Humanity within the patchwork of life

The Moist’suwet’en defending their land and waters in opposition to the colonial RMCP and fossil gas pipelines.

Here’s what I noticed. I noticed, for the primary time in my life, human beings, the Moist’suwet’en, standing with their surroundings. Figuring out with it.

Putting the standard of their surroundings — “you’ll be able to drink this water proper right here … it feeds all our territories all the best way right down to the ocean” — as their life work, their integrity, their core mission and identification.


And proper there after which, my complete cosmogony flipped the wrong way up. As a result of these phrases, from Molly Wickam, Moist’suwet’en spokesperson, who’s wrenchingly arrested on the finish of the video, truly allowed me to ‘escape the confines’ of my earlier understanding.

In my earlier understanding, people had a troubled, extractive and exploitative relationship with their surroundings. That historical past had ups and downs, inequalities and differentiated duties, for positive, however the core truth of an abusive and damaging relationship was unquestioned.

My primary hopes lay in a really speculative and unsure attainable change of paradigm, a change of coronary heart. However right here, there was proof of a basically totally different relationship, one which predates any civilisation I got here from – which is: settlers, colonisers, Europeans approach an excessive amount of in their very own dualistic Descartian heads, as I’ve come to be taught.

And that basically totally different civilisation had at its core the respect, love, and preservation of the surroundings they trusted. The individuals of that civilisation have been prepared to danger all the pieces – arrest, hurt, violence – to cease the harm of fossil gas pipelines on their surroundings.

Fairly merely, right here have been people standing with their world, moderately than in opposition to it. The panorama this opened to me was breathtaking: a way forward for life and function in accordance with our world, moderately than one among battle and doomed harm.

Fairly merely, humanity turned human. Humanity turned attainable. Humanity turned actual.


I didn’t must exist in battle with others and the air, water, mountains, forests, crops and animals that encompass me. I might exist with them. On their facet, and the facet my little one and his mates. I may very well be on the facet of life. And everybody else might too: our human cultures might shift to the facet of the dwelling world we rely upon, that we relate to.

It struck me that the Moist’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have photos of animals on their conventional cloaks. On the highest level of their human position, of their position of “honour” as Aristotle put it, they symbolize the animals dwelling within the surroundings of their territories.

I’m attempting to not fetishize, idealize or acceptable a tradition that’s clearly not mine, and that I’m nonetheless so removed from understanding. I’m attempting to elucidate to you, whose tradition could also be near mine, what it means to me to see people, leaders of their communities, marching below the banner of the types of life: amphibian, chook, plant, insect.

Scientifically, from the fundamental functioning of ecosystems, we all know we’re not separate from, and can’t reside with out, different types of life. So seeing a tradition that represents that interdependency, that relationship, on the highest stage, made me realise that humanity has existed — and may exist once more — far past Cartesian dualism.

Embarrassingly, the Moist’suwet’en resistance was not the one YouTube video that modified my life and worldview, within the couple of minutes it took to observe and take it in.


There’s something about seeing and listening to different individuals, who are usually not mendacity, simply speaking their core truths, that has an emancipatory energy to take us far past the place we have been earlier than.

The second video, unsurprisingly, was of Professor Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist and member of the Potawatomi nation.


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