alone. They work together. Oya, Yemonja, and Sango have created conditions that have made the normally docile Osun an assertive, uncooperative, force of water, one of the most forceful elements of nature. While high velocity winds, raging fires, and movements of earth are destructive forces in their own right, the river Orisa can effectively turn our world upside down with a burst through a barrier with so much energy that a wall of water will destroy anything in its path for miles and disappear as quickly as she came. Or, Osun can creep quietly and glide slowly but relentlessly, without exhaustion, until she has literally consumed our entire world. She will stay for days, and then quietly slink away just as slowly, leaving considerable damage in her wake to everything made by the hand of humans.
As humans we have done a lot to try and redefine the relationship between the land and the river. The natural occasion of water exceeding the river banks was part of nature’s cycle. To live next to the river was to live with the fact that it is only temporary and when the river wanted to exceed the banks it was time for those living next to her to leave. It was natural. Water pouring over the land helped replenish water tables. Even the sediment and sludge that traveled with the water would carry nutrients to help keep land fertile. All of this is nature keeping maintenance of its self.
But we have engineered levees and water management systems that are intended to make the cycle of water exceeding the river banks a once in a five hundred year event. We’ve built concrete canal systems that are intended to keep the rainwater from being absorbed into the soil and instead, moving it back to the river so it can be swept out of our vicinity, back to the river, to be whisked away to some other location. And when nature responds with even greater river swells, man responds with stronger levees, damns, dykes and locks until mutually assured destruction is inevitable. The mutually assured destruction is not shared between humans and the river but among all the people who dare become so comfy that underestimate the danger of the situation we create for ourselves.
If somehow Osun burst through the levee that kept my property across the river safe it would be no one’s fault but my own. I made the choice to put my property within her reach. I know the river is swelling and yet I leave my property there instead of moving it safely out of the way. Just like the river helps to take excesses away from the land it would take my excess stuff away from me.
For now, it looks like Osun will let us keep our excesses. Regardless, she deserves an ebo. Tonight, I plan to go to the grocery store and buy a melon, apples, oranges, and etcetera. I will make a big basket of fruit. I will take it to the old Chain of Rocks Bridge that crosses the Mississippi that is now reserved for pedestrian and bicycle traffic across the river just south of the 270 interstate highway bridge. I’ll go out there to the middle of the river and toss the fruit in. I’ll watch the water rage below me. I’ll feel my heart pound in my chest with adrenaline as common sense heightened by a sense of self preservation tries to convince me not to take such an unnecessary risk with the river so swollen. Hopefully, the experience will instill with me such respect for the river that I will never take Osun for granted again.
It looks like all the known rules about hurricanes are being pushed to the limit these days. Hurricane season is starting earlier and lasting longer. Hurricanes are getting stronger and more intense. There’s talk about expanding the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale that currently tops out at category 5 and extending it to include a category 6. But as quickly as the intensity of the storms is growing category 7 can’t be too far behind. And it’s only a matter of time before hurricane season is starting sometime in April and ending in late January.
For years the weather service has been able to predict pending hurricanes days in advance giving the public more time to prepare for the impact and/or leave town with time to spare. But something altogether different happened on Wednesday, September 12th. A tropical depression formed in the Gulf of Mexico just off the coast of Texas that morning. Eighteen hours later there was a fully formed hurricane in the gulf. The forecasters were able to predict its path with only hours of warning. Humberto was the quickest forming hurricane on record.
People have always had this arrogance to believe that they could tame weather. Scientist dream of one day having a machine, techniques, or procedures that could actually influence weather to the dominating will of the people. Humberto is more proof that nature isn’t just sitting around for humans to catch up. For every ying that humans do nature has an infinite number of yangs to counter. Now that we’ve thrown down the gauntlet in this match of wits Mother Nature is only too happy to oblige us.
A hurricane that forms in as little as a day and right off the coast is a dangerous phenomenon. When hurricanes can develop with the quickness of a tornado we are in some serious trouble. And Humberto was only a category F2 at best. What happens when we an F5 or the yet to be determined F6 forming so close to shore in a matter of hours. There will be very little we can do to prepare other than maybe call all our relatives outside the area of impact and tell them how much we love them.
