We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all beings are created equal in the Creator’s eyes, and that each is inextricably connected to the Creator, the creation, and to one another. We breathe the same air, drink the same water, and depend upon our common land, sea, and sun to feed us and keep us alive. Therefore, let us strive to live in accord with the Creator’s way, and respect our fellow beings of the Earth.
When Europeans appeared on this continent, the People who greeted them were probably curious and perplexed. These foreigners were unlike any encountered in many generations of trