Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Wetiko: A Spiritual Virus

After talking with a spiritual friend about the downward spiral of media analysis of our world, collapse of economic justice, disintegration of the climate's checks and balances, genocide, ecocide, gun culture, disconnect of storytellers/artists to communities without voices, the ever pervading 'isms,' our conversation moved toward bigger themes: wetiko.

There has to be something uniting all of this. There can't just be so many disconnected issues of recognizing each other's humanity, respecting the earth, being able to tell the truth, and avoid dangerous levels of unchecked greed and anger. gaze on the Agent Orange gelatinous cloud that seems to cover all of this. The cree word for the psychosis of greed was wetiko, a spiritual virus of sorts.

I feel like we need bigger concepts than environmental disaster, oppression, racism, consumerism, worker's rights, societal fairness. I think there needs to be a larger theme that links all of this together because it seems like an impossible million-armed monster that keeps growing. As each tentacle is cut off, two more grow back in its place.

I came home to find that Brazil lost in the World Cup and there's talks of riots and civil unrest for a soccer match. These millions of Brazilians who live in a culture rampant with economic inequality, squalor, slums of heinous poverty and brutality. And all of this is acceptable. All of this is livable. But the inciting incident, the tipping point in a culture going haywire is soccer. It's fascinating. Brazil isn't alone in this, they just happen to be in the news today.

Wetiko is what allows billionaires to have an outward hostility and hatred toward poor people. Wetiko is what gives people such an awful outlook on their body, shame, and propels many into food problems, drug issues, drinking. Wetiko is what causes the poorest region of America (the South) to continually vote Republican when the party is very clear that its intention is to never serve or help its largest base of followers. Wetiko is hoarder reality TV shows of people dying in their own trash heap of bought and collected items seeking to fill something inside. Wetiko is a facebook brag, an instagram selfie seeking 'likes' and it's something most people have to some extent.

According to Cree Indians, Wetiko is a spiritual virus borne out of fear of lacking and detachment. In response there is a need to consume, to kill, to control, to dominate beyond the normal levels. We are talking about a level of consumption that is harmful to the 'so-called' victor, but who can't see the problem. They are in a psychotic state of fear/consumption that eventually kills the host body off before looking for another person to prey on. Wetiko takes place in the form of a thought that rapidly grows, building an entire value system and operating manual. There is no concern for style, aesthetic necessary for art. Wetiko has no regard for discourse, persuasion, critical analysis which is crucial for democracy. Wetiko main thrust is MORE. It's a consumptive disease and the more it's fed the larger it grows.

The virus hides itself very skillfully behind ideologies. It uses ethical props in a completely contradictory way that makes no sense. Wetiko preaches war equals peace. The bible can be used to hate, democracy means disenfranchising citizens. Pursue health by using steroids and deadly toxins. Eat nourishment to the point of fatal gluttony. Use capitalism...well actually capitalism is the perfect system for wetiko. Capitalism is the only major economic/societal philosophy in the history of the world that has NO ethical standards. Zero. Nothing is off limits in this system. The goal is the ever spreading proliferation of collecting capital. Wetiko is perfect for this ideology which is an anti-ideology. There is no ideal in capitalism. There is no utopian possibility. There is only endless conquer and conflict.

Somehow this concept clicked with me by bringing together multiple issues, and explaining the over-riding theme of inhumanity. It also made the endless social justice quest seem more manageable when it's put under one term.

The danger is that according to Cree philosophy wetiko can't be fought directly. In fact trying to wage war on it, only increases its reach because it preys on conflict. The virus is like chicken pox or the common cold: it can be brought under control once I have removed certain things in my life for it to prey on. Wetiko can exist in a healthy, balanced person but it's a low-humming level and never really has a chance to explode. Furthermore a balanced person is aware that he has the virus and must take medicinal steps to manage it through meditation, prayer, social activism, giving to others, patience.


Amresh Sewram said...

absolutely spot on!

Jesse said...

I assist people heal from this issue...I teach people how to remove anything that grows, and how to create the balance needed. Just letting you know...no promo intended

Tim said...

Thank you for this post. It is thoughtful and well written. I am doing some research into the concept of wetiko. You summarized much of my viewpoint, perhaps better than I could have. I am going to share some of what I have found in my research in a podcast this weekend. Do you think it would be ok for me to share this post?