And this is only one of the transformations of hurricanes that is manifesting. Add the extension of the hurricane season, the fact that hurricanes are happening more often, hurricanes are getting stronger, hurricanes are forming quicker, what else can happen? What if hurricanes are able to maintain their integrity further into land? What if the hurricanes absorb more moisture from the sea and are able to carry that further over land and inundate more areas with flooding conditions? The options are nearly endless. And nature is holding all the cards.
But we’re not through yet. We can build houses that are even more wind resistant. We can put our buildings on taller stronger stilts to keep them from being subject to flooding. We can determine the mechanics of these quicker forming storms. Instead of only having mere hours to prepare for these new storms we can have more hours to prepare. And as we adapt the weather will only get more chaotic. Humberto is just the first of many changes on the horizon.
Hawaii is about to be affected by a hurricane for the first time in over a hundred years. According to the news hurricane Flossie is about to graze Hawaii’s big island later on today. While the island will avoid a full head on assault from the category three hurricane, it will still be hit by one hundred plus mile an hour winds. But there’s nothing out of the ordinary here. If it happened one hundred years ago without the so called global warming effect that a lot of people are talking about so much these days, then it was bound to happen again some time. No news here folks.
And the United Kingdom is just beginning to dry out from all the flooding from June and July. According to weather reports the breakdown of a high pressure from an upper trough moved in and triggered thunderstorms that just wouldn’t quit. Combined with a chain of other weather phenomenon, the UK got soaked like it has never been soaked before. Some areas received as much rainfall in a single day as they would’ve gotten in an entire month under normal conditions. But this is similar to what happened in England back in 1947. Again, this is a naturally occurring phenomenon bound to reoccur naturally in nature.
There’s been flooding in Australia and Jakarta this year. There has been severe drought in North America combined with record breaking hot temperatures. And I do believe snow fell in Argentina in August. That hasn’t happened in nearly ninety years.
All of these things are explainable or nothing to fret over when seen individually. But as a collective picture with all of this happening at the same time or in such a relatively short period of time then something might be a little out of whack with our weather system.
Now I know a lot of people have been paid a lot of money to roll their eyes and humph like a choo-choo on steroids whenever somebody says anything that might be interpreted as even a suggestion of global warming. Newsweek magazine did an excellent article on how companies who have a vested interest in keeping the global warming issue in a perpetual state of confusion and scientific disagreement. Never mind the fact that the corporate entities trying to sow the confusion have an obvious desire to keep the issue from its obvious and inevitable conclusions.
The American Petroleum Institute was one entity I remember being listed in the article. Now, who can’t see the connection between the API, with their members who operate in an industry whose finances are so heavily dependent on the mass consumption of elevated carbon emissions, and their decisions to fund science (and I use the term very generously) that keeps their deception machine fully stoked? It has been reported that these corporations offer to pay scientist ten thousand dollars for each paper that will continue to refute any conclusive science in the global warming issue. But, nobody is making such overt gestures to pay the people on the other side of the issue for their papers. Inconclusive science shouldn’t require such heavy handed opposition.
Instead of everybody recognizing the global warming issue for the global threat to everybody that it is some people are putting their personal needs, desires, and/or wants before the welfare of the community. What can you expect from a capitalistic economy? For way too many people the opportunity for making a little capital comes before the opportunity to make a community. We already know the mantra drilled into every red blooded American from the beginning of the cold war, capitalism must destroy communism. Or put another way, capital is good and community is bad.
Please trust that I’m not advocating the downfall of capitalism. I am promoting the downfall of a capitalist system that kicks the community component of life to the curb. The downfall of this uber form of capitalism will happen because people are so obsessed about their own personal enrichment that they are willing to sacrifice their community to obtain it. It’s kind of like Doctor Zachary Smith, excellently played by Jonathan Harris, from the Lost in Space serials back on the 60s. Dr. Smith would gladly murder the Robinson family, the future hope for humanity, for a paycheck. Or Cypher, played by Joe Pantoliano in the sci-fi thriller the Matrix, who was ready to betray the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar and the future of humanity for the promise of an illusion of personal enrichment from the machines. Two fine examples of capitalism run amok.
