By: Kristen Teixeira,
The human race is superior. This statement has been slowly and subtly fed to people for generations. Over time, the belief that we should be held higher than all of creation has shaped values, behaviors and moral standards in societies all across the world- Western and European society in particular. Although injustices such as land destruction and degradation have been happening for centuries, humans are only just beginning to understand the consequences of their actions now, and the fact that by harming the Earth, they are inevitably harming themselves.
One of the main repercussions of our industrialized and materialistic culture is the loss of land. The Western and European world view of expansion has caused humans to be less connected to the land, thus making it easier for them to further harm it. This action in itself- the destruction of natural habitats, pollution of the air and water, and so on- has severe consequences. All of mankind, and especially First Nations people, have a strong inherent knowledge of the natural environment. By stripping First Nations of their native land with deforestation and pollution, we are truly stripping them of their culture, tradition and way of life. Aboriginal people do not consider themselves to be superior to the land as our society does; they are stewards; preserving, respecting and working alongside it as if it were a part of them. We as humans must begin to rediscover our roots in nature and build that connection with the land once more. If we continue to ignore the wise ways of Aboriginal people, it will lead only to chaos, destruction and suffering.
By injuring the Earth, we are indirectly injuring ourselves. There is an irreversible effect to every cause when it comes to the web of life and interdependent systems. Science has proven that every living organism on this planet is connected in some way; however, our Aboriginal ancestors knew this far before any scientist- simply by observing and being in tune with the environment around them. This discovery affirms the idea that humans are not superior to anything when it comes to the web of life; they are merely a single strand within a much bigger picture. With each passing year, this web is becoming more and more fragile. Human activity is impacting everything that is connected to them; greatly damaging and, in some cases, completely severing many strands. What will provide us with oxygen once all the trees have disappeared? How will we find fresh drinking water once all the bodies of water have been contaminated? Surely, we cannot rely on science to fix these growing issues for us, the only hope that remains is to return to the sustainable way of life of our Native ancestors.
From the Yanomami tribe of the Amazon to the Nisga’a people of British Columbia, indigenous people all around the world are suffering from one commonality: the loss of their land. They carry an inherent knowledge that Western or European society may never understand; that no one on Earth has ownership over the land, it is not a commodity that can be bought or sold. Every organism has a purpose to indigenous people; when strands on the web of life are taken away, it steals from them their distinct purpose, way of life and culture. Perhaps it is time to respect the First Nations people and listen to their enlightened teachings about Mother Earth. The human race must join together and begin to heal our sick planet. We are not superior. We are merely one small strand within the enormous web of life.