Monday, October 17, 2011

The Band was Playin' "Nearer My God To Thee"

Fare Thee Well, Strange Travelers, Fare Thee Well

This past weekend I opened a post with a weeping emoticon, to express my level of frustration, anger and sadness at the topic at hand. In that vein, to show a proper level of escalation regarding my outraged reaction to today's story, please see the first 20 seconds of the clip below.

From 14 Shamans Murdered in Peru

OK, before I let the headline sensationalize you too much, as the article explains, these 14 Shamans were murdered over the course of the last 20 months. I'll admit, when I first saw the headline it conjured visions of a grotesque mass murder like something out of a Rob Zombie movie. Yet after reading the article, I find myself no less incensed.

The Peruvian government has sent an official team to investigate the murders of 14 local medicine men, only 7 of whom have been recovered thus far. Those recovered were shown to have been victims of bullet wounds, or hacked and stabbed to death by machete.

As reported in The Peruvian Times, these men were planning on forming an association to share their knowledge with the world when they began to go missing. Allegedly, these crimes were committed by a local Protestant known as "the witch hunter", at the behest of his brother - the mayor of the local town of Balsa Puerto. According to local government experts on Amazonian culture, both men belong to a fringe sect of Protestantism that see men such as these shaman as being possessed by demons, and thus their religious responsibility to eliminate them. Apparently in as violent a fashion as possible.

As tragic as this senseless loss of life is, it is the loss of knowledge that is really staggering. The death of these men mark not only an unrecoverable loss of an intimate knowledge of the complex ecosystem of the rainforest, but "the crucial role shamans play in traditional medicine and spiritual guidance in indigenous communities", as the program director of Amazon Watch's Peru division was quoted in The Guardian.

And the world marches on. Over 500 years after the Spanish Conquistadors first arrived on the shores of the New World, leading the flame-wreathed cavalry of the Good Lord deep into the Heart of Darkness, and still, with all of our perceived infinite progression and evolution of moral integrity we find this endless repetition of the sins of our fathers. What knowledge were these men preparing to share that so rattled the cage of a man who carries the title of "witch-hunter" into the 21st Century?

And can someone please explain to me why this article makes no mention of anyone being apprehended for these atrocious crimes? It certainly appears they have enough information on those allegedly responsible to warrant taking them into custody, even despite the political shield being a mayor might provide.

In closing, a song. A song to carry those beautiful strange travelers home.

River take me. Sing me sweet and sleepy.
Sing me sweet and sleepy
All the way back home.

It's a fargone lullaby
Some many years ago
Mama, mama many worlds I've come
Since I've first left home.

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