We can’t give people healthcare because we have to save that resource for the people who already have it or can afford it. We can’t raise minimum wages because the people who own the businesses would have to pay people more. We can’t stop pollution because companies that pollute would go out of business. We can’t give people educational opportunities because only the best people deserve to be educated. We can’t give people a job here because it’s cheaper and more profitable to give people jobs over there. And with each of these choices that we make as a society the community suffers and capitalists benefits.
A lot of people who preach the Ifa gospel speak from a fire and brimstone point of view. Orisas are always on the lookout and standing ready to use their powers over nature to wreak wrath and havoc on the minions whenever we collectively step out of line. It was the Orisas punishing us that causes the winds from the tornado to blow our house away or the water from the torrential rain to wash our car off the road. Do an ebo and Orisas will keep you safe. Get a reading and Orisas will warn you when disaster is approaching. It’s time to put things in perspective.
Earth is often referred to as a rock. But a rock implies a complete solid structure from the surface to the core and the Earth is anything but. If anything, we exist on the surface of a bubble filled with a liquid core of metal hot enough to vaporize human flesh. The bubble itself exists in a cold vacuum of space without the ability to hold even the teensiest bit of anything resembling heat. In between these two extremes is a very thin layer of rock and atmosphere that supports our ability to exist.
We may perceive the Earth bubble as a very durable and virtually indestructible relative to humans and in many respects that is very true. But it is the very narrow environmental conditions of climate, geography, and atmosphere that allows humans to exist that is the most fragile component of this setup. How fragile is it?
By some estimates the Earth is believed to be over four and a half billion years old. Homo sapiens (modern man) have existed for the past two hundred thousand of those years. The earliest civilizations on record appeared in Egypt and Mesopotamia about six thousand years ago. The trade of the fossil fuel coal started approximately five thousand years ago. But human existence started to negatively impact our environment on a global scale with the birth of the industrial revolution just three hundred years ago when we started to poison our water with our industrial and human waste. But with the invention of the mass marketed automobile and coal fired electrical plants in the past three hundred years that we as a global community really started our inadvertent attack on the Earth’s ability to sustain human life.
Now add nuclear pollution. And on top of that we now have pollution from developing nations like China and India that are trying hard to catch up to western culture in energy expenditure per capita. While some people will deny the correlation others will find it easy to connect the dots to where we are headed. What took nature four billion years to create, it is quite possible for us to completely destroy Earth’s ability to sustain us in just a few thousand years of our existence. That’s how fragile it is.
With all that said, Orisas, as manifestations of nature on a global scale, move through the environment doing exactly what they do. Winds blow. Rains fall. Earthquakes rumble. Lightening strikes hit. Inevitably, some of us will be affected by nature going about its business on this planet. Instead of being in tuned to our environment and possibly being aware of nature’s movements, as Orisa worshippers, we allow ourselves the false luxury of thinking that if we’re good and obedient we will be immune to the wrath of the earthquake god or the hurricane god or whomever. Just throw another virgin on the fire and we’ll avoid nature moving against us.
Some Orisa worshippers believe they’re so down with Olokun he would never wash their home away when the tidal wave hit. People believe they’ve given Osun so much honey that she would be too grateful to let the river’s water spill over its banks and damage their property. People have performed so many dances for Sango that he wouldn’t dare strike their person and stop all that good high stepping mojo performed for his behalf. People think we can poor so much molasses over our Yemonja pot that the Orisa of the ocean would never dream of doing anything to harm us. But people can’t pay or bribe the Orisas not to do what they exist to do.
There is a region in the North American continent known for its tornadoes. Many people move into the tornado alley unaware of the fact that they are increasing their chances to be affected by a tornado. When the tornado strikes they are devastated and wonder how in the world Oya could punish them when Orunmila didn’t even tell them about Oya’s pending anger. And this is a prime example of how people in the tradition take Orisas for granted. It isn’t Orisa’s responsibility to watch over us when we ignore nature. When the lightening storm comes and I make the conscious choice to go outside it’s as if I’m begging Sango to hit me.
Technology shows us exactly where the fault lines are and the areas with the highest possibility of severe earthquakes. Satellites and forecasting can predict areas most susceptible for flooding. And who the hell doesn’t know that the Gulf States and the east cost are areas with a high probability if impact from a hurricane. Yet, everyday we make the choice to move to and live in these areas and then hang our head and cry why me when we reap the fruit of our choices.
