An author I am recently enjoying by the name of Robin Wall Kimmerer is a PhD plant ecologist and a woman who identifies deeply with her Native American roots. These two concepts of hard science and indigenous philosophies are an extremely riveting pair of views regarding the natural world and the roles we play within it. Most if not all of her concepts outlined in the book “Braiding Sweetgrass” are ways of viewing nature that I never once thought about or even heard about before reading this book.
I have no religion. I do not identify with any sort of religious faith or ideal although I do consider myself spiritual and respectful of those things which only spirituality can explain.
One of these things is human nature relationships.
The native American people respected all things as they believed that the trees and mountains and plants and animals all have a soul or a purpose to play upon this great earth. Each component of the community’s harvest was taken in reverence of the land and direct respect of the spirits of stone and cell. Although this way of spirituality is interpreted as animism, these philosophies were simply an ingrained way of life that transcends the beliefs that the human soul is different from those of other facets of life. Most religions stake a claim on the land and the humans soul, that humanity was placed and given or own those things in which they need. Many native american cultures believe that humankind is the same as all other forms of being on earth and that things they have are gifts and are to be treated as such.
As a person with a deep attachment to the natural world, I wonder if this way of viewing the world has to be a religion in and of itself or if this respect isn’t something that should be inherent in all aspects of life. Growing up with my view, I feel as if respecting mother earth becomes a hippy or far left agenda saved for the tree huggers and environmentalists.
I don’t understand why this respect for the land has become a cult concept and not kept as part of my culture. I see why, but accepting that humanity could become so selfish and self-absorbed to accept the affects we have on our home seems lazy to me. It’s as if humanity decided that life beside their own is of a lesser value.
If people saw the trees as deserving of life as their neighbor, if people interpreted the food we have as gifts from the land we live on, perhaps we would have a healthier world.
Especially after reading this book, I’m realizing that the way we remove ourselves from direct interaction with nature as a living being deserving of our respect is something we missed from our culture. This idea doesn’t have to be a religious faith or a religious ideal, this way of life is simply respecting the living home we all rely on.
Every single aspect of the world has grown in some way and can die in some way.
Humankind must better pay attention and relearn that philosophy if we hope to save the place we call home.