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Freedom in the Grace of the World

Posted on Jul 5, 2010
Flickr / BurningQuestion (CC-BY-ND)

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

I climbed my first mountain in the White Mountain National Forest when I was 7. It was Mount Chocorua. The mountain, capped with a rocky dome and perhaps the most beautiful in the park, is named for a legendary Pequawket chief who refused to flee with his tribe to Canada and was supposedly pursued to its summit by white settlers, where he leapt to his death. It is a climb I have repeated nearly every year, now with my children. I guided trips in the mountains in college. I would lie, years later, awake in San Salvador, Gaza, Juba or Sarajevo and try to recall the sound of the wind, the smell of the pine forests and the cacophony of bird song. To know the forests and mountains were there, to know that I would return to them, gave me a psychological and physical refuge. And as my two older children grew to adulthood I dragged them up one peak after another, pushing them perhaps too hard. My college-age son is deeply connected to the mountains. He works in the summer as a guide and has spent upward of seven weeks at a time backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. My teenage daughter, perhaps reflecting her sanity, is reticent to enter the mountains with the two of us.

I stood a few days ago in a parking lot at Crawford Notch with Rick Sullivan, an Army captain and Afghanistan war veteran. It was the end of our weeklong hike in the White Mountains. Sullivan noticed a man with a T-shirt that read “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” The shirt had Arabic and English script warning motorists not to come too close or risk being shot. The man, an Iraqi veteran, was putting on a pack and told us that he was the caretaker of a camp site. He said he left the Army a year ago, drifted, drank too much and worked at a bar as a bouncer. His life was unraveling. He then answered an ad for a park caretaker. The clouds hovering on the peaks above us were an ominous gray. The caretaker said he planned to beat the rain back to the tent site. I thought of Earl Shaffer.

“You try and forget the war but you carry pieces of it with you anyway,” the caretaker said. “In the mountains, at least, I can finally sleep.”


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By Sammy J, July 7, 2010 at 11:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Beautiful. I must say I like the personal touch. This is the “gonzo” emulators could not emulate concerning H.S.T. It is not a style. It is the personal. This, more than anything I can take from the millions of conglomerated hours running concurrently in the media universe, is news.

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By samosamo, July 7, 2010 at 10:19 am Link to this comment


By Old Man turtle, July 7 at 10:38 am

I miss Tao Walker but hope to hear of him again.
From his comments I was able to find a web site, First People of
American and Canada and find that it has a lot of useful things I
relate to, so if and when you see or hear from him, thank him for
his ‘pushing’ me to look for a web site that presents what I
consider the greatest achievement of a group of people who had
and still have the best way of life such that the ‘wild’ provides.

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By JDmysticDJ, July 7, 2010 at 7:42 am Link to this comment


Your comment puts Hedges’ article in a perfect perspective. Hedges, I believe, has used his sabbaticals in nature to put the human experience in perspective.

Anyone who has a working knowledge of history should be aware the there has been progress in human philosophy, and attitudes. What was once accepted as the natural order of things, in terms of individual acts of brutality, is now accompanied by profound anguish. It’s true that brutality has now been institutionalized, and that there has been no decrease in brutality, but there is by some, who have a sense of the necessity of further progress, efforts to end this brutality. Hedges is one of these, and I believe his quest for spiritual well being will enhance his commitment to ending the brutality.

Accepting the laws of nature as being the natural order of human existence diminishes humanity.

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By Old Man turtle, July 7, 2010 at 6:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The commenter “Caute” below makes the common mistake of projecting the fears and conceits of the civilized onto free wild Nature.  “Vicious”-ness and “war,” for instance, are the exclusive province of the sub-species homo domesticus, of which that unfortunate individual is evidently a card-carrying probably life-long member, who has no-doubt come by all that bitterness and cynicism honestly enough if by no other means than through the practice of a certainly quite stressful and desensitizing profession.

It’s hard not to feel that such lost souls will be grateful and relieved when Nature in her wisdom and mercy excuses them from having to endure more of the relentless degradations of institutionalized captivity.  Meantime, the juggernaut plunges-on in its own predestined death-spiral.

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By JDmysticDJ, July 7, 2010 at 6:35 am Link to this comment

John Ellis

I’m 100% sure this is not the forum for a clash of egos. You’re ignoring the content of this article, and turning this forum into a forum for your egocentric mystical pronouncements, irritated me.

Let me set the record straight, I don’t claim to be a mystic by your definition.

You are not the only person in the world who has done hard labor while being exposed to the elements. I too, have planted trees, along with a long history of working labor intensive jobs in all types of inclement weather. I’ve also got a little College degree; I have been a musician and a DJ at a small radio station, where I used the adjective mystic as a, somewhat self deprecating, esoteric kind of light hearted spoof.

I’m 100% sure that I don’t accept your claim to “absolute knowledge of ultimate reality.” i.e. “the reality of a thing;” especially when that reality is derived from a self ordained mystical mysticism, (By your definition.)


Hedges’ article.


Your inane postings.

(I like your metaphorical use of Babylon, but it is far from being an original thought, do you rank yourself with the Christian Prophets or the current Evangelicals)

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By Larry Snider, July 7, 2010 at 6:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ah New Hampshire!

