And we’re doing it to ourselves.
We’re slow learners. It’s only been for the last half-century that we’ve started to be concerned about what we are doing to Mother Earth, our air and the water, and yet in 1850, the U. S. government was trying to ‘buy’ land from the native Americans, these words were written by Chief Seattle. We didn’t ‘hear’ him, for after all, he was just a ‘wild’ savage, but how wrong we were.
“The President wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky, or water, or the land? The idea is strange. How can we sell the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water? Every part of this earth is sacred and holy in the memory and experience of my people.
“We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, the rocky crests, the juices in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, as well as man, all belong to the same family.
“The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst, carry our canoes and feed our children. Give to the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.
“If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, and share its spirit with all of the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath, received his last sigh, and gives our children life. So if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.
“Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother, and that what befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth?
“This we know. The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all, and man did not weave the web of life, but is merely a strand in it. And whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
“Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? And the wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted by talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the Eagle be? Gone!
“It will be the end of living and the beginning of survival.
“When the last Red Man has vanished with his wilderness and his memory is only a shadow, will the shores and forests still be here?
“We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother’s heartbeat. So, if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it as we have cared for it. Preserve it for all children and love it, as God loves us all.
“We are part of the land, as you, too, are part of it. This earth is precious to us, it must be precious to you. One thing we know: there is only one God, and no man, be he Red Man or White Man, can be apart. We are brothers after all.”
How wise, and far seeing Chief Seattle was. Without a thought we kill and spoil our earth. Thor Heyerdahl, with four others, in 1947, spanned the Pacific on a raft, and he told how pure the ocean was. Twenty-five years later he and others sailed the same course, and he told how there never was a foot of ocean that wasn’t fouled with our garbage. Plastic sacks wherever they looked. And now we are tossing our discards into Outer Space. The moon carries far more than Armstrong’s footprints, and now we’re beginning on Mars.
We continue to kill Mother Earth. And the fire which we have been told will destroy this earth, will be, it’s speculated, because the ozone layer which we are rapidly destroying will allow killing rays to bombard us.
And as surely as our Earth is depleted of its virgin forests, clean water, and pure air, and now Space itself, we are creating our own destruction. And it won’t be God’s will, and it won’t be God’s punishment. God has nothing to do with it, for it is something we have done, and continue to do to ourselves.
And just as that wise Chief Seattle , that ‘crazy savage’, told us over 150 years ago, we find ourselves exactly where he told: The end of living and the beginning of survival.