Friday, October 21, 2016

People who love people

I'm in love! I'm reading a book, recommended by Melissa Nelson at the religion and ecology conference last weekend, called Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants (2013). It's by Robin Wall Kimmerer, botanist, poet and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and enchanting me like nothing I've read in a long while. I'll probably give it to you, next time I have occasion to give you a book. But here's a teensy taste.

I have heard our elders give advice like "You should go among the standing people" or "Go spend your time with those Beaver people." They remind us of the capacity of others as our teachers, as holders of knowledge, as guides. Imagine walking through a richly inhabited world of Birch People, Bear People, Rock People, beings we think of and therefore speak of as persons worthy of our respect, of inclusion in a peopled world. We Americans are reluctant to learn a foreign language of our own species, let alone another species. But imagine the possibilities. Imagine the access we would have to different perspectives, the things we might see through other eyes, the wisdom that surrounds us. We don't have to figure everything out by ourselves: there are intelligences other than our own, teachers all around us. Imagine how much less lonely the world would be. (58)

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