The smell of pine, the sound of water running on the rocks, the White Mountains, the awesome beauty and a hide away in the Lakes region, (for those us less able or in my case willing to regularly test my physical limits).
May we each find our own sanctuary.

Refuah Shlema Chris

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By Caute, July 7, 2010 at 5:15 am Link to this comment

‘the peace of wild things????’

Tell that to the still-breathing mouse bobbing along
in the jaws of a cat. The first colossal error is to
think anything in Nature is peaceful. Each organism
battles, kills and is killed for the resources of the
next. Look below the flowers in your garden. A
vicious, non-stop war is under way at all times. This
might seem to us a ‘peace’ because most of the time
we don’t see it, or won’t look.
The only thing that can be said for Nature is at
least there, as opposed to the ‘human world,’ we find
honesty and this may be what feels ‘peaceful.’ On
Nature’s battlefield no attempt is made to hide the
brutality and cruelty which humans must do to survive
at all. Of course colourful flowers, trees and the animals (95% of which are destroyed before reaching maturity) are beautiful to behold, but to BE them is
something quite different.

We can say with the German sage that ‘this world is
the battleground of tormented, agonized beings who
devour each other for survival.’ Suffering reaches
its peak in Nature’s ‘top creation,’ Man, and the
higher the man the greater his suffering. We must
remember that there is no lie in Nature, nothing
hidden. Man introduced the lie to this world and it
is not surprising that every animal instinctively
flees from humans. What are we to say of Nature when
its most ‘advanced’ item is the cruellest predator
the world has ever known?

As a life-long combat cameraman I can say that it is
a mistake to separate any war from what goes on each
day on the streets in the so-called developed world.
The general nastiness, greed and outright cruelty one
observes in our fine cities differs from a full blown
war only in degree, not in kind. If most can gather
food, sleep somewhere decent and watch a Real TV show
than we shall have no mass graves that day. As
politeness is only a smiling mask, so too the goings
on in our cities, our so called society, is but a
veneer. We should never ask why there is ‘bad’ in the
world, but why there are any truly good people who at all
times, in all ages, form a tiny minority. The wise
observer then will agree with Machiavelli, ‘One can
make this generalization about men. They are
ungrateful, fickle, liars and deceivers, they shun
danger and are greedy for profit, while you treat
them well, they are yours.’ And this is why Jesus

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By truedigger3, July 6, 2010 at 10:37 pm Link to this comment

Re:By John Ellis, July 7 at 12:02 am #

John Ellis wrote:
” it never stops amazing me how those of the intelligent middle-class can enjoy and glorify in their wealth and leisure, the forests of the rich that we of the laboring class had to endure with miserably wet boots, frost bitten fingers and backs bent to the ground hard labor.”

John Ellis,

All we are getting from you is either ranting or drivels.
So, you think the middle class is not thinking about you, but I tell you that the rich and poor don’t think about or give a damn about you either.
You are so full of yourself. The universe is not rotating around you.
It is better you put your burnt out LIGHT up where it belongs, and you know damn well what that is!!!

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By Old Man Turtle, July 6, 2010 at 7:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Person who participated here for several years as “TAO Walker” is my nephew, though he likes to make a big deal about being half a day older.  He’s the only son of my oldest sister, while I’m my mother’s youngest.  He has, true to his name, walked all over the place.  I stay pretty close to home most of the time.

We grew up together as brothers, as my sister died of pneumonia shortly after his birth and he was raised by my mother.  People have always had a hard time telling us apart, and we both came up in what many call the “traditional” way, except my nephew was kidnapped and taken to BIA school.  He ran away so many times, though, that even the Indian police quit trying to find him to take him back.

The people at the agency were typically confused in those days about the make-up of Indian families, and weren’t really sure if there was one or two “little Indian boys” in my mother’s house, so she was able to keep me from being taken away from her.  I was real shy, anyhow, and “TAO Walker” was anything but.  So when the government people came around he got caught.

He still travels to many places, even at his advanced age, but we always like hearing about the things and people he sees, and the places he visits.  He’s the one taught me to use this machine, and most of my early English I got from him.  We tend to think a lot alike, too, so when I use English it comes out sounding a lot like my nephew.

Right now he’s somewhere out on the Sunrise Shore of Turtle Island, but I’ll tell him next time he’s home that some of the commenters here were saying nice things about him.  He’ll be shocked.

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By reverento., July 6, 2010 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment

I woke up, realized it was Monday. I thought it was
cool how he evoked the Native American lore into the
healing quality of being in the woods.

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By gerard, July 6, 2010 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment

Hello again, Tao!  I’ve been missing you.

