Paradigm Passage

Note: The links in these questions are to pages you’ve already read in the Weaving section. Those links are only present to provide support for your thought processes by letting you review relevant material.

Here’s where everything comes together for the first time. All these questions require that you integrate basic principles of Indigenous worldview with the ecology and environmental materials you’ve just been dealing with at reasonably high cognitive levels. Because the questions on this page demand that you integrate Indigenous worldview in your thought processes, and still at fairly high cognitive levels, responding  will probably take a good deal more effort than previous questions have required. My guess (based on prior experience) is that sometimes you’ll feel “she clearly wants me to say this” but you won’t believe that’s a reasonable thing to think or say. If and when that happens, the first thing you need to do is realize I probably meant to put you on the spot this way so you could clearly see and then work through key paradigmatic issues. (That’s the point of this whole effort after all!) The second thing you need to do is work through the knots and write it all down as you do. You need to resolve the impasse by coming to some kind of personal conclusion, even if you change it later. I have found it often takes the pressure of making a decision — even if it’s only in your own mind — to show you what your biggest and most deeply-rooted paradigms really are. Please keep a copy of your responses to these questions so you can review them later.  Previous experience (once again) shows me this may be far more important and useful to you than you realize, and that you’ll regret it if you work these issue through only in thoughts.

1. Are people of Western culture damaged by harm they do to the Land? That is: if they break or perturb the rich web of relationships that supports the complex ecosystems of which human beings are integral parts, does it harm them, too — even if they are unaware it’s happening?

2. Do the people of Western culture have a moral responsibility to uphold relational accountability with the Land? If all other nations (of Indigenous people, animals, plants, waters, soils, microorganisms, etc.) have such a moral responsibility, does this have any bearing on your answer to the responsibility of people from Western culture? Why or why not?

3. How does a moral responsibility of relational accountability relate to the type of natural law you read about here? Who or what enforces natural law if it’s broken? Is there any adjudication process to escape or lessen the consequences of breaking natural law?

4. What might be the connection between (a) many years of violating relational accountability, by breaking the bonds of relationship that maintain the living, dynamic, complex, nonlinear web of life that is every healthy ecosystem, and (b) the current global pandemics of disease, social unrest, increased racial and socio-economic injustice, political instability, and climate change? If you see a correlation, why might global climate change seem to be escalating far more rapidly than was expected based on scientific models alone?

5. If people blow up a mountain sacred to the Paiute to take its lithium ore and make it into batteries for electric cars, could the change to electric cars nevertheless lead to a reduction in atmospheric CO2? Is it possible that this atmospheric CO2 reduction might still have little or no impact on global warming? Is it possible that somehow global warming might worsen if a mountain is destroyed? If so, what would likely be the reason? How might that reason relate to your response to the last part of question number 4?

6. If the world’s whole ecosystem is presently staggering under the increasing breaks, blockages, and harms done to the network of relationships that permitted life to emerge on this planet to begin with, why is loss of biodiversity important? What might be the impact of even more biodiversity loss as well as more mining of various types?  How does something like geoengineering via atmospheric aerosols look in this context?

If you feeling a paradigm shift starting to move here or anywhere during your work-through of the next few pages, and you start reeling like the paleontologist seeing live dinosaurs, please email me. Don’t just suffer. Most major paradigm shifts need some support. They’re not easy things. Also: Remember what Oren Lyons said about the spot we’re all in: “It’s not good” but there is hope. So keep going.

The next page is “The Wisdom of West.”