‘Can Indigenous Wisdom provide a source of hope and inspiration for our youth?’.
Dear Young People,
If you are one of the millions of young people feeling anxious about the future of our planet and humanity, you are normal.
Climate Change is considered our most immediate danger but as you know this is only one of the many existential threats we face. Others include, loss in biodiversity, habitat destruction, species extinction and pandemics, all of which contribute to the exponential growth in mental ill-health problems amongst young people.
It must also be realised that the threats we face are really just the symptoms of a bigger problem and that is a planet and humankind in a state of dysfunction and dis-ease. This due to disconnection from the true self, community and the natural world.
Cop 26 has served to increase eco-anxiety amongst young people as world leaders have once again done little to provide hope for the future. Instead, they make further commitments to the system which is destroying us.
The unfortunate reality is that technology and modern science alone cannot save us.
Whilst advancements are being made in these fields, without the fundamentals for human survival in place, they will become meaningless. The fundamentals refer to the importance of human’s being human, and humans living in alignment with our natural world.
To achieve this, will require systemic change which is unlikely to happen without Cultural and Spiritual Transformation. (C.a.S.T).
I am a member of a generation that has been fooled. It took a clan of San Bushmen with no formal education to open my eyes and educate me with regards to what it means to be human and to live in alignment with the natural world.
I therefore wish to share what I have learnt with you in the hope that you can make better informed decisions and the changes necessary to avoid what is otherwise going to happen. Indigenous wisdom not only explains why humankind is in trouble today but also what can possibly be done to transform ourselves, particularly as the human mind has proved to be susceptible to psychological conditioning.
Anthropologists describe the culture of the San Bushmen as “the most successful in human history”. They survived happily for tens of thousands of years and yet we are taught so little about how they achieved this success. Instead, they have been persecuted. Is this because their wisdom poses a threat to capitalism in its present form?
Before sharing some of their wisdom, it is unfortunately necessary to stress that biologically and psychologically indigenous people are no different from any other human. They were also far more sophisticated than what history wishes us to believe. Like all humans they were not perfect but displayed a deep understanding of the human mind and the natural world. Their culture evolved around ways to maintain and benefit from what made humans human, and how to manage human weaknesses.
As such, their culture, can attribute its success to the following:
- An understanding of the human psychological mind and what was needed to survive and enjoy happiness. They believed that there should be no reason to search for happiness but rather to avoid those things which cause unhappiness such as jealousy, envy, inequality, superiority, and inferiority. For this reason, they adopted an egalitarian culture in which there was no leadership, and no ownership, but instead a culture of giving and sharing where all decisions were made through a process of co-operation and collaboration. To achieve the above they developed a culture which entrenched fundamental Human Values.
- The belief that their all-important N/lom (Life-force), was the most important energy/spirit in the Universe. It was believed that this life force, which connected all life-forms together, like a golden web, radiated from God as an expression of his Love Their awareness and ability to be present (live in the moment) enabled them to enjoy the benefit of compassion, empathy and equanimity thus maintaining joy and happiness.
- The suppression of Ego, which they associated with evil. The management of this ‘illusion of self,’ is probably the most significant difference between the behaviour of indigenous peoples and that of modern societies. Whilst they understood the dangers associated with an unmanaged Ego, and actively suppressed it, today society promotes Ego which it then exploits.
- Understanding the importance of good humour. Their relationships with other members of the clan, outside of their direct families, are described as ‘joking’ relationships. Their recognition that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ demonstrates a high level of sophistication.
- The belief that humans were not separate from other species, or the natural world, but instead interconnected and interdependent. Therefore, they understood that it was essential to respect and protect the natural world in order to survive. This has been replaced by anthropocentrism, an egotistical view that humans are not only separate from, but superior to all other species. The San believe that it is only unchecked Ego’s, a form of insanity, that allows humans to believe that they can be masters of the natural world. They also do not understand how it is possible to worship a Creator but simultaneously destroy all that He created.
