About

Kenn Orphan is an artist, writer, radical nature lover, antiwar and anti-capitalist activist, sociologist and hospice social worker. The intent of his blog is to bear witness to the dire events unfolding around us without any pretense of false hope; and to share insights and reflections through the transformative lens of solidarity.

He writes about art and culture, socio-economic injustice, geopolitical issues and the existential threats we collectively face from corporate capitalism, the war industry, climate change and an ever imperiled biosphere. His work focuses on the desperate need for a global paradigm shift that fosters compassion for and solidarity with the suffering of humanity and the countless other species with whom we share this precious planet.

 

 

All content is protected under current copyright laws and is written by Kenn Orphan unless stated otherwise.

 

30 thoughts on “About

  1. lizhillpr1

    Hello Kenn,

    I am writing to invite you to be a guest next Wednesday on “First Voices Radio,” an internationally syndicated radio program hosted by Tiokasin Ghosthorse (Lakota). He would like to talk with you about recent article, “Greenwashing the Climate Catastrophe.”

    Date: Wednesday, April 3, 2019
    Time: 1:30 p.m. to 1:55 p.m. Eastern Time

    “First Voices Radio” has been on the air for 27 years. The show airs live weekly on Wednesdays, 1-2 p.m. Eastern Time, from our home station WIOX 91.3 FM, Roxbury, NY (in the Catskills). You would be our first guest of the hour.

    “First Voices Radio” has 81 public, community and commercial radio station affiliates throughout the U.S. and Canada.

    We hope you are available. Please let me know and I will send you more details.

    Of course, you would be able to do the interview by phone. Please also let me know if you have any questions. (Would it be possible to correspond via email? My email address is liz@lizhillpr.com? I wasn’t able to locate an email address for you.)

    Thank you for your consideration.

    With very best regards,

    Liz Hill

    Liz Hill (Red Lake Ojibwe)
    Producer
    “First Voices Radio” – All-Native Hosted, All-Native Produced
    WIOX 91.3 FM in the Catskills, Roxbury NY
    (808) 856-6012 (mobile)
    liz@lizhillpr.com
    http://www.wioxradio.org
    http://www.firstvoicesindigenousradio.org
    http://www.facebook.com/FirstVoicesIndigenousRadio

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  2. Norman Trabulsy Jr.

    Hi Kenn,

    I connect with your thoughts and feelings re: grief………………………..
    I hope you don’t mind me posting this here.
    It hasn’t been published, and likely will not be.

    What the world needs now.
    Now that we’ve failed.

    And, we have failed, haven’t we? Who can argue the point? “Team Humans” has failed. Aren’t each and every one of us a member of this team?

    These last few years, with the rapidly emerging reports coming in on climate change, species extinction and the science that surrounds these reports, I have entered into a problematic relationship with most of my fellow humans. I presently find it difficult to truly engage with a “rational adult” now. Why? Because one would think that, after hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution, we could do better than condemning our species, indeed millions of species, to annihilation in the near term. And then, refuse to discuss it.

    Many thoughts are sobering. Most articles I read on counterpunch are sobering. Yet, what can compare with the thought of being a member of a team that will have ended most life on earth? I ask this question seriously, with a heavy heart.

    No more are those who raise these issues Chicken Littles. The realities of rapidly diminishing life on earth are in full view. That we have divorced ourselves from the world which sustains us is what allows us to ignore the experiential, academic, and psychological warnings screaming for our attention. We are now adrift. Intellectually, physically, spiritually and psychologically removed from ourselves, from our earth. We are now wedded to things which have no meaning. None.

    I can’t find a way to shake the sadness. I am too often very depressed. My will to live has diminished. I am no longer excited to see most people. I am not happy about the recent scientific reports, but neither do I feel it is responsible to ignore them, simply so that “I” will feel better. And, as for friends and family who have figured out how to “focus on the positive”, who have placed their faith and fate with god, who have had their head in the sand for 40+ years, I must say that I am left with a feeling of being abandoned. Abandoned by those who have the capacity for change, yet want no part of what is involved. No deviation from the comfort of doing things the way we always have, no matter the consequences for our children. But, maybe I’m the one who has it all wrong. Maybe it is time to “move on” and just enjoy myself, like I did when I was a kid. The reason I was voted class clown in high school. When I had not a care in the world.

