C. L. Cook
December 10, 2005
Never have so many known so little about so much of what makes their world work. Pause a moment and look around you: Whether at home, surrounded by the wires and widgets making the modern world run, or satellite downlinked in some technological backwater, if you're to be honest you'll own your near absolute ignorance of how it all works, or even what's going on.
Never have so many known so little about the inherent knowledge of their ancestors. Who were they? How did they live without iPods?
Whether natural by-product, or by nefarious design, the European ascension destroyed local custom and rite across the world, the resulting cultural erasure bringing chaos and dislocation, the opposite of understanding, the annihilator of knowing.
For the greater part of the world’s population to be sleep-walking through their environments has no precedent: A cave-dweller wouldn't understand your toaster either, but she'd know how to make and keep a fire. She’d know the roots and berries and the habits of the beasts about her. She could survive because she has an intimate relationship with her environment.
And you can thank God she did.
The intimacy that connected us to the world, the knowledge of our environs and how its systems worked, has now bled from the common "library," no less tragic for the remote tribes, their lost language and culture and remaining "wild" places they called home than for those sophisticate city-dwellers and their loss. The current disaster we call progress is effectively eating the heart out of human existence. Within those cities, despite their gleaming towers and mechanical marvels, the people suffer too the psychic separation from the natural world, an unbearable schism that cannot be spanned by the material. In this world, instead of knowing, dreams and fantasy masquerade as reality, clouding perception and leaving us to stumble about in uncertainty.
But that we could pause a moment before all is lost ... but that we could remember, it is more than nature we've fallen away from, too the intimate knowledge of ourselves and what it means to exist. The devil’s deal we’ve struck is the surrender of the wild and open heart for the cold comfort of a walled security.
This is the victory of distance; remote souls, shorn of the threads that connect, beckoned instead to attend the siren’s song of La Media and its shallow sensibilities, so further forbidding true discourse and the path to that inmost knowledge of our selves and our world essential to our survival.
Chris Cook is a contributing editor for PEJ.org. He also hosts the weekly public affairs program, Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.
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