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'Be Joyful, Though You Have Considered the Facts'


'Be Joyful, Though You Have Considered the Facts'

Avi Lewis

[Editor's note: Several weeks ago, ahead of the U.S. premiere of his new film, This Changes Everything, journalist and filmmaker Avi Lewis spoke with Common Dreams via phone to discuss the documentary inspired by the book of the same name, written by his wife Naomi Klein. Some of that discussion was presented in an article published on October 1.


(with apologies to Bobby McFerrin)

Here's a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don't worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy

Economy is a mess, and
look at who's trying to be president?
Don't worry, be happy!
Janet Yellin say economy is too hot
Gotta raise interest rates to cool it off
Don't worry, be happy!

Ecology is goin' to hell,
Pollution, extinction, but, oh well,
Don't worry, be happy!
Avi says, sure, things really stink,
Wife Naomi adds, but this changes everything,
Don't worry, be happy!

Looks like world is ready for a fall,
But pope's a rock star who'll save us all!
Don't worry, be happy!
Obama is a lying piece of swill!
His successors are no better, still,
Don't worry, be happy!

Now there, is this song I wrote
I hope you learned it note for note
Like good little children
Don't worry, be happy
Listen to what I say
In your life expect some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy, be happy now

There now don't you feel better?!!


Personally, I take solace knowing that our silly cities will ultimately be subducted and tectonically ground into powder to feed the fire below. Nature bats last, no matter what the bible of infinite mammon says.


Thank you, Avi. The GENDER specification is extremely important; and I think the title should read MOTHER nature, for that very reason.

This is right on... and too often neglected in all arenas of analysis:

"Man vs. Nature vs. Markets: On the Narratives That Bind

"I think it's pretty clear that a view of the world in which Man dominates and exploits nature endlessly—and I use the gender pronoun very intentionally there, because historically that's been the case—is a very profitable one for the very few."

It would be useful to WEAVE this together with the Cowboy-Indian alliance in the U.S., and the immense work of environmentalists throughout South America. And that includes Evo Morales and other Indigenous leaders who continue to make efforts aimed at creating binding international agreements--as law--to protect the rights of Mother Earth and the various ecosystems that all living beings depend upon. In other words, what's happening in Canada--as per the Native Americans opposing the corporate rape of natural ecosystems--is also happening in many places other around the world.

"We don't pretend that the tar sands aren't a vast crime in progress against the earth. But on the other hand, there are people up there—like Crystal Laman of the Beaver Cree Nation—who are fighting the titanic struggle to fund a lawsuit against the Canadian government that makes the case that the cumulative impact of tar sands development is violating their constitutional guarantee to a traditional life. And there have been a string of incredible Supreme Court decisions in Canada that have advanced aboriginal land rights enormously—unlike anywhere else in the post-colonial world—that give that lawsuit a real chance, a real hope, of being a game-changer."

These efforts can be woven together with those of the citizens of Japan opposing another military base, and those of farmers in India trying to get Monsanto off of THEIR lands, etc.


I love the part of the essay that gets to connecting all those dots. And this:

"So there are those other narratives around—narratives of reciprocity and regeneration—and they've been around for thousands of generations and they've been kept alive by original people and they're still held by people who are closer to traditional society. And this is not about romanticizing the Indigenous, it's a question of how to understand those older narratives of connectedness in a post-modern world. But that traditional wisdom tells us, very clearly, that there has to be another way. The earth is screaming at us to get off this path."

The speed of modern society moves to the beat of immediate gratification. The entire advertising world--buying on credit--and endless pulsing neon images are all designed for THAT. But the Indigenous teachings are about natural ecology and conservation: using what is truly required, and always considering how one's actions in the present will impact FUTURE GENERATIONS. The Native American author Dhyani Ywahoo calls it: "The Beauty Path."

This teaching is diametrically opposed to the "use and abuse" ethos of the commercial world, handmaiden to corporations and their insatiable lust for endless streams of profit. For these entities, obsolescence is built in to force the next purchase and the net result is tons upon tons of waste.

Part of the problem is the phase that mankind is passing through--the most materially bound and (cognitively ensconced by materiality)--era, known to the Hindus as the densest Yuga. Songs like "Material Girl" and Oprah's celebrations of the "Must Buy" culture have reinforced the false notion that happiness comes through things that one possesses.

Nine years ago C.D. published the findings of a Professor Emeritus Robert E. Lane who PROVED that most people value loving relationships more than material things.

How many people spend the majority of their waking time working in jobs to pay for homes they barely have the time to enjoy?

This idea of status and looking good to the neighbors, added to the premise of competition predicated upon where one is positioned within the financial hierarchy that patriarchal capitalism built... operate as very strong and compelling conditioning factors.

