" The songs of our ancestors
are also the songs of our children "
“The glory of the human has become the desolation of the earth, and now the desolation of the earth is becoming the destiny of the human.” — Thomas Berry.
Thanks so much for sharing this. It sums up our situation perfectly.
Thank you for posting this! Berry’s direct simplicity and profound intellect were moving and transformative, a complete realignment of beliefs for anyone who actually hears what he’s saying. Strips all the complications down to clear, logical, un-arguable components. I forget. It/was he a Deep Ecologist?
Enormously moving words, but frightening – brings to awareness the pivotal nature of the times we live in. Given that I think we can rule out (well – always did rule out) the new age idea that the whole world would have a mass awakening, it’s possible that it may be left to us (and all creation) to write, or sing, the epigraph to the beauty and diversity of this beautiful planet. I hope that it doesn’t come to that. I believe that life will go on, but I have doubts as to whether it will ever reach the richness it has had, before our sun flames out for good. Geologically speaking, is there time enough?
I looked up some things about him, and I loved this quote from Michael Colebrook, largely quoting Berry (from Greenspirit.org.uk, via Wikipedia):
“Firstly, the primary status of the universe. The universe is, ‘the only self-referential reality in the phenomenal world. It is the only text without context. Everything else has to be seen in the context of the universe’. The second element is the significance of story, and in particular the universe as story. ‘The universe story is the quintessence of reality. We perceive the story. We put it in our language, the birds put it in theirs, and the trees put it in theirs. We can read the story of the universe in the trees. Everything tells the story of the universe. The winds tell the story, literally, not just imaginatively. The story has its imprint everywhere, and that is why it is so important to know the story. If you do not know the story, in a sense you do not know yourself; you do not know anything.”
Thank you so much for sharing this!!!
i had a few other thoughts.
When Berry talked about four orders he felt were of most significance to impacting the course our planet is on, I would add two other orders which I feel are of equal significance:
The Medical/Healing Order and
The Food and Sustenance Order
The Medical/Healing Order because we so badly need to rethink its relationship with people who are ill, and its relationship to those who are dying, to put caring back into health care, and get the profit motive out of the health care system. I don’t doubt that the complexity of the medical care system is benefitting patients – well, those who can access it. For the time being, I do have access, and I recently had occasion to use that extensively, for dramatic, painful and frightening symptoms which suddenly flared up, sending me to the ER two days in a row, one weekend. Just given the symptoms, it would have been possible to draw several different possible erroneous and or dangerous conclusions as to why I was experiencing those symptoms. In fact, it turned out to be nothing like what it initially seemed, and the cause was something relatively easy to treat. The ability to use sophisticated equipment and procedures to quickly rule out more serious causes, then other tests to narrow down the exact cause, was truly a gift. It is only through my own status as disabled that I’m able to access better health care. There are many who need it and can’t, even with desperate or threatening illnesses progressing within them. I know this first hand, since I was once in that position – before I got on Medicare, I had a tumor in my spinal cord, unbeknownst to all, which would have eventually paralyzed me – it had begun to do so, in fact. Through Medicare I was able to get a spinal MRI, which the local medical charity organisation would never have paid for. Thus the tumor (benign, thanks be!) was found and removed in time.
On the other hand, the same medical care system often goes to extraordinary and ridiculous lengths to prolong the lives of people who are really in fact past recall, so to speak, or past living any life that is of value to themselves. Sometimes of course people don’t want to die because they’re afraid, or because they want to watch a grandchild grow up, etc. These may be valuable reasons, but do they justify massive expenditure of resources? On the other hand, there are people with a chance at life if they had lifesaving intervention, but they never get it. Death is part of life, and that’s something that Americans don’t seem to understand at all.
The Food and Sustenance Order because, there again the profit motive has taken the highest position in why it exists. Food is now produced without much thought at all as to its healthful qualities, and indeed at times using practices that are known to represent a threat to the health of people eating it. Even more frightening is that the same and other interests are now buying up water sources and rights, so that we won’t even be able to drink water without paying them for it. In Asheville NC, where I live, the state is trying to take our water authority away from us and give it to the county, which is the first step toward the county then selling it to a private concern, since the state legislature has made it clear they favor that direction. They say they don’t believe tax dollars should be spent on infrastructure, but we know because of talks they’ve attended with business leaders that they are in fact just doing their bidding.
I really loved it when Berry was talking about education and said that children need to have “contact with the mountains, with the air, the sea, with the dawn, the sunset, the trees, the birds, the songs of the birds.” Beautiful! In the USA, though, the corporate element, through their influence with government, are ensuring a wholesale stripping down of education, to where it scarcely provides enough education to make a way in the world, let alone opportunities for children to develop a relationship with the natural world. What a different world we might live in if all children were brought into respectful contact with nature, and given gentle guidance on how to respect her diversity and beauty! Having had a bit of contact with children in the education system today, I believe that the education system would have to provide not just mitigation for the lack of contact with nature, but for children being raised by parents who haven’t had contact, and more particularly that children are being raised by parents who see earth as just a source of resources to be exploited. What’s more alarming is that I see children who are bullies (generally because they’re getting that at home) go out into nature and bully animals. Sadly, I’ve seen this kind of thing happen firsthand. It made me weep.
Without massive educational efforts to offset these kinds of attitudes I fear there’s not so much to hope for our planet – at least as we have known it in its great diversity. As to the corporate interests, I don’t know if they’re in fact aware that an uneducated populace will support their efforts to further strip the planet of resources, but I think it’s possible they do. Certainly the stripping of educational budgets works to their advantage in this way; when nature awareness education doesn’t happen, people will take their cue from the corporate interests who feed them the line that nature is there to be exploited, to provide them with all the material goods they love so much and to provide them with jobs in the mechanical processes of that stripping. This is a sad state of affairs. How can we mitigate that influence? Perhaps these are are questions for the latter day druid to think upon. How can druids once again become the class responsible for education? And for healing? Are these perhaps questions we can valuable ask ourselves?
^valuably ask ourselves. :p
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