Hi lovely Earthlings!
This section is for us. Yes, it is about our being Earthlings like everybody else: Earthlings, those who live on Earth, the only “home,” the only “oikos,” the only ecosystem that will have us over. Aha! And you thought this WAS your home. But no, this is home to life. Gaia, our hostess is kind enough to let us stay only as long as we’re a welcome addition to her. As Chief Seattle puts it, “the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth.” How ironic! For Western science to “discover” something so simple and self evident, a whole controversial theory had to be invented: Gaia theory. Seattle knew way before! “Men” he claims, are simple “strands” in the web of life. There is no foothold for us on Gaia because she is sovereign. As Seattle puts it, we are “like waves in the sea.” And most scientists of course don’t want to hear any of this, one way or the other, even today. They are so prejudiced! Then they claim that “science” is the only real way to know. Oh well . . . .
“The Land Is Sacred to Us”
Chief Seattle’s Lament, Cont’d
One thing we know, Our God is the same God. This earth is precious to Him. Even the white man cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see.
This we know: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know: All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
But we will consider your offer to go to the reservation you have for my people. We will live apart, and in peace. It matters little where we spend the rest of our days. Our children have seen their fathers humbled in defeat. Our warriors have felt shame, and after defeat they turn their days in idleness and contaminate their bodies with sweet foods and strong drink. It matters little where we pass the rest of our days. Tribes are made of men, nothing more. Men come and go like waves of the sea.
Did you notice the wisdom of these words? The Washington Chief assumes Chief Seattle thinks he owns the land. Chief Seattle knows better. And he is honest. Nobody really owns any land. The earth own itself. It is sovereign. This is where religion comes in. We cannot prove that the earth is sovereign in a laboratory experiment. However, we can find out after we destroy it with our own selves. So, no matter how much we know or think we know, there will always be something important we don’t quite know for sure. We will need a “belief system” to fill up that space where mystery is present. So why not choose a belief system that makes sense? One that serves us well and may very well protect us from being our own henchman? That’s where Native American religion helps! It sacralizes nature and reflects the very deep, widely time tested knowledge of long-time dwellers of the Western Hemisphere: those humans who crossed over through the sliver of land that was the Bering Straight during the latest glaciation some 18-20,000 years ago!
Stay tuned for the next step. We will post every Monday at noon.
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Come back! And stay tuned for more wonders.
Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio, PhD
Gilf Gaia Extraordinaire
University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez
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