Sumerian general with mace and captives
A Long List of Empires:
Empires are doomed to fall
The caverns of Earth are filled with pestilential
dust which once was the bones, the flesh, the bodies of great ones who
sat upon thrones, deciding causes, possessing treasures, governing armies,
conquering provinces, tearing down temples, flattering themselves with
pride, majesty, fortune, praise, and dominion. These glories have passed
like the dark smoke thrown out by the fires of Popocatepetl, leaving no
monuments but the rude skins on which they are written.
---Nezahualcoyotl, Aztec poet-philosopher
of medieval Mexico [Otomi
transcription, translated by Brinton]
The American domination is now going down the road of Rome
and countless other empires, having over-reached to the point of economic
collapse, as distant colonial provinces explode in revolt. The emperor
in Washington rejects diplomacy and international law in favor of aerial
bombardment, scorched earth tactics, and torture.
The top suits of the Superpower claim to stand for
freedom, while they shred constitutional protections, habeas corpus, rights
to assemble. They assert kingly privileges ("at the pleasure of the
president"), as the Roman Republic (Res Publica, “of the people”)
was once replaced by imperial dynasties in the time of Julius Caesar.
They say they are for women's rights in faraway places, but repeatedly
put in place puppet regimes that oppress women, starve the people, and
rape the land. Desperate to retain military bases in oil-strategic areas,
they broker alliances with warlords. Palettes of shrink-wrapped billions
from the imperial treasury have disappeared into the pockets of war profiteers.
In Iraq, they have made things a thousand times worse, with a ravaged
infrastructure, dueling militias, and a million dead. Women are forced
to veil and still men abduct them off the streets. Afghanistan is no better,
with the Taliban rising again and courageous feminist parliamentarian
Malalai Joya living in daily risk of assassination.Within the U.S. force themselves, the rape of female soldiers is rampant and unpunished.
There are more refugees now than ever before in world history, across the globe. They are
pouring into Syria from Iraq, from Zimbabwe into South Africa, and running from rape and slaughter in Darfur and eastern Congo. Many refugees are women and girls who suffer in the direst conditions
of prostitution, sold or contracted in desperate poverty to pay traffickers
Countless women endure forced marriages and customs amounting to female
house arrest. Still others bear the brunt of an AIDS epidemic where No is not
an option for them, and their physical boundaries are not in their control.
Violence against women and girls, rape and battery, are at pandemic levels.
The world rejoiced in triumph when the Berlin wall was torn down, but
today the US is building a much bigger wall, along the entire Mexican
border. Deaths of economic refugees from NAFTA have soared as stepped-up
patrols force them to cross over through the harsh Sonoran desert. Many
of these migrants are Indian people.
Aboriginal peoples are being driven off the land every day, an incalculable
human loss, and into the exploding cities. Their lands are destroyed by
logging and hydroelectric dams, by cattle ranches and monocrop plantations,
or poisoned by oil and mineral extraction. Indigenous sovereignty and treaty rights are trampled.
The wellbeing of humanity and the natural world is savaged by a system
predicated on the pursuit of wealth and addictive consumption of what
is, in the long run, worthless junk. People are seduced by the most powerful
manipulation of symbols in history to crave this junk
and to value it over anything else that life offers, over their own humanity
and all other lives.
Corruption has replaced the rule of law, up to the highest offices. The
Attorney General got caught carrying out party-line purges of federal
officials, then lied about it. (Funny story: the press flack lauding
the disgraced AG intones, “Three words come to mind when we
think of Alberto Gonzales…” and the Daily Show cues up Gonzales
testifying before Congress: “I don’t recall.”)
The media grovels before the mighty corporate lords and their agenda of
wars and merciless resource extraction. Public discourse is controlled
by spin doctors, and representative government is staffed mostly by millionaires,
while the Supreme Court turns away cases of pay discrimination against
women and reinstates segregation of the schools.
Lobbyists are appointed in control of environmental protection, racists
to dismantle what remains of civil rights, and paternalistic evangelicals
to run programs for women and families. Only the wealthy can afford housing
and health care, and caregivers for the young, old, and disabled are left
to fend for themselves. How the mighty dollar has fallen, and will fall.
"Conservative" has lost its meaning. What is being conserved? The infrastructure
of the imperial homeland itself has been left to crumble: bridges collapse,
while hospitals, public transportation and other crucial programs are
defunded. New Orleans was flooded, as was predicted, because the levees weren’t maintained,
and black people are prevented from returning to their homes, so that
politically connected developers will profit.
A dynastic scion sits in the seat of power, his incompetency now visible
even to those fooled before. As he continues to wreak havoc, Congress
still cowers before his “war presidency” in dread of being
called unpatriotic. Are they going to stand up to the new war being planned
People do not know what rights are being taken away from them. Many don’t
care, content to amuse themselves with the latest toys, shows, and fashions. Growing numbers are on anti-depressants, and more children are being
drugged so they will sit still in foundering schools that are sharply
unequal along race and class lines, and where bullying is rampant.
Bees and birds, the pollinators, are dying in unprecedented numbers, as
are frogs. The polar bears face extinction, while tropical diseases are moving north. There are dead zones in the
oceans, and many species of fish are dwindling away. All life forms are
being poisoned and irradiated.
It can't continue like this. Every empire in history has fallen, with
no exceptions. Every one.
All this must change so that Life, which is sacred, can continue on this
planet. It is for us to make this change. For this we need all the courage
and optimism we can summon. We face a very serious situation, and for
that very reason can’t afford to give in to despair.
We are part of Earth. She is mightier than men’s propensity to violence
and hierarchy—or women’s to accommodate and to accumulate
for their own. Earth Mother is Kokomthena, the Creatrix always spinning out this
exquisite web of life, she who has woven through all lunar cycles since
the beginning. She will outlast everything.
May we attune to this primal Sacredness with profound and sustained intention.
May we rise above the infighting fissions and divisive pressures now prevailing,
and look to where we can grow alliances across the boundaries of colonial
castes and the legacies of patriarchal laws and religions.
We can rejoice that women are steadily challenging the structures of male
domination, and that indigenous people are rising and throwing off centuries-old
colonial dominations. Look at South America. The empire really is falling.
Let’s find ways to create profound change, any way we can, to end
the wars now raging, and to stop the neocon lords from bombing yet another
country. To speak out with everything we’ve got for justice and
peace, for life, in the name of Mother Earth.