Our recent DM’s have treated subjects such as economics and slavery and indigenous genocide that tell us something of the shadow side of what it has been to be human, what footprints our species and its cultural institutions have made on mother earth and in on our very souls. We are all still suffering from the trauma of slavery and of colonialism, whether we be black and descendants of blacks or whether we be white and descendants, not necessarily of slave holders, but of the privileges that came our way because our ancestors were not slaves. As Broderick Rodell said recently, “whether you are black or white, you carry inherited trauma from slavery.” (Broderick is black.)
I have been reading Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace by Carl Safina. This book tells us stories parallel to lessons learned from Black Lives Matter, that our species needs some profound truth-seeking both about our knees on the heads of black people and also our knees snuffing out life of other species besides human. First the author treats the wonders we have come to learn about the sperm whale nation. Their profound “culture” that includes care for one another and especially the young, their language and capacity to communicate over many miles, their ways of eating, living, celebrating, raising their young and the rest.
Then he tells of the human wars against the whales. Reading this history of our savage attack on whales, it occurs to me that these stories very much match the stories of genocide to indigenous peoples that were occurring at the same time; as well as the assault on enslaved Africans stolen from their land for the sake of offering free labor to feed a voracious economic system that will do anything for bigger and bigger profits, for the gods of avarice and mammon.
It was in the same spirit of greed, that we created the killing fields of the oceans. “From the 1700’s through the 1899’s, sail-driven whaler had killed about 300,000 sperm whales. Diesel engines and exploding harpoons allowed twentieth-century whalers to equal the previous two centuries’ killing in sixty years, then double that in the next decade: the 1960’s.” The twentieth century exterminated 3 million whales. What was the purpose of killing whales once petroleum was discovered? We invented “new uses to justify the unnecessary. Dog and cat food, fertilizer, mink food for fur farms.” In the 1800s, men had killed 60 million American bison, “but in terms of pure gross tonnage of animal destruction, twentieth-century whaling beat them all.”
Did the modern era, so bent on knowledge for humanity’s sake and corporations’ sake and financial gain sake, render us all crazy with violence and hatred of other species imagining they existed only to serve us? Is this what “being human means?” Are we doomed to live with a self-identity that enshrines a domination neurosis, a patriarchal ‘value,’ as our definition of what it means to be human? to be continued.
See Carl Safina, Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace, p. 88.
See Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, pp. 1-34.
Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you think it is just coincidence that the same culture that was subjugating indigenous and black peoples was also hell-bent on driving whales to extermination? What is going on? Is it our “superiority complex” that Wendell Berry says is behind all need to dominate? How can we go about dismantling that?
The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance
In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.
Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth
Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.