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Posted on: March 17th, 2017 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

Things That Can and Cannot Be Said: Essays and Conversations by Arundhati Roy and John Cusack

In central India, a forest of tall thin-trunked Sal trees is the home of several protected species including sloth bears and leopards, and local tribes depend on the natural produce of the forest for sustenance.  All of this is in jeopardy because of the coal reserves below the forest floor.  Tribal people are resisting the plans of multinational companies to exploit these reserves.   Arundhati Roy talked to the people involved in the resistance, “ . . the poorest people in the world have stopped some of the richest mining corporations in their tracks.”   The superintendent of police explained the difficulty.   “The problem with these tribals is they don’t understand greed.  Unless they become greedy there’s no hope for us.  I have told my boss, remove the (police) force and instead put a TV in every home.  Everything will be automatically sorted out.”  The truth is simple. Greed is the life-blood of capitalism and exploitation.  Roy shines a light on this uncomfortable truth that capitalism is the basis of societal ills.   When capitalism is equated with freedom and democracy and all things virtuous, this truth is one of the “things that cannot be said. “

The book of essays and conversations was John Cusack’s idea.  He wanted Edward Snowden to meet Daniel Ellsberg because of the similarities of their actions and their courage.  They both leaked government secrets.  Both have been vilified as well as honored.  In fact, on their way to meeting Snowden in Moscow, the party of Roy, Ellsberg, and Cusack stopped off in Stockholm for the ceremony where Snowden, in absentia, was being honored with the Right Livelihood Award, “the Alternative Nobel.”  The Moscow meeting wasn’t a formal interview, so they didn’t get the cautious, diplomatic, and regulated Edward Snowden, which also meant the jokes, the humor, and repartee that took place cannot be reproduced.   More “things that cannot be said.”

The image of the two men so pleased to meet each other is a balm to our spirit, as we affirm Daniel Berrigan’s words. “Every nation-state, by supposition, tends toward the imperial. . .we agree with those who denounce the hideous social arrangements which make war inevitable and human want omnipresent, which fosters corporate selfishness, panders to appetites and disorders and wastes the earth.”

Dorothy Sampson

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