Eighteen Rabbit

As someone with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies, I am fascinated by all things Mayan. The Mayans had a very highly developed culture. They understood the concept of zero long before the Europeans did. They had a very accurate calendar. They performed complex surgery, accurately charted the movement of the planets, were very skilled mathematicians and agriculturalists, and possessed a very detailed written language in the form of hieroglyphs.

I would love to visit the Mayan cities of Tikal in Guatemala, Palenque in Mexico, and above all, Copan in Honduras. Copan intrigues me the most because at its height, it produced the most sophisticated art in Mayan history. This was due to the influence of one man, whom we call Eighteen Rabbit.

Eighteen Rabbit’s actual name was Uaxaclajuun Ubʼaah Kʼawiil. If you can figure out how to pronounce that, you’re most welcome to use it. Personally, I’ll stick with Eighteen Rabbit.

He ruled Copan during its height, from January 2, 695 to May 3, 738. How can we be so exact? The Mayan calendar was just that accurate, and this ruler’s history is detailed in the heiroglyphs of that city. So today is the 1,325th anniversary of the beginning of his reign. Tempus fugit.

The city of Copan really thrived under his rule. He commissioned the construction of great temples, and there was an explosion of art throughout the city. I genuinely believe that when you’ve gone beyond the purely utilitarian and are able to focus on art, you’ve reached a whole new level of advancement. Eighteen Rabbit was the biggest patron of the arts in all of Mayan history.

And speaking of history, he took that quite seriously as well. He constructed the Heiroglyphic Stairway just 15 years after he ascended the throne. The staircase is 63 steps high, and made of 1,250 blocks containing 2,200 hieroglyphs. It the longest Mayan text known to exist, and it describes the history of Copan in great detail.

It is quite evident that Eighteen Rabbit wanted to preserve the story of his people. That, to me, indicates that he believed in education, and took pride in the Mayan culture. That’s impressive.

He’d be horrified to know that many of the steps in the Heiroglyphic Stairway are now out of order. When they were rediscovered, they were a jumbled pile of blocks, due to a landslide, and when reassembled, archeologists didn’t understand the heiroglyphs as well as they do today. A lot has been corrected, but still, we only understand about 71 percent of what these stairs say. I can’t help but feel as though we’ve let Eighteen Rabbit down.

Given that, it’s all the more sad to contemplate how he met his end. While there is evidence of regional wars, ritual sacrifices and bloodletting ceremonies throughout Mayan history, and no doubt Eighteen Rabbit participated in all of the above, it is now believed that he was not waging war at the time of his death. Rather, he was simply traveling in the region.

During those travels, he was abducted by the ruler of a much smaller Mayan outpost, and this man had Eighteen Rabbit beheaded. After that, we see a notable decline in Copan’s art and architecture. It never recovered. I find this tragic.

But it makes me happy to know that, once upon a time, there was an amazing man who wanted to advance his people, and his legacy remains. Thank you, Eighteen Rabbit. You still have much to teach.

Eighteen Rabbit
Eighteen Rabbit

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Facts about the Caravan

There is so much panic and false information floating around social media about the migrant caravan that’s making its way northward through Mexico that I thought I should weigh in, here. People are using these migrants as political pawns. Fine. But if you’re going to base your mid term votes on this issue, please at least get your facts straight. Then feel free to make your own decisions.

First of all, lets look at the raw numbers. Seven thousand people sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Enough for an invasion. Actually, given that the population of the US is now well over 328,800,000, well, this caravan comprises less than 0.002 percent of our population.

That’s a tiny little number. Think about it. If you had acne on 0.002 percent of your face, you wouldn’t even have bothered asking the photographer to airbrush your high school yearbook photo.

And of that tiny little percentage of humanity, many of them are women and children. So no need to lock up your daughters. You’re safe. (Also, from the looks of them, they haven’t even crossed the bulk of Mexico yet, and they are already exhausted, thirsty, hungry, and hardly in any shape to mount an invasion. Could you walk 2000 miles with toddlers and then kick the butt of the most militarized nation on the planet? I don’t think so.)

Even if all 7,000 were given asylum in the US, that would come to 140 people per state. Surely we could absorb that number. Especially since they are fleeing violence and/or seeking a better life for their families, just as my grandparents did (and yours as well, most likely).

But here’s the thing. 7,000 will never be given asylum in this country, even in a more politically friendly atmosphere. More like a couple hundred at most. If that. You know how I know? Because these caravans have been happening FOR THE PAST 20 YEARS.

Yup. Years. Matter of fact, the last one happened just last April. There was also one in April of 2017. You know why you’ve forgotten about it, even though Trump predictably freaked out back then as well? Because, of the over a thousand people who participated that time, only 108 sought asylum in the US, and of those, more than half were immediately denied. So the world did not come to an end.

This particular caravan just happened to be timed badly enough to be twisted into a conservative talking point prior to the mid term elections, at a time when the republicans are terrified that they will lose congressional power.

Here are some other things you need to know, according to Politifact.

  • Trump tweeted that “unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in” with this group, but even he had to finally admit that there is ZERO evidence of that. The fact that he would even say that should show you what his motivations are. He wants you to be afraid. And that will probably work, if you are the type that thinks that all Middle Easterners are terrorists.

  • This caravan is not using trains or buses. The photos you are probably seeing floating around Facebook are from previous caravans. Most of these people are walking, and many have toddlers in tow. They’re lucky to make 10 miles a day.

  • These immigrants are not burning the American flag, nor are they carrying the Honduran flag. They also haven’t painted any swastikas on the American flag, or defaced one in any way. (It would be rather counterproductive if they did, wouldn’t it? Think about it.)

And here’s a good point from Snopes. It’s not the Mexican government’s responsibility to make immigrant decisions for the United States. They are not our servants or our lackeys. They are their own country and can do whatever they want therein. So stop being pissed off at Mexico for not turning these people around before they become “our problem”.

Another point. And I’m drawing from an article in Wired for this personal conclusion: While many conspiracies out there are trying to say that this is some grand liberal agenda, get a grip. Why would liberals want to fire up the conservative base in such a fashion? What on earth would liberals gain?

Please use some common sense, people. Breathe. Think.

And please vote.

Migrant Caravan

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