Saturday, August 20, 2011

“Talking Business” in New Ireland

Mediocrity is self-inflicted. Genius is self-bestowed
-Walter Russell, 1946

During a meeting of Local Level Government leaders and landowners at the Sentral Neu Ailan (Central New Ireland) town of Konos yesterday, I had the pleasure of sitting with a number of individuals who share a deep passion for finding paths to increase their participation in the value being extracted from their land. In his opening remarks, the President of the SNA LLG zealously advocated for ‘outsiders’ to treat his community with respect. “If we’re here to talk business, then let’s talk business. Let’s negotiate,” he said with an impassioned pitch.

In my experience during the years I’ve spent working in Papua New Guinea, I have found countless paradoxes. From the vestiges of occupier language – particularly German – in Tok Pisin (the primary language) to the repurposing of Customary traditions to accommodate the growing number of tourists, I am constantly reminded of the cost of inconsiderate opportunism which has been visited on this, and countless other communities. When the nexus of nature – metals, energy, and food – coincides with people who have lived with these abundances without the perceived need to exploit the same, conquistadors have often exaggerated willful ignorance to coerce concessions of unspeakable proportions. ‘Talking business’ and ‘negotiating’ were occupier code for an implicit assumption of transacting the removal of value by an outsider in a manner and for consideration that was, at best, vaguely perceived.

For the next several hours, I transacted ‘information’ under the assumption that, with information would come a greater awareness of the effects of past ‘negotiations’. This information included almost two hours of detailed reviews of financial statements and corporate machinations of a multi-national corporation who, through the cunning use of ignorance, has succeeded in extracting millions of dollars from the country and from international investors – willfully duping both. Ironically, just as the company misrepresented its benefit to the country, it also recently extracted funds in excess of $120 million from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, a Canadian Bank, and London investors without disclosing countless material legal and civil issues. Using predatory ignorance in Papua New Guinea, they merely constructed a stage upon which they could prey on the ethnographic and geographic ignorance of markets. Just like it was a safe bet that no one would ever inform local communities about the games being played with debt-filled shell companies, it was an equally safe bet that no one would ever inform the capital markets of the material mis-representations of the company.

So it was particularly poignant that, as I boarded my flight from Kavieng to fly over the Bismarck Sea, I pulled out my stowed reading: “The Man Who Tapped the Secrets of the Universe”. This short essay by Glenn Clark on the life and thoughts of Walter Russell is dense illumination into the experience of a man of great consequence. Russell’s Five Laws of Success (Humility; Reverence; Inspiration; Deep Purpose; and, Joy) served as a generous invocation on the dawn and benediction on the day past. More impactful in my reading, though, was Russell’s treatment of the essence of Cause and the simplicity of Source.

“Thus I was made to see the universe as a whole and its simple principle of creation as one unit, repeated over and over, endlessly and without variation, as evidenced in the universal heartbeat to which every pulsing thing in the light-wave universe is geared to act as one unit of the whole.”

In his understanding of this unity, he explains that toxicity, pathology, and destruction are merely evidences of things out of phase and in dissonance with the unifying, animating pulse. In his admonition, I hear the echo of the simple axiom I conveyed to my children each time I gave a bit of life advice. “Focus and balance,” I would say, “are the only two abiding principles. Hold these and the rest of life will fall into clear alignment.” What I experienced through the oration of the SNA LLG President was that out-of-phase dissonance that evoked a response in me. To address the diffuse EFFECT of exploitative ignorance, one must discern SOURCE rather than CAUSE. In the linear hubris of regression, we could assume that the CAUSE was a company who chose to mislead and, in a single dimension, we may be correct. However, that company is a component of an ecosystem in which the SOURCE of the dissonance comes from a theme we’ve been addressing in several recent posts – namely, surrogacy. By allowing an unaccountable ‘other’ to procure anonymous, hoardable wealth, we all foster predation in which suffering is a by-product. And tragically, the ‘prey’ turn to the language of the predator to seek solace from their abuse and, in so doing, perpetuate their injury.

Yesterday, the careful application of information dissemination took a first, tentative step towards the emergence of a new narrative – not just for the people of New Ireland but for the investors unknowingly, primitively isolated from their own awareness and complicity.

My soul quickeneth with the beauty of the dawn.
Today is, and will be.
Yesterday was, and has been.
I will reach out my hand into the darkness and lead him that asketh into the light.
My day shall be filled to overflowing, yet shall I not haste the day; nor shall I waste the day.

- from The Message of the Divine Iliad, Walter Russell

1 comment:

  1. David,

    Glad I've begun to catch up here. Not long after you posted this I also mentioned Walter Russell, on another site, in a thread begun by Integral Life CEO, Robb Smith. Of course, one of Russell's many innovations was the condominium ownership model, which, as a local application of 'joint sovereignty' might find extrapolation into resolutions of the consideration deficit you've outlined above.

    Although I'd visited his widow, Lao, at their replicated Italian castle in Va., it's the occasion of seeing his later FDR bronze bust which verifies one of your observations here. Namely, "...the ‘prey’ turn to the language of the predator to seek solace from their abuse and, in so doing, perpetuate their injury."

    I accompanied a re-patriating Japanese-American on his first steps back into the States since his family left internment in a U.S. camp during WWII. This fellow had just retired from a career in engineering for oil pipeline in Canada, and while he had begun a pilgrimage of forgiveness (we went to Hyde Park and West Point) he was also reassessing his roles in regards to corporate access and use of indigenous territories.

    Parallel healings were taking place. The release of deep seated resentment for his internment, and a decided departure from his own perpetuations of an occupier modality. His children grown, he had chosen to become a chiropractor, going from the displacement of the uprooted immigrant, to being a displacer himself, to dedicating to literal realignment.

    Our journeys of reaching balance, transacted in our regard of critical relatedness, seem to be as much an embodied disposition as a behavior.

    Though I haven't seen the book you've quoted in many years, I still attend to 'build[ing] the day' rather than 'rend[ing] the day', be-cause the hidden costs, inherently ignorable, of rending is always exponentially exorbitant.


Thank you for your comment. I look forward to considering this in the expanding dialogue. Dave