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By radson, July 6, 2010 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment

Old Man Turtle

Is that you Tao ? if so welcome back

Hoka hey

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By radson, July 6, 2010 at 11:07 am Link to this comment

Thanks’ john for your reply and opinion .So you say that you originated from some kind of a ‘black Babylonian hole ’ in the land of shadows,tell me John are you a fan of Tolkien and did you meet Sauron in this
dark hole.When I think of Babylon images of hanging gardens in the cradle of civilization come to mind ,not some dark hole that you proselytize.Nevertheless that’s your point of view and you must of spent a lot
of time in a cave before this brilliant theory came to posses your mind ,somewhat like Gollum struggling with the ring.Now ,if you care to look up at the sky at night you might observe that there are billions of
lights there ,yes john Lights ,realms of them! But somehow you’re not going anywhere just following lights after your traumatizing experience in the dark hole its perhaps understandable,but do be prudent at
night close to freeways.That leaves one more question the second one which you have omitted for whatever reason, if you’re still trying to figure it out, I’ll understand.

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By Puccini, July 6, 2010 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

Thanks for writing about our trek. What a life enriching experience it was for me.
This column and the trek itself is a reminder to me that wilderness cures so much
in all of us and I look forward to doing it again soon.

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By JDmysticDJ, July 6, 2010 at 9:49 am Link to this comment

John Ellis

You are 100% arrogant, 100% narcissistic, 100% preoccupied with mythical percentages.

I am 100% ignoring your posts. Sorry, I don’t mean to be 100% critical, but I am 100% amazed by your inane postings. I 100% regret being so negative about you, but I am 100% unable to restrain myself.

All kidding aside, I believe your posts are a certain percentage cogent, but I’m unable to quantify that percentage accurately in percentage points.

Thanks for attempting to get us to see your LIGHT, but your posts leave me 100% in the DARK.

Again, I’m sorry for being 100% critical (Accurate to a plus or minus five percentage points.)

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By Old Man Turtle, July 6, 2010 at 8:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Even a Heart that is weakened with disease still does what it does the best that it can for as long as it can.  Even that component in Earth’s immune system that has been compromised and co-opted by means of the civilization process, namely homo domesticus, still responds to these awful conditions, according to its essential nature and function, the best that it can for as long as it can.

What we’re faced with here is basically a disease, not any conglomeration of abstract conceptualizations.  Those among the captive peoples who sincerely look for a cure for their own ills will find it only in the fulfillment of the given organic function of Humanity within the Natural Living Arrangement of which they remain, despite contrary delusions, an inextricably vital element.  They cannot invent or discover any solely self-referential remedy because there simply is no such thing within this integrated Living Universe. 

Philosophy is a dead-end.  So are all the other artifacts of the self-same civilization having all the devastating effects catalogued and lamented here by Mr. Hedges and many responding to his article.  Human Beings must live free and wild, whole and healthy in what some call The Tiyoshpaye Way, or perish in worsening captive degradation.  Just as Nature is not saddled with the make-believe of “morals,” She doesn’t ‘compromise’ Her imperatives to suit the expectations or demands of those who put themselves crosswise to Her purposes, no matter how high and mighty they believe themselves to be.

For the civilized that means getting out of their “individual” comfort zones and back all together into their naturally proper form, or get gone.  That’s not any “commandment.”  It’s just the Way She “rolls.”

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By REDHORSE, July 6, 2010 at 6:52 am Link to this comment

Other posters point to POPULATION as THE issue that will ignite future conflict and chaos in the coming world struggle for possession of ever more limited natural resources. I have no idea why such an important issue is such an overlooked topic of discussion.  Even now, its’ impact on environment drives much of the planets destruction. It’s hard to take a forest hike when the forest has been decimated for firewood, clearcut for cattle pasture or, as here in the West, burned to the ground as a direct result of GCC. The poor Bears here are having a really hard time this summer.

    VietNam is indeed one of the most beautiful places I ever encountered. Its’ green jungles, snow white beaches and often glass smooth emerald oceans were magnificent. We didn’t hesitate to bomb it, shell it, defoliated it, landmine it and poison it at every opportunity, not to mention, the outright slaughter of the poor farmers and fishermen caught in the crossfire. What difference did it make?

      Israel is not the American Holy Land. America is our Holy Land. The ladies and gentlemen of AIM have been trying to tell us that for decades. The land is sacred. It holds its own intelligence and blessing. Like every other place that has fallen under the sway of Federal Corporate thugs it’s getting lain to waste. Geez—Where does this rage come from? O.K.—-Sorry—-Redhorse is ranting again.
Keep your powder dry. See ya.

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By JMR, July 6, 2010 at 5:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is a refreshingly hopeful sounding piece, in spite of the problems it cites. Hedges so often sounds as though he’s abandoned hope - not without reason - but his beautiful prose here speaks to a possible renewal. Perhaps a return to the natural world and spirit is part of the solution to the Human Disease. Of course, cures for cancer, AIDs, and other stubborn illnesses may be more easily developed and implemented. Perhaps not, though…

(One thing I hesitate to bring up and something someone may have already noted in their comments - I haven’t read them all - is that Wendell Berry is referred to as Wendell “Barry” when first quoted. Later, he’s referred to with the correct spelling. A minor typo but a major figure - quoted here by yet another.)

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By Bee, July 6, 2010 at 1:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hedges has written a brilliant and moving article.
We all have to find ways out of the penny arcade of false images,
false advertising, virtual realities, gossip, red herrings, and
propaganda most of the media pushes on us like we were addicts.