If affected by a natural disaster just remember, an Orisa’s got to do what an Orisa’s got to do. It’s nothing personal. It’s just Orisa business.
It’s a fact that when the tsunami hit Sri Lanka on December 26th, just days before the end of 2004, the number of animals that were killed was extremely low. There are stories about animals fleeing the low ground just before the giant wave hit the shore. There are other stories from people who usually take their dogs for walks on the beach about how their pets resisted going that particular morning.
Researchers are working to uncover how animals sense the various pending disasters, whether it be by hearing nearly undetectable sounds in the environment, sensing minute vibrations in the ground, detecting changes in atmospheric pressure, or whatever it may be. The hope is to duplicate the animal’s detection ability with technology since humans either never had the ability or lost the ability to detect such occurrences.
Whatever the phenomenon animals use to detect environmental disaster it appears that they all share it. So it may not be just one characteristic of pending destruction that animals detect. More than likely, the animals are simply more in tuned with the natural environment in its entirety than the humans who share their world. People are so out of touch with their environment that no technology can compensate for our indifference to the environment.
Researches have developed technologies that can calculate the path of a hurricane for days prior to its landfall. The technology predicted hurricane Katrina’s course through New Orleans and the rest of the gulf coast states. But the technology was ineffective against the indifference of people who command and control all the resources to help those in need with little resources if any. Nearly two years after Katrina people are still waiting for help from people who have obviously little desire to help them. Unfortunately, the reality is that any technology developed to warn of approaching tsunamis, tornadoes, earthquakes, droughts, or killer meteorites will not be used to assist the population of color. Black people have yet to realize that they we are not appreciated as an integral part of American society.
Katrina is old news. America doesn’t care about black people is old news, at least for those of us with our eyes open. Animals can instinctively detect environmental disasters because they are tuned to nature. All of this is old news. But what if the animals weren’t necessarily more in tuned with their environment but just more in tuned with their common sense? What if animals simply see what is happening in their environment and make rational decisions about leaving the area? People on the other hand see the changes in our environment, suppress their common sense, and simply shrug off the changes as nothing that our technology can’t handle.
For years medical institutions have been warning about the dangers of smoking yet people continue to learn to smoke to this very day. Why? Who knows? But it’s obvious somebody’s not practicing common sense. With so much evidence about the dangers of smoking and the practically zero benefit one wonders why as a society will continue to allow cigarette manufacturers to continue to sell their poison. A society that practiced common sense would not have a problem shutting the cigarette companies down to save their children.
For years people knew that New Orleans couldn’t survive a direct hit from an intense hurricane yet people in the area lived as if none of it mattered. Poor or not no one should’ve made the choice to live in that city with the threat of flooding so real on a daily basis. I remember being in New Orleans once and watching as a ship floated out to sea on water so much higher than my relative position. It actually made my heart skip a beat I was so shocked. I was uncomfortable for the remainder of my visit bothered by the notion that at anytime the levee could break and we could be inundated with water. Common sense says not to live in such a dangerous position.
But what happened to New Orleans is child’s play compared to the pending disasters looming on the horizon. Global warming is real. In the grand scheme of things it isn’t very important but since it will severely impact our ability to survive on this planet one would think everyone would take it a lot more seriously. But people scoff at the idea of a possibility that the Earth’s ability to sustain us is at risk. Where’s the common sense? These people wouldn’t acknowledge danger until it is scientifically proven that it is far too late.
The financial crisis that the United States has created with its crushing national debt is another impending disaster. According to the History of Oil by Robert Newman, the United States had to go to war with Iraq to keep countries buying and selling oil from changing their US dollars to the European dollars. Saddam Hussein wanted to conduct business in euros and once that ball started rolling and other countries followed suit the American economy collapses and the United States would dry up unable to sustain its self. The multinational companies rooted here will simply conduct their business where the money is good. It’s no accident that a lot of companies are doing their best to gain a foothold in China.
We see this coming. It’s not a question as to whether or not the economy collapses. The question we should be asking ourselves is that when the financial hurricane comes and bitch slaps the United States what have we done collectively to prepare for it. The fact that we may or may not have the resources of other people to prepare properly will be little comfort when our families and communities suffer from a nationwide inability to obtain food. And like most disasters that hit us as a society, usually it is the black communities that suffer the hardest and longest.
