Are We Losing Touch with the Old Ways?
Seeking Harmony with Nature
So many of us are concerned with modern issues such as progress, technology and infinite growth. I fear that we are losing touch with the old ways. We forget to care about harmony with nature, introspection and self-discovery, and our community. We live our lives in an unsustainable way yet we expect to do this forever. We believe in false gods saving us in the futures. Technology, innovation; Elon Musk is their prophet. We leave our offerings when we buy these gadgets yet this over-consumption with no concern for environmental impacts will sow the seeds of civilization’s destruction.
We take this world’s natural beauty for granted. The trees we cut down to build bigger buildings. The face of the Earth we carve away to find rare metals for our electronics, our phones, our drones. Water is pumped out of the ground and polluted with plastic or lead for an ever-increasing appetite from a growing population. Animals are imprisoned and carved up for daily over-consumption by our voracious appetite for flesh. We mindlessly consume plastic products that are poisoning the oceans, ourselves and our natural habitat. We pump oil out of the ground to become the lifeblood of this military industrial beast so that we can control resources on this planet. Everything is turned into soulless profit.
"How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind. To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business."
― Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive
Those who live in harmony with nature are society’s outcasts. What does it say about society if it casts out those who seek balance? But seeking balance would mean a significant reduction in consumption, and thus a drastic change in our lifestyles. That would cause this Ponzi scheme we call our economy to collapse. It would seem our economy and our ecology are primed for a head on collision. It doesn’t have to be this way. It wasn’t always this way. For thousands of years on this very land, the Native Americans lived in harmony with nature. They fought among themselves, but at least they respected the land. They revered the buffalo as they understood it was their source of life. The Lakota people held a spiritual and physical connection with the buffalo or Tatanka. The buffalo was a gift from the Great Spirit so when they killed a buffalo, they honored its sacrifice as a blessing from the Tatanka Oyate, the Buffalo People.
Out of Balance
The North American buffalo were hunted to near extinction. Guilty by association with the Native American tribes who were on what Europeans sought to be their land. America used to be home to approximately 50 million buffalo. They were hunted down to just a single herd, so that man could make his mark on this land. Those who sought balance were replaced by those who sought dominance. Fortunately, this animal’s story does not have a sad ending. Today there are estimated to be 500,000 buffalo living across North America. A far cry from its pre- Americanized levels, but an impressive number for a species who was threaten with extinction 120 years ago. Not every animal shares this fortune. In 2011, we lost the West African Black Rhinoceros. Today many species are critically endangered as a result of our lost connection with nature. The Hawksbill Sea Turtle is one of them, and it eats Jellyfish. If you have spent much time at a beach, you will appreciate its diet. They also help maintain the health of coral reefs. They are hunted for their beautiful shells and entangled in nets and hooks by fishers in accidental bycatch. Plastic pollution is also a threat to sea turtles as they eat pieces of plastic in the ocean which can cause digestive problems. Studies show that 50% of sea turtles are affected by this plastic pollution. There are so many ways we can minimize our consumption of plastic. Keeping a stainless-steel water bottle is one of the easiest ways. Reusable grocery bags which are not only safer for the environment, but easier to carry. Perhaps the best solution, is to simply consume less. Your wallet along with the planet will thank you for a more mindful lifestyle.
There is a new trend called Meatless Monday which seeks to educate consumers in a less preachy tone that in the past. Our culture has grown accustomed to eating meat with every meal as so many of us constantly seek out protein. Many of the largest animals on Earth are in fact vegetarian, such as the elephant, the rhino and in fact, the buffalo. Most of us aren’t willing to go vegetarian today, and that is understandable. Though taking a day or a few meals to eat a greener diet will not only help the beautiful wildlife in nature, but also our waistlines. Animals are very inefficient at turning plant calories into meat calories. A fish eats 2 calories to create 1 calorie of food. Pigs and chicken take 5 calories to create 1 calorie. Cows are the least efficient at 10 calories of consumption to create 1 calorie for human consumption. The Native Americans ate meat, but they respected nature and understood the delicate balance to support their way of life. If we intend to live in harmony with nature and protect these beautiful species, we can’t turn a blind eye to the impact of our own lifestyles. We need to be mindful of our consumption and our impact on this world.