Razing the Vatican

A view of Devil’s Canyon, also called Ga’an Canyon by the Apache, at Oak Flat, about 60 miles east of Phoenix. It is considered a sacred site for many Native American tribes. (Robert A. Witzeman/Maricopa Audubon Society), as published in The Washington Post, 4/12/21

*************************************************BREAKING NEWS****************************************

April 15, 2021 – Planetary News Corp.

International mining consortium Devour, Inc., has just announced its discovery of a sizable deposit of rare-earth element lutetium, used in petroleum cracking.  This metallic substance is the least common of all such elements, making the find an immensely valuable one.  The lutetium is located about 50 meters below Vatican City in Rome.  Devour has said that the utility of the element, coupled with its scarcity, makes an unequivocal case for its recovery.  Therefore, Devour has made application to the city of Rome and the government of Italy to proceed with extracting the lutetium.  The company is prepared to offer the Catholic Church up to $10 million US to relocate all critical elements of Vatican City, including St. Peter’s Cathedral.  Pope Francis will be allowed one year to gather all critical documents and relics, along with any Church possessions he deems important, and vacate the area.  Church personnel will be given relocation reimbursements.  The Italian government is reported to be considering Devour’s offer.

Is it even within the realm of possibility that we’d ever actually see a headline like this?  Not a ghost of a chance.  Why?  Well, well….the Vatican is sacred.  It’s the seat of a church with members worldwide.  It’s part of Western civilization’s history and culture; it’s been there for hundreds of years.  It’s an independent entity — there’s a treaty from 1929 that says so.  They just couldn’t DO that!

And of course, an invasion like that would indeed be considered a desecration.  There’s no end that would justify such a radical, irrevocable, destructive means.

Consider, then, Oak Flat in Arizona.  The area has been sacred to Apache tribes for uncounted generations.  Rituals and ceremonies have been conducted there since before recorded tribal histories.  The land belongs to the Apache forever, according to a treaty signed by the United States in 1852.  However, as with most, if not all, such agreements the U.S. government approved, that treaty wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.  Members of the San Carlos tribe, who lived in and around Oak Flat, were inevitably forced to relocate to reservations, and miners came to plunder the mineral wealth.  Now there are almost 112,000 members of various Apache tribes (the U.S. government recognizes eight) scattered primarily throughout Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico, most of them living on reservations.  And again, as always, they’re fighting to retain their ancestral territory.

Oak Flat is a lodestone for the San Carlos people, and their entire culture is connected to it.  Other tribes also venerate the area.  Enter Revolution Copper, an organization as rapacious as its parent company, Rio Tinto, headquartered in Australia.  Rio Tinto’s recent past includes utter destruction of Juukan Gorge, an aboriginal cave system in Western Australia.  The caves were considered one of the country’s premier archaeological sites, with a history of habitation since the last Ice Age.  Rio Tinto has been ordered to rebuild the caves and pay reparations, but gone is gone:  there’s no replacing the caves as they’d stood for millennia. 

In the case of Juukan Gorge, the prize was iron ore.  In Oak Flat, it’s one of the largest extant undeveloped copper deposits, which surely elicits greedy slavering on the part of Revolution’s executive management.  Without doubt, they’re already seeing the dollar signs.  It matters not a whit to them that people outside their boardroom have a different view of the rugged panorama that comprises the San Carlos Apache’s sacred ground.  This place is home to coming-of-age ceremonies for young men and women; it features herbs and roots imbued with a spirit that can be found nowhere else.  The significance is tied to the land itself — not just any plot of soil will work, as culture and deities are centered in that specific spot. 

In sheer human terms, how can the entire world not understand “home” and “beloved space” and “sacred trees and cliffs?”  As the tribe’s legal brief states, the proposed mine would, “destroy the site forever — swallowing it in a nearly two-mile wide, 1,100-foot deep crater.”  Such devastation is exactly what happened in Australia, yet the company professes it will, “work to ‘understand the concerns’” of the tribe.  How is erasing a native people’s long-held holy place any different from bulldozing the Vatican?  If Revolution Copper truly understood and appreciated the Apache’s concerns, they’d abandon all efforts to seize and loot Oak Flat.  But then, the company executives’ homes and places of worship are not at risk.

We’ve seen what happened with Bears Ears National Monument:  the former guy took an area preserved by President Obama and reduced its footprint by 85%, so that mining and energy concerns could swallow up the resources.  The fight to reverse the former guy’s giveaway is ongoing, with new Interior Secretary Deb Haaland weighing in to help the Ute, Navajo, Hopi, Ute Mountain Ute and Zuni tribes retain possession of, again, sacred territory.  The San Carlos tribe and the rest of the Apache hope that Haaland will intervene on their behalf, as well.  This week, a House subcommittee was slated to take up the question of Revolution Copper’s bid to take over Oak Flat.  The future of the land hangs in the balance. 

