A Language Older Than Words

by Simon Goland, January 5, 2009

Today’s Reflection is about the end of a year and a beginning of another. And, I believe, a lot more.

This past year feels both very long and short at the same time, which I find interesting. What happened last year? Some of the global-scale events that come to mind include:

The extradition of Radovan Karadzic (the “Butcher of Bosnia”) to The Hague, the International Criminal Tribunal, to face charges of crimes against humanity and genocide.

China hosted the Summer Olympics games.

Rising food prices that pushed millions around the world into hunger. The UN estimates the number of undernourished people worldwide to be almost 1 billion, which is about 1 in 6 or seven people worldwide. For instance, in Haiti, people were reduced to eating patties made of mud, oil, and sugar. “It’s salty and it has butter and you don’t know you’re eating dirt,” 24-year-old Olwich Louis Jeune told “The New York Times.”

There were terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.

Leadership changed in Russia (at least, officially).

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, on February 17, and became the world’s newest state.

Barack Obama was elected the 44th U.S. President.

And, of course, The Global Financial Crisis, which is being called the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. And like the Great Depression, the 2008 version began in the United States, but soon spread around the world. This is where I lost about 20% of my savings, so far.

“The best political, social, and spiritual work we can do is to withdraw the projection of our shadow onto others.” – Carl Jung

For me personally, it has also been quite an eventful year. I finally started drumming and taking lessons on a djembe drum, which I absolutely love. I witnessed Tobi being attacked by another dog, experiencing myself as a mother bear protecting her cub. Saw another live show of my favorite Cirque du Soleil. Started a very humble roof-top gardening project, eating some home-grown food while realizing that I am definitely not self-sustainable, food-wise. Spent some time in Israel, visiting my parents, reconnecting with a few dear friends, and eating awesome Israeli food that I miss not having in Vancouver. Spent time in the beautiful wilderness of Interior BC. Encountered the wrath of US Customs and Border officers, and (as a result of it) experienced the pain and sadness of having something I dearly love being taken away. Luckily, temporarily only. Together with Keli and Tobi, discovered the magic of coconut oil, both in its internal and external applications. Readjusted my lifestyle by getting a very different kind of a vehicle, Mitsubishi Delica (aka LadyBug, the vacation home on wheels). Discovered the beauty and comfort of wool socks. Enjoyed the paradox of snow-shoeing on the beach in Vancouver. Became a godfather, for the first time in my life. Gained a few new friendships, and let go of other connections that felt complete at this point in my life.

I am sure there is a lot more that happened last year; somehow, it is quite the blur right now. Dear friends, exciting work, fun times and adventures, moments of love and connection, challenges and sadness and tears, quiet moments of solitude, gratitude for my life and all it brings forth, and the joy of being here and now. Overall, I would say that I have experienced the richness of life, with its highs and lows, a lot more than before. It certainly was a year of growth and humility, the companions that forever walk the journey hand-in-hand.

“The saddest thing I see in the world are people who have stopped dreaming. People who cannot legitimately imagine themselves as someone greater than they are. People who cannot see the power in their weak legs or the acumen in their tired minds…” – Loren Bors

One of the incredible gifts of this past year was a book. “A Language Older Than Words” by Derrick Jensen is a book that each person must read, in order to understand the world we live in on a whole different level. This book is absolutely profound – shocking, disturbing, realistic, touching, horrifying and uplifting at the same time, compelling, and inspiring to action. You can find it here.

How and why do we numb ourselves to our own experience of life in favour of what we have been taught? How and why do we deafen ourselves to the voices of many others who occupy this world together with us? How did it happen that we pretend that anything that we don’t understand – anything that cannot be measured, quantified, and controlled – does not exist? How is it that pagans, Jews, Muslims, heretical Christians, Indians, Africans, Polynesians, Asians, women, men, children, salmon, forests, have been murdered by the millions in the name of a man who said that people should love their neighbours and love their enemies? Why is it that in our economic system, money is valued above all else? What happens when we really and truly open ourselves up and really listen to others around us, and not only humans? What if the point of life is not to accumulate wealth, to create ever-expanding regions of control, and not to keep at bay all those people, objects, beings, and emotions we so needlessly fear? What if, instead, it has been all along to get alone, to relate, and experience things on their own terms?

This book will take you on a journey you will never forget, and you will never be the same again. I am actually considering contacting Derrick and getting copies of the book, which I would love to share with those willing to embark on this journey. If, for whatever reason, you cannot get the book yourself, please connect with me; I hope to be able to provide you with a copy.

“It is not possible to recover from atrocity in isolation. It is, in fact, precisely this isolation that induces the atrocities. If we wish to stop the atrocities, we need merely to step away from the isolation. There is a whole world waiting for us, ready to welcome us home. It has missed us as sorely as we have missed it. And it is time to return.” – Derrick Jensen

A sunny week to you all, inside and out.