When our cultural story changes, then the paradigms guiding our behaviors change, and so will everything else.
Who will we become? I hope we have enough time to find out.
Part of the new story has to be to value older chapters of our human story. We all began as indigenous people. Homo Sapiens, as upright two leggeds, emerged on the planet as long ago as 750,000 years ago according to Smithsonian Institute. We learned how to live by relating to, responding to, the world around us.
How did we know what to do? I can only imagine, but it makes sense to me that because we didn’t have language in words back then we paid attention to our feelings. We used our bodies – our gestures and sounds – to communicate how to behave. An ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh is different from an ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
We behaved in response to what we needed. And how did we know what we needed? By feeling it. Have you ever noticed how some feelings stiffen your body? Some feelings contract our muscles, give us goose bumps, bring tears to our eyes, elicit involuntary sounds of awe or make our knees vibrate so quickly that it’s hard to stay upright. Other feelings send warmth and relaxation through our bodies.
Have you been paying attention to those sensations? It’s not surprising if you haven’t been, because our contemporary culture for the last two thousand years, give or take, has encouraged us NOT to feel.
And when we don’t feel, we lose a great deal of our intelligence.
One of the ways we have separated ourselves even further from Earth and each other is the split we’ve created between indigenous and non-indigenous. Since all humans are linked to our origins as native to Earth, springing up from the miracle of life complexifying, that unnatural split has uprooted those of us with old European ancestry from our own native roots. And the pain of our traumatic severance from our earth-based wisdom, spiritual traditions, languages and belonging, has turned us into violators, oppressors and disconnected automatons.
Martin Lee Mueller in Being Salmon, Being Human on pp 194-95 describes my perspective more articulately than I: Indigeneity is not a status…nor is it a title one holds. It is a competence, a capability, … (a) fine-tuning (0f) your presence in an ongoing dialectic with the places you inhabit…you negotiate and renegotiate the terms of your presence with those who dwell there alongside you – with salmon, otter, whale, raven, with other human communities…Rather than a remnant of the past, rather than a certain ‘developmental stage’ in our ongoing creative adaptation as human animals, and rather than an ethnic category, indigeneity describes a lived quality that is possible anywhere, at any time. More than that, it describes a quality of participation with Earth that is necessary for any community, if they wish to endure within the storied unfolding of a fully animate, living planet.
His description of indigeneity illustrates a way forward to a new story for all humans.
All of us need to embrace our indigeneity.
We need to forgive each other. We need to recognize that what we Europeans have done to the native peoples all over this globe is what we did to each other earlier: remember “witches” being burned, drowned, tortured to appreciate the persecution we’ve done – caucasian to caucasian. All life has been traumatized. Let us stop the carnage now and embrace instead the shared miracle of being alive on this tiny, fecund planet, alone amidst a universe which science keeps discovering is vaster than our wildest imaginations.