One way is to truly learn a musical instrument (an acoustic one).
This innocent activity leads to enrichment of anyone’s life to the
point where it can dispell some of the above.  It brings about
real community (playing music in groups), and is non-toxic….it leaves the environment alone, and doesn’t waste energy.

It may help to reduce materialism, which is the source of much pollution and degradation.  We don’t need all the extra products if we produce something beautiful ourselves.

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By onoi, July 5, 2010 at 9:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Handyman’s” words in response to this article linger illuminated and beautiful.

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By TheHandyman, July 5, 2010 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment

When I speak of my time in Vietnam people have sometime commented that I am sick and should seek counseling because I don’t speak of it the way probably most Veterans do. I was a crew chief of a Huey. I got there 10 days before Tet in 68 and began flying within a week of arrival. I have vague memories of of the shooting, the mortar attacks, the blood, and the fallen friends and the fallen villagers. Try as I could to insulate myself from their suffering by hating them and blaming them for my plight, I found solice in the beauty of their country. I remember the greens of the tall grass and the cloud shrouded mountains. I remember the towering waterfalls, the mist being slung off the rotors as we hovered at the base taking pictures when we were supposed to be engaged in some warlike activity. At night, while awaiting the mortar attacks that seemed to come either too frequently or not frequently enough, I would remember the unbroken expanse of savanna where I had served in the Peace Corps three years before I got drafted. The irony has never been lost on me that I would spend 2 years trying to make peoples lives better and then spend a year making another people’s lives as miserable as I could all at the behest of my country.

When things have gotten, like they always do for every human, a little muddled it is the memory of mountains and lush forests of Vietnam and the stark grass covered savanna with the occasional Acacia tree under which I spent many an afternoon waiting for the rains to come that keep me from succumbing to the mundane and pointless existence of this American way of life. Everyone should have the opportunity to wander free without the need for human contact until such time it is desired. Those places are few now. And the cause of all our present problems is that there are just too damn many of us on the planet. It has gone from a paradise to a toilet far quicker than it has taken us to learn our place in whatever plan there might be. Too bad we will have learned so little in such a long, long time!

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By radson, July 5, 2010 at 6:44 pm Link to this comment

Hello TDers

I only have three questions for you.
1: Where did you come from.
2:What are you doing here .
3:Where are you going when you leave.

I don’t know but I do believe ,just to believe.

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By balkas, July 5, 2010 at 5:45 pm Link to this comment

I’ve posited these ideas many times and most of the times i wld explicitly say that i do not recommend domestic terrorism; i.e., in US!
In the post above i merely said there are two solutions available.
Expecting domestic terrorism in US appears realistic, tho!

The root evil of the 10k yrs ago is still extant today in all lands that are not building an idyllic structure of society.
Idyllic, btw, doesnt’t mean in an utopian way.

After all—and as i see it—there are only two structures of society available to us at their end of development: extreme asocialistic-ungregarious one, like in india and the other one reversion back as we once were.

In those days—prior to rise of shamanism and later priests—all ate; all had roof over their heads; living in small groups each person was wanted-respected.

Apodicticly [of a necessary or apsolutely certain truth, we had to have had an idyllic society else we wld have not survived as specie.

Today, in US, with master class controling city police, fbi, cia, army echelons, private spies and bounty hunters, it wld be foolish to resort to military violence. tnx for ur answer!

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By UreKismet, July 5, 2010 at 4:43 pm Link to this comment

I find it weird that so many people exact comfort from externalising the destruction of the very things on this planet that sustain us, and thereby manage to push away their involvement in the decimation or perhaps extinction of humankind.

There is no cure, we are treading the same path of so many other species.  Sure maybe not many of them managed to turn the entire planet into their ecosystem, but plenty have produced populations which have grown past the point of sustainibility and then withered into extinction.  It may take a billion years for earth to sufficiently recover from our predations and another advanced species evolve.  The same will happen to them as well.
Those who are small minded to cry ‘what about us?’  ‘How can you not care’ should ponder this.
There are more humans alive on this planet right now than the sum total of all homo sapiens that have lived before.  If you were ever going to be born as a human consciousness, it is a statistic reality than right now is when you are most certain to be alive.
You have no rights, you just are, and yes that goes for me too.
The cycle will continue until it ceases and then in what feels to us to be a hoplessly distant future, but to earth just long enough for a quick piss and a bit of a look around, the cycle will begin again with a new life form.

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By gerard, July 5, 2010 at 4:42 pm Link to this comment

amike:  Thanks for the reference.  I’m glad to know about yet another such conflict resolution training center. (Possibly Elise and Kenneth Boulding had something to do with the beginning of that onc.) The ideas and techniques work where you can get people to use them and think about them deeply. Most people, conditioned to think of war as “inevitable”—which it is not—want to dismiss
alternatives as “soft” “unworkable” “impractical”
“impossible” etc. It’s going to take a while—unless dire straights drives the human race toward a desperate search to prevent extinction.  But that may happen.
  One huge disadvantage is that “the system” is geared for war and the money to be made from weapons manufacturing.  Another disadvantage is the careful avoidance on the part of governments to put any money into research and training on alternatives.
  I’m not currently in touch with any of these efforts but have spent a lot of energy and time on this very issue in the past.  My experience has been that those who deeply want to find ways out of the war psychosis do find their way to an awareness of credible nonviolent alternatives and are willing to try them out.  The crisis of doing nothing increases people’s fear.  Let’s hope it increases their search for new methods.
  There are those who cannot change, no matter what.  They have locked themselves into the worship of the status quo as policy.