    I engage more than a handful of counterpunch contributors. I have noticed a trend. More and more they are using the term “despair” to describe their own temperament, as they look out into the world at large. Is this feeling not justified? Is it not a warning sign, intended to make us sit up and pay attention? Or, is it like some say, a sign that we are “depressed” “imbalanced” “needing a vacation” or “that we should seek help”? Whom should I seek help from? A shrink from New York City? The recent posting by Robert Hunziker of the Jem Bendell Deep Adaptation video did make me feel “better”. Or, at least a feeling of not being completely alone in my anguish.

    Look around. How many people do you know who have even a clue as to the true human and earthly condition? Very few, right? To be accepted into, to be listened to, to be granted an audience with mainstream America, one must buy into a selfish, narcissistic, consumerist, faux Christian, warlike and indispensable beacon on the hill mentality. The unwavering patriotism, unthinking religiosity, and self righteous manifest destiny pronouncements have always left me somewhat embarrassed for our people, family and friends. And, isn’t this where we are?

    I am the recipient of many well-intended, predictable, sometimes identical responses, as those around me move further away from the reality staring us in the face. Inevitably, it is my delivery, my negativity, which is the problem they say. Not the fact that so few of us have the energy, perhaps even the intellectual capacity anymore, to engage in these serious matters. Most people, it seems, are in a self absorbed trance, substituting buying things, social media and the pursuit of money, for happiness, purpose and responsibility. They believe they are moving positively forward and contributing to the health of their family and country. They believe they are “living”.

    I hear the language. “I am worried about your health”, “What are you doing about it, besides talking about it?”, “Can’t you ever see the positive?” “Maybe you should be a teacher.” “Maybe you should seek help.” Always the same.

    “Tipping Points” are generally talked about in relation to earth’s physical characteristics. But, I would proffer that we have reached a tipping point psychologically whereby the inertia of denial and detachment have overtaken even our latent ability to see the truth right in front of us. It is no longer just fake news, it is now a fake reality. We are discussing near term extinction, but there is no emotion, no passion, no sense of urgency. How did this come to be?

    There is no question that we have dirtied our nest, all the while taking advice from those who are our “leaders”. Why, after all this time are we still listening to them? Whether they are the presidents, Congress, the titans of industry, the military leaders, bankers, spiritual leaders, or those who have amassed fortunes. What, and where has their leadership gotten us? When a team of star players has a losing season, who do you fire first? Of course, the coach. Yet, we are still taking advice from the same old failed leadership.

    The bottom line is this; We need to radically reduce our consumption, and to re-imagine our place on this small earth. We need to abandon this childish fantasy of Capitalist freedom. It has never existed. Who, simply by looking at the increasing number of humans groveling to feed their families, true suffering, as well as, the decimation of our fellow species, can say that this is the best we can do? Save for a handful of greedy individuals who use their money to sculpt the world into one of their shallow liking, what in the long run has Capitalism produced? Capitalism has produced runaway economic inequality, a diminished earth life force and crap that has no use. The results are in. Fuck Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan and all of the other pseudo-intellectuals; children who never learned to share their toys. If they played at all.

    My deep daily sadness comes from my heart, with each sunrise dawning on a day with too much death. Preventable death. The death of innocents in Afghanistan and Yemen. The death of coral reefs and rain forests. The death of elephants. The death of whales. The death of whole miraculous ecosystems. The death of common decency. Death unnoticed, it seems. Where are the tears?

    Yet, there are many things that do make me smile daily.
    My son Malachi just turned 4. He is a fount of joy and energy. I work very hard and passionately to show him the wonders around us. Wonders disappearing far too fast. The very things that have made my life rich. The diversity and abundance of life. The historical trend is clear, and getting clearer.

    I am scrambling. I am scrambling to show Malachi as much as I can before more of this awe inspiring life disappears. I am scrambling to show him these things before I disappear from his life. I just turned 60.

