From EcoPsych

Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 04:00:37 EST
From: Steven Fenwick
Subject: Paul Hawken on WTO protests

Since Paul Hawken's writings have been recently mentioned on this list, I thought I would forward this from another list that I'm on. It is Hawken's first hand account of the recent WTO protests in Seattle and is the best piece of writing that I've seen yet on the subject. It's long but a good read. It's the news that the corporate media isn't giving us.

In the Inuit tradition, there is a story of a fisherman who trolls an inlet. When a heavy pull on the fisherman's line drags his kayak to sea, he thinks he has caught the "big one," a fish so large he can eat for weeks, a fish so fat that he will prosper ever after, a fish so amazing that the whole village will wonder at his prowess. As he imagines his fame and coming ease, what he reels up is Skeleton Woman, a woman flung from a cliff and buried long ago, a fish-eaten carcass resting at the bottom of the sea that is now entangled in his line. Skeleton Woman is so tangled in his fishing line that she is dragged behind the fisherman wherever he goes.

She is pulled across the water, over the beach, and into his house where he collapses in terror. In the retelling of this story by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, the fisherman has brought up a woman who represents life and death, a specter who reminds us that with every beginning there is an ending, for all that is taken, something must be given in return, that the earth is cyclical and requires respect. The fisherman, feeling pity for her, slowly disentangles her, straightens her bony carcass, and finally falls asleep. During the night, Skeleton Woman scratches and crawls her way across the floor, drinks the tears of the dreaming fisherman, and grows anew her flesh and heart and body.

This myth applies to business as much as it does to a fisherman. The apologists for the WTO want more-engineered food, sleeker planes, computers everywhere, golf courses that are preternaturally green. They see no limits; they know of no downside. But Life always comes with Death, with a tab, a reckoning. They are each other's consorts, inseparable and fast. These expansive dreams of the world's future wealth were met with perfect symmetry by Bill Gates, Jr. the co-chair of the Seattle host committee, the world's richest man. But Skeleton woman also showed up in Seattle, the uninvited guest, and the illusion of wealth, the imaginings of unfettered growth and expansion, became small and barren in the eyes of the world.

Dancing, drumming, ululating, marching in black with a symbolic coffin for the world, she wove through the sulphurous rainy streets of the night. She couldn't be killed or destroyed, no matter how much gas or pepper spray or rubber bullets were used. She kept coming back and sitting in front of the police and raised her hands in the peace sign, and was kicked, and trod upon, and it didn't make any difference.

Skeleton Woman told corporate delegates and rich nations that they could not have the world. It is not for sale. The illusions of world domination have to die, as do all illusions. Skeleton Woman was there to say that if business is going to trade with the world, it has to recognize and honor the world, her life and her people. Skeleton Woman was telling the WTO that it has to grow up and be brave enough to listen, strong enough to yield, courageous enough to give.

Skeleton Woman has been brought up from the depths. She has regained her eyes, voice and spirit. She is about in the world and her dreams are different. She imagines a world where children do not live on streets; she believes that the right to self-sufficiency is a human right; she imagines a world where the means to kill people is not a business but a crime, where families do not starve, where fathers can work, where children are never sold, where women cannot be impoverished because they are mothers and not whores. She cannot see in any dream a time where a man holds a patent to a living seed, or animals are factories, or people are enslaved to money, or water belongs to a stockholder. Hers are deep dreams from slow time. She is patient. She will not be quiet or flung to sea anytime soon.

9 Paul Hawken, Sausalito, January 6, 2000