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By radson, July 5, 2010 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment

ofersince 72

What’s with the premature ejackulation !Are you feeling disparaged?

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By omygodnotagain, July 5, 2010 at 4:23 pm Link to this comment

The only way to stop the madness of war is to say NO, no to the movies that glorify it, the video games that train young minds to kill, no to the politicians that trade in fear, no to the thugs that run countries for the benefit of a few.

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By Paul, July 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks for this one Chris.  It is sometimes easy to
forget how important it is to get outside, away from
the crowds and the technology, and just be.

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By amike, July 5, 2010 at 4:05 pm Link to this comment

Beautifully written as always.  I wish I could say the same for some of the comments in the post chain.  But maybe ranting or writing this or that person “sucks” is that person’s alternative to a mountain hike.  I would rather they hiked or took a walk, but then I’m not them—which makes me happy.  I recommend reading this:  Somehow I don’t expect those who need to read it most will.

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By ofersince72, July 5, 2010 at 3:53 pm Link to this comment

Hedges, you still SUCK !!!!!!!!!!

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By Fat Freddy, July 5, 2010 at 2:44 pm Link to this comment

Don’t worry, or feel any fret. I’ve heard from a reliable source, that we are all going to be saved. The Great White Buffalo has appeared above the canyon wall.

Well, listen everybody,
To what I got to say.
There’s hope for tomorrow,
Ooh, we’re workin’ on today.
Well, it happened long time ago,
In the new magic land.
The Indian and the buffalo,
They existed hand in hand….
The Indian needed food,
He needed skins for a roof.
But he only took what they needed, baby.
Millions of buffalo were the proof.
Yeah, its all right.
But then came the white man,
With his thick and empty head.
He couldn’t see past the billfold,
He wanted all the buffalo dead.
It was sad…It was sad.
Oh yeah…yes indeed.
Oh yes,
It happened a long time ago, baby.
In the new magic land.
See, the Indians and the buffalo,
They existed hand in hand.
The Indians, they needed some food,
And some skins for a roof.
They only took what they needed, baby.
Millions of buffalo were the proof, yeah.
But then came the white dogs,
With their thick and empty heads.
They couldn’t see past the billfold.
They wanted all the buffalo.
Everything was SO sad.
When I looked above the canyon wall,
Some strong eyes did I see.
I think it’s somebody comin’ around
To save my ass, baby.
I think…I think he’s comin’ around
To save you and me.
I said, above the canyon wall…
Strong eyes did glow.
It was the leader of the land, baby.
LOOK OUT!!!! LOOK OUT!!!!!!!
Well, he got the battered herd.
He led em cross the land.
With the Great White Buffalo,
They gonna make a final stand.
The Great White Buffalo,
Comin’ around to make a final stand.
Well, look out here he comes.
The great white buffalo, baby.
The Great White Buffalo….
Look out,here he comes.
He’s doin’ all right.
Makin’ everything all right.

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By radson, July 5, 2010 at 2:36 pm Link to this comment


Tnx for the reply ,now let me see according to your post the root of the problem lies in ancient times .Where the priests created a division of ‘peoples’ basically the rich over the poor which in essence was
promoted by the Nobility and made into a sort of law thereafter.Furthermore the adaptation of the classes led to ‘the initial evil’ which in turn led to rebellions by the serfs -I would assume -against the wealthy and
the land lords ,but not only against the wealthy of ones own nation ,but more so conflicts with other nations on their -the rich’s- behalf.As far as your two choices go with regards to a solution ,I tend to go along
with the ‘enlightenment’ part ,with education being of utmost importance .Your other solution the ‘domestic terrorist ’ part is only a continuation of the problem and will only lead to more bloodshed,violence
is a weakness in itself.Thomas Hobbes and his societal theory is not a solution nor an accurate description of human nature your mention of a’ idyllically structured society’ existed in many forms before Hobbes
wrote Leviathan.The last part of your post I do concur with and it is true that the institutions do brainwash the serfs to do their bidding however brutal that they may be.


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By Socrates, July 5, 2010 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

Dear Richard_Ralph_Roehl,

Is it difficult seeing absolutely anything when your head is stuck so far up your ass like that?

Yours truly,


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By marcus medler, July 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Another fine piece of writing from Hedges! 

More then ten years ago a young man,clearly
homeless, introduced himself to me. I was
porch sitting, or its 21st century equivalent,
observing the busy road that carried almost
everyone pass my store in this section of Kona. 
We became over time neighbors who now and
then sit together and chat- here we say talk

After a year, I felt free to ask him personal
things and he confessed he was a returned
veteran from the gulf war. I, being a good angry
American said; “and now homeless after serving
your country”. He returned; “No! I am a
caretaker of the earth.”

