I recently meet a young farmer with whom I resonate. We could be soul-sisters though I’m old enough to be her grandmom. As we squat across from each other at parallel rows of onions, we uproot tender green plants who are not onions. No thinking required for this task so we chat. I tell her about my recent posts exploring the concept of indigeneity and my conclusion that all life on this planet, including that of humans, is indigenous. With concern in her tone and compassion in her glance, she asks,
“But what about reparations?”
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I have to think for a moment before I can respond.
What about reparations?
My first thought: How can we ever make amends for the extreme harm we humans have done to each other?
Second thought: How can my old-world lineage ever be repaired from the horror of losing the women who knew Earth medicine, the men who experienced divinity in the trees, the rivers and the stars?
Third thought tumbling quickly on the coattails of the first two: Reparations remind me of bandaids. The dominant culture thinks we can address our current climate poly-crisis with pay-backs: programs like carbon credits, so we can keep traveling as we always have, planting baby trees to replace the mature ones we cut down to pave another parking lot, or electric cars so we can keep driving whenever/wherever we want. The colonial mindset continues conjuring up offsets so we don’t have to change our lifestyles.
Is this what we mean by reparations: A plaque on a park bench somewhere in Germany reminding us that Jewish people used to live here?
How can we repair bodies damaged by chemical warfare or lives permanently impaired and diminished
by living in an affordable home deliberately built where toxicity from a nearby dump contaminates the water table and fouls the air.
Money given now doesn’t bring back lost lives.
Standing in the field with my new friend, I’m still fumbling with my streaming thoughts and then a lightning bolt flashes inside – goosebumps pop, eyes glisten, nose tickles- all signs that something true is about to spill from my mouth:
I blurt: Not in my backyard!
True reparations will be to recognize that
we all share the same backyard!!!!
( Many years ago, Julia Butterfly Hill said, “Where is away?”,
referring to the dominant culture’s mindset –
oh, just throw it away, out of sight, out of mind,
ie: put the bad stuff in someone else’s backyard…)
With all life at stake on this atmospherically limited globe,
we need new ways of seeing, thinking and behaving.
Imagine that we took seriously that last sentence in my prior post
May we heal our alienation from Earth
and come together
as extended family
where reverence abounds,
inclusion in the circle of life
guides every decision.
Imagine how we will live when human decisions are guided by
reverence and inclusion.
Imagine a kinship worldview.
Imagine that if YOU didn’t want IT in YOUR backyard,
and I didn’t want IT in MY backyard,
that we would choose NOT to proceed with whatever
process required IT to be put in anyone’s backyard.
Imagine how we’d behave if we all knew we shared the consequences
equally in the present moment
warring, damming, poisoning, destroying.
We would have taken a step as a species toward maturing,
don’t you think?