As with Bears Ears, Standing Rock, and countless other grabs of First Nations’ lands, this threat to Oak Flat absolutely should not exist.  It shouldn’t even be a question.  This attempted theft of sacred ground is yet another example of governmental and corporate greed’s triumphing over all other concerns.  If we as a modern society don’t veer to another tack, we will indeed pay the price, and it will make even indigenous peoples’ centuries of irreparable losses seem trivial by comparison.  And we’ll only be getting what we deserve.

20 thoughts on “Razing the Vatican

  1. You missed the biggest difference. The vatican has wealth and political power. The indigenous tribes do not. The sacredness of the place really has little to do with anything, except to the people who consider it sacred.

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    1. You’re absolutely right, of course. And how sad is it that that situation prevails? Insanity to expect fairness or consideration on the grounds of whether something is morally right or not.

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  2. At the time of the first printing of “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee” (1970), the Government of These United States had broken every treaty (as in “all of ’em”) ever made with any of the Tribes. I haven’t kept up on these affairs, so I don’t know if any treaties have been signed in the past 51 years, but it wouldn’t make any difference: Manifest Destiny is alive and well. Few people will care, and none of those who do will have any clout within The Beltway.
    As we have seen time and time again, Americans have more compassion for injured athletes than for the destruction of a culture.

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  3. Here’s some of the most eerie lyrics about man’s destructive nature ever penned . It so hauntingly describes the unenlightening nature of miner’s lust.
    It’s a song created by The Doors and the snippet of lyrics below is a small portion of a very powerful piece of art. The 11 minutes on YouTube is as good a performance of the disgust this story raises for anyone who has followed the story of resistance at this holiest sanctuary within the creation of The Most High!

    When the Musics Over

    What have they done to the earth?
    What have they done to our fair sister?
    Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
    Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
    And tied her with fences and dragged her down

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    1. Frighteningly apropos, even more so now than then. Say what the Establishment would about the “radical” music of the late ’60s and early ’70s, much of it was not only spot-on in its time, it was stunningly prophetic. I always remember Joni Mitchell’s lyrics about only being able to see a tree in a tree museum, paving paradise to put in a parking lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Written By: Jesse Oris Farrow / From The Album: “What About Me”

    Recorded: October 8, 1970 / Released: December, 1970
    You poisoned my sweet water.
    You cut down my green trees.
    The food you fed my children
    Was the cause of their disease.
    My world is slowly fallin’ down
    And the air’s not good to breathe.
    And those of us who care enough,
    We have to do something…

    [Chorus:]
    Oh… Oh What you gonna do about me?
    Oh… Oh What you gonna do about me?
    Your newspapers,
    They just put you on.
    They never tell you
    The whole story.
    They just put your
    Young ideas down.
    I was wonderin’ could this be the end
    Of your pride and glory?

    [Chorus:]
    I work in your factory.
    I study in your schools.
    I fill your penitentiaries.
    And your military too!
    And I feel the future trembling,
    As the word is passed around.
    “If you stand up for what you do believe,
    Be prepared to be shot down. ”

    [Chorus:]
    And I feel like a stranger
    In the land where I was born
    And I live like an outlaw.
    And I’m always on the run…
    And I’m always getting busted
    And I got to take a stand…
    I believe the revolution
    Must be mighty close at hand…

    [Chorus:]
    I smoke marijuana
    But I can’t get behind your wars.
    And most of what I do believe
    Is against most of your laws
    I’m a fugitive from injustice
    But I’m goin’ to be free.
    ‘Cause your rules and regulations
    They don’t do the thing for me

    [Chorus:]
    And I feel like a stranger
    In the land where I was born
    And I live just like an outlaw.
    And I’m always on the run.
    And though you may be stronger now, my time will come around.
    You keep adding to my numbers, and you shoot my people down.

    Keep Fighting!🙏❤️✌🏼

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    1. Said it before and I’ll say it again: 50, 60 years after the problems of war, environmental desecration, and social injustice were brought to the forefront, we’re STILL fighting the same battles, voicing the same protests. I signed my first petition against the spring seal hunts in Canada 47 years ago, and I signed again last week. As a species, humans are the worst disaster to ever appear on the planet.

      Which makes it all the more important to preserve indigenous peoples’ culture and knowledge, because if we are to avoid killing all life on Earth, we must adopt their mindset of living in harmony with Mother Nature.

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      1. the DOORS have reiterated your words in song, denise and utejack, but you have done so w/ the haunting eloquence and agonistic spirituality of a sage whose luminous caveats would leave the most enlightened effendi crying for the cessation of human birthings. the few of us who care more for the perpetuation of mother earth’s other life forms, rather than the witnessing of their ecocide, are sufficiently powerless that nothing will change until the corporate power-elite self-destruct. however, that will never happen until we, the recipients of their crapola, finally drop dead of obesity and over-weaning, insatiable esurience. when will enough ever be enough?

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  5. I fear there’s no hope for life on this planet unless the power-elite do, in fact, self destruct.