He explained all the many things over the last
few years he had been doing to help trees and
plants all around our island. He had no fixed
abode, but he was very busy.

The earth and nature cured him, for one day he
came with the best looking young lady of south
Kona and said; ” kate and I are getting married.
We leave soon for California. I will work and
have a family”

How wrong I was to think he was homeless. He
intuitively knew his redemption and restoration
of personal honor would come through his
efforts to care and repair a small bit of earth.

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By REDHORSE, July 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment

Connection to, and experience of, natural life, heals. Community. Family. Human dignity. The acquisition of wisdom. Knowledge of the world. Communion with the Great Mystery of Creation. The honoring of elders. Love and friendship. Protection of the child.  The application of moral values, and the experience of a meaningful life. All these wonderful things, and more, inform the fact of a sane life, and, we thirst body and soul for them. As, when wild creatures are caged, they become broken in spirit, so, when the human is denied these things, they are driven mad.

  All natural life, is the enemy, of psychopathic, fascistic, megalomaniacal, political narcissists. Their insanity is revealed, in their self-centered denial of life, to all but themselves. They are true and living evil, and must be purged, from the leadership of the society, of any natural people, who hope to maintain their communal sanity and humanity.

  Minions of evil are easily recognized. The sociopath lies without shame. Destroys any fuctioning system of education. In an attempt to control thought, will infiltrate libraries, and burn books. Will fight to replace dialogue with propaganda. Even, as they proclaim themselves champions of industry, and new advanced technological futures, they will gut industrial centers and populations, and impede development of new production. They murder any real champions of life out of hand. They loot nations and social programs with glee.

    Their psychotic paranoia allows them to rationalize torture, kidnapping and imposition of a police state. They see anyone with any power as a threat, and move to destroy families and seize homes, money, art and property through the creation of corrupt financial institutions. They employ private security to murder protest and, will seize, exploit and pollute resources of the natural enviornment, with no regard to consequence. If not stopped, they will ensure death by poverty and easily rationalize the mass murder of innocent populations. They seize with impunity, the fruits of your labor, and leave you with nothing. After robbing you of every resource their insanity will allow them to tell you with a straight face that your dying child deserves no health care.

  Their first hallmark is perpetual, for profit, war. Here, sane objection, will be met, by the classic maudlin sentimentality, of the emotional life force vampire, who will wrap itself in the flag your father died for, stand by the grave of your child, and pretend to weep. There will also be, investment in huge prison systems, enforcement of irrational laws, and imposition of huge prison sentences for victimless crimes. In other instances, thinking they own the clouds in the sky, they will make it illegal for the poor to collect rain water. Or, perhaps, pretending to be farmers, plant “special” crops next to a real farmers crop and, when the wind naturally cross pollinates them, claim they have been robbed, and financially bankrupt the other farmer. They are the real enemies of the Homeland. Silence on the part of a societies leadership, when these, and other insanities transpire, is clear indication, that said leadership, is bats#@t crazy.

  Time, time, and a little time more. Humanity comes crawling from the oceans floor, howls from crag, becomes brother to the storm. Endures.

  Time, time, and the thief has come. He’s dressed in silk and carries a gun. He preens in the mirror and blocks out the Sun. Get him out of my light.

  Time, time, and the thief is dead. See where the poor fools vanity led. There is life to be lived and children fed. Humanity is a fearful creature.

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By truedigger3, July 5, 2010 at 1:17 pm Link to this comment

Although greed and exploitation are major forces contributing to destroying nature and depriving us of its beauty and healing power, another major force is the world popultion unchecked increase.
The world population is approaching the 7 billion mark and counting, and in certain parts of the world, the pressure just to survive leaves to people no choice but to continue encraoching on nature and destroying it.
The first force contribut to the increase of the cause and effect of the second force.

Definitely the earth cannot provide decent life for the 7 billions people and counting.
So, to stop the destruction of nature,  the world population has to stop increasing and preferably start decreasing coupled with no greed and exploitation by the rich and powerful.
Unfortunately, with the human nature the way it currently is, I am not optimistic.

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By gerard, July 5, 2010 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

It is truly amazing how people hate other people!  A number of people writing in these strings seem to look forward to the destruction of the human race with actual relish. 

Most of them seem unable to admit that there are things they could be doing to prevent the destruction—things like massive protests against war and exploitation—and that without firing a shot. 

The world is missing nothing so much as foresight, and a kind of confidence in the kind of action which could bring love back into the world—justice and mercy and—well, for lack of a better word, mothering.

It is impossible for all of us to take time and money and go to the mountains for inspiration.
We shall have to rely on the mountains within the our own souls—the music, the art, the healing sciences.  Or walk the trails left by great men and women who held creation in the palms of their hands and said, “Yes!”

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By Richard_Ralph_Roehl, July 5, 2010 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment

The environment? The violent and profligate materialism of ‘The Amerikan Way’ suggests that we have to burn down the village in order to save it.

