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We’re So Certain of Our Colonialist Selves That We’re Destroying Our Own Planet

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/07/16/were-so-certain-our-colonialist-selves-were-destroying-our-own-planet

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This invasion has been ongoing for at least 5000 years, when nomadic pastorilists invaded peaceful human cultures. The invaders have been called Kurgans. Details abound in several books, but they certainly did not consider the earth as being sacred. Instead, it was there to dominate. The rich matrist cultures, who valued art and family, were inundated. Bits and pieces remain, like the Minoans on Crete.
We’ve been raping Grandmother Earth ever since. There is no solution, unless the descendants of the Kurgans kill themselves off while Indigenous peoples return to the “holes in the ground” to ride it out. Most of the creation stories tell of time being a circle, and of emerging from a cave or a hole, followed by a Goddess, whether White Buffalo Calf Woman for the Lakota or Selu for the southeastern tribes. She gave them the rules of living in harmony with the earth as well as the ceremonies to keep the balance.
The western creation story has a male sky god who created it all, finishing up with males and making females from male bodies. They dared to eat a fruit from a sacred tree, and were driven out into a dangerous world. Then the beings messed up so badly the Sky Daddy sent a great flood to kill off…everything. The cycle introduced is one of destruction and rebuilding on the bones of weaker tribes.

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This is a subject that is one of my favorites. Marshall Rosenberg, PhD, a psychologist, dedicated his life to working on nonviolent communications. Even though Rosenberg has passed, his website and work is still available.

I have long struggled with the judgments so common in the thinking of the dominant culture. I am mixed-race, am light but grew up in a house with traditional Native American elders from the mid and late 19th century. My struggle with the thinking of the dominant society, including the incessant universalizing and judgments, began as soon as I went to kindergarten.

Rosenberg discusses the inherent violence in our judgments, as opposed to the other two primary types of messages we communicate, which are neutral observations, and statements of feelings or needs or desires.

It is very much a part of the colonial culture to evaluate everything they experience through their culturally created and socialized hierarchy of reality. Mr. Koehler is so correct. We believe this type of thought pattern gives us “understanding,” but in fact it blinds to reality, because nothing exists in isolation. In order to think the way that allows continual judgments about experience, a person must begin with the false premise that things are separate and are all able to be objectified.

Living that way is problem for both the people in the culture and everyone outside of it, and it harms white people in ways beyond being assaulted by other white people. It harms them because they have a crappy society built on objectification. It hurts them on a deep, soul level that they don’t even see, but they always try to fill with endless materialism and creative distractions and false supremacy.

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Thanks for this well reasoned article, might be too little too late. Just sayin’

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Thank you, Robert. As always, your writing is profoundly eloquent.

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For the past few weeks I have the luxury relaxing and spending a lot of time in a beautiful area with ‘jungle-like’ old growth forest and an expansive duck pond. Even though the location is relatively city-close it feels like being miles away from civilisation. Few people come here and if they do their aim is the same as mine: respect and preserve the environment and serenity. While having become the observer I have consciously become a part of this wonderful setting and inadvertantly have become a student of nature. There is so much to learn and re-learn, my head is full with ducks and ducklings, with birds I need to research because it’s been too long that I encountered them, and plants I need to Google to identify them
I hope this tiny part of the world remains for its value lies in what it is teaching me: The circle of life as it can be if we respect it and our place in it.

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The objectification of Nature is but one example of what I am talking about. If I lived in a society where I and almost every person I ever heard of was named after an animal, I would have a very different identity than someone whose name derived from their father or their job. Language forms identity in these ways. A planet where Nature is primarily for wealth creation is a different planet from one inhabited by a “family” with a single “mother.” All my relations includes all of life.

I think people who love their world as it is are happier than people who always want to turn everything they see into something else. That’s just my opinion after thinking about it for a long time. Objectifying everything makes people lonely, and they lack “roots” in this world. It doesn’t make them happy.

An example of the incessant judgments that never really change is the rationalizations for Europeans killing almost all the Indians and stealing the land. First, “God” gave them the land. Later, after the so-called enlightenment, It was their destiny to have all the land they could see until they hit the next big ocean. It was the same as God giving it to them, but the enlightenment had occurred and they were saying the same things in different ways by the early 19th century. In the 20th century, when I was in school back in the 50s and 60s and early 70s,concepts like destiny were no longer vogue. The rational for all that genocide and mayhem in the mid-20th century was “progress.” The Native Americans couldn’t stop “progress,” and apparently, the white people couldn’t either. “Progress” is that big.

The Native people didn’t call, that is judge, what occurred as “God” doing anything. Nor did they ever believe in that manifest destiny. Genocide and land theft are not “progress.” Not anywhere at any time. Like, never.

This is the culture, however. It is deep in all the language. Another favorite of ours is universalizing. We love to make cosmic-level, omniscient judgments about all people everywhere in all times and places and how they all have been and are now. All nations are founded on conquest; all people have war, we love to say. Knowing almost nothing whatsoever about other people, we are more than quick to universalize our beliefs as being appropriate for all humanity since we have been actual humans.

All of this comes from our religious heritage. It comes from men standing in front of crowds telling people what God thinks and wants. We got rid of God, we say, but we kept the omniscience because it was very useful. From the Native perspective it just a new day, new label, same behavior. If you ask white people, they are making “progress.”

Things like that make talking to white people crazy-making.

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