You, the reader, and I, the writer, are entering into a relationship by virtue of my having written the words you are now reading. Because of the power inherent in this kind of relationship, which is one from which Knowledge emerges, we have an ethical responsibility to one another that Indigenous people call relational accountability (Wilson 2009:133). To support and honor that relationship, I have done my best to weave as many connections as possible into this work so you can experience the brilliant flash of the truly major paradigm shift you’re seeking. To honor our relational accountability, I have also written an introduction of myself that you can find here. You don’t have to read it now, but I suspect that at some point you will want to know what sort of odd duck it is you’re engaged with. The happy news is that I believe I may be precisely the sort of “odd” that can help you get where you want to go.
If you’re a member of the dominant culture, you probably don’t know what the responsibilities of relational accountability involve. So I’m going to briefly note them here. Call it transparency. Or call it a chance to self-select for the exit door if this really isn’t going to work for you. Only you can know how important it is to you to really try to make it through the paradigm shift you’ve been chasing. I have a pretty good idea how important it is to the natural world, so I’ve done my half of the thing and written all this material and put it online for you. It’s up to you now. This is where your part of the process begins.
- You need to respect at least the possibility that ecosystems and Indigenous people operate in an ontological system of reality that’s outside the common experience of people in Western culture — because if this turns out to be true, the consequences are enormous. If you’re serious about wanting a paradigm shift, doesn’t it make sense to suspend judgment while you read and think about what’s been written, and to respectfully open yourself to the ideas those words and images share?
- You need to weave the information provided here into the web of relationships in your own life, so that meaningful conclusions can eventually emerge that permit you to act more wisely (Wilson 2009:134). The last two sections of this exercise (Parts 3 and 4) are designed to help you do that.
- You need to be patient, to give the process the time it needs rather than “cutting to the chase” and running off with poorly-conceived ideas based on fragmentary processes aborted before knowledge has a chance to emerge. A paradigm as big as the one you’re trying to attain is not a one-step process, but one in which the first major step into the new paradigm leads to many subsequent smaller “aha” moments that punctuate long periods of diligent reflection and active learning of many different kinds. You’ve grown up and become a successful professional in a culture whose way of doing business goes like this: “memorize the material, learn the ropes, go to the head of the class, take charge, run the show.” In Western culture, that can work. It won’t work this time.
- Because Indigenous learning is active learning (isn’t that true of learning in most cultures?), you’ll find questions designed to advance your paradigmatic process as you work through some of the pages that follow. I hope you will find these questions stimulating and stirring.
- Finally, you need to act with honor and integrity as you engage with this work. If a paradigm shift into an Indigenous perception of the natural world is really something you want to accomplish, you must put in the work necessary. And if you succeed in having one or more life-changing “aha” moments, you must understand that there is still a long journey ahead of you. So the one thing you absolutely cannot do, because it is the one thing that will violate your relational accountability to me and to the Knowledge you seek, is engage in some or all of this work and then claim, on that basis, to be an expert in Indigenous worldview and then act as such. If you do this, the Earth itself will hold you accountable. So I hope you pay heed.
Choose another page of Preparing the Cane:
- Who I am, and what I’m bringing to our joint enterprise.
- What you need to bring to our joint enterprise.
- How the main section of material, “weaving the basket”, has been organized, so you know how to get the greatest possible benefit from the curriculum design.
- An “evaluation metric” that can help you monitor change in your paradigm between the beginning and end of the big weaving process.
Or return to the home page if you’ve finished all these.