200 Earth years from now… there will be NO United $tates (of Perpetual War Profiteering). Indeed! Most humans, perhaps all of them, will be long gone and dead. All the Hummers will have dissolved into rust in rock. As a matter of fact… humankind (a.k.a.: ewe-man-unkind) has less than TWENTY Earth years left to mitigate the effects of the coming extinction event on Planet Over-Birth Earth. It is an event of YOUR OWN MAKING!

DNA tweaked baboonies currently living on Earth (a.k.a.: the Garden of Seed-in) are clever, but they are not wise or prescient… and the cosmos does not take kindly to foolishness and stupidity. Ewe folks shall reap what ewe $ow!

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By samosamo, July 5, 2010 at 11:42 am Link to this comment


By elisalouisa, July 5 at 9:55 am

‘Extraction industry’! The largest bang for the buck. And now
with the chinese making moves to mine the ocean floor at 1700
meters deep, out of sight and out of mind, until the damage
inflicted rears its ugly head in disaster in some shape, form or

Purely a sign of how mindless the greedy people of this earth
love to tear things up and let those survivors clean it up or fix it.
That will work for them for a little while but nature, as the Gulf
of Mexico oil spill proves, will catch up and rule the day.

However it can be done, trying to save the rest of the best of
nature is a very necessary thing because it would not surprise
me to see the privatization to start using places like the grand
canyon as a land fill.

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By JDmysticDJ, July 5, 2010 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

Actually, the wealthy elite attribute the same healing powers to a golf vacation that Hedges attributes to the mountains. They frequently retire to their version of paradise by living in Golfing communities, but their “paradise” does not alleviate their fears, or their desire to protect their entitlements.

Oddly, there are some among the homeless community; who claim their status to be one of spiritual purity.

My own experience with the wilderness, sabbaticals, journeys, and quests leads me to believe these events can be instructive and enlightening, but I have, I believe, experienced the same results when confronting psychic pain.

I’ll suggest that spiritual well being comes from within, and can be achieved in any environment, and that its even been achieved while being imprisoned.

This subject has long been a subject in Classical Literature. Hedges seems to have experienced a sense of rejuvenation from his mountain experiences, and he has done us a great service in relating his, and others, experiences; which serve to remind us of what is important in terms of our spiritual well being.

However, the bleaker realities of life confront us, and we must combat them to the best of our ability. Voltaire’s garden may serve the gardener, but it does nothing for the hungry, the destitute of spirit, and for those who are being subjugated and brutalized.

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By zagostino, July 5, 2010 at 11:20 am Link to this comment

Raskolnikov and Chris Hedges.

Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment speculates on
when it is morally justifiable to take another’s life
for a greater good.

Man lives in a Moral Universe. Before science
splintered into disconnected displines, men used to
think in terms of Moral Philosophy. It is in terms of
the Moral Universe that man as a species lives and
that we can hope to find an answer to living with
each other and our Natural World.

A Lion doesn’t ask if it’s morally justifiable to
kill a Zebra. Nature and all its denizens, with the
sole exception of man, have no Rights, no

But man does have a responsibility to ask whether his
comfort justifies killing others within his own
species and out.

As I bike through a nearby “Rails to Trails”, I was
thinking what if I were a fish swimming along and
suddenly encountered a noxious blackness before me,
much the fish in the Gulf. We live in different
mediums, water, air. But imagine if our world became
sullied as that of a creature in the Gulf.

What right have we to do such damage to other
creatures. All the talk of compensation and how much
money BP will have to pay, etc…all couched in an
economic framework. Where is the Moral framework upon
which to talk about the crimes against Nature
perpetuated for the past two months on the Gulf

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By gerard, July 5, 2010 at 10:12 am Link to this comment

Psalm 121.  “I will lift up mine eyes ....”

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By MeHere, July 5, 2010 at 10:08 am Link to this comment

It is great to hear that there are some lucky people who can heal from war horrors and are healthy enough to immerse themselves in nature, sometimes in the company of loved ones. In the meantime, the big war machine continues to produce many more souls who will never have a chance to heal either emotionally or physically. Hatred, pain, and nightmares will be their companions for their
entire life, or most of it.

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By balkas, July 5, 2010 at 9:33 am Link to this comment

The first cause and the only one for all ills that befell us over the last 10k yrs had been priestly division of people into, broadly speaking, morevalued and lessvalued.
Later institutionalized and made into ‘law’ by clerico-noble class of life.

Since that time we have lived everywhere in lawless societies or under diktats of the clerico-patrician people.
In modern times, we are ruled by plutocrats.

The initial evil led us to all wars, slavery, serfdom,insecurity, anger, many rebellions against this evil.

There is only two ways out of this enormous evil: via enlightemnet of the serfs or lessvaued people or thru domestic terrorism.

Prior to priestly imposition of an disorderly society, we had to have had an idyllicly-structured society, else we wld not have survived.
Obviously,in days of bats and cudgels we wld have easily beat the usurpers to a pulp as lesson that nobody try tht again.