- The development of a ‘necessities only’ policy. This policy was adopted to restrict exploitation of nature’s resources and to utilise only what was necessary for humans to survive. This resulted in the absence of desire for anything that was not considered essential for survival. Their criteria for success and pathway to maintaining happiness thus differed significantly from the one we follow today – and most importantly, were sustainable.
- To maintain direct spiritual connectivity with Universal Intelligence, that is, connection to the ineffable Truth. They relied on spiritual guidance through visions, or the ‘voice with no words’ to inform their decisions. This direct connectivity was considered essential for them to be able to live in alignment with the natural world. Like other species their survival instinct, and source of intuition, was through awareness and spiritual connectivity. Religion in many cases has been used today to introduce intermediaries into this communication and direct connectivity has largely been lost. The lost connection means that we are no longer able to ‘hear’ what the natural world is telling us.
- The belief that community was more important than any individual. It was obvious to them that a community can exist without an individual but that no individual can survive without the support of the community. Serving community was thus considered a life purpose and individualism was strongly condemned. Competition which singled out individuals therefore did not happen and praise or worship of individuals was absent from their society as they believed that it promoted Ego and disrupted social harmony.
- Their regular rituals, which were practiced for a purpose. The healing dance, for example, was aimed at maintaining the holistic physical, emotional and spiritual health of individuals and community. This ritual was also practiced as a preventative measure, and a reminder, to protect the health of the environment and maintain connection with God/Infinite Intelligence.
Although much of the above could also be considered ‘common sense,’ tragically little of it is evident in the conditioning of ‘first world’ humans. This omission together with the reliance on intellect (recycled information), in the absence of direct connection to universal intelligence, (understanding of the bigger picture) has resulted in the creation of an artificial world with its primary purpose being to satisfy the Ego. Unfortunately, the Ego is an illusion which can never be satisfied and as a result human greed and consumption increase exponentially.
However, the knowledge that the existential threats we face are a result of human behaviour can be considered a consolation as it means that humans should therefore be capable of providing solutions. Hope therefore still exists.
However, the necessary human behavioural changes need to occur urgently before nature is forced to intervene to deal with a ‘rogue species’ which has disregarded the natural ‘laws’ of the Universe and replaced them with those of it’s own.
A way forward which integrates understanding of indigenous wisdom with what we know today is the challenge for our next generation. The transition will not be easy, largely due to a myth perpetuated by today’s society, which suggests that happiness and success are dependent on material wealth and image.
“Once one has witnessed the level of happiness enjoyed by indigenous people, who have neither possessions nor status, it will make you question much of what you have been led to believe as regards joy and human well-being”
Psychologists today suggest what the San appeared to understand thousands of years ago, and that is that happiness in humans, as social beings, is far more dependent on having satisfying emotional relationships with other humans, regardless of their material possessions.
The belief that happiness depends on wealth and image is not a Universal Truth but has arisen due to psychological programming. By the constant ‘massaging’ of Ego’s, together with the promotion of materialistic desires, false perceptions have been formed. This to support an economic system which requires continual growth and consumerism to survive.
The pursuit of the illusion of happiness by the illusion of self is destroying our planet.
My sincerest appeal to young people is that they read and digest these few pages and come to their own conclusions. Humanity is not at a crossroads but travelling down a cul-de-sac and an about turn is the only option. It is only those who are totally disconnected from the natural world, or possessed by Ego, who cannot see this.
Unfortunately, it is the young people who are going to bear the brunt of the looming dangers, and who are going to have to lead the turnaround.
The sentiments of this document will obviously attract criticism, particularly from those who are benefitting most from the ‘system’ or have been fooled as I have been. However, the knowledge and wisdom accumulated by our distant ancestors, which has been kept hidden, now needs to be discussed in your homes, classrooms, and lecture theatres in the hope that it may create awareness and inspire the necessary Cultural and Spiritual Transformation.
Finally, to our young readers, for you to be taken seriously you need to lead by example and begin introducing survival wisdom into your thinking and behaviour. A good start would be to start phasing out all consumption to necessities only. This will also serve as passive resistance against a system and leadership which is destroying our planet.