Saturday, August 3, 2013

Re-introducing Humans to the Wild; Restoring Balance with Mother Earth

"We are living today only because the generations before us - our ancestors - provided for us by the manner of their responsible living."    ~Simon Ortiz

   In a time and place where the culture of the industrialized world is dominant, humans seem to be neglecting their relationship and forgetting their responsibility towards earth and how to live directly with her.  Mainstream society has a dualistic relationship with the land; either exploiting it or preserving and leaving it alone, both of these extremes being destructive.  At one end of a spectrum there is conserving wild places, keeping human interaction with them minimal (a day hike, camping, etc.).  Inherently, when these places are visited or preserved, there is a separation from them.  People come from the outside for a short time and then leave.  To preserve a place and treat it as though humans would harm it if they touch it is an indicator of a fractured culture.  If there is an attitude of 'leave no trace' then how can we feel a belonging here?  The trace we leave isn't inherently detrimental, just as a bird, snake or ants is not.  Of course a trace will be left, and hopefully, in the sense of the words definition 'a small amount or barely noticeable indication'.  At the other end of this spectrum there is exploitation (which created the need to protect the land in the first place).  There is an extractivist mentality of relating with the Earth.  This leads to a monoculture with harmful farming practices, clear cutting, strip mining and water poisoning.  Wildness disappears and culture ends up finding its place rooted in something unsustainable and disconnected.

   If humans are to continue here on Earth, we must begin again to live sustainably.  Not sustainably in the sense of electric cars, solar panels, radiant flooring and biodegradable eating utensils, but in a deeper sense (although, sure, these things may be a small step in a more considerate direction).  This deeper sense of sustainability comes from having an intimate relationship with the natural world.

   There is a way beyond this paradigm, a life way where humans live together, physically, on the ground, rooted in a place with nature.  Daily practices involve engaging directly with this place and a wholesome relationship with it thus developed.  This direct relationship demands greater awareness and reverent responsibility which inherently cultivates a healthy basis for deep, sustainable living.  This is where we can begin to weave and mend the fragments of a fragmented world.  This is where we can remember our deepest relationship with all.   


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