In 1992, an epic book by David Suzuki and Peter Knudtson Wisdom of the Elders: Sacred Native Stories of Nature chronicled the traditions, thoughts and spiritual connection with the natural world that many indigenous groups practice and maintain today. The authors undertook to highlight the degree whereby mainstream western culture has digressed from living in natural harmony by revealing the concurrent depth of visionary indigenous wisdom around the world. Their anthropological quest in how indigenous peoples live their spiritual lives quietly awakened the reader to just how insulated and fallible we are in the pursuit of profit and control of the physical environment. Building, extracting, covering, diverting, eradicating; in essence destroying without feeling or understanding the full consequences of such actions is an aversion to the respect and responsibility towards “lesser” species which will eventually impoverish our existence. Such insulation and convenience drives us further from living in earth’s natural harmony. The authors spoke of their frustration by calling on western culture to undergo a shift in universal consciousness to include Natural Law as a true wholesome purpose of humanity. Yet they saw no solution as to how this was to be done.
We are no different from any other species that create social and cultural mechanisms to adapt, adjust, position and parlay the environment and social order. But in our species much of our acculturation has taken on a life of its own residing outside the natural order. Given our species unbridled numbers, the degree of control we exert to create new mechanisms and systems in the pursuits of self interests has permeated all aspects of our cultural lives. While some mechanisms of acculturation improve community and function, there are many nowadays that are wasteful, without benefit, and simply have no soul. The difference traditional indigenous groups experience in living inherently in balance with abundance and scarcity is that they witness the transience of all things – to clearly see that everything is inter-connected. Nature is a direct immediate experience of the grace of earth’s gifts which nurtures a long view to honor and live within the bounds of what is given.