We Are Not In Charge

From Judith O’Grady

I was at Pagan Brunch last Sunday (2nd, 4th and and any fifth Sundays at Busters in the West End of Ottawa, purveyors of classic breakfast. Come if you’re in the area.) and I realized that the other end of the table had drifted onto that Pagan chestnut ‘what animal would you be?’

Our end was discussing mob violence and the small number of people able to work inside consensus management—— ‘Rarely Speaks’ (who has some sociological background, I believe) asserted that the maximum number was 15, and ‘Cogent Thinker’ agreed. It seems small to me, but then it also supports the smallness of the Grove I am Senior Druid of….. I don’t know.

‘Talks a lot about her Boyfriend’ (you see how this works, I’m not good at remembering people’s names) wanted to be a wolf or tiger; ‘Admires the Irish’ wanted to be a hawk. I was too far away to enter into the discussion without shouting, but I laughed. It’s a trick question: the answer is “I would be a scantily-haired primate with an abnormally large brain”…..

Not that I’m all that gung-ho on primates in general or Homo sappy in specific; we’re a loud, vulgar, pushy bunch that tend to rank according to obnoxiousness. But that’s what I am, will-I nill-I. It’s what we all are and rather than complain about it or wish ourselves different we should (I feel) get going with the refinement of the raw material. For example, look at another trick question— “How can we protect women from being raped?” Change their clothes/ mandate group travel/ nighttime female curfew/ …….. “Stop raping them.”

Or, to look at a governmental kind of solution: I live in a country with Universal Health Care, so it would be extremely difficult for me to create more than one persona; the documentation necessary for just the one is voluminous.

My country also has and scrupulously maintains a registry of people prescribed dangerous drugs. At one point some years ago, my doctor peered at his computer (he too has a lot of paperwork and documentation requirements) and said, “You DO realize that you’re addicted to morphine, right?”

“Of course.” I responded. He nodded his head (box checked off) and we rolled on.

My sister lives in the United States. She has to go to the doctor’s office each month to obtain a month’s refill, sign a yearly ‘contract’ about drug abuse, participate in urine testing, listen to frequent harangues, and have her dose arbitrarily lowered. But she’s not the problem. In her country, though, she suffers through the ineffectual constraints that trouble her but leave the actual criminals untouched. In my country I’m not considered a problem—- although to be fair I must disclose that my son has warned me that if he finds me planning to jack up a gas station to buy street heroin he will forcibly restrain me.

What’s the message? Focus on the actual problem. Primates tend to group and rank. Violence is a part of that. But wait!! It’s not an integral part of the process.

Although we are in the primate family, we are not Baboons. Baboons have sufficient sexual dimorphism as to allow non-consensual sex, and actual fighting is a large part of their hierarchy system. Much as some humans admire these traits, we are genetically more like chimpanzees. They rely heavily on screaming and bluster for rank and (as has been discovered in the wake of advanced test methodology) the ‘alpha male’ is not actually the father of the majority of the baby chimps. The conciliatory good sharers and compliant groomers (who waste no time on posturing) actually have more offspring. Even they get the idea. But we are not even chimpanzees, close as they are. We are humans. The large brains, the tool-using, the transmission of culture, in the image of Jehovah: Are we the apex of the Earth’s Children?

No, that is not the case. It’s a part of the same flawed perception of creation—- Not too long ago a Christo-Pagan (don’t ask ME how she reconciles that because I don’t know) asked me if I believed in “Design”. “By which you mean we were made in one step? Assuredly not, because then the Creator did a piss-poor job. Were knees designed on Munday after a week-end drunk?”

We must necessarily be a work-in-progress if we are not a failed experiment. If we see the Gods as humanoid I believe it is a seeming taken on by the Deity-inQuestion in order to make Themself more understandable to our limited comprehension. Creating Gods don’t have maleness, or whiteness, or dominance as attributes. Those Gods embody conception, making-out-of-‘nothing’, originality—- in my limited comprehension I see this as female. My creator is Mother Earth, working with primordial soup and natural selection.

But (this is the other hand) I am not necessarily right. My opinion is just my opinion. My opinion with yelling; my opinion with weapons; my opinion with governmental supports—— still just as good or not-good. What works remains whatever works whether enhanced by yelling, weaponry, or laws or not. Making it difficult for my sister to manage her pain has absolutely no effect on street drugs; blaming woman’s clothes does not lessen rape…… By our uncontrolled use of resources, by our failure to share, by our insistence on privilege we have messed up our home-place.


On the gripping hand, I believe that it is our refusal to perceive ourselves as one species, our demands for unequal standards of living for some, our reliance on power and dominance for leadership selection that push us towards ‘failed experiment’. The systems we are currently using do not work. We are not in charge; we are not the solution. It is not to us to fix things, to save the Earth. It is ourselves we must fix. If we do not find the way to sharing economy and consensus government we will fall with capitalism and democracy. We must fit ourselves into the non-apex space of Gaia Ecology that is actually ours and learn to accommodate each other within that limit. I look to my Gods for solution; I hope that humanity will quit fucking it up. Step out of the driver’s seat and don’t man-splain what actually indistinguishable from the rest segment of humankind the problem is— the problem is all of us.

Judith O’Grady

judithis an elderly Druid (Elders are trees, neh?) living on a tiny urban farm in Ottawa, Canada. She speaks respectfully to the Spirits, shares her home and environs with insects and animals, and fervently preaches un-grassing yards and repurposing trash (aka ‘found-object art’).

3 thoughts on “We Are Not In Charge

  1. I love how this places us all “down” where we belong. Participants and observers and stumblers. Thank you for writing such a relaxing piece. Last paragraph was thunder!


  2. I really appreciate and agree with your posts. Humans, with our extra big brains, should be using them to consciously realize the social and environmental damage we are creating and fix it. And for me, too, Gaia as Goddess is a primary inspiration for attempting to do that work.

    Liked by 1 person

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