“There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with people. Given a story to enact that puts them in accord with the world, they will live in accord with the world. But given a story to enact that puts them at odds with the world, as yours does, they will live at odds with the world. Given a story to enact in which they are the lords of the world, they will act as the lords of the world. And, given a story to enact in which the world is a foe to be conquered, they will conquer it like a foe, and one day, inevitably, their foe will lie bleeding to death at their feet, as the world is now.” ~ Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael
Have you been seduced into screwing everyone else on the planet? Is the story you’re enacting one of conquer-control-consume-repeat? Is the cultural myth you’ve swallowed your entire life at odds with nature and the world? –Tough questions, certainly, but important questions to ask nonetheless.
The story we have been enacting so far as a culture is one of human supremacy over nature. We believe that we are the pinnacle of evolution, imagining that nature was put here somehow for us to conquer and rule over. This cultural myth is parochially driven and egocentric, and has led to the degradation of the environment and the exploitation of people.
We imagine that our supremacy will eventually lead to complete control of nature, at which point we will be able to bring about a utopian paradise. We continue to fail, however, because we are a flawed and fallible species –not to mention an exceedingly insecure one. And so our “paradise” eludes us, and we are instead left with a burnt-out husk for a planet, due to the violation of certain immutable laws.
Indeed, there are immutable laws that, if broken, have dire consequences. As a culture we have broken many of these immutable laws, and we are beginning to see the consequences, such as endangered or extinct species, global warming, and modern mental health issues. Immoderate and fundamentally unsustainable, civilized societies are failing the world. Human supremacy is nothing more than a cultural myth. We have forgotten that we are not independent creatures.
We are, in all ways, interdependent creatures. When we enact the myth of independence from nature, or dominance over nature, we are breaking an immutable law. It is time we got back to an intimate understanding of our place within the biosphere, a Great Re-wilding. It is time we let go of the myth of control and gain a more holistic consciousness in regard to our relationship with the natural world.
In his novel, Ishmael, Daniel Quinn explains two types of people: the Leavers and the Takers. According to Quinn, “The premise of the Takers’ story is ‘The world belongs to man.’ …The premise of the Leavers’ story is ‘Man belongs to the world.’” Let’s face it: our culture is a Taker culture.
As Takers, we must be willing to transform ourselves into Leavers, or at least begin practicing Leaver strategies, if we want to live sustainably on a finite planet. We must be willing to progress, not regress, into rewriting the story as ‘Man is interdependent with the world.’” This is the essence of holistic consciousness. We and the biosphere are mutually dependent, inter-reliant. To the extent that it seems we are separate is an illusion. This is the epitome of deep ecology.
And there is no reason why we cannot improve upon Quinn’s Takers/Leavers dichotomy and add a third type: Makers. Makers will create from nature in moderation, taking what they need to progress sustainably, while creating sustainable technologies that help both the human and the biotic community progress and flourish.
Makers will be eco-centric, as opposed to ego-centric (Takers), and proactive, as opposed to passive (Leavers). They will be the ones to sound the horn for a new way of going about doing things, a call to sustainable arms.
They will merge the modern world with the natural world, uniting the conscious aspect with the primitive. Unlike Leavers they won’t be docile and submissive; they will be courageous and proactive. Unlike Takers they won’t be hoarding and plundering; they will be creative and healing. They won’t be inert consumers, they will be heroic rebels. Like Rollo May wrote, “Recall how often in human history the saint and the rebel have been the same person” Indeed, Makers will be both saints and rebels.
It is only in accordance with immutable laws that human evolution can achieve a balance with nature. The combination of creating sustainable technologies (Makers) and living in accordance with nature (Leavers) should allow us to evolve past the unsustainable methods of modern civilizations (Takers).
And who knows, with enough time, and enough eco-centric Makers practicing holistic consciousness and deep ecology, we may yet achieve a state of paradise. One thing is for certain, it won’t be achieved if we are enacting a story that is at odds with the world.