    Fortunately, we do not have to go far to find our oasis. Our world, at present, is full of life. Malachi does not just refer to a lizard. He says, “Look, my friend the lizard.” We have green anoles, brown anoles, skinks, curly tailed lizards, geckos, all of which he can identify, at four years old. He said “Wow” with enthusiasm as I placed a juvenile ashy gecko in his hand yesterday morning. Here is a test, dear reader. Type in, “juvenile ashy gecko images” into your search engine. If you do not say “Wow”, you may already be too far gone. Too far removed from the miracle of life and too psychologically battered by the world of things. Money, clothes, gadgets, gifts. Too far gone to be counted on to help save what makes us who we are.

    As Malachi and I stand in the shallow, crystal clear water we spot a small barracuda, changing colors as if drifts from the seagrass to sand bottom. A sea turtle pokes its head above water for a breath in the distance, and we both catch the fleeting moment. Later, as we walk the beach, Malachi bends down to pick up a shell. He takes it to the water’s edge, rinses it off, brings it over and hands it to me. “Here’s a nice one, dad.” All other gifts in the world pale in comparison. Malachi is four.

    Shall I ignore the scientific reports? Shall I listen to those who say that I am only one person and cannot change the world? Realizing that our home here in The Bahamas is high on the list of countries that will be underwater sooner than later. Or, should I consider that in a few years this world, on the present trajectory, will be devoid of most of the life that animates Malachi and I yet today. And that he will be left with the trappings of “civilized” life? A make believe life of Facebook, TV, movies, clothes, automobiles, video games and more, always more.

    Malachi can name the white ibis, a turkey vulture, snowy egret, osprey, a seagull, and one of his favorites, the great lizard cuckoo. He instinctively looks to the sky when we are walking down to the beach. He knows the osprey is a bird of prey, has talons, and they eat fish. We watch it hover high, then dive. We listen to its call from the top of the coconut palm, so that he can recognize the osprey even without seeing it. He is four. This is what I want him to know and to love.

    I grew up in southeast Florida in the 60’s and 70’s. I wish counterpunch had the space, and I the time, to tell you what I saw, experienced, and who I am because of the wondrous life that the once great state of Florida beheld. The land, the rivers, lakes, lagoon and the ocean were full of life. The manatees, dolphin, alligators, snakes, the coral reefs. Mind-blowing abundance and diversity of life. Too much for one essay. And now, I am often saddened by these memories. Saddened by marvelous memories. How ironic. Maybe this is just what we need. More focus on that which is fading from memory.

    What is assisted suicide, when we’re already dead?
    Many of us vocally entertain favorably the idea of having our loved ones “pull the plug” on us when we are considered “brain dead”, unable to respond, communicate, or care for ourselves. But, what of our “brain dead” condition now, at present, in being unable to even acknowledge our inability to care for and respond to our own species peril and the unfathomably clear downward spiral of the living world we inhabit? We are unable to even have the conversation. Of course it’s uncomfortable. Invariably, we choose to shun those who would bring up the discussion. We prefer to surround ourselves with cheerleaders. We busy ourselves with things, distractions, and make-work so that we don’t have to think. Really think. We remain mired in the shallow “positive thinking” alone. Living, acting, and consuming like we always have, as if a positive, happy-go-lucky outlook alone will change anything. As if, there is no existential crisis demanding our full attention. As if the speeding bus with failed brakes, with all our kids in it is not heading for the cliff. No one screaming “STOP!”. This, this is the true failure of our educational system. Educational “system”, not just the schools.

    And as the news gets worse and worse, we seem to want to talk about it less and less. As it did this year. Hottest days on record. 60% of wildlife gone. Glaciers melting. Pesticides prevalent. Bees disappearing. Massive fires. Rising sea levels. Whales and seabirds engorged with plastic. More potent storms. Ocean pollution, air pollution, tainted drinking water everywhere. Increased military spending and increased likelihood of nuclear annihilation.

