Saturday, August 30, 2014

Jumping Out of the Race

It is interesting, this getting older thing. Views shift. Weight shifts. Priorities shift.

When I was a teenager, I remember hearing about how hard it was for our oldest citizens. They were born in a time of horses and buggies and in just the short span of their lifetime, we had gone to the moon. The industrial revolution changed everything, accelerated technology to the speed of light. Today, instead of life being like a slow growing oak, it whizzes by as fast as high speed internet. Which, by the way, will some day seem slower than molasses. Remember molasses?

I have never met an Elder who didn't long for the good old days. And the older I get, the more I do, too.

I imagine us as a huge herd of animals, stampeding across the prairie. We are running as fast as our legs can carry us. Dust is billowing in large clouds, choking us. We aren't running with any intention, but with the fervor of an addict desperately looking for the next fix. We trample our children, we stomp on our Elders and those who are weak as we race to nowhere. Our feet crush the plants that sustain us, we destroy the habitat of the animals that give us food. Our dust pollutes the waters on which all life depends on.

I think we are brain dead.

I am a highly educated woman. I have a Bachelor's degree, a Master's degree, and one year of a PhD under my belt, all in Science. I have spent my 30 year professional life studying and researching, learning and teaching about our natural world. Before that, I immersed myself in nature, surrounded by all that is Sacred to me. I want to learn things for the wow factor. Not to manipulate, unless it is the plumbing under my sink, but to say "that is the coolest thing I have ever seen".

Science has given us many things, good things. But how I see things now is different. We practice science in order to understand something so that we can then control it, manipulate it, manage it, mold it, destroy it, uncreate it, recreate it. There is a question of ethics here that we don't ever seem to address. We play God.

We take other beings, our Relations here on this planet we ALL call home, and alter their DNA for our benefit. We don't ask permission, we don't even think to ask, we don't feel we need to ask. Herein lies the problem.

I attended a conference this week, one of scientists and researchers who manage wetlands. I went to a presentation on phragmites control (a highly invasive species in wetlands). The presenter was talking about "silencing the gene expression" of the plants so that they can't reproduce. Sounds like Monsanto doesn't it? This is in addition to aerial assaults from helicopters spraying herbicides all over the stands of this tall plant, killing it and every other plant that the herbicide hits. Then they set it on fire. Now they are also talking about using the micorrhizal community in the soil (fungus) to attack it as well.

What if we thought of these plants as our Relation? Could we do this?

We are being overrun by invasive plants, insects, diseases. Our native world is seriously threatened, look at the ash trees, nearly totally destroyed wherever the emerald ash borer beetle is found. So we declare war and get out all the tools science can provide, chemicals, fire, chainsaws, whatever it takes to kill the enemy.

This all coming from the most invasive species to ever come from across the big pond. Us. Us as in the invaders who came to North America, decimated the Native People, forests, waters, soils, prairies, get the point. We wiped out over 95% of the indigenous people who lived here, using biological warfare (intentional gifting of small pox infested blankets), mass slaughter of people and their main food sources, burning, and so much more.

I watch the powerpoint presentation and imagine the presenter is Sitting Bull or the late Wilma Mankiller, former Chief of the Cherokee Nation. I visually take out the word "phragmites" and replace it with "Europeans" and listen to the management plan now developed to remove the Europeans from the landscape. Wonderful. Someone sneezes and I am back to reality.

I am no longer a scientist. I am a Spiritual person who loves the Earth and all Creation. I do not think that humans are God. We are part of Creation, an equal part. I believe all things are God, Goddess, Creator, whatever you want to call the Spirit that Lives in All Things. I respect all life. I am no longer interested in researching anything to know how to manipulate and control it, manage it and use it for my own purposes. We have screwed up our world. We simply can't change some things. Why? Because we have created it and continue to create it. We run through the prairie trying to simultaneously put out the fires of past mistakes while we make the same mistakes as those of our ancestors. We don't care what the consequences of our actions are, we want what we want when we want it.

Mother Earth is smart. She knows how to do it all. We don't. It is that simple. But we can't help ourselves. Our mainstream culture lives to manage. Manage the lawn, manage a budget, manage your time. We see something and we have to change it to what we see as best. Mother Earth knows what is best. She is balance and harmony. Why do we not try to return things to that state of being? Note to reader, I am not speaking to my Native sisters and brothers. They get it. I am speaking to the rest of us that don't.

Climate change is real, our Earth is warming, our landscape will be changing drastically in the next 40 years. I read an article from someone who said, what if these "invasive" species will only survive the global warming by being here? What if they all die off in their native homelands or waters? Could we be contributing to their global extinction by wiping them out here?  And consider this. What if they are here to serve a purpose for this coming era? Phragmites is a mighty plant, a shoreline protector unrivaled. What if this plant is here to protect our shorelines from erosion during the severe storms that are the result of climate change?

I mean really, what do we really know about any of this?

So, I have jumped out of the race. I can no longer call myself a scientist. I am simply a female human animal, a sister to all my Relations, a creature of this beautiful blue planet trying to live in balance with it all, in honor and respect. Will you join me?