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Courtesy Anita Rodriguez

'Voices Of The Land'

Good morning que les dió Dios, mi plebe. I know you are exhausted, pisando la lengua from political angst, quarantine. ÍQue augíte!

Everybody was waiting for the tension to end. But it's not really over. Now we know how deeply divided our country is - we are sitting on the railroad tracks and here comes an out-of-control pandemic, massive economic chaos, climate change, the ravages of wildfires, hurricanes, drought, political deadlock, pathological inequality and widespread suffering. Just when we need each other more than we ever have - we are polarized.

Physics tells us order is implicit in chaos. Jung says: "There is no growth without pain." The I Ching (Hexagram #3) says, "In a first birth difficulties arise from the profusion of all that is struggling to attain form." And then of course there is Valarie Kauer's famous speech in which she said, "What if this is not the darkness of the tomb but the darkness of the womb?"

Epigenetics has established that our ancestors's experiences, wisdom, traumas and patterns live in our bodies. For more than 250 million years humans survived by cooperating, protecting each other, sharing food and developing cultures in harmony with their ecosystems. Their profound animal, plant and ecological wisdom was passed on by art, ceremony, ritual and belief - and stories.

At the end of that long period there was a blip, roughly 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Patriarchy. That first inequality set the wheel in motion and it has gathered enormous weight over the years. Women, children and the Earth Herself are now property, and today extreme inequality threatens the well-being and lives of 98 percent of the human species, and the 50 percent of species that haven't already become extinct. Nature has brought Patriarchal Western Civilization to its knees with a microscopic virus, revealed its flaws to the point of caricature and all we know is that if we get out of this mess - it's gonna be way different.

And mi plebe - grieve for the old world. It's gone. With all the unnecessary, unequally-distributed conveniences, decadent luxuries, slave-made wealth and stolen real estate, all the gadgets that poisoned the biosphere to enrich the shrunken, wizened, moribund patriarchs - ya se acabó, ya no mas, acepta el luto.

So let's rest our COVID-weary, quarantined, frightened hearts and make up a story. My paintings almost always have a story. But this just happened. Like a poem, I had no idea where it would end. But - I think it is a creation myth and that I'm symbolically channeling a history of the future. So - listen to the painting.

"Out of the night, under a full moon crossed by storm-torn clouds, ride a new people. Thunder rolls down the mountainsides like giant barrels, lightning cracks open the night, clouds stampede across the sky like wild, beautiful horses."

(Pretend the rain is stinging your cheeks.)

"The arroyos roar, foaming, splashing, pounding like children running in water, ankles wrapped in tinkling crystals. Pattering rain, falling on leaves, on mud, wetting, kissing the thirsty, grateful, trembling, expectant land."

(You know those sounds?)

"Look! Children lead the flash flood of life-giving water! Joy, innocence, lead out of the night and the storm, splashing, laughing, racing into a sunlit landscape where mysterious beings raise their wings to greet the Holy Sun."

(What does it mean when children lead?)

Why, on a day like this would I choose to think about creating a new world? The one we knew lies shattered. It's broken - and like Humpty Dumpty, all the king's men can't put it back together again. My country is divided, torn, hurt.

As the Dali Lama said, "When you lose, don't lose the lesson." Where did we, as the Hopi say, forget the "original instructions" and go wrong? How did we get to this - a pandemic out of control with no national plan to control it; millions homeless and sick with no safety net; racial violence in the streets; climate change driving millions of refugees from wildfires, drought, floods and hurricanes; and a completely dysfunctional global government of cannibal elites who got, and continue to get grotesquely rich on our suffering?

Speaking of the Dali Lama, a neuroscientist named Richard Davidson, after talking to his Holiness, was inspired to research the physiological effects of meditation and compassion, and claims that compassion is anti-inflammatory. The physiological effects of feeling empathy actually reduces molecules associated with inflammation - the basis of all disease.

I can affect your biological functioning and well-being if I attack you. Your blood pressure and palm salinity will rise, your adrenal glands will go on alert, my nastiness will impact your health and psychological balance.

On the other hand, if I let you ahead in the grocery line, or in heavy traffic, or just greet you eye-to-eye with respect and smile, your body will react correspondingly.

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