Monday, December 11, 2006

WIAO P-21; ITD-9, Southwest Detour

To our western minds riddled with reason a hawk flies by. And nothing else. As if the hawk and sky and earth and my mind aren’t all interrelated. Scientists will study the effects of glacial melt and long-term droughts and call it global warming. As if a name is all you need to know the energies inherent in the world.

We took a tour through Mystery Valley this March while on our Southwest circle. The tour guide was a local Navajo, and while pointing out the land forms and Anasazi ruins, she spoke about her people’s traditions and the land. She said how difficult it was now to make a living on this land, a difficult land to begin with, because of the drought that had lasted more than a dozen years.

I asked her if her people attributed this to global warming, and she smiled. The Navajo do not have a word for global warming, she replied. I thought at first it was merely some linguistic anomaly she was referring to, but as I thought about it more, I realized she was speaking to a way of looking at the world much different than the one I came from.

That world is a material one. Theirs is a living one. The earth is dry. The sheep can’t graze. The people starve. It is not one of technological construction. It doesn’t concern itself with engineering the climate of the earth. The earth does that. And if the climate changes, the earth does that as well. People adapt to the earth or the people die.

Global warming is just our way of saying we had best adapt and soon. Of course we think it’s something other. We think it’s a material condition to be fixed by technological construction. Of course, we’ve been doing that for quite some time. We’ve been making the earth adapt to the concepts of our reason. And the world just doesn’t work that way.

You can only dam a river for so long. Sooner or later the technological construction breaks. Those caught in the flood will think all hell has loosed. But after they’ve been washed away, the paradise returns. The Navajo are right. There is no word for global warming. Adapt and listen as the hawk flies by.

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