I haven't read a lot the last two decades. Today I was blessed to find my way back to it.
I thought I would share with you what I read, because it reflects my motivation to participate in the "Stop Keystone XL Pipeline - Stop Tar Sands Action". I found two articles in the Akwesasne Notes that very well express my beliefs. May be the message of these articles resonate with you and you won't regret reading them.
In the beginning, we were told that the human beings who walk about the Earth have been provided with all the things necessary for life. We were instructed to carry a love for one another, and to show a great respect for all the beings of this Earth.
The original instructions direct that we who walk about on the Earth are to express a great respect, an affection, and a gratitude toward all the spirits which create and support Life. We give a greeting and thanksgiving to the many supporters of our own lives -- the corn, beans, squash, the winds, the sun. When people cease to respect and express gratitude for these many things, then all life will be destroyed, and human life on this planet will come to an end.
We are not a people who demand, or ask anything of the Creators of Life, but instead, we give greetings and thanksgiving that all the forces of Life are still at work. We deeply understand our relationship to all living things.
Today the species of Man is facing a question of the very survival of the species. The way of life known as Western Civilization is on a death path on which their own culture has no viable answers. When faced with the reality of their own destructiveness, they can only go forward into areas of more efficient destruction. The appearance of Plutonium on this planet is the clearest of signals that our species is in trouble. It is a signal which most Westerners have chosen to ignore.
Our ancient teaching warned us that if Man interfered with the Natural Laws, these things would come to be. When the last of the Natural Way of Life is gone, all hope for human survival will be gone with it. And our Way of Life is fast disappearing, a victim of the destructive processes.
But our essential message to the world is a basic call to consciousness. The destruction of the Native cultures and people is the same process which has destroyed and is destroying life on this planet. The technologies and social systems which have destroyed the animal and plant life are also destroying the Native people. And that process is Western Civilization.
We know that there are many people in the world who can quickly grasp the intent of our message. But experience has taught us that there are few who are willing to seek out a method for moving toward any real change. But, if there is to be a future for all beings on this planet, we must begin to seek the avenues of change.
The traditional Native peoples hold the key to the reversal of the processes in Western Civilization which hold the promise of unimaginable future suffering and destruction. Spiritualism is the highest form of political consciousness. And we, the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere, are among the world's surviving proprietors of that kind of consciousness. We are here to impart that message.
"The World Bank and the IMF make decisions every day that affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of tribal peoples. The tribes are hardly, if ever, consulted. In the last 50 years the World Bank has approved projects that have had catastrophic results for indigenous people worldwide. According to the Bank's own figures, by 1996 it will have evicted 4 million people, many of them tribal. (Survival International Press Release September 20, 1994)
Spirituality, Natural Law, and the Ethics of Authority
Thank you for this opportunity to comment on ethics and spirituality as it relates to the World Bank and its four regional banks: Inter-American Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Indigenous peoples have a long history of being victims of development projects throughout the world. This occurs consistently because indigenous peoples live in what is called undeveloped or underdeveloped territories. The natural resources, lands and water are the targets of development which can take many different forms. The extraction of oil, gold, other minerals, timber, or water results in a fundamental change in the natural environment in which indigenous peoples have culturally and physically adapted for thousands of years.
Water is life. People migrate to water and people live by water for its sustenance. The constant search for energy by industrial societies has impacted indigenous peoples throughout the world. Dams have become the primary source of cultural destruction to many indigenous peoples. Dams have brought about relocation and flooding of aboriginal lands, flooding of burial grounds and sacred sites. It has meant a change of habitat for the lives of fish, birds, and animals. It generally means a total disruption of the ecosystems sustaining life. The effect of this dramatic change upon indigenous peoples living a "sustainable" lifestyle based upon the natural laws of nature is catastrophic.
In industrial societies privilege is standardized with bigger bathrooms, bigger beds, and fatter, softer towels. For those born into this standardized life of privilege it is difficult to understand poverty because they have very limited frames of reference and therefore, show little tolerance for differences.
Impact of Development
Development poses questions not only of ethics but also of human rights, and even further, the rights of natural life co-habitating impacted areas.
It poses questions of the long term consequences of changing ecosystems; it raises the question of authority and from whence it is derived; it raises questions of morality and sovereignty and the notions of "sustainable development", "market", and "standards" of living. These actions pose questions that need attention and answers.
Projects of the world bank have been notorious for negative impacts on indigenous peoples' lives and aboriginal lands. We have been impacted by the mining of gold, uranium, and other minerals, roads and highways built to access raw materials not only remove minerals and destroy forests and fragment habitat for living creatures, but they also provide access to land-hungry individuals coming from deprived circumstances in deteriorating infrastructures of overpopulated cities and urban wastelands.
These people bring with them a fierce instinct for survival coupled with racism. They also bring relief to hard pressed governments overwhelmed with population demands for relief from the social pressures of unemployment and poverty. These people, desperate from poverty, have little regard for fragile indigenous communities living in the last reaches of the natural ecosystems of the world.
The equation is: short term economic gain based upon consumption, traded for the long term health and welfare of our grandchildren. They will be the ones to pay for the market-driven forces of greed.
We have all heard these words before, and by now it is regarded as the rhetoric of environmentalists and "unrealistic" advocates of world peace and harmony.
The articles are old, their messages will never be.
To believe that a tiny group of demonstrators in front of the WH is the right avenue for change is challenging ones hopes. But it's at least an expression of being conscious about the necessity to make a turn in our walk and ways of life.