The illusion of progress

“[The Cherokee] would go down to the water early in the morning, wade out waist deep, take the water of the river and throw it up over his head, and say, ‘Wash away any thoughts or feelings that may hinder me from being closer to my God. Take away any thoughts or feelings that may hinder me from being closer to all my brothers and sisters on the earth, and the animals of the earth.’ And they would wash themselves and cleanse themselves every morning, and they would walk out of the water.” [Adapted from Freeman Owle, “Going to Water.”]

Those words are posted on an information sign on the Oconaluftee River near Cherokee, outside Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I found them moving.

In comments below the previous post we were discussing the propaganda that we swim in daily here in the land of the blind, and I remember Jacques Ellul wrote about the “illusion of progress.” We have this notion that life is getting better. We have better aircraft, phones, Internet, interstate Highways, GPS systems, all due to the Department of Defense, an Orwellian euphemism. That government agency controls our technology, and for so long as that technology gives them an advantage over enemies, real and make believe, it is kept under wraps. When the advantage is gone it is given over to the private sector.

War is progress.

That image of a man wading into a river, cleansing his body and mind in preparation for a new day – we have surely regressed. What more is there to life than to exist in peace and in nature and among our fellow humans?

5 thoughts on “The illusion of progress

  1. Swede, I’ve been taking down your comments when they are stupid, ignorant, hateful or all of the above. It would be different if you were capable of reading or googling outside your comfort zone or listening, but you are not.


      1. Swede, I’ll tutor you here a little: Go back to the opening quote about the man in the water. What is he doing? He’s performing a ritual to shed anger and hostility. Ergo, he has anger and hostility. He is a human, but the key is that he wants to be a better man.

        I would not be surprised if these people raided settler compounds in hope of making invaders go away. They were fighting for their homeland, something you’ve never had to do. You’re on the invader side but surely you give people that right, to fight invaders, don’t you?



    Even a “new Cold War” won’t stop global capital — yes, Wall Street banks — from investing in Russian gas and piplines. If the EU can’t make a deal with Russia work, China is waiting in the wings. I suppose India’s recent siding with Russia ( is of no consequence either. How about one last chant as it all slips away: “We’re #1. we’re #1!”


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