In Christianity, they say “You were made from soil, and you will become soil again” (Genesis 3:19). That is what they usually say when somebody is laid in Earth’s bosom. Meaningful words, don’t you think?
I am not very religious but, lately, I find myself wondering a lot about it. How come we have learned to hate the Earth, yet still continuously repeat this sentence? And if we are made from Earth, wouldn’t it mean that we should have a natural connection with the land in the same way we, children, have it with a mother?
My ancestors knew the value of the land and nature. They learned to follow the stars. They learned to harvest and pick the sweetest berries, leaving the soil fertile and bushes juicy and full of life. They learned to take as much as they needed and to give back. Interesting that the human body has not changed very much since the thirteenth century but “I actually need it” has been stretched and extended in all directions of the winds.
In Latvian mythology, the highest goddess was Māra, also known as Mother of Earth, Mother of Water, Mother of Winds, Mother of Souls. Did you notice something interesting about the gender here? She – not he – was admired, and these were women who were valued so much in this society. This was many centuries ago though. How come the society in which we live now has become so patriarchal?
While you are reading this, it might be that you have a counter-argument that, right now, women are gaining more and more rights, as the mindset is changing. Although in some places, the mindset is undergoing this change at the same pace as carbon becomes the diamond, no pressure though. However, the question arises in my mind again. How come we were at this point many centuries ago, when women already were the cornerstone of the community?
Back then, our ancestors were called pagans. They were called sinners. They were underdeveloped and forced to undergo this development through Christianity. These were some of the reasons they based The Crusades’ wars on. If the society in the thirteenth century was not knowledgeable enough and yet they valued women, does it mean that now we have either returned to the same state of mind as eight centuries ago and there was zero development between then and now, or somebody was wrong claiming that these people did not understand or did not know as much as those enlightened by Christianity?
Do not get me wrong. I do not have anything against religion. I believe in God. However, I wonder if it could be that the church has made a mistake many centuries ago that has led to the creation of this patriarchal and greedy society?
The Earth, Wind, Water, Souls. The composition of the values that our ancestors held in high value, and all of them connect to Nature. Again, I notice that centuries ago, people respected the Earth. The Latvian signs, forgotten for many years as outdated, now again are more implemented in our culture. I see them woven in the scarfs and mittens, drawn on the mugs and plates, carved from the wood to be placed above the door entry. These are the same signs that people used to seek protection and to represent the connection with agriculture.
When I open BBC or CNN, almost every time they have two types of articles: either these are titles that already state that we have reached the point when the destruction of Earth is unstoppable and only can be slowed, or these are the ones about global activists who fight against the whole world of disbelievers. How did we learn to pretend not to believe because it is easier? Again, I notice this circle of repeating history. Our great great great great great …. grandparents knew the value of nature.
Then who did erase this knowledge from our memories?
For eight centuries?
Last year, I understood that my country is far away from the practice of recycling. The garbage truck just comes and everything goes into the huge pile of nothing. Nothing to keep in our minds, of course; we are too busy to think about it. However, this amount for the Earth to swallow is enormous. And if it does choke because we feed it with inedible materials, then who will care? We hide plastic bags, and straws, and boxes, and, now, also thousands of these “it’s only one mask”. Actually, we do not hide. We even do not care enough to hide.
This summer, I understood that it is not possible to buy without plastic. I could not leave the store without having at least two or three plastic bags. Greens were packed and cookies as well, even nuts and buns because Covid-safe. Of course, first, we think about protecting ourselves. It is a natural instinct. But why did you forget to think about the Earth later, in the longer term?
Yesterday, in the class of economics, I understood that the prices for more sustainable products will remain sky-reaching if there is no demand. And there is no demand if people do not care.
Today, listening to my friend from the community whose voices are strong but silenced to remain unheard by the society we live in, I understand that people will not care if we do not speak up together.
Two years ago, I would not care. However, coming to Canada taught me a lot. I did not learn from the country. No. I was reminded about the value of land by the people who were here before it was claimed to be Canada. My eyes were opened by a friend who was raised in connection to the land.
I try to learn from the Indigenous people here, on this land. I found out about their home which is not Canada. It may be for us, the governments, other countries, but these are different lands, neither of them more valued than others. Right now, I learn to value the land I live in: the unceded territory of the Scia’new First Nation people. I do it before I can learn to value my own land again; in the same way, in which my ancestors did.
Today I spoke with my friend, who was born Indigenous to this land. And I heard the stories of their culture and their practices, and respect towards the land. And it sounded so close to me. Very familiar. I did not recognize it at first, but it was the same story that my ancestors told me through the songs and texts, and signs, and culture. Only I was told it is not economically beneficial, it is not modern. How come the Indigenous people who are still unheard have the same valuable knowledge and witness that our ancestors did, but we lost it? How come we do not seek our answers to the question of why we are in this situation when the Earth is close to destruction when it is right in front of us if we would listen? The people who have saved and carried this knowledge have told us and screamed to us, but still, we listen to our greed more than anyone else.
Greed was the actual reason for the Crusade wars and Christianization. The greed for influence, money and land. It was also the reason for Colonization. And it is still the reason why we do not care when the factories are built, pipelines as snakes sneak through the land and plastic sea is a new landscape to draw.
If greed had forced us to forget the respect towards the land we were given, then maybe the solution will not be found in the economics books. Maybe we should listen to those who were silenced by these market and GDP graphs? Those who still have the wisdom that my ancestors had but we lost.