    In my view, revolution does not necessarily mean topsy turvy anarchy. Thought I admit to a silent guilty pleasure in thinking it does. But, what it really means to me is a radical change in direction. The idea that a revolution in values, in thinking, in ways of doing business, would create suffering and hardship is the fallacy. Anyone who looks carefully at the stages of drug addition understands the power of the mind to justify our destructive behavior. Once overcome, we wonder how we ever got “there” in the first place.

    The reality is that this revolution is critically necessary for our survival. It is necessary for our happiness. It should not be hard to envisage a world of cooperation, of sharing, of compassion, of sustainability. It should not be hard to imagine us humans sculpting a living, breathing earth into one that is even more alive, healthier, greener, bluer, because we humans are here. Technology is not a two-edged sword. It is a tool. We were given the power and opportunity to make this world a better place. We have failed to do so. Our thinking skill set is the two-edged sword.

    Sometimes I have this recurring dream. It starts while I’m sleeping, then taunts me into making it part of my day when I wake up. It is a real dream, not one I am making up for this essay. It is not a fantasy dream either. It is firmly rooted in truth. It is not by chance that those who look closely at our human predicament take a second look at indigenous peoples. As Senegalese naturalist Baba Dioun said, “In the end, we will protect only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” We cannot save what we do not know, even when it is right in front of us. The majority of us now, it seems, spend our lives inside at the office, inside our cars, inside of our homes, inside of the mall, inside of our schools, inside of the church, perhaps in front of a keyboard. Reading and research can give us an update on the condition of our earthly body, but it can never instill the passion and nuanced perfection of being immersed in the miraculous life around us. For most Americans, this is where we are. This is why we are desensitized to the death spiral of life on earth. This is why there is a death spiral in the first place. We have tilted our faith and worship towards a god that we have created in our likeness. A man-made god. Not our earth god. A terrible miscalculation, in my view. My criticism of Christianity in particular, and of religion in general, seems to be the straw that broke some of the last remaining ties to family and friends.

    There is a basic wisdom in children. Not original sin. That we cannot teach our kids of the many friends around us, as in “my friend the lizard” is the true crime. That we believe that humans are the center of the universe is the selfish meme that has allowed mankind to become so haughty, self aggrandizing, so readily rushing headlong into the time of the second coming, of eternal salvation. The center of the universe. Yikes. What do I, what can I, say now?

    Spiritually has its place, and may be what will truly save us. Facing reality and our place in it also has its place. A place where so few want to go. Hopefully, I will soon move through my feelings of despair. Once I do, will I be any more able to connect with those around me? I am doubtful.

    Now, I ask us here at counterpunch, why do we still write? Personally, for more than 40 years I have put pen to paper to oppose environmental injustices, human injustices and anything else that prevented me from being truly comfortable. I do not consider myself a writer. I write because I have to. And, there are many here who have devoted much more time than I on these issues. And, true writers they are. So, what do we really have to show for it? Honestly! The doomsday clock is at two minutes to midnight. My home state of Florida is in tatters, finished, dead as a door nail. We are staring near term human extinction in the face. After all these years, after all these trillions of printed words pleading for sanity, this is where we are. Today, I write merely to vomit up the bad stuff. Do we really, really, deep down think our sitting at a keyboard, removing ourselves from the living world is doing any good? Personally, I am stuck between this ingrained cultural belief in perseverance, and a certain idea that doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result, is the definition of insanity. So, am I doggedly determined? A virtue. Or, am I truly insane?

    I am full of facts. They are useless inside of me where most of them stay. I can talk tropical marine biology all day. I can tell you a lot about the restaurant business, about being a charter boat captain taking guests to snorkel the coral reef, about back country kayak guiding, about carpentry, about economics, about backpacking across the U.S., about single-handing my sailboat in rough seas.

    What does any of this matter as I watch the world’s life force dwindle? What does any of this matter as my personal relationships crumble and my hope fade?

    Just where should I “seek help” for this condition?

