Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in Green Anarchy #19 – Spring 2005, but since GreenAnarchy.org (the former home of the no longer produced Green Anarchy magazine) is undergoing major changes, we thought it would be worthwhile to repost and archive it here for future reference, as well as for the benefit of those of you who weren’t/aren’t readers of GA.
I did not fall from space…
However alien I may appear to this planet, this land, these people, I come from this earth. From its water, its soil, its people, its blood. It has provided me with a life, which I willingly and humbly direct. Despite all attempts by the civilized logic to separate me, to dislocate me, to destroy my connection, I am still part of this fusion of life, this deeply integrated accumulation of living beings.
I, like all of us, have direct lineage to a different way of being, to a direct experience with the world. We once lived unmediated from the earth, ate directly from the forest, drank straight from its waters, slept touching the ground, healed ourselves with its plants, made all of our decisions concerning our lives with people we loved. We are still these people, only scarred, with cold and clunky armor created for us by a culture of death that we have reluctantly accepted when and where we have grown too tired and weak. We have been tamed. We have been domesticated. But, we are still connected under this baggage, this defensiveness, this disposition.
I have been severely damaged from generation after generation of upheaval, defeat, and domestication at the hands of colonizers, and at times I did the colonizing. But this was only after I had been sufficiently separated from the earth, others, and myself. But mostly, I have been just a pawn and a tool in the ongoing war against life. I have suffered greatly: in the direct brutality inflicted upon me in my own life, through more subtle institutionalized methods, as an accumulation of my ancestors’ pain, and from missing out on a penetrating and more integrated connection to the world.
I have been moved so far from where my relations once dwelled, yet I can still feel connected to place. Maybe not in the same way that my relations did to the land they were indigenous to, or the people who were/are connected to where my feet currently rest, where I inhabit. But I can still go deep into the ground, take the air into my lungs, learn from the whispers of this place, offer my respectful and modest influence to this land, and unite the world around and within me.
I have always felt dislocated within civilization. Whether the suburbs, the cities, or small towns, I have always felt suffocated, empty, and lost. Traveling from one location to the next, always over-idealizing the succeeding context. The grass always seemed greener. In this postmodern reality, dislocation is not the exception but the norm, and even the sought-after condition. We can never be whole as long as we live outside and above our surroundings, or for that matter, even view them as surroundings, and not as part of us. At some point I think it is important to find a place, a bioregion, a home (though not necessarily a sedentary location).
I have much to learn from those deeply connected to the place I call home, those who have an intimate relationship with the land, animals, plants, people, and patterns of this specific environment. I have most to learn from those who have evolved with this place; whose bodies, minds, spirits, and culture have developed alongside these mountains, birds, trees, and rivers. I do not wish to “play native” or co-opt traditions, but to tap into and learn from a physical and spiritual knowledge, so that I can live respectfully and sustainably with this particular part of earth (which is comprised of infinitely diverse forms of life).
I have much to learn from the survivors. Those who were forcibly converted to patriarchal gods. Those who were burned at the stake. Those who were given blankets with smallpox. Those who were stolen from their homes and families and chained in the bellies of ships. Those who were pushed out of their lands and herded into camps. Those who were marched and dragged down trails of tears. Those who were stripped down, re-educated, and assimilated. Those who became beasts of burden. Those who were pitted against one another. Those who were put on trains, and again, herded into camps. Those who were gassed and burned. Those who were lynched. Those who were bombed. Those who were raped. Those who were beaten. Those who have been virtually destroyed, yet continue to endure. Those who have been whipped, yet amazingly continue to thrive. Those who attempt to regain their ancestral knowledge. Those who raise healthy children. Those who burn down the suburbs. Those who reconnect with the earth. Those who remember. Those who survive. And, I have much to learn from myself. I have much to remember.
I did not create this monstrosity, this leviathan, this death culture. I am both a by-product and survivor of it. I was not the first to step out of the forest. I did not create the first separations, plant the first corn, irrigate the first field, domesticate the first animal, subjugate the first woman, support the first stratification, fabricate the first weapon, construct the first city, build the first ship, enslave the first foreigner, kill the first indian, assemble the first railroad, erect the first factory, split the first atom, plant the first flag on the moon, genetically produce the first clone, and like Al Gore, I didn’t invent the internet. But I am also profoundly tied to their legacy and their innovation and expansion. And I am also the victim of their legacy of death, domination, and destruction. “Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name [civilization]. But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game.”
I know in my heart and in my bones that we can live differently, that we have lived differently, and that those possibilities can come together in beautiful ways. I have no expectations within this nightmare; my/our only hope is to wake up from the confusion. There is no future in this failed experiment; all I can do is reject it. There is no possibility of readjustment; it can only be destroyed. I must find a place, people, and a way to live differently; to reconnect and to dream.
We were all indigenous to somewhere, someone, and somehow…and can become so again. The old ways are gone, but I am still going home, not necessarily where I started, but maybe somewhere I began.
Wish us luck!