But evli happened. Which means change occurred over centuries or millennia and unnoticeably.
Building an idyllic society from such an evil one that we have today may take centuries.
There are just too many serfs in US and elsewhere who are willing to kill anyone in order to defend own servitude. tnx

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By Socrates, July 5, 2010 at 9:09 am Link to this comment

These mountains and all the mountains are products of plate tectonic collisions.  The serenity therein seems untouched because the human race groups together mainly in flatland communities.  To think and feel as a natural part of nature and the universe, one must come out of the ancient cult and unlearn the untrue religious teachings and beliefs.  It is the belief in god which causes the majority of mankind to live in error.

You’re my hero, Chris.  How about, “Chris Hedges On Walden Pond?”

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By Leefeller, July 5, 2010 at 8:22 am Link to this comment

Serenity of the mountains or beauty of unscathed lands is most fulfilling for the being.  Unfortunately not appreciated by opportunists and opportunisms craving for exploitation.  Obvious beauty ignored in the name of profit.

Routines of peoples lives, becomes accepted as normal and the concept of change deemed a threat, for the idea of security seems for most people now, to be a part time job without benefits, maybe two jobs if one can be found.

The beauty of the mountains possibly could feed a small number of people such as trappers and as the American Indian used to live, but with society as it has become, only a small number of special few people can partake in the essence of nature and its serenity, I suppose it is like golf.

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By radson, July 5, 2010 at 8:05 am Link to this comment


‘So, giving people sensation sans causation continues.
This means that unless we remove the root cause, symptoms wld remain. tnx ‘

And what do you suppose the ‘root’ cause is?

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By ScottSchneider, July 5, 2010 at 8:02 am Link to this comment


Your article rings true. I would add that Music is another road to Transcendence and Healing.


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By Rgyle, July 5, 2010 at 7:55 am Link to this comment

Living here in Montana, I can only say ‘hear, hear!’ Nature speaks to me daily from
without and within. And really, isn’t the whole experience of all of life within? Sure
it is. The reconnection with the real and the great only begins in the forests, the
mountains, the rivers and meadows and lakes. It’s a trigger, and a most reliable
one, to find the deep nature within one’s very consciousness. Here, in one’s own
solitude, is sanity. Here is the healing, if one has the desire and courage to trade
the artificial for the real.

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By balkas, July 5, 2010 at 7:19 am Link to this comment

Not all of us harm one another or nature to same degree. So, the cautionary “we are destroying nature” is quite delusional.

And the “WE” had misteachers and misleaders. And i am not talking solely ab “WE” in US, but the “WE” in nepal, bhutan, congo….

Actually, the root cause for warfare and sybaritic living, is the division of people into classes.
Even hedges never misses to even mention this let alone study its effects on nature and people.
So, giving people sensation sans causation continues.
This means that unless we remove the root cause, symptoms wld remain. tnx

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By Matt Gossage, July 5, 2010 at 6:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you for the article and reminding us that the power of nature and the answers it holds.

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By Mundo, July 5, 2010 at 6:12 am Link to this comment

Chris, it’s good to have you back.
The only way we will change is by realizing that we are natural elements, and that by destroying Nature we are destroying ourselves. The blog http://visionforanewworld might be of interest to you.

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By the worm, July 5, 2010 at 6:01 am Link to this comment

Thank you, Mr Hedges.

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By elisalouisa, July 5, 2010 at 5:55 am Link to this comment

Why is it that some see the beauty in nature while others look and see only the potential for profit and seek to despoil our earth reeking havoc on all life? Perhaps Dick Cheney should take such a hike, without his rifle of course, finding solace in that dense fog that covers the mountain similar to that which clouds his mind.
Thank you Chris Hedges.

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By skulz fontaine, July 5, 2010 at 4:45 am Link to this comment

Good to have you back Chris.

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By still trying, July 5, 2010 at 4:40 am Link to this comment

Thanks for all you do Chris.  You help keep me sane. I need to hear from someone who thinks like I do. There are too few of those now.

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By kerryrose, July 5, 2010 at 4:27 am Link to this comment

I wish my father and my grandfather could have found the mountains and the wind to heal their battle wounds.

I remember these wounded men, caged inside antiseptic suburban walls and surrounded by sterile suburban homes and plans and streets.  They fought off the pain of their wars in silence, and were anesthetized by the television.

When my father unexpectedly died, hundreds of miles from me, I heard his voice in my head as clear as a bell, ‘I’m free now.’

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, July 5, 2010 at 3:22 am Link to this comment

Contemplating such a trip right now but in Europe.  Want to get away from the insanity I see every day here in Ukraine and elsewhere.  I need to connect with my inner self and see what direction the rest of my life should take.  Can’t do that in the bedlam of my home and the almost nonstop stress and fear of modern life.  The trip will happen and soon or I am finished.

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By Ouroborus, July 5, 2010 at 3:14 am Link to this comment

Good one Chris; you flashed me back to the years I
spent solo hiking both sides of the Columbia River
Gorge. Vertical gains of 4 - 6,000ft sometimes at a
thousand feet per mile. Once I started I never quit
until the summit. That’s what it took to cleanse the
stress of my social and working life, which was so
plastic it wouldn’t rot in a thousand years.
I finally left and settled in a rural village deep in
Those hours spent in solitude and intense climbing
saved my sanity and my life. Thanks for a great read.

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