days have seen actions being led by hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en Nation in
the west and the Mohawks in the east of Canada. To tell the truth, I’ve been
waiting a long time for this and I know Harriet Natalee’s spirit is smiling all
around both Canadian coasts. Harriet Nahanee carried the Mohawk flag into what
proved to be her last blockade at Eagle Ridge Bluffs (2017) and a prison
sentence that hastened her death.
The judges who
give out the injunctions that led to Harriet’s demise are still giving them
out, the same injunctions that protect corporate interests. These judges only
see the world with the left hemisphere of their brains. This is the hemisphere
that according to some currently studying the human brain, sees only what is
directly in front of itself, unconnected to the whole. The judges have
spent so many years thinking this way their right brains have become dormant.
But given the chance their brains could become unified again. This
would enable their right brains to insist that their left hemispheres must
consider all of the subtle and obvious interconnections of the natural world
before the left brain acts, including the human role as caretakers of the land
and waters of the earth. But how to make the judiciary, who acts for immediate
corporate interests instead of long-term environment and the people start
valuing their right brains? Good question.
scientific revolution (roughly the 16th and 17th centuries)
most people used both sides of their brains when considering their relationship
with the earth. The earth was understood as one whole interconnecting being who
gave life to all. When the earth was injured, they were also injured. We have
recently seen how the whole world is trying to shake off a capitalist system
that transforms all that is truly beautiful and life giving into only salable
commodities. But this is difficult. Because there are these social mechanisms
that are built by left brain technocrats that gives rise to certain outside
rules and regulations that favour this way of seeing. These mechanisms tell us
what to eat, drive, and think, and if we resist there are the laws backed up by
a police force built into the systems to keep us from actually acting.
scientific method – in order to uncover nature’s ‘secrets’ – began to divide
bits and pieces of nature from its surrounding connections, this way of seeing began
to change how nature itself was to be considered. Now nature is now seen as a
conglomeration of exploitable parts that could bring big money. Nature
was now for sale.
left brained ability to isolate micro entities without consulting with the
right hemisphere (which sees the whole) has resulted in entire societies being
colonized. A few indigenous peoples are standing and showing us how to see with
both sides of our brains. They are fighting for their land and waters, the
preservation of wild life, preservation of their own ways of being, of
believing. In the process, are also showing the rest of us that our left
brain’s desires for getting, buying, consuming, competitive showing off, individualist
preening, indifference to the suffering of others, are not the only ways to
Let us not
only celebrate these few who are willing to risk the social repercussions of
this way of seeing, but also actively follow in their footsteps. Our right
brain is still there, sitting in the right hemisphere, waiting for us to
I think most
people would agree that at the moment, the world is in a bit of a mess.
Political anger and discontent are the rule of the day in many, if not most,
parts of the world. I remember during the Vietnam War when Robert McNamara (the
US Secretary of Defense) remarked that the trouble with the world was that at
any given time half of the world was asleep while the other half would be up
raising hell. He himself was partially responsible for that disgusting war, but
I thought he had a point. But not now.
sleeps anymore and the entire world seems to be raising hell at the same time.
There are so many angry frustrated people in so many countries, thronging into
their streets, with raised fists, or worse. Violence hangs in the air.
Unresolved wars threaten to reignite, legal and illegal guns spread over the
globe. Mother Nature is angry, too, she is baring her teeth at all of us.
Extreme poverty is on the rise, more people living on the streets while the
stock markets soar. The political craziness going on in the US is accompanied
by the rapid spread of a coronavirus that is crippling China and seeping out
into the rest of the world. How can we protect ourselves, our families
and our communities? What are we to think about this unusual and frightening
turn of events?
neurologist Iain McGilchrist at least gives us a clue. He describes how both
sides of the brain hemispheres have different functions although they are
structured to work together. He writes: “In general terms, then, the left
hemisphere yields narrow, focussed attention, mainly for the purpose of getting
and feeding. The right hemisphere yields broad, vigilant attention, the
purpose of which appears to be awareness of signals from the surroundings,
especially of other creatures, who are potential predators or potential mates,
foes or fiends, and it is involved in bonding in social animals. It might then
be that the division of the human brain is also the result of the need to bring
to bear two incompatible types of attention to the world at the same time, one
narrow, focussed, and directed to our needs, and the other to broad, open and
directed toward whatever else is going on in the world apart from ourselves".
tells the story of a king who administers to a small kingdom with kindness and
fairness. Because of his good governance his kingdom grows and becomes so
large he can no longer cover his enlarged responsibilities. So the king
appoints an emissary to help him administer to the outer regions of his
kingdom. As the emissary was a loyal subject to the king, he did his best
to do good service and the king was grateful. However, as the Emissary began
making more of the decisions in his territory he also began to think he no
longer had to report back to the king about decisions he could make
himself. In time he began to think of himself as being as good as the
king, and no longer reported at all. He eventually initiated a palace coup
and became the king, the people were duped and the domain collapsed in ruins.
story we see that the emissary is the left brain that became so puffed up with
his own importance he no longer felt the need to report back to the right
hemisphere who was the king for conformation that his decisions were the right
ones, for the consideration of the whole. Is this what is happening to
our world? That too many government leaders, too many bankers, too many
corporations heads lead only with their left brains, without consultation or
concern for the outcomes of their decisions as long as they get a hefty share
of the money? Next time.