Monday, 19 February 2018

Wise Words: Our Birthright

Part of the reason that this culture is killing the planet is that it ignores, devalues, or demonizes messages from those places where writing comes from, where dreams come from, where so many other impulses and ideas and beings come from. It tries to create a rigid separation between what it calls the human on one hand, and what it calls the natural, and especially what it calls the supernatural, on the other; it then favors what it calls the human at the extreme expense of everything else.
The fundamental difference between civilized and indigenous ways of being is that for even the most open-minded of the civilized, listening to the natural world is a metaphor. For traditional indigenous peoples it is not a metaphor; it is how you relate to the real world. 

I am not indigenous. Not in the slightest. I will never be indigenous. I am simply a living member of a living universe, and so are you. The experience of listening to and communicating with nonhumans—including other mammals, other animals, fungi, plants, bacteria, and others; and even beings this culture does not even consider to be living, such as rivers, rocks, mountains, stars, soil, and others; and also beings this culture does not even consider to exist, such as muses, dreamgivers, spirits, and others—is the birthright of every one of us. Our culturally imposed exile from these relationships—this culturally imposed echo chamber in which we find ourselves imprisoned—is one of the costs this culture inflicts upon us.

(Derrick Jensen, Dreams, Seven Stories Press: New York, 2011, pp. ix–x; my emphasis in bold)

4 comments:

  1. Ah, thank you for sharing this thought-provoking insight. I think I have been trying to get to this realization—not understanding what the nature of the barrier between my yearning self and the natural world. We do see it as metaphor because we have no remaining tradition or knowledge of the earth's language. Its beauty and wholeness speaks to me through the language of emotion, but I do not know what it is saying or how to communicate back other than whisper words of praise and gratitude. Maybe that is a beginning.

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    1. There are indigenous traditions that state that the role of humans is to praise the earth, to continually show gratitude, so I think you are right. That is a beginning. Thank you, Carmine.

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  2. I often say that the birthright of every creature---humans included---is, or should be, wholeness. but as the above states, "culturally imposed exile" from kinship with all that is has taken away our wholeness in so many ways; not least of which is the shocking sense of loneliness we have as modern humans. we have been made deaf to the rest of the world, which is a loss to us at the very soul level, and intensely hazardous for the world as a whole.

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    1. Yes, I agree. That's why we need to learn to listen once more—to nonhumans, to dreams, to our intuitions. Even if we're not always sure what such things are saying, or how to communicate back, it's a start.

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