Saturday, December 6, 2014

As Above, So Below 2

Sometime on December 6, 2014 in Ellensburg, Washington

Tootsie is a perfect tomb guardian.

Happy Saturday from the Calico Ranch!  After much suffering, the dentist made me an offer I couldn't refuse yesterday, and I'm consequently another tooth short.  What did Brad Pitt say in Fight Club?  "Even the Mona Lisa is falling apart."

Because "fashion is passion.  It's the meaning of it."

Yesterday also marked the last day of classes for the Fall quarter; my first in graduate school.  Finals week begins Monday, but I'm pretty much in healing mode today and determined to relax.  I didn't miss the Anthropology department holiday party last night though.  Cassi and I went there straight from the dentist's office.  She ate like a trucker; it was embarrassing.  I, of course, daintily stuck to  a few quarts of ice cream punch and soft foods, like pizza, shrimp cocktail, fried halibut, oysters, deviled eggs, bacon-wrapped sausage, pot stickers, smoked salmon, chocolate cheesecake, and peanut butter pudding (now you know why I went).

Whatever 'white line fever,' lots of truckers eat carrot sticks.  I can't hear you, I can't hear...

Convivial bliss aside, I've been doing a lot of reflecting lately.  I'm not sure if that's because of my age, current events personally and worldwide, the subjects I'm studying and things I'm learning in school, or a combination of all that and more.  Let me see if I can articulate this sensibly:

I'm an archaeologist/anthropologist (bona fide!), who is currently pursuing a Master of Sciences degree in cultural and environmental resource management.  To best explain exactly what this is, I'll turn to the Wiki: 

"In the broadest sense, Cultural Resources Management (CRM) is the vocation and practice of managing cultural resources, such as the arts and heritage. It incorporates Cultural Heritage Management which is concerned with traditional and historic culture. It also delves into the material culture of archaeology. Cultural resources management encompasses current culture, including progressive and innovative culture, such as urban culture, rather than simply preserving and presenting traditional forms of culture.

However, the broad usage of the term is relatively recent and as a result it is most often used as synonymous with heritage management. In the United States, cultural resources management is not usually divorced from the heritage context. The term is, "used mostly by archaeologists and much more occasionally by architectural historians and historical architects, to refer to managing historic places of archaeological, architectural, and historical interests and considering such places in compliance with environmental and historic preservation laws."

 Cultural resources include both physical assets such as archaeology, architecture, paintings and sculptures and also intangible culture such as folklore and interpretative arts, such as storytelling and drama.  Cultural resource managers are typically in charge of museums, galleries, theatres etc., especially those that emphasize culture specific to the local region or ethnic group. Cultural tourism is a significant sector of the tourism industry.

Environmental resource management is the management of the interaction and impact of human societies on the environment. It is not, as the phrase might suggest, the management of the environment itself. Environmental resources management aims to ensure that ecosystem services are protected and maintained for future human generations, and also maintain ecosystem integrity through considering ethical, economic, and scientific (ecological) variables.  Environmental resource management tries to identify factors affected by conflicts that rise between meeting needs and protecting resources. It is thus linked to environmental protection and sustainability."

The reason that archaeologists/anthropologists are among the specialists who become resource managers is summed up well by the end of the previous paragraph: "...resource management tries to identify factors affected by conflicts that rise between meeting needs and protecting resources." 

We are the experts on the many cultural perspectives involved, often ranging from and including, grassroots public opinion, corporate development and economic interests, political climate, tribal concerns, private landowners, affected communities, environmental activist groups, academia, and governmental/legal prohibitions and guidelines. We are conflict resolution specialists.

We are the experts on the cultural value and meaning of the artifacts, art, and architecture and understand the importance of potential academic and scientific outcomes associated with proper data recovery and curation.  We are the experts at archaeological and cultural data recovery, analysis, interpretation, and curation.  We speak for the resource.

We are the experts on the laws (at all levels; federal, state, local, tribal) surrounding cultural and environmental resource protection, conservation, and mitigation.  We ensure compliance of standards and practices. We facilitate development and compromise through holistic understanding.

We are the experts on the subtleties and nuances of environmental resources, environmental zones, and human land-interaction and patterns both ancient and modern.  We see the 'bigger picture' and understand that changing one portion of an environmental zone (such as a river, and removing the salmon) can have exponentially compounded and often unforeseen effects on the whole.  Restated:  Patterns and processes at a particular spatial scale are in part driven by patterns and processes at smaller and larger scales, and in turn influence those operating and existing at smaller and larger scales.  As above, so below; everything and everyone are inextricably connected.  To think otherwise leads to short-sighted folly.  

A case study of note, echoing Frank Schaeffer at Patheos: 

Over a decade ago, George W. Bush, set back history, perhaps by hundreds of years.  The Middle East was a mess before the Afghan and Iraq wars began, now it's utter chaos. Based on his (self-identified) misguided, evangelical Christian-Zionist "end times" beliefs, compounded by lying, manipulative, neoconservative warmongers who knowingly misled America into believing these wars would result in a democratic Middle East, Bush and his administration's policies destabilized the entire region.

You see, the religious right, in its naive, holy fervor to support the removal of Saddam, and now Assad, didn't take a holistic perspective.  They didn't look at (and their leaders weren't telling) the 'bigger picture,' and realistically  understand that changing one portion of an environment can have exponentially compounded and often unforeseen effects on the whole.  Saddam and Assad, while far from perfect, managed to maintain SOME semblance of separation of 'mosque and state.'  They protected the Christians in their midst, allowing them to thrive, and legitimizing them by placing them in positions of authority and responsibility.

Ironically, as the dominoes continue to fall in predictable succession, Bush, and his born-again Christian following can now claim credit for what over a thousand years of Islamic domination of the Middle East couldn't accomplish: the utter destruction of the once-vibrant Christian communities of Syria and Iraq.  In their place, instead of communities, which have existed since the days of the Apostle Paul, and recently were home to millions of Christians and their places of worship, now only burnt buildings, fleeing men,women, children, and corpses remain.

Predictably, at their spatial scale of understanding, the average American Christian is still operating in oblivious silence under the impression that Jesus took some time to help them find their car keys today, and bless them with a special message or sign obviously meant just for them.  All the while ignoring the horrors being experienced by millions of their fellow Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East.  Horrors anticipated, warned against by informed critics such as myself, and directly caused by the fully-supported actions of their elected and re-elected leaders.  You don't want me to really start posting those photos.

Maybe you could give Jesus a break so he can hearken to the prayers of these poor bastards.

Bush, Cheney & Co.'s 'quagmire' proceeds apace, with no end in sight, or under discussion.  It will take nothing short of a divine resource manager to figure this mess out now.

"Day of judgement, God is calling,
On their knees the war pigs crawling.
Begging mercy for their sins,
Satan, laughing, spreads his wings.
Oh lord, yeah!"
 ~ Black Sabbath ~

Dave ~ Thanks for your time.  I hope we get to know each other better.