In article 90 I declared that natural resources cannot be private property. The thought coincides with Chief Seattle who said “How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? Every part of the earth is sacred to my people.” The article containing his quote is a balanced analysis of the role of Native Americans. It acknowledges the difficulty of unrealistic expectations and forges ahead to respectful reverence. [The Problem With The Ecological Indian Stereotype Dina Gilio-Whitaker February 7, 2017]
A major mission of this blog is to lead mankind away from profit motive. The article Ecology and the American Indian identifies this human frailty appropriately: “We will simply exhaust all fishing stock in the oceans, because there is profit in it for some.” That article details the care that Native Americans exercised to assure sustainability and reverence for the earth on which we depend. I have read of practices that were not ecologically optimum, and of tribal wars among historical Native Americans. Despite some shortcomings, we must hold in high respect the example they set for the current generation. Additional appreciation of indigenous practices is found in another article.
In Article 81 a neighborhood changed from hippie to yuppie at the cost of depriving some of the hippies of their former lifestyle. The shift was reasonably civil and nonlethal. In contrast, I described ruthless changes, especially in America. I found invited laborers to be innocent of conquest, but I condemned slavery and genocide. I felt Africans were entitled to every benefit available in this continent because they were imported by force. On the other hand, European conquerors were immoral invaders not entitled to be here at all. The Gilio-Whitaker article above associates George Washington with the view that compared Indians to wolves—beasts of prey to be eradicated to make room for civilization.
Violent displacement of indigenous people hurts me severely. Already in third grade I was struggling with the concept articulated in the above “Ecology” article: “In 1978, Texas gubernatorial candidate asked a question that epitomized the invader’s outlook. ‘Is this area of Texas more productive, more fulfilling of God’s purpose–are we playing our role of destiny with this broad expanse of Texas–than when there were five thousand Indians here eating insects?’ Clement’s racist query is deeply rooted in the American colonial past.” I remember summarizing a third-grade history lesson by writing that the Indians were not making full use of America, so the European settlers built it up. To this day I suffer realizing that I had already been indoctrinated with Clement’s untenable position.
My third grade essay experience makes clear why I vehemently reject the pessimistic viewpoint that society is becoming worse. I question where the doubters are looking, because our collective viewpoint is blossoming, replacing the ignorant darkness of the past. By leading the way into the future, we work redemption. Society has improved dramatically by approaching the light. Let us return our continent to Chief Seattle’s people and perspective! That conservation doctrine is the true mindset of shared abundance.
Return to nature—cultivation, not exploitation
Today’s writing began with a reflection that after I have eaten three leaves of cabbage, I have had enough cabbage for the day. That small observation grew into this large Native American allegory of mother earth.
My nature finds it downright weird to subject most fresh vegetables to heat: baking, broiling, boiling. Red beets, pinto beans, and acorn squash, among other hard vegetables, do need some softening. Although some people eat potatoes raw, they burn my mouth. On the other hand, we probably agree that lettuce, celery, radishes, and radish greens are to be eaten for their freshness; cooking would spoil the very effect we desire. So, for me this applies to a long list of vegetables: string beans, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, turnip tops, beet tops, kale, zucchini, tomatoes, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, bell peppers, chard, carrots. Cooking reduces their appeal.
The trigger for the article was realizing that after I ate three large leaves off the outside of the cabbage head, satiety set in—I did not crave any more cabbage. The same experience attaches to delicious fresh fruit. There is a natural point of diminished returns, a safety shut-off.
In stark contrast are the junk food advertisements that ask, “can you eat only one?” They acknowledge that the substances are dangerous and build up craving. My body appreciates one-fifth of a cubic inch of dark chocolate as a very sufficient treat. That required some training, consisting of associating sugar with weight gain. After taking off thirty pounds, I am thoroughly convinced I do not want a second piece of chocolate or even a first piece of cake. I coupled this discipline with becoming vegetarian. It has given me a new, healthier body that is naturally happier.
The light goes on. Artificial sweetening runs counter to nature by inviting overindulgence. I learned quickly that enjoyment of raw vegetables is my friend and that succumbing to advertised treats is the enemy. Now we are back at the “fishing stock” sentence above, where profit motive opposes nature.
Long-term survival requires the discipline that is sustainable: cultivating resources for later harvest and consuming only to the point that nature requires. I am thoroughly convinced that I have more satisfaction from my large raw cabbage leaf than I would from a donut. Tempting me otherwise for profit is a misdeed. Those who would addict me to substances like sweetened beverages are the ignoble savages of today’s story. The proposition that the addict kills himself voluntarily is morally questionable.
Always the theoretician, I will translate the allegory to mundane language. I put Native Americans at the top of the pedestal to represent harmony with nature. The most important members of our society are those whose direct labor produces wholesome food. The underlying principle is to be motivated by the value of our contributions to society without regard to profit for ourselves. When I am working for your well-being, behold, I suddenly have 200 million Americans working for mine. That is far superior to going it alone! Moreover, respectable collaboration rests on sound principles of health. The ecological Indian above is a type for the responsible citizen I try to be.