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Creating a sacred unity of peoples, cultures and nature for the Americas

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An American flag flies outside the U.S. Capitol dome in Washington, D.C. Reuters
By Emanuel Pastreich

The United States of America is a term that contains in it all the hope and all the contradictions of our country, and of the Americas. That hope dates far back in the past, to the inspiring words of the Declaration of Independence that articulated a form of governance that was, at least in terms of its potential, unprecedented.

The enslavement of Africans and the attacks on the native nations belied those powerful words "that all men are created equal." But the power of those words transcended the limitations of the men who wrote them and echoed around the world.

America's contradictions, which we have buried out of shame, continue to hold us back from realizing our potential to be great in word and deed.

If we were at last "united" as "states" we could achieve our destiny and find strength in unity. But that would require us to recognize not only the shadows that have accompanied the bright light of hope, but also the tremendous wisdom left to us by the original peoples of the Americas, men and women who wove intricate tapestries of life and spirit that were completely invisible to the dull men who drafted maps far away, who sold off mountains, rivers and forests as a dry and exchangeable thing called "real estate."

The sad legacy of those past sins is that politics and economics in the United States have been reduced to a game of division. People are divided using symbols and motifs that appeal to unconscious associations; nations are divided using misperceptions and false generalizations; land is divided using alien concepts like real estate, national borders and property rights. Security for one's family and for one's home has been distorted into a right to destroy nature and community in the pursuit of profit.

The "United States of America" ends today in a militarized wall, a DMZ of the South that defines in a precise manner, to the inch, where one nation state ends and where another nation state begins. But for all the precision of this division, it has no basis in human experience, in the natural world and it certainly means nothing to the sun and the moon that have offered their light to the diverse nations of the Americas for hundreds of thousands of years.

When the sun and the moon look down from above they see a long stretch of land between the two poles that narrows to a delicate isthmus in the middle, forming an exquisite whole, balancing the mountains that rise up above the ground with those that lie beneath the ocean.

Unbroken bands of culture and natural chains of plants and animals link together the Americas from South to North. From the concentric stone circles that form Moray, the agricultural laboratory developed by the Incas to assure a sustainable future for all, and the soaring temples of Tenochtitlan, erected by the Aztecs to reflect the unity of Heaven and Earth, to the delicate communities of the Karitiana people deep in the pristine jungles, and the Mesa Verde city carved into the face of a cliff by the elders of the Pueblo Nation, the human achievements of the Americas are diverse and exquisite.

From the soaring peaks of the Aconcagua Mountains, and the surface of Lake Titicaca that reflects the skies so perfectly, to the waves of sand constantly reshaped in fantastic patterns by the winds of the Mohave Desert, the surface of the Americas forms an inspiring mosaic.

Those climates and habitats are inhabited by the golden lion tamarin that swings gracefully through the lush Amazon trees, by the magnificent Magellanic penguin standing watch confidently on the shores of Patagonia, by the indefatigable armadillo that has roamed over the grasses between Big Bend Ranch and Canon de Santa Elena ―from long before humans gave those formations names.

Moreover, the working people in the cities of the Americas, whether they speak Spanish or English, or other tongues, have so much more in common with each other than they could possibly know. There is a great unity of experience, whether it is the pleasures of being with our children in the mornings, or the frustrations of work, or the sorrows of communities torn apart by hidden forces.

Yet, there are hidden powers and subterranean currents that are not blocked by borders. No, those powers make the borders, enforce the borders, so as to keep the little people, the honest people, North and South, penned up like cattle, so as to deny them the freedom of the eagle or of the taruca.

There is the flow of money and currency, a flow of agricultural goods, finished products and components, a flow of information and data controlled by the powerful, and used for their own selfish ends. That flow is unimpeded by borders.

The powerful drink deeply from that flow of money. They want us to be........

© The Korea Times

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