142) Coming Full Circle: Part 2 — Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land

We, of the modern, global, technological, 21st century world of science and post-colonialism and such, now are beginning to understand that humans have ALWAYS known how to organize ourselves better than we are, in most places, today.  It is, in essence, the indigenous way.  

(Obviously, that’s a huge generalization and you can’t just lump “indigenous cultures” into a “Way” like they are homogeneous.  That’s clearly absurd. Furthermore, this is not to say that “indigenous cultures” have always been perfect and peaceful and wise and perfectly adapted to their environments, etc.  Obviously, all cultures have lurched along through trial and error, and in conflict with others around them, and often in battle over resources.  Humanity is messy, after all.  As are all animals, over evolutionary time.)

What I mean to emphasize is that, from the perspective of “how can humans manage their societies on this planet?”, the best understanding that we now collectively have, is, in essence, the common wisdom that is shared among indigenous cultures, broadly speaking; such as: 

  • a community-based way of making decisions and taking care of each other, 
  • a soft hierarchy of respect-based-power shared amongst many members of the community, and balanced in complex ways between all genders, 
  • a profoundly deep “land ethic”, whereby one’s very “self” is experienced as belonging to the land, rather than the “self” being separate, and “the land” being a thing that you can use as you wish,
  • honouring the Spirits and Ancestors in ways that are interwoven with daily life,
  • sharing community rituals universally within the tribe (e.g., song, dance, ceremonies, etc.),
  • And, through their awareness being immersed in the womb of Nature, indigenous cultures are, always, deeply knowledgeable about the complex web of life around them.  There is no mystery as to why indigenous people around the world are so widely recognized as leaders and wisdom-keepers in environmental stewardship.

I often think that the real challenge of this 21st century, is for humans, globally speaking, to realize deeply our planetary indigenous status.  It feels awkward to say that, but I hope you know the way in which I mean it.  It’s a plea, for us to stop and listen to the wisdom of those who most deeply know the Earth.  That’s it; it’s really that simple.

* * * * *

Imagine, if you will, what would happen to this planet if we all stopped fighting wars, and hyper-consuming the Earth’s ‘resources’, and stopped the rivers of pollutants we spew every day, and we really reoriented to living on a LIVING planet.  

Imagine Nature, healed.  

Imagine the ecological paradise this planet could be.  Think of how truly rich life would be, on a vibrantly alive planet. Even our cities, could be green, self-sustaining, clean, healthy, beautiful places. Filled with gardens. Flowers. Trees. Bird song. Clean air. It’s like — why haven’t we done this already? How is what we have now, in our cities around the world, better?

  3 comments for “142) Coming Full Circle: Part 2 — Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land

  1. anu
    June 2, 2023 at 4:59 pm

    Hi Dan,

    It baffles me that more people don’t have a visceral sense of the interconnectedness and interdependence of the various natural systems that give rise to our existences (let alone life, in general). For example, I conceptualize us as a little part of the water cycle with our sweat evaporating in the heat, and the water we consume for the health of our cells. I am absolutely with you that we need to learn about our natural environment from people whose cultures are deeply tied to the Earth. Please keep sharing your positive visions of the future to counter the many visions of a dystopian future.

    It feels like the capitalistic mentality has its benefits. I’m not an expert, but from my understanding capitalism focuses on profit at the expense of, like, anything else. Focusing on profit so that growth can occur as rapidly as possible at the expense of mental/physical individual health (for example) created the structures around us today, some of which make life so comfortable, and appeal to people across the world seeking a “better life”. However, it has costs, too: the sole pursuit of profit can hurt people’s spirit & physical health, communities, and the natural environment. If some growth is valued more than a hit/hits on one of those fronts, then we take the hit(s). I can see how such a trade-off could even seem necessary in some cases. That said, it’s clear that’s not sustainable long term across various factors, or for every endeavour.

    I envision a future of mixed communities. What I mean is: a world with many smaller resilient local economies with slower growth, with varying degrees of connection to global services (of convenience that most of us are familiar with), and some locations from where these larger capitalistic ventures are pursued. This way perhaps diverse personalities could find roles that allow personal fulfillment (e.g. a rare # of people thrive on working 70hrs a week). I’m not sure if I am making sense, being realistic, or offering a positive or negative vision — but it’s what my limited understanding conceptualizes. Could you shed your light on this?

    Also, it feels like there’s so much more focus on the desirability of capitalistic ventures (cos it’s been the norm for a while?), and when one focuses on building local resiliency and autonomy one is perceived as a leftist hippie, or heck, a (spooky voice) communist (/spooky voice). That frustrates me so much. I mean, arguably wanting to preserve local communities and economy could be considered conservative, no? Conservation and conservative are words of the same branch, so-to-speak.

    If you read this all the way through, thank you for your time & energy.
    I understand this is a relatively long response.

    – Anu

    • dandolderman
      June 3, 2023 at 2:41 am

      Anu, this response is wonderful!! Never apologize, even implicitly, for taking time to share such carefully considered thoughts. I’m grateful! 🙂

      I resonate so much with what you’ve written here, and found it very thought-provoking as well. A longer response will have to wait a day or two…. 💖

      • anu
        June 8, 2023 at 4:28 pm

        Thank you, Clara 🙂

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