A few years ago the theme of our Environmental Ethics course was “native wisdom.” Red Cloud of the Northern Cheyenne partakes of that when he says anpetuwi tawonawaka, “the life-giving force of the sun,” always was and always should be “part of Natives’ way of life.” We all have to rediscover our nativity, and the humility that goes with it – the humility of partners, not masters. We saw Deepwater Horizon over the weekend, a strong lesson in humility. We didn’t really tame the dinosaurs, we’ve just been riding their remains.
Germany’s not a country we associate with humility, historically, but its recent commitment to renewables and to clean community-based energy initiatives shows us what it means to adapt to nature’s rhythms rather than try in ultimate futility to overwhelm them. We used to think that we were cool, running around on fossil fuel. (JT) In fact we were just coldly indifferent to the consequences of our hubris. Now we must give ourselves back to the land, in gratitude. Robert Frost said it well, in his Gift Outright.
The divestment movement is another exercise in humility, asking colleges and municipalities to share a “clear vision for the healing process” that must repair the damage done by our voracious addiction to fossil fuels. Hoping we’ll get to talk about that soon with our school’s president.
I’d never heard of Greensburg, Kansas, a town that rebuilt itself on the rubble of a decimating 2007 tornado and gained the distinction as a model “green town.” That’s model healing.
We owe it to ourselves and our heirs to make a reparative down-payment on the climate debt we’ve been running up before the bubble bursts. “It’s the right thing to do,” and “our collective survival depends on it.”
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