COLUMBUS AND OTHER CANNIBALS has been a well-received book for many years, and now in a new revised edition it may have a greater chance to become a major influence on current thought and action. The new (2008) edition has two new chapters which take unique looks at terrorism and an inspirational poem, “The Universe is Our Holy Book” expressing my interpretation of Native American philosophy.
CANNIBALS is focused upon my use of the Native American concept of the “Wetiko” psychosis, the disease of cannibalism. I believe that the exploitative consumption of the earth, the living creatures of the earth, and, above all, other human beings and their homelands, constitute actual, real, unmitigated cannibalism. Tragically, the cannibalism of which I write has become more and more an acceptable part of modern economic and personal exploitation, with those who do the consuming giving little or no thought to the diminishing or even elimination of the lives of those at the receiving end of their quest for profit and super-sustenance.
But CANNIBALS is not simply about the mental disease that has infected so many of the powerful on the earth. If that were the case, it would be a vital exposure of the evils of rabid consumption, but it would provide no answers or any antidote.
It has been my intention that CANNIBALS, instead of dwelling solely upon the evils of violence, aggression and one-sided economics, should offer insight into the ancient spiritual philosophies of Native Americans and contrast the core of Indigenous beliefs and actions with the “empire-building,” “getting bigger,” “more and more” notions which have come to dominate many churches, religions, nation-states, corporations, groups, and even individuals and their families.
I set forth the notion that our true religion is what we do, what we think, what we say, what we dream of, what we strive for, what we are, every single moment of every day. Thus one cannot say that one is born again, that one is saved, that one is guaranteed a spot in heaven, simply on the basis of formal adherence to a particular “faith.” On the contrary, I would argue that no membership or other form of sectarian approval may cause one to escape from one’s very own self and one’s actual deeds.
Thus all of us are responsible for the way we treat other living creatures and the Mother Earth. We cannot escape by hiding in huge temples or high-powered jet planes or tall office towers or in fancy yachts or swift sports cars, or even in cloistered monasteries. Wherever one is, one must be on a good path, a spiritually beautiful path, if one is to avoid being an exploiter or a beneficiary of aggression. This is not, however, a matter of dogma or adherence to a restrictive philosophy, but is simply a recipe for a good life where mistakes can and will be made, but can also be overcome by the discovery of a better path.
Tragically, this new century presents huge challenges for all of us on Mother Earth. CANNIBALS helps us to understand that not only can we not continue along our destructive paths but that the accumulation of Wetiko deeds has accelerated to the point where we face severe environmental and societal hazards such as to threaten the very fabric of life on this incredibly beautiful and loving planet. We are destroying our home with our grasping after wealth, power, advantage, and materialism. We seem willing to push selfishness (individual and national) to an obscene degree.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult for the ordinary person to have an impact upon the governments of aggressively self-centered countries (which list happens to include three or four of the largest on the planet). But it is only by changing our ways of thinking and doing, individually, and then collectively, that we can have any impact upon the huge organizations which seem immune to common sense and decency.
Jack D. Forbes, July 2008Return to Home Page