Mary Strachan Scriver
5 min readFeb 13, 2021


The only way I can tolerate this ineptitude and criminal collection of supposed “representation of the people” and the people who don’t give a rip anyway is to go to sci-fi. That doesn’t apply to understanding the situation, but it’s a little more helpful in thinking about what to do next.

I read some of the many books about the deep history of the planet and the arising of life on it. They don’t solve the problem of what life “is” and — further — “consciousness of it.” This situation is just a tiny episode in what we consider long human history of our species which is just another tiny episode in a surging of change across the continents and seas. The history of what we call “civilization” in the northern hemisphere dates to the melting of the last glacial poles ten thousand years ago. We pin our Western consciousness on a mythic Jesus about 2021 years ago.

England became a unified state in the 10th century, and since the Age of Discovery, which began during the 15th century, has had a significant cultural and legal impact on the wider world.”

England used to be known as Engla land, meaning the land of the Angles, people from continental Germany, who began to invade Britain in the late 5th century, along with the Saxons and Jute.”

The domination of North America begins in the “age of discovery” but it had probably been peopled before the melting of the glacial poles via SE island Asian people whose boats rode the Japanese current. Purported traces in South America are as old as 12,000 years.

“Archaeologists believe that the first inhabitants of China lived in caves more than 500,000 years ago.” They may have been more like hominins than modern humans who replaced them.”

Humans migrated into inland Asia, likely by following herds of bison and mammoth and arrived in southern Siberia by about 43,000 years ago and some people moved south or east from there. By about 40,000 years ago Homo sapiens made it to Indonesia, where a skull was found on Borneo in Niah Cave.”

Animals, including humans, move to new places in search of resources — mainly food. Because they can change their environment to some extent — thus taking fire to cook food that wasn’t edible earlier; or deliberately planting what will yield food; or herding meat supplies, particularly large ungulates, in early domestication; or by fishing — humans can extend their territory far beyond basic hunting and gathering. They can also extend territory by trading between groups so that those who have a lot of grain can trade for other foods, though few are as transportable and storable as grains.

As the people move and invent, they fit themselves to the eco system until it is amazingly possible for people to survive on very little, even those who don’t trade. The people living on the pith of sago palms in Borneo or next to nothing in the Australian outback are examples. Each of these adaptations gives rise to a particular kind of behavior that is a template for survival, undergirded and elaborated with stories and metaphors.

The immediate story of this US “nation” is one of taking advantages of resources, the first one being unconscious: the decimating of the population through microbes. They soon remembered that all of Europe had lost so many people to the Black Death that the climate changed and previous fields stood empty. The drive to dominate the wilderness that could be arguably traced to that became a blind drive to “own” the North American continent and take with them the German and Roman influences that had created England.

This is creative theory, not nailed down with facts, but to me it is persuasive. The resources of gold and silver that the early conquistadores took back to their nations paid for wars of domination and the import of spices, jewels, silk and tea greatly augmented the classes who “owned” land. Pursuit of wealth became a driver of what we call “civilization.” Resources for the rich came to include other humans. The south of the US was built on the wealth of slaves who grew cotton.

The wealth of the north was at first based on timber, fish and coal but then took a jump with the industrial revolution. Now ore and technology began to develop: factories and universities — the amenities of cities and the highways of rivers. Trouble in Europe drove people to emigrate, particularly the Irish potato famine due to a plague of food rather than people and the English enclosure movement to replace people with sheep, All of this is hugely suggestive and the resource for a zillion stories, songs, and resentments. The English Rule of Law emigrated with all the rest but it was weak and didn’t always fit.

The Civil War between cotton-slave owners and factory owners was never really resolved and created a massive wave of dislocated, war-trained, and hopeless men who were instruments of oppression. Now the industrial revolution drives railroads across the continent in search of domination and a wealth of new agriculture, both grain and animals, able to eliminate the grass, bison and people that were finely adapted to the climate and soil. In the meantime the industrial revolution drove gold-seekers up the Pacific coast and pulled in Asians. I don’t know what in China and Japan made them emigrate.

All this turmoil gradually built up the knowledge and centers of development that led to the technological revolution, a deeper cultural change that disrupted the economy just as the industrial developments were challenged, the population was in disarray, the eco-links to the land, sea and air were broken. A flood of new information about everything from quantum mechanics to the ability to “read” the geology of the planets not ours to the operation of the brain/body, have changed everything.

Religion and politics have fossilized, resisting changes to the 19th century assumptions about existence that told us there was a big Man in the sky, a Heaven in the future, and inevitable progress among all people but especially “us”. Our narcissism has begun to verge on despair. So now what do we do? All ideas are sci-fi except that some run away from the “sci” part that may be our best source of survival, as it has been since the first realization that we could wear the hides of animals. (We’re still doing that.)



Mary Strachan Scriver

Born in Portland when all was calm just before WWII. Educated formally at NU and U of Chicago Div School. Clergy for ten years. Always happy on high prairie.