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    1. Noah / Kig V2 / Faux Pax

      Hey Norman.
      I just turned 22. I don’t know what to do either.
      I was born in this age of attention economy, of apathy, of corporate monoculture.
      I used to participate. I’m fairly good looking, I’m funny, I’m entertaining. I’ve always been weird, and looked down upon as being a bit anti-social or the like, but once upon a time I had a wide network of acquaintances. I regularly posted on social medias, and got a decent share of likes and the sort. I was someone that people always wanted to hang out with…I never really wanted to hang out with others, and I was never sure why.
      Suddenly, after years in the making, I blew up. I told everyone how I was homicidal and suicidal. The thoughts that festered in my head. It was very public–an intentional social suicide.
      A lot happened since then. I met the love of my life. I delved into learning more about the true nature of the world.
      When I was so full of hate–both inwards and outwards–I knew it was for a good reason. But as I’ve delved into the dark recesses of the Internet, the lingering doubt I’ve always had that I was truly just delusional or insane or evil or unrealistic has melted away. All my intuition, confirmed, and then some. I’ve learned just exactly how fucked our world is, from big, sweeping, catastrophic events on a global scale, overt and covert, to the tiny little toxic nuances in hum-drum daily life.
      I read a lot of CounterPunch. I absorb a lot of content on YouTube, too–socialists, “conspiracy theorists,” environmentalists, spiritualists, and plenty of others who don’t have a concise label. People who see the world for what it really is.
      Of course, I’m already sold on the idea, so what good am I doing by consuming more of these hard truths?
      Presumably, to equip myself better with the facts and figures and dot-connections so I can muster influence and use it to change the world for the better.
      Only, now, I’m further removed from my peers than I’ve ever been before. All the acquaintances quickly melted away, sure, that was to be expected. Then friends and family. That’s still hard to contend with. But my CORE. My CORE PEOPLE, I now feel abandoned by as well. My beloved, and my best friend, and my mother. These three have always formed the bedrock to my connection with humanity…and now…now I don’t know. I’m worried these three have resigned to their lives…sure, they might believe some basics, like that the government is corrupt or that life unfairly favors the rich, but they don’t busy their minds with the details. I’m pretty sure they don’t think about it from day-to-day.
      I’m so lost. I don’t know what to do. I hate that “THEY” are reading this right now. I hate that nobody feels this despair you speak of, nobody but a handful of authors on some relatively obscure website that I post a link to every once and a while that nobody ever reads. I always just thought I was unusually interested in politics, but, no. I just can’t turn my brain of. This “negativity.” I’ve realized that my depression and anxiety aren’t caused by defects in my mind, or emotions, or physique, but rather, they’re signs that I’m one of the last healthy people left. Maybe once, when I was younger, I would have declared this with arrogance and a sense of superiority, but now, I wish it wasn’t true. It’s hard being on an island.
      Peace, love, reason and bounty.

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      Reply
    2. morrisMorris Herman

      Can you be available for a skype interview about indigenous people?
      I have over 50,000 youtube subscribers
      youtube.com/108morris108
      I see no contact details
      My skype name is maurice108108

      Like

      Reply
    3. Carol Anne Smith

      Hi Norman, thank you for sharing. Heartbreaking stuff. I feel your pain and grief. These ongoing crimes against humanity and against every other living thing on this planet is so hard to bear witness to. But yet it seems bear it we must, It’s such a very heavy weight and those who do not feel it are not awake to reality. Thank you for putting words to what all of us who are awake feel every moment of every day as that black cloud constantly looms menacingly over our heads even when we are smiling. The tragedy of it all is unbearable to shoulder alone, and knowing there are others who feel the same as we is at least a small comfort. So I thank you again for sharing your thoughts. It is all we can do as these monsters in power continue to kill our planet. I wish you strength. 🙏

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  3. Eric Sundin

    Ref your 3/15/19 Counterpunch article: Grieving in the Anthropocene

    May I add to your description about yourself: a poet of solidarity (not the self-absorbed, mopey one so much in fashion)?

    As here:

    “And I have begun to relate even more to Edvard Munch’s iconic painting “The Scream.” It seems to me to be the perfect emblem of our times, an unheard anthem of despair silenced by the absurdity of an omnicidal status quo.”

