Deborah Conner: What’s the matter with making a profit?
Had interesting conversation at the Darjeeling Café last week. Was a sort of grilling by a stranger, really. “What’s wrong with making a profit?” he kept repeating. I’d mentioned that multinational companies like Exxon Mobil’s XTO are selling U.S. liquid natural gas overseas, reaping five to six times the domestic price doing it.
What’s wrong with that? Well, it’s not a “free market” or even real “profit” when they aren’t paying the true cost of production. The product they sell is obtained by fracking, and the whole process has the logic system of a cancer, taking public resources by stealth and leaving behind irreparable damage to land and water. But the stranger seemed more intent on protecting his premise that “human nature” is violence, and “Nature” bound in blood. “Red tooth and claw” he liked repeating. The past century, all history is violence and war, he says, human nature saved only by the gentling force of “civilization.”
So then — “civilization” came falling on violent-natured man, fell from sky, was found under rock? Brought by angels and magic djinns? Or could it not also be “human nature”? What’s in your frontal cortex? Hmm?
Lioness chases wildebeest, kills and drags it back to her cubs. Then all settle down beside the lake, sated. But no, she doesn’t take out her rifle and shoot the whole damn herd. And accidents happen. No, we don’t live forever; no creatures do. Should we blame a god for this? Blame nature? What has blame to do with it? “All things flow.” Minor chords enrich the piece. Torque: Imbalance is simply needed to make the gradients necessary for movement. For life. Even for time. Nothing happens without it.
Life is Mystery. Are you game? Will you make yourself, body, heart, soul from it?
What I know is that I celebrate all the wars we didn’t have. Like peace and civilization, wars don’t “happen” to us either. I posit that it was good food, clean air, balance, and love that carried me and you here. An absence of violence. Brought about by? Thank you, ancestors. Thank you for your efforts to cooperate.
And now? Please don’t let us be cut off at the knees. The Mad Men of winner-take-all, like the robber-barons of any gilt-age, have silenced our thinking with … anything that works, just silence the human brain and all it has learned in its long journey through nature. Which is this: symbiosis is the principle of what endures. All else is like a cancer, a seed-eating flash-in-the-pan that will ultimately burn itself out, taking all it touches with it.
The environment shapes us all at every moment, even down to our genes. In cultures that live behind glass — windshields, TV, computer screens – who do we become? How do we communicate, touch, know one another? What community is this? An anonymity created by the more-equal sunders the life-sustaining web of planetary life. Cut into factions, we lose the harmonic relationships where we (above all, children) experience the wisdom of thoughtful balance, the sacred sphere of learning one another and thus self, understanding that even in our diversity, we are our oneness.
Letter from Deborah Conner/Staunton