January 3, 2005
We are a team
Whether we like it or not we are all on the same team. Itís like a cosmic joke that we should all be put on the same team with so many incompetent players along with the incredibly gifted players and all ranges of playerís abilities in-between. The Native Americans called Earth ďTurtle Island.Ē They believed that everything is related. In the Sioux Lakota language Mitakuye Oyasin means Ďwe are all relatedí or Ďto all our relations.í (1) The Native Americans believe that all things are alive and that we are all part of one Circle of Life and our individual well-being relies on the health of the whole. Scientifically when we dig deep into the nature of everything we see that everything is made of the same building blocks arranged in different patterns. We are all the same source of energy combined into a tree, a rock, and a person. Some people believe that no energy is ever lost, just converted into another form. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, we all return to our creator.
When we consider the common plight of all human-beings we see that we are all in the same boat, so to speak. Until we find a way to hold off aging and death, we all eventually go through the same process. Each person on this planet is born, grows, ages, and dies.
We are all dependent on each other. No one on this planet can truly say that they live their life independent of other human beings or this planet. The food we eat contains minerals from the earth, which is fuel for our bodies. Even the sun provides life and energy for every living thing. We cannot live without it. We are dependent on the earth, the wind, the atmosphere, rain, sun, etc. We are also dependant on each other. Look around us at the objects in life. Other people made our houses, and even if we built our houses ourselves, others made the materials. Others made our clothing, and even if we sew our clothes ourselves, others made the material. Someone made the pencil we write with and others manufactured the computer we type on. Someone designed the things we use. If not for their inventions we would not have light or electricity. We did not all invent these things. We are all dependant on each other for life. We donít admit it and like to think we are independent and self-sufficient but we are deceiving ourselves if we think we are not dependent on others. Even self-made billionaires are dependant on their workers, on their lawyers, on the manufacturers of their cars and houses and jets. Take away everybody that had a hand or idea invested in everything around us and we are left with nothing but nature. We are dependent on nature. Without it we donít have the raw materials of life.
What we do affects each other. In the age of global warming and global networks and a global economy we can see the effects of this. We each think we are individuals and what we do is isolated from everyone else and it only affects our self. But this is shortsighted. When we consume natural resources we are draining the supply of those resources from someplace on the earth. When those supplies are depleted, they have to be found somewhere else, which affects other people. Our buildings are constructed of concrete and steel, which is mined from the earth. Our cars are driven on fuel. The bikes we ride are made of aluminum and steel and rubber, which are taken from Nature. The supplies are not limitless. Some are renewable. Our waste products affect others. Our air is polluted with exhaust from our factories, our automobiles and our airplanes. Our waste products fill landfills. We are running out of room to store our nuclear waste. Some effects of our actions are not seen for many years or even after our lifetimes. The way we affect others can also be positive. I used the example of the invention of electricity before. How did that one idea brought to fruition affect the rest of humanity throughout the generations since? The printing press is another example. People put their knowledge and experience into words. We all learn in schools. We are affected by what we learn. We put the information we learn into practice and it becomes knowledge. We in turn try to pass on our knowledge as information to others. Humanity is sharing this information and building on it. We all are adding to this whether we realize it or not.
In every part of the earth the struggle for power and control of territory through the history of humankind has affected other human beings. Lives were lost or spared or used. Families were affected. Everything anyone has ever done has contributed in some way to the state and conditions of our lives right now. If not for that one soldier who served the emperor in China by fighting bravely, China might have lost a key battle and another group of people like the Mongols, would have been dominant and China would not be a world superpower now. Explorers and settlers from our recent past conquered this territory, which is not the United States. Without those immigrants and settlers there would have been no westward expansion and no need to conquer another people. Each of our actions affects someone, somewhere, at some time.
The idea that we are all a team is kind of hard to imagine if we think they are self-made and self-sufficient and isolated from each other. There is a cause and effect for everything and we affect everything around us, which affects everything else. Like a chain with links, our team is only as strong as the weakest link. So when it comes to humanity, we are only destroying ourselves when we destroy part of our team, whether that is Nature or other human beings. When others suffer, eventually we suffer. The chain breaks. Our current situation in the world can only be attributed to the actions and thoughts of human beings. We do to ourselves what we do to others.
At some point hopefully we will all become more aware of our true situation and change for the better. If we want peace between people then we need to be peaceful. If we want to end poverty, we need to find better uses for our resources. Human greed and pride and jealousy are not part of this kind of change. Itís our choice. If we donít do our part as part of the human race, we are letting down the whole team. We will either destroy each other or find a way to help each other survive.
1. Thorsonís Principles of Native American Spirituality
Posted by carl1236 at January 3, 2005 10:43 PM | Life
Professor DuVernois's blog has an interesting piece on the reconvening of a "monkey trial" in Pennsylvania:
I only mention this because of your discussion about the discovery and harnessing of electricity being the bedrock of all subsequent technological progress. Likewise, Darwin's theory of evolution has a similar potential to reshape our perspectives and serve as foundational knowledge, and in many ways it already has. As DuVernois points out, we share a good deal of our DNA with "lesser forms" of life. And all the diversity in the human race is contained in the tiniest sliver of our genetic material. As unifying a theory as this may be, there are still large segments of the population that refuse to believe it and, more importantly, don't understand what the theory is about (What? Monkeys turn into people? Yeah, right!). The scientific community has done a poor job of educating the unwashed masses about its findings in general, and about evolution/genetics/DNA specifically. I used to tell students of mine (in an Earth History class I TA'ed) that evolution was more well researched and "proven" than gravity (i.e. because until recently we didn't know why gravity exists or how to even study it). My larger point is that the team concept, in order to work, requires that those who ought to be leaders bring the ignorant masses out of the dark ages and into the light. This smacks of "elitism" and won't sell in Alabama politics, but it's true. Unfortunately, charisma and good intentions are not always coincident in the same individual. So we end up with our most successful leaders, in many cases, distorting reality for personal gain rather than for the greater good.
So here are a few questions. How do we identify leaders among us? Once identified, how can we assure that our leaders have our best interests at heart? For that matter, what are our "best interests"? Once that's settled, how do the leaders reach people who insist on clinging to self-defeating stone age ideology?
Posted by: Jim at January 4, 2005 7:12 AM