    A magazine editor I knew years ago once wrote an editorial about the fact that a general rule of thumb in the American corporate world is that the bottom line has to increase by a certain percentage every year, no matter how that increase is achieved. His point was that it’s not only not logically feasible to have endless growth, but such expectations are also terminally detrimental to both the corporations and those they supposedly serve. For example, growth accomplished by continually raising prices is a strategy of diminishing returns. Apparently, however, maintaining a steady state of adequate profitability is a bad thing.

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    1. every community, plant, animal, fungal, protozoal, bacterial, even viral, collapses when it reaches the ecological threshold of its limits to growth, if not gradually, then catastrophically. it is but a matter of time that our own ecocide will occur, leaving either none of us, or a refugium of us, but w/ singular constraints on our perseverance.

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      1. Rather depressing thought in terms of nonhuman life, but when it comes to us….not so much.

        I wonder, though….if one posits that all creatures evolve to fill roles in the ecosystems they inhabit, what is the purpose of Man in the overall scheme? Are we akin to viruses, that infect and often destroy their hosts? Are we the planetary clean-up crew, evolved to kill everything off to clear the way for new life? Or am I entirely off the mark, from a scientific point of view? My thought is that, if we cause the extinctions of enough plants, animals, and other life, eventually we’ll reach a tipping point at which there’s an unstoppable downward spiral. And yet, if the entire human race disappeared, Mother Nature would go serenely on. So either we’re entirely superfluous, or our purpose is to be destroyers. Or is our evolution sheer biological chance?

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  6. the classic oppugning, “what is the purpose?” can be answered by intellectually and spiritually indolent ciphers like myself w/: there IS no purpose! nor have i ever entertained the idea that life as we experience it is anything more than, as you impugn, “sheer biological chance”… but of course the god/jahweh/allah people will take offence at such a dismissive response.

    nevertheless, given that 99.9% of all species of planetary life forms, from the prokaryotes to the eukaryotes, that have ever been assigned earthling status over her multi-billion-year history, are in fact now extinct, one can reasonably expect that the human species will go the way of the dodo bird as well. it is human hubris to anticipate an alternative outcome. the only q. remaining is when, no? every manifestation of ‘life’ is naught but a nano-architect in the inexorable evolutionary process toward… who knows? i suspect the ‘lowly’ foraminiferans and the tuned-in cetaceans are more cognizant, more preternaturally prescient than we are.

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    1. I don’t doubt for a nanosecond the accuracy of your last observation. I simply find it puzzling that such an objectively useless species as ourselves even achieved evolutionary “progress.” Every blade of grass, every worm serves more of a purpose than we do, and contributes more toward the Earth. How came we to be the distinct anomaly, a species that acts only to damage the planetary equilibrium? If evolution only moves forward, there’s no explanation for humans.

      Even were I a believer in an omniscient being, I still wouldn’t accept that we are here to have dominion over every other lifeform. And even if that were true, what would it mean? What would it be worth? To have dominion only to destroy?

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      1. we need the purviews of evolutionary biochemists, geneticists, and particle physicists to offer reasonable responses to such fundamental queries, denise. my knee-jerk reply is that evolutionary dynamics include more ‘devolution’ parameters than ‘evolution’ parameters. however, our species is more predisposed toward progressive, ‘forward-march’ concepts of evolutionary engineering than we are prepared to admit to or accept.

        we are endemic to the devolution life-form dynamic that ultimately lends itself to disappearing down hawking’s black holes or to molecular reconfigurations in sagan’s star-stuff nurseries. either way, the entire human adherence to the concept of evolutionary ‘progress’ is erroneous, a fallacy of the human brain that insists upon our being exceptional. we are not exceptional… which is why our feckless species invented gods, immortality, heaven, hell, purgatory, creationism, embalming, and cryogenics in order to convince ourselves otherwise.

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  7. So….just to make sure I understand, are you saying that the current human status is a devolution from that of, say, Neanderthals? I won’t argue that, as regards sheer survival capability if left to our own devices, we’re useless.

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    1. given i never had the opportunity nor the pleasure of meeting a neanderthal, that adjudication is impossible. however, were i to board a time-machine sloop into their purlieu, i would be likely impressed w/ their ability to function w/in the parameters of the environment surrounding them, until which time some of their DNA managed to encode itself into cro-magnon DNA, whose DNA eventually led to H.s.s. you are likely aware that the DNA of tasmanians was significantly disparate from 1800’s british, irish, and scot DNA that when the latter UK group tried to miscegenate w/ the former, a paltry, exiguous number of bairns were forthcoming. either no fertilization of gametes resulted, or those gametes that succeeded in doing so were spontaneously aborted.

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      1. Hadn’t known about the Tasmanians, but not surprised. At that time, they were a distinct, relatively isolated population, I’d think.

        Yes, I’d certainly believe that Neanderthals were highly efficient at negotiating their environment. In that respect, they would have been more highly evolved than H.s.s. And as H.s.s. became more adept at using tools to manipulate or overcome their environs, they lost more basic capabilities, until now we are a species that can send probes to the stars, but can’t survive without those tools. In that sense, yes, we’ve devolved. And yes, I think most people would think we’ve gone forward, overall. Depends on one’s point of view, I guess.

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