working together for social inclusion in America

Monday, August 25, 2008

Putting Trauma Behind

If it's what one does about injustice that counts, then self-reliance and independence are important aspects of remedying past and present wrongs. If reconciliation is a goal, then truth -- whole and nothing but -- is an essential objective. If healing relationships is vital to mutual survival, then collective memory must be preserved, no matter how painful it may be.

Putting trauma behind us does not mean forgetting, but merely using our intelligence to rule our emotions.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Influence of Anxiety

The Influence of Anxiety

by Jay Taber

Phil Williams is a sober, well-informed guy. So when he discusses the chaos likely to envelop the world as modern states collapse and morph into criminal enterprises, I take him seriously. In his recently-published paper From the New Middle Ages to a New Dark Age, Professor Williams examines the key factors, any one of which could bring on widespread panic, and proceeds to show how the nexus of multiple crises already well underway could literally change the world as we know it. Anticipating such man made disasters in advance may not allow us to avoid them all together, but they can make it possible for us to prepare while some of us still have cool heads. Under these conditions, capitalizing on social anxiety by perpetuating fear as part of consumer advocacy campaigns becomes all the more unconscionable.

Society, as some suggest, is an ongoing experiment: try what seems to work; abandon what doesn't. Of course, what works for some is often detrimental to others. Especially in a winner-take-all capitalist system. The European experiment in the Americas -- beginning with slavery, murder, and theft, and, in many respects, still in that mode of relationships -- is presently foundering on the indigenous resurgence and moral challenges posed by their culturally creative companeros.

Liberals -- like conservatives -- also fear the unknown, fear fundamental change, and fear the loss of privileges ingrained in our society for half a millenium. Their anxiety -- based on a sense of security that is bound up with the existing system of inequality -- places them in a juxtaposition between letting their conscience be their guide, and siding with those who would maintain such inequities. For myself, the challenge -- or experiment, if you will -- is whether we can surmount the communicative barriers of the status quo in order to begin to discuss our hopes for the future.

William Vega, an American public health researcher at Rutgers -- published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in 1998 -- observed that Mexican immigrants have roughly half the incidence of psychological dysfunction as Americans. After 13 years, though, these immigrants develop depression, anxiety and drug problems at the same level as the general population (32%). Additional studies have extended these findings to other ethnic groups, leading to the conclusion, that "socialization into American culture and society increase susceptibility to psychiatric disorders."

In The only thing we have to fear is the 'culture of fear' itself, author Frank Furedi discusses how fear is transmitted by cultural scripts which inform people of emotional and behavioural formulae which have come to be part of their everyday behaviour and thought. But the transformation of anxious responses into fear, he observes, also requires the intervention of social forces, of what he has labelled 'fear entrepreneurs.'

In my memoir Reign of Terror, I wrote about the influence of anxiety and fear inflamed by some of these entrepreneurs in 1990s Puget Sound, and how traumatic that systematic disruption of social institutions was for those involved. Today, given the multitude of world calamities leading toward widespread social collapse, generating panic is a rather simple matter. Creating spaces of calm, on the other hand, is a colossal challenge.

(Jay Taber -- recipient of the Defender of Democracy award -- is an

author, columnist, and research analyst at Public Good Project.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


In the present era of networks and netwars, think tanks like the Center for World Indigenous Studies function much like tribal protector societies, only on a global scale. Guarding against toxic ideas that can lead humanity astray, associations of scholars affiliated with these intellectual repositories and networks of activists relying on these learning centers serve to inoculate societies against panic and despair.

Without the foundational knowledge and ancient understanding mediated by such independent research organizations, communities worldwide are at the mercy of the relentless onslaught of destructive concepts deployed by anti-democratic markets and institutions.

The Center for World Indigenous Studies was founded in 1984 by Dr. Rudolph C. Ryser and Chief George Manuel as an independent research and education organization. It began earlier as an unincorporated research and documentation clearing house in 1979 in response to calls by the Conference of Tribal Governments in the United States.

George Manuel, former chief of the National Indian Brotherhood/Assembly of First Nations in Canada, was first to initiate global communication amongst indigenous peoples emerging from colonialism. Through their formation of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, he and Dr. Ryser laid the groundwork for indigenous fora and working groups within the UN.

Joe DelaCruz, chair of public policy at CWIS and former president of the National Congress of American Indians, was once called the greatest American Indian leader of the twentieth century.

CWIS today is considered the premier indigenous think tank and archival repository serving the Fourth World.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Two Books

Here’s a couple of books recommended by CWIS:

The Distorted Past by Josep Fontana
The Primal Mind by Jamake Highwater

Friday, August 08, 2008

New World Order

The UN indigenous resources page has some useful links. Check it out.