September 23, 2008

Civilization = failed experiment?

Indigenous peoples' experience highlightedThe world can learn from indigenous people, particularly in these times when the global economy falters and the Earth rumbles under the stress of climate change, Oren Lyons said here Saturday.

The indigenous message begins with educating the dominant society about "community, family and collective will," said Lyons. "This idea of private property has brought us bad times. The problem is, how do you retrain a nation about collective sharing, a nation that is driven by greed. It's a big job. But if we don't do it, we'll suffer the consequences."

Lyons, an internationally respected spiritual and traditional leader from the Onondaga Nation in New York, gave the keynote address at a workshop Saturday at Blue Bay Campground on the Flathead Reservation.

The three-day, invitation-only workshop sponsored by the American Indian Institute, a nonprofit leadership group based in Bozeman, included about 125 traditionalists and scientists, activists and feminists. The "Ancient Voices--Contemporary Contexts" gathering ended Sunday.
The attendees speak on global warming:Lyons said everyone must work to reduce their carbon footprint on the Earth within the next 10 years--before the moment of no return arrives. He said he's been to Greenland and has seen torrential rivers created by melting polar ice caps, a phenomenon which is already creating adverse weather patterns worldwide.

"I'm a scientist and we've won the global warming argument, but if people start looking to scientists for answers, we're in trouble," said Bob Crabtree, an ecologist from Bozeman. "Societies and cultures came and went. The ones that survived are the ones that were here when Columbus came, ones we tried to destroy and almost did. Evolved indigenous cultures and their wisdom is probably the single thing we're going to need to survive."

"I've come to the conclusion that the last 5,000 years was an experiment that failed," said Steinem, a feminist who has actively participated in Indian causes for more than 30 years. "It's instructive to look at the 95 percent of history we call pre-history. It's important to understand why Europeans came here in this conquering mode. The reason is they were overpopulated in Europe. Racism was invented to justify taking over other people's land."
Comment:  I'd say Steinem is essentially correct about racism, which basically didn't exist until the Age of Exploration.

I wouldn't exactly say civilization is a failed experiment. But it has a lot of flaws--many more than its apologists wish to acknowledge.

For more on the subject, see The This Ain't No Party, This Ain't No Disco:  A Columbus Day Rant.

Below:  The pinnacle of Western civilization?

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