The Wisdom of the Elders

The ways of the Dreamtime and the wisdom of the elders may be all that stands between us and our own extinction.
It’s Reconciliation Week in Australia. So what does this really mean? And how does this translate across the planet?

Reconciliation week in Australia is about reconciling the past damage and hurt European populations have inflicted on indigenous peoples over the centuries. In reality the need is universal in all countries where the original peoples of all continents were pushed aside out of greed and lack of understanding.
But may I focus here on Australia?
Despite many people trying to make a difference in the modern world approach to the original people and their traditional culture, walls still divide the nations.

The Facts
Europeans invaded the Australian continent, looking for places to park their convicts and to develop further wealth and empire building.
They came upon an existing old population and culture they did not understand. When they broke their promises to these peoples they decided it was easier to exterminate them or use them as slave labour, providing little or nothing in return. The history of local massacres is disturbing to say the least, but these are well hidden from the general population. What is that old wise saying – “History is a set of lies, agreed upon”?

What white man did not realise, or even care about, was that the original peoples had been here for thousands of years. They lived in balance with their environment and nurtured the land, the rivers and sky, sharing these things with their honored wildlife neighbors. They developed sophisticated systems of agriculture and food supply that supported their environment at a level the European interlopers had no understanding.

And then we took it upon ourselves (arrogantly and ignorantly) to “civilise” these well established peoples and force them into the 18th century.
And frankly, we screwed it up.

They did not need us. Their social networks were well established. Their methods of education their young through stories and example was far more useful and effective than even our modern education systems ( which, by the way, we have also screwed up). Their environmental and agriculture practices were far superior to ours, even in the modern day. Thousands of years of experience in living with nature trumps university bred theory any day.

But white man insisted, blindly and without and emotional intelligence, on inflicting their values on these brave and self sufficient people. We brought with us anger, despair and anxiety. We took their children away believing that their thousands of years of history gave them no skills in parenting, but more especially to mold these children into God fearing clones of ourselves, values that were far removed from their own.
And to compensate for our guilt at all the damage we had done we began to throw money and western values at them which they did not know what to do with. So these wonderful peoples were caught between ” a rock and hard place”, filled with anger, dream and self awareness that had been torn to shreds.

So, how do we make it right?
All levels of our society must recognise the destructive history of our intervention. Thousands of years of knowledge, understanding and history must be recognised. We need to take a long hard look at our incredibly destructive society, step back and learn from the amazing environmental practices of the elders, the traditions and transfer of knowledge through the generations,and stop treating our indigenous brothers and sisters as being less.

The university of indigenous populations all around the world is the earth, the rivers, the lakes and the sky and everything that lives from their bounty. From this comes a set of values that have survived thousands of years and that are firmly embedded in the psyche of these remarkable peoples.

They don’t need to build massive monuments to gods of dubious origins. Their spirituality is in all that surrounds them.

Their life is built around physical needs, family and community. Our life has made dubious and often fraudulent science a God and we live in wants rather than needs.

It cannot be a surprise that when one population tries to crush the values of another that conflict and anger grows. Thrusting our values on a nation of people that are so radically different and with poor or no understanding of the spirit of community causes great pain and trauma. Just as when this happens in our societies the victim suffers greatly, so have we inflicted this pain on an entire nation.

Respect our brothers and sisters. Learn from their vast knowledge of the earth we rely on. Accept their culture with open arms.

I do not ask you to give up your life or the things that are important to you. But I do ask you to open you heart and mind – respect the values of others and be open to seeing the errors of our ways before it is too late. Be prepared to try a different way.

It is becoming more and more obvious that the wisdom passed down through the elders and the stories of the Dreamtime may be the only things that can stand between us and our self administered extinction as a species.

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