Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Lost Tribe

I feel that I was born in the wrong era. I don’t want to sleep on a bed that is sitting on wood high above the earth; I belong on a mat that touches the ground. I don’t want to spend the great majority of each day, and for that matter of each week and month, far from the people I love the most. I don’t want to spend a half hour out of each day outdoors, and the rest inside away from the sky and natural light and the wind and the sounds. I was meant to live in a tribe, putting our heads together often to strategize and solve problems, watching out for each other’s well-being, accompanied most of the time, alone only by choice and not by default.

An unspoken assumption exists in the modern world that our current way of living benefits people, and that there are only a few people who don’t like it. People who dislike technology are characterized as “afraid of change,” or “old-fashioned,” or “technophobes.” Yet almost everything about how we now live is based on technologies that pollute, and that disconnect us from nature, including the entirety of electronic technology and the entirety of fossil-fuel driven technology. The so-called “clean technologies,” such as the computer industry, are among the most toxic ever; if you would like to read a blow-by-blow about what the electronics world is doing to the natural environment and public health, I encourage you to read In the Absence of the Sacred by Jerry Mander.

So I need to be perfectly clear: It isn’t that I fear technology, it’s that I hate it. Or, to be even more precise, my fear is not the fear of the unknown; it is the fear of something that has proven itself to be horrifically destructive to the quality of life, and to consciousness, and to all the plants and animals that we share the planet with.

I long for life in the wild, living as an animal, the way human beings have lived through the vast reaches of our history. Civilization, which has been disastrous, is a phenomenon of the quite recent past, meaning three or four thousand years at most (depending on what part of the world we’re talking about). On this continent, most people were still living in the wild just 250 years ago, a tiny blip in the hundred thousand years or so that our species has existed.

So I am writing today less from a political perspective and more from a personal one. My heart burns for the tribe I lost – for the tribe that was destroyed – two dozen or more generations ago back along my family tree. I have come to believe that we all carry with us this heartbreak of what happened when our particular tribes were destroyed, and this bottomless-seeming grief has been passed down to us through the generations. We are all feeling broken hearted without realizing it. We all need to grieve the tribes we once lost.

And then somehow we need to find a new tribe to which we can belong, living in love with this beautiful world.

1 comment:

  1. I sometimes do expeditions to the high arctic where I camp in the wilderness for a month. We don't bring much with us and we don't need much to survive. It's the happiest, most content and close to truth I've ever felt. Whenever I get back I feel depressed and lonely (surrounded by millions of people in my home city). You put into words what I always feel when I'm there. That I've found my tribe.