“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” – Chief Seattle – 1854
Currently our Earth is in an ecological crisis that has never been seen before throughout all of our planet’s history. Due to the conveniences of modern living, corporate greed and apathy towards nature, we have adopted a way of living that is completely unsustainable and unsupportive of Earth’s ecosystems. If we continue living in this way we are likely to see more extinction of Earth’s different animal species, more destruction of our rainforests and more polluting of the sea. It is has become clear that we need to make big changes in the way that we live and operate in the world, and this applies not just to the big corporations, but to us ordinary folk too.
So how can we change this situation? I believe that the key to turning this situation around is developing a meaningful and respectful relationship with nature. If we viewed nature the way native peoples from around the globe do we would immediately take action and put systems in place that protect and conserve nature in a big way. It is my belief that we need to take a closer look at how indigenous tribes and communities treat nature and work with it, not against it.
As many tribes live in nature and live off the land, they are unable to mistreat nature in the way that we do in the western world as they rely on it to give them everything they need in the way of food, water and shelter. Not only this, their connection with nature goes even deeper than this as many tribes and native peoples think of nature as something sacred and regard themselves a part of nature.
It is believed that most indigenous tribes and communities such as the ones of South America, North America and Australia as well as various others around the globe are animist in their beliefs. This is the belief that all natural things, the universe and everything in it has a soul or spirit. This includes the rain, sun, mountains, rivers, plants and animals. As well as this, most indigenous cultures believe in a greater connectedness between all living things and all life and therefore they believe that doing harm to nature is in some way doing harm to yourself.
What I believe makes the way we look at nature very different to the way native peoples do is that, unlike indigenous tribes, we view nature as separate to us. We view it as something that is part of the material world and something we can use and take from it what we need, not something that we are a part of and something that we should revere as indigenous tribes do.
Furthermore, as civilisation has evolved and cities began to be built, we gradually separated ourselves more and more from nature. We no longer all took part in the growing of food or collection of water nor did we build are own shelter anymore. We gradually ended up relying on others to do it for us and now today the separation from this process is even greater with the rise of supermarkets importing food and therefore making it all too easy to shop for food rather than grow it. This way of living has resulted in ignorance to the destruction that we are doing to our planet. It is because we do not observe our reliance on nature on a daily basis that we forget that we are in fact reliant on it and need to take care of it. As such, due to this unfortunate way of thinking we now find ourselves in an ecological disaster that we must remedy soon before it is too late to reverse.
If we cultivated a relationship with nature as the native people’s have done in the past and in remote parts of the world today, we would be more likely to put systems in place that prevent the abuse and exploitation of nature. There are many ways you can cultivate a relationship with nature but here are a few ideas.
How can we create the same kind of relationship that native peoples have with nature?
- Learn that we are not separate from nature
In order to have the same profound and deep meaning relationship with nature that native tribes do, we first have to understand that we are a part of nature. We are not separate from it and as a consequence our actions have the ability to affect nature for better or for worse.
- Realise that nature is alive
The relationship that indigenous tribes have with nature is a spiritual one. As such, we need to surrender to the idea that nature is alive and has a spirit. Even if we don’t necessarily adopt this idea of nature having a spirit, we can still respect the fact that nature is alive and that life should be respected in all forms.
- Become more active in nature
We can become more active in growing plants, food, flowers etc and participating in activities that include nature. Taking walks in nature, swimming in the sea, smelling flowers, walking barefoot on earth, collecting stones or shells are all great ways of building a relationship with nature. Growing plants and food are also a great way because in this way you develop an understanding of the way that nature works. According to indigenous cultures, nurturing and honouring life in this way is the highest relationship with nature you can have.
- Find ways to be more ecologically conscious
We can become more ecologically conscious of our actions. There are many ways you can do this ranging from very simple things such as recycling or buying biodegradable products to more complicated and time-consuming things such as altering the way you gather energy in your home to make it more ecologically friend. I believe everyone should find the right way of being ecologically conscious for them and it is not necessary to make drastic changes to your life unless you feel that is the path for you. Do things in your own way, what matters is that you are trying to make a difference, even if it’s only in a very small way.
These are great examples of how to build a connection with nature but I believe it is important to find a way of appreciating nature that suits you. I believe that fostering a personal connection with nature is not only important because of how it might lead us to become more ecologically conscious, but it is also important to consider our roles and our part in the great web of life. We do not want to be a species that becomes extinct, nor do we want to see our beautiful planet damaged. We only have one planet, one home and one chance to save it all so it is time to start appreciating it and giving it the love and care it needs and deserves.
A few wise words from Red Crow