    “But this time I decided to not chase that specter of sorrow away. For a brief moment I wouldn’t view him as an adversary, but as a companion. So I embraced him like a long lost friend and he smiled at me and said, ‘What took you so long?'”

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  4. pjwalkerzorro

    Hey Kenn, I’m a fellow CounterPunch writer and activist (co-founder of the Bernie or Bust movement), and I just read your CP piece “The Banality of Imperialism” (the title intrigued me). Perhaps you’ve seen my own CP piece “Venezuelan Coup Democrats Vomit on Green New Deal.” Anyway, I think an imperialist GND is doomed to failure, and I’m disgusted the Sunrise Movement isn’t saying that–especially when the imperialism in Venezuela includes a perverse anti-climate OIL coup. Anyway, we have important common ground, and I’d love to chat. My e-mail is pjwalkerzorro@yahoo.com. (P,S. Despite being a Bernie or Bust co-founder, I’m disgusted with Sanders’ cowardly statement on Venezuela–fully affirming the establishment’s grounds for the coup while mildly distancing himself from it.)

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Kevin Barker

    Enjoyed your piece on the recent RCMP military coup in northern B.C. against the Wet’suwet’en nation. I’d be interested to see the qui bono behind this multi billion dollar boondoggle. I’m watching the Privy Council.

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. Stephen Tan

    Hello Kenn

    We came across your article,

    The Legacy of Emmett Till

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/10/26/the-legacy-of-emmett-till/

    and would like to run it on our website.

    Some of the writers whose articles have appeared on our website include Jeffrey St Clair, Paul Craig Roberts, Mike Whitney, Prof Mohd Shahid Alam, Uri Avnery, Lee Ballinger, Kim Nicolini, Dave Zirin, Mike Ferner and Noel Vera.

    While we are in no position to pay for the article, all credits will be provided and the article will be linked back to you and your website.

    We hope you have no objections and we look forward to a favourable response.

    Thank you and regards

    Stephen Tan
    http://www.bigomagazine.com

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
      1. David Walters

        Ken,

        Loved you piece on U.S. militarism. Regrettably, there’s exactly not one damned thing that the ordinary citizen can do about it.

        Best,

        David

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Richard M Oxman

    Respecting the thrust of your article on our nuclear dynamic, Kenn, I humbly and respectfully ask you and your readers to contact me ASAP about a “plan for action” which follows a fresh paradigm. To make a big enough difference soon enough. The “game plan” carries the imprimaturs of Howard Zinn and a score of high profile international figures, so it’s not something just from the top of my head. It’s been tweaked by the bottom up for decades. I can be reached at aptosnews@gmail.com. I’ll send my references and phone number once anyone reaches out. We are documenting, discussing, debating, demonstrating, diverting and delaying ourselves to death in lieu of doing something new in solidarity. That’s why I’m reaching out to you. Not to push my plan for change. Rather, to discuss it and bring up viable options, if there are any. Blessings, Richard Martin Oxman

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. pdxwiz

    I love the phrase “weary but committed activist”. I believe that exactly expresses what so many of us “of a certain age” are feeling these days. DId I honestly believe that I had DONE all my marching and protesting back in the 60’s and 70’s? I think I really felt that I earned this respite called retirement but I see now that our experienced lives and voices are more needed now than ever before if only to inform by exemplar the behavior and outrage that every succeeding generation MUST aspire to. That still does not make me not tired.

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. Mel Strawn

    Ken,

    I’ve come to enjoy your offerings/blog–and have commented I believe once or twice. A question: Do you accept “posts” to share on your blog…by way of a “comment”? For instance, I have, like you, written quite a bit on topics consistent with your concerns. Most recently a short review-with-considerations of E.O.Wilson’s newest book, Half- Earth. (I am an artist, writer and Prof Emeritus,University of Denver. Also founder of a 350.org chapter in Central Colorado; My writings/posts/comments are independent of that, however.)

    Liked by 2 people

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  10. feyindie

    Thank you for your insightful essay. It is full of inescapable truths that our society chooses to willfully deny. I will be reading your work with interest in the future and sharing it too.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  11. Pingback: Bearing Witness | Collapse of Industrial Civilization

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