My father sent me an article from the Guardian with my birthday present. It arrived late from Paris, where my father lives, like the postal service of my childhood.The article is dated January 16, 2015: Outsider’s Critique of the Hurried West, written by John Vidal. It contains nine shots against Western culture or more specifically white people –fired by Amazonian shaman Davi Yanomami: wealth, greed and selfishness, shopping addiction, the high cost of living in the urban landscape, war for natural resource exploitation, politics (no explanation needed), healthcare systems focused on illness, conservation rather than restoration of the environment, and finally the orientation of man versus nature rather than the human as part of nature. In essence, the white man is the reason our world is going to hell.
I can't argue. But I think there is more to it than that. Davi Yanomamicontrasts the white people approach to war with that of his own “If one of our people is killed by arrows or sorcery blowpipes we only respond by trying to kill the enemy who ate him.” Is this the proposed alternative? And - let’s not forget that its easy to criticize, easy to shoot down, easy to find faults in others. Not so easy is the creative, generative and loving path.
Lately, I have been listening to Joseph Campbell lectures. One of his observations is that the divide To this, I do not think the problems Davi Yanomami points out are only of the white man, or the western culture. It seems to me, the mindset of selfishness, greed and “never enoughness” – what some call “the hungry ghost” are the problems facing us all.
Joseph Campbell also said, in his last lecture for Myths and the Masks of God, that “the first low of our biology is self-protection, the first law of the spirit is compassion.” Here, it seems, is a sign for a solution. I have also been listening to lectures on Jung, and by way of that a lecture given by Robert McDermott on Rudoph Steiner who paraphrases Steiner as saying something to the effect of ‘our job on this planet is to so so love nature.’ My dharma teacher, Robert Beatty, has spent much of his life trying to understand why we treat the planet and each other poorly when we are of nature, we are the environment, we are the planet. It's a problem the sustainability movement has also been trying to understand, and the happiness movement as well. In fact, one of the early findings in the happiness movement is that nature and happiness are deeply connected.
On the backside of the clipping my father sent me is a story of an Afghani family that walked three weeks across land “littered with landmines” leaving behind the bodies of his parents and one of his sons killed during the journey to come to Kabul where his children shake from the cold at night and the economy is “on the rise” from an annual per capita income of $210 to $700 due to international funding, mostly foreign military spending. The article points to opium and corruption as the growth industries, and gives an example of jobs created: scrap metal collecting (by a man would dreams of going to school to become and engineer or doctor).
It’s about as far from happiness as you can get. And yet, love and creation is in our nature as much as it is in our nature to destroy. This is part of the reason I believe so much in sustainability and the happiness movement. Another has to do with my family.
My father, a Parisian Jew, was a child when WWII broke out. He was one of the lucky ones who As his daughter, I grew up within the context of survival of WWII, and with the deep crisis that happens to a people when questioning how something so terrible could happen. I remember very early in life, looking at image of concentration camp victims. From early, I embraced that part of my job, as his daughter, was to encourage in him, and in myself, the creation of a context where people would take care of each other, and would not allow something so terrible to happen again.survived.
As a grandmother today, I think about the world my grandson is inheriting and this is yet another