The story of Satan tempting Jesus with the riches of this world essentially presents a contemporary lesson: It's the idea that riches of the material world are temporal titillations. What counts is the STATE of one's inner spirit; and the truth is: if it's not "fed" by nurturing Truths, it begins to die. I believe this collective deadening of the spirit--directly attributable to persons being cut off from nature and what is TRUE within their own natures--explains the high levels of obesity, Depression, alcoholism, and drug addiction plaguing modern societies.

Human beings, like canaries inside the coal mine are shrieking... many of us unknowingly FEEL what Earth Mother is feeling and there is no way to shut off this unconscious source of sentience.

I can't even read the articles about what's happening to whales and dolphins... mostly due to industrial effluents poisoning their marine habitats and military assholes turning the still waters into equivalent boom box discos.

Sound is so keen in sea mammals... and like the prisoners of offshore camps, whales and dolphins are tortured by loud sounds that obliterate their own calls and love songs.

The crimes against MOTHER Nature by followers of the Biblical fallacy that lays ALL tribute before God, the strict warrior-like father are calling out for Truth Telling and Reconciliation. The latter can only result when those who approach the world from the stance of domination learn instead what cooperation, conservation, and CARING mean!


There are some articles/essays for which I scroll immediately to the end and read backward, paragraph by paragraph, proposition by proposition (pro=for, and of course: position). With a new book I'll sometimes go straight to the bibliographic reference pages and check out the sources. Its sort of like meeting a new contra dance partner and exploring steps, or getting to know a critter on their own terms - might take a little more time but more often than not, joggles recognition of my own preconceptions, energizes curiosity and the musical elements more accessible to enjoy.

I also find myself drawn to the very rich critiques being generated by indigenous peoples on cognitive patterning in the centuries old domain system of dominus. Even looking at the words and conceptual structures for sharing in the planetary mind on electronic networks - there it is - life claimed as only one according to terms of a divine right of ... money. Its a decrepit and impoverished myth observable through a plethora of evidence quite apart from the vast scale of 'secrecy' and coerced through user 'contracts' to perpetuate far exceeding any right to copyright 'profit' extending into a virtual realm of prevention of open development. It would be comic were it not such an active serial strangler.
Then, flipping the mythos, I put the former on time out, the hot seat, get it off my back, and envision contemporary life as it is evolving another mythos, developing a 'dictionary/thesaurus/' and inclusive history a constantly evolving body of both metaphorical envisioning and active midwifing, as giving birth, nurturing maternal support to strengthen the birth canal of human capacity to imagine fearlessly, faithfully and lovingly - and millions, billions of teams for healthy delivery and continued nurturing and rebuilding.


McFerrin's song--and I know you apologize to him and were trying to make a very different point--remains a beautiful, subtle, inventive gift if we can hear it. One of my students played it at lunch for all of us yesterday, and it just rings so true: happiness is essential, and it's also essential for transformation.


To Avy Lewis and CD, thank you for publishing this fine presentation, "Be joyful, though you have considered the facts." It is informative and encouraging and a call to action.


I have always believed that one reason our indigenous peoples words resonate so well and speak to truths we feel inside of us even if we might not be fully cognizant of the same is because they had no written language.

Without that written language there was no cabal of legal minds and lawyers parsing the meaning and intent of those words years and centuries later. That spoken word was that much more important to them.

Which Chief it was I do not recall but one did in fact speak to this after the violation of a treaty where representatives if Government read back words off a treaty and claim it meant something entirely different than what the Chief had agreed to some years before. He wondered how it was some person who was not there when the words exchanged and treaty signed could divine what those words in fact meant by reading letters off a piece of paper years later.


I would invite you to consider another explanation; and it's one that at least a billion people subscribe to: Reincarnation.

Since the modern industrial span of homo sapien only spans a small percentage of the several thousand years that "our kind" has lived, it could well be that ALL of us experienced life in one or more Indigenous communities.

Some may have been had in the South Pacific, others in Central America. Probability has it that if we've lived before (and I believe that IS the story of humanity), then we've lived in pre-industrial age clans.

The greatest loss--which emerged from one of the greatest lies (modernization AS progress) ever told--is that of forfeited self-sufficiency. How many of us know how to repair things, cook with firewood, grow or raise our own food, and live without fossil fuels?

Although I am surprised that the various Elite Cons were able to again pump up the Stock Market, it doesn't change the FACT that currencies worldwide are losing value (trade power), and that more and more working people are struggling to "remain in place." By that I mean, pay their basic bills.

Sooner or later the Great Con--like a piñata--is gonna burst open and then in order TO survive, the skillsets humanity worked long and hard to develop will have to be relearned in person after person and community after community.

Vandana Shiva speaks about this in her usual eloquent and profound way in her article published today on C.D.


And in regarding those treaty documents it s absolutely necessary to understanding the hidden dynamics of the Doctrine of Discovery from the start of colonizing in every dimension.


Just a typo note: The author mentioned is Michael Ondaatje, not Andache. He wrote The English Patient along with many other fine books.


Maybe a followup article that goes a little more into just what economy we replace capitalism/extractivism with? We're running out of time and are sore in need of vision.