Ramblings on Nomads

As the train pulled into Portland last week, two ladies were having a discussion in the back of the car. One had a 3-4 hour layover before continuing her journey. She was discussing what she could do near the station to kill time. The other would not shut-up about how dangerous Portland was, especially around the station, where the homeless shelters are. “All those street people, you know. You never know what’s going to happen.” She talked of the rampant crime, the daily shootings that were reported when she lived in the city. She made it out to be ripe for one of the top positions in DP.

It’s this sort of mental constraint that I can’t understand.

Yes, Old Town is rife with society’s undesirables. The Salvation Army, the Sisters of the Road, street churches and other soup kitchens and shelters are all contained within a few blocks. But there’s no more danger there than any other part of the city. I walked through the area a number of times. I stopped and chatted with people. They tended not to be as open or as friendly as the homeless up here, but they’re not going to rob you or shoot you.

It’s the fear of the Other.

This whole thing about not feeding the homeless is idiocy.

The vast majority of homeless are not there by choice, but, still, they are performing a rebellious act.

Without a home, a mortgage, contracts and other debt to tie them down, they are free to move about on a whim. This is about control. About keeping the populace in a box. Literally.

Jeb and his ilk see the shelter, the soup kitchen, not as a means for the homeless to ‘elevate’ themselves ‘up’ to the status of home-owner (direction is relative), but instead as a means of perpetuating their rebellious status. (And for some – perhaps too few – it is.)

This, like the current wars in the Middle East, are but a continuation of the farmer’s fight with the nomad. Instead of hunting game and gathering roots, the modern nomad scavenges dumpsters and asks for loose change. Instead of carrying shelter and supplies on pack animals, the modern pastoralist lives in his van or rides the two-wheeled steed.

Nomadism represents freedom. The ability to get up and leave with the changing of the season. It represents diversity; dependence not on a handful of crops, but on an eclectic plethora of subsistence.

For thousands of years the nomad has been the bane of the farmer – the farmer who is immobile, tied to his place. Who is dependent on his technological mastery of the land and his homogeneous crop. The Chinese built and rebuilt the Great Wall to seperate themselves from the nomadic pastoralists of the Steppes.

The Middle East, once a great, thriving civilization of farmers, was leveled by the nomad Chinggis Khan. It still has not recovered. No modern farming culture has built an ocean-less empire equaling the size of the Mongol World Empire at its peak.

Nomadism is power. Self empowerment.

The nomad is only ever defeated when he accepts the way of the farmer, settles down and is absorbed into the culture.

The nomad’s power lays in his ability to survive with in the farmer’s culture, or with out it.

I don’t mean to hold the pastoralist nomad of the Steppes up as an ideal – or any other culture – but his ways must be studied. Learnt. Mastered. Melded together with each other and with the Other, and mutated into something for this day.

Something new and powerful and better.

Something to free us the shackles of the caste and the class.

Something sustainable.

This is the New Tribal Revolution.