The first is “Rainbow Bird and Blue Star Woman,” a vibrant painting from 2009. Joseph’s Tiwa name, Tsluu-teh-koh-ay means Beautiful Painted Arrow, it can also mean Double Rainbow. At the lower left of the painting is “entrance to Oceanus’ cave.” Joseph often describes a vision he had of going to the bottom of the sea to meet Oceanus, the Lord of the Waters. This vision and Joseph’s relation to the ocean, even though he lives in the high desert, is important to him and he has advocated a ceremony on the 7th of each month for the purification of the oceans.
The next painting is another favorite of mine, “Up to 2000 Songs per Day of Bird Song Chiuu-Cho-Cha-Aah-Neh.” This section of the book these paintings are found in includes chapter 17 Returning to the Garden of Paradise and 18 Secret Journey to the Secret Garden.
We are separated from the Garden by a paper thin space. It is a parallel reality. You are there without going there. We don’t have to walk there or even have to travel there. You travel with thought, not with physical energy and it pulls you there rather than you having to put effort on your part to get there. (Joseph Rael)
I have been writing this column called, “Words Create Worlds,” about how what we say begins to create reality. Psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton warns about malignant normality, when we gradually become desensitized to words and our reality gradually becomes malignant. Our country has become unhealthy in mind and body and spirit. We are suffering from a nearly unchecked spread of Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic – with no coordinated national public health policy and politicians actively promoting unhealth; we have also been suffering from a disease of the mind and social body: fascism. Now we have new words creating our worlds.
c. 1200, “betraying; betrayal of trust; breach of faith,” from Anglo-French treson, from Old French traison “treason, treachery” (11c.; Modern French trahison), from Latin traditionem (nominative traditio) “delivery, surrender, a handing down, a giving up,” noun of action from past participle stem of tradere “deliver, hand over,” from trans- “over” (see trans-) + dare “to give” (from PIE root *do- “to give”). A doublet of tradition. The Old French form was influenced by the verb trair “betray.”
“an uprising against civil authority,” early 15c., insurreccion, from Old French insurreccion or directly from Late Latin insurrectionem (nominative insurrectio) “a rising up,” noun of action from past participle stem of insurgere “to rise up.”
mid-14c., “rebellion, uprising, revolt, concerted attempt to overthrow civil authority; violent strife between factions, civil or religious disorder, riot; rebelliousness against authority,” from Old French sedicion (14c., Modern French sédition) and directly from Latin seditionem (nominative seditio) “civil disorder, dissension, strife; rebellion, mutiny,” literally “a going apart, separation,” from se- “apart” (see secret (n.)) + itio “a going,” from ire “to go” (from PIE root *ei- “to go”).
Meaning “conduct or language inciting to rebellion against a lawful government” is from 1838. An Old English word for it was folcslite. Less serious than treason, as wanting an overt act, “But it is not essential to the offense of sedition that it threaten the very existence of the state or its authority in its entire extent.”
Let’s return back to where this phrase originates with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.
“Words create worlds,” Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.
“Words create worlds.” These are the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, here is the full quote, remembered by his daughter, Susannah Heschel:
“Words, he often wrote, are themselves sacred, God’s tool for creating the universe, and our tools for bringing holiness — or evil — into the world. He used to remind us thatthe Holocaust did not begin with the building of crematoria, and Hitler did not come to power with tanks and guns; it all began with uttering evil words, with defamation, with language and propaganda. Words create worlds he used to tell me when I was a child. They must be used very carefully. Some words, once having been uttered, gain eternity and can never be withdrawn. The Book of Proverbs reminds us, he wrote, that death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
Death and life are in the power of the tongue. We have a great sickness in this country and are in need of words of healing – not words of violence, not nasty words, not fascist words, not seditious words, not treasonous words, not insurrecionist words. We are in need of words of healing, words of unity, words of spiritual democracy. Let us stop creating destructive worlds through destructive words. Also, please wear your damn mask, we are in a pandemic and that is the most basic public health policy – it is not politics, it is science.
Here are the links to my essays over the past couple years on this subject:
What have we gone through this past year? How can we know what we have gone through when we are still going through it? How can we see the ripple effects, the unforeseen consequences, and the unconscious antecedents of this past year?
When we don’t even know, fully, what we have gone through, what we are going through, and where we are going – how can we even guess how the ripples of our own experiences will interact with the ripple effects of others’ experiences?
Are we lost at sea? Floating in waves of the Cosmic Ocean?
Are we on solid land, or in the waves? Is it calming down, or are amplitude waves and surges building?
Where are we supposed to be? Now that we think we are out of the swells of the Ocean, maybe we were better off there, maybe now we are stranded and stuck.
Can we stop? Can we pause? Can we study the patterns of what we have created in the midst of what has been creating us?
Maybe what we thought we knew is not what we should have known – or maybe now we see that there is a need for a new knowing, a gnosis of the complexity of interactions between individual and society, between humanity and nature, between statehood and global citizenship.
Can we find some meaning and wisdom by slowing down and reading the signs of the destruction before we jump to rebuilding? Was the “old normal” really the society that we want to live in, that we want the coming generations to live in?
We are moving into the future at every moment. At every moment we are leaving the past. We are where we are now, and this is the place that we must live and build our future on the foundations of the past.
Admittedly, the pandemic is a big event, with lots of ripple effects and unforeseen antecedents and consequences. But were we really living the lives we wanted – the best lives for all of us and for the environment? Are our social creations of the economy, the transportation infrastructure and technology, our capitalist economic system, the level of poverty and homelessness – even pre-pandemic, the education systems, the health care systems (which have revealed their vulnerabilities and our lack of a public health system and the limitations of caring within health care and society in general) – are these the systems that we want? These systems and institutions weren’t found in nature. Somebody created them – it must have been us.
How is the way we are living, the society we have created, impacting the environment? What does our footprint in the natural world look like?
Some of us may think we were not very affected by the pandemic – and yet if one is affected, all are affected.
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
We each have our own experiences of the pandemic, and yet there are patterns, similarities – we are all in this together!
Can we all find our common humanity? Can we learn to appreciate the ecosystems and milieus in which we live and how everyone is interconnected and that we are responsible for what happens in our slip stream, even if the consequences are unintended?
Can we learn to see the ripple effects of our actions, the patterns that we create, the collateral damage and “unintended consequences” of our institutions and systems?
Can we build a beautiful and harmonious pattern within society – that amplifies others rather than drowning them out, excluding them, or hoarding all the resources people and the planet need to be healthy, publicly healthy, globally healthy?
Must we build our tight little circles of exclusion, our walls of xenophobia?
Can we expand our perspectives?
Can we open up our hearts and minds and lives to the world? Can we embrace our interconnectedness rather than build fortresses in the sand?
What will we choose to do in the new present, once things get back to normal? Will we re-create a malignant normality, or will we create a beautiful and healthy society and world – a beautiful economy, a beautiful transportation system, a beautiful educational system, a beautiful transportation system, and a beautiful health care system, full of caring for all?
Where will we choose to go? What footpath into the future will we follow?