17 May 2010- A Spiritual Reflection
When one lives close to nature an understanding between you and the flora/fauna which surrounds you is crucial to survival. We must learn to coexist or overcome that which surrounds us, in the case of ants and scorpions I have chosen the later of those two options; while lizards and I are working on a mutual understanding and cooperative lifestyle. All the same, living out here you learn which plants to nurture because they'll bear fruits and where the weeds reside. If you plant one seed you get a plant which keeps away mosquitoes, while another brings in beetles. It's a process filled with trial and error, but in the end we learn a lot from the world around us.
I believe that is what a lot of native cultures have understood, and that is why there was a spiritual understanding set between the human and natural worlds. If we don't learn to work together with nature then we will destroy or be destroyed by it. I've been hearing a lot about natural disasters happening around the world and have found the same thing happening in my own village. The people are cutting so many trees that the mountains are eroding in places where they needed to stand firm, and the fish consumption is higher than the lake can support. It seems that everything here is a possible resource to be tapped, and little is left to live without interference. Even a small bird, too tiny to fill a child, is a side dish if it is careless and allows itself to be caught. Monkeys run for higher ground when people come around, only flies and mosquitoes dare to come close.
This is when I wonder where the Africans missed that spiritual connection with Mother Earth. The Cherokee people speak of an understanding between the plants and animals, a coexistence which allowed their people to live with nature. Last year I went to a reservation in western North Carolina and heard a story about an animal council and a plant council who met to discuss working with humans, it taught me about an order to things which I believe is too frail to mess with. To take the life of any living thinking was necessary, but always followed by an apology to its spirit and a planting of a new soul. Everything had the right to live.
How do I teach this to the people here, in a culture where survival means a depletion of the land around them? They have traditional medicines, plants have healing remedies like the Cherokee people, but the plants are only a tool and not a member of the process.The villagers know that deforestation is a problem, but when wood is the only way to make a fire then there is no debate. They cut the trees and kill animals because that is what is necessary for continued existence. Is there another option? Can Malawi learn to respect and uphold the spiritual connection with the land that has fed them for centuries? Can nature be preserved while allowing the people to develop?