Sunday, July 27, 2014

Home for the Homeless

The Capture of Batoche: A search for a Metis homeland.

Heimat fuer Heimatlose, home for the homeless. I watched the video about the settlement and development of the Fernheim Colony in Paraguay by conservative Mennonites on the same day as the Israeli army began its ground assault on Gaza. Considering the establishment of Israel as a "home for the homeless," considering the attempts by pro-Russian separatists to make for themselves a discrete territorial space, wrestling with solutions to the right-to-build-pipelines-across-traditional- aboriginal-space conundrum here in Canada, it's hard to miss the common elements.

What combination of sensibilities has to come together to motivate us toward the extraordinary lengths we will go to to secure for ourselves a homeland? Obviously being a resident of earth, an earthling, just isn't precise enough for many people, much of the time. On the other hand, the longing for a place on this earth that is somehow my home seems more than a bit anachronistic in a post-modern world.

I watch people in public places engrossed in conversation via texting, cell-phoning, instant messaging and I wonder: is home now cyberspace, independent of physical place? And who are these luddites who believe that it’s not home unless you have title to the ground you’re standing on, among neighbours who look, think and act more or less like you do?

Certainly, the times “they are a’changin’” to quote Bob Dylan. Our capacity to adjust to the changes suggests an interesting research topic for some astute scientist. What with our burgeoning population and the technical changes going on, the prospect of physical homelands is fast becoming a sheer impossibility. The global village has put all humanity in a blender and we’re just not adapting to the nearly unrecognizable present and future.

There’ll be those, of course, who find solace in traditional places, but I’m afraid some soul-comfort is all they will find. I look to two scientific theories as tools to understanding human adaptation: Darwin’s Theories relating to change and adaptation and Chaos Theory. The former posits that we are forever changing gradually . . . very gradually. The latter theorizes that virtually any outcome is possible; it all depends on the “initial position” in a sequence and the relative weight of myriad coincidental factors contacted along the way. In other words, there’s no predicting where humankind will be down the road, except that it will be different from today and the environment in which it dwells will provide nudges along the way.

Sexual intercourse is necessary for reproduction, for the survival of the species. That it be helped along by strong biological urges makes sense in small, fragile populations and among unreasoning animals. It makes no sense in times of overpopulation—as far as reproduction goes—where it paves the way for unwanted births, abortion, pornography and the catalog of sexual aberrations that emanate from the overwhelming biological need to copulate alongside stringent restrictions about expressing these urges.

Biological evolution is extremely slow as all evolution of species is; technical evolution is fast. The mismatch is responsible for no end of misery.

Similarly, our concepts of homeland are changing slowly while the need to adapt to the cyber-homeland reality is pressing on us daily. The wars in Iraq, Ukraine, Gaza/Israel are wars of frustration, the consternation of a people that are left behind by the advancing world, trying to resolve their confusion through antiquated, extraordinary, outdated, sometimes-deadly means.

Our homeland during our lifetime is EARTH. We need to get used to it, at least insofar as our limited resources allow.

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