Like the animals in Sri Lanka and the other places that left before the tsunami hit we shouldn’t hesitate to move ourselves away from the disaster that we see coming. If at all possible people need to make a choice to minimize their exposure if they can’t get out of the way. A little common sense now will help us become better prepared for these and other disasters that our heading our way. If Katrina has taught us one thing it is the fact that people of color don’t have the luxury of waiting for technology or to wait until the very last minute.
Pickup a newspaper and turn to the weather section. Tropical depression Andrea has formed off the southeast coast three weeks before the official start of hurricane season. There’s record flooding in the Midwest with a number of levees failing in Missouri. An enhanced F-5 tornado with winds topping 205 miles per hour hit Kansas while sister twisters hit Oklahoma. Devastating thunderstorms hit Texas in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Raging fires are inside the city limits of Los Angeles. Nature has already started the response to changes in the atmosphere.
Many scientists believe that the atmosphere is being affected by polluting emissions. In response, The Kyoto Protocol was a United Nations agreement for countries all over the world to cut carbon dioxide and other greenhouse type emissions. As of April 27th, 2007 170 countries have agreed to abide by the conditions of the agreement. But the management team of the United States is holding out for a better deal.
It is disappointing to say the least to watch the Untied States slip into obscurity as much of the rest of the world tries to respond to global warming. In order to protect every nickel of profit of every major polluter in the United States the Bush administration cites the perception that the agreement would hold the United States to a higher standard than other polluters around the world. The government warns that the US would loose jobs and competitiveness if we forced our poor polluting corporations and conglomerates to standards after they’ve been polluting for so many generations. The world shouldn’t hold the world’s biggest polluter to such lofty standards. Please!
Multinationals and this government could not care less for the protection of American jobs. The government looks the other way as more and more companies find it far cheaper to setup shop in other countries. And some of those countries have signed the agreement. The truth is that many companies lobby the government way too hard to allow any laws that would affect their bottom line get passed in this country. George Bush has ransacked the Environmental Protection Agency to a point where one of the directors of NASA publicly accused his administration of refuting widely accepted scientific evidence of the dangers of global warming because it did not “fit predetermined, inflexible positions”. The Bush administration was also accused of editing reports to make the potential dangers of global warming sound far less threatening. Anyone familiar with the environmental history should know Mr. Bush’s reputation. While he was Governor of Texas George Bush enabled policies that allowed Houston to succeed Los Angeles as the pollution capital of the country.
There is supposedly some debate on whether or not global warming is a natural occurrence in nature or if it is a manmade phenomenon. And as we sit around and argue over which comes first the chicken or the egg the storms will get stronger. Hurricane season will start earlier and last much longer. Tornadoes will start to appear in places few people thought imaginable. Glaciers will continue to melt and we will continue down our path of consequences. More cities will require more electricity to run more air conditioners to counter the warmer weather. But more electricity will require more fossil fuels which will release more greenhouse gasses and the cycle continues like swirling soiled water down a toilet.
The Bush administration did not believe that the Environmental Protection Agency is entitled to regulate automobile emissions. In the Supreme Court case of Massachusetts v. Environment Protection Agency twelve states had to sue the EPA to get off its ass and do something about automobile emissions. On April 2nd of 2007, the court ruled that the EPA has the authority to regulate automobile emissions because, “greenhouse gases fit well within the Clear Air Act’s capacious definition of air pollutant.” The court also stated that the EPA must regulate in this area unless it is able to provide a scientific reason for not doing so. Can’t regulate the weather, but they will bomb the hell out of a country on the slightest whim for weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Bush cares for the environment like a wolf cares for a chicken coup. This is the same President that decided to protect the national forests by letting logging companies cut down trees. So let the strong, harder storms rage. Let the summers get hot as all hell. Let the winds blow and the rains fall. Besides, the next disaster hits will be yet another opportunity for companies like Halliburton to win lucrative no bid contracts to clean up the mess and squander our national treasure while our military fights the War on Terror and squander other national resources. It’s just a matter of coincidence that Halliburton just decided to move its headquarters, and some of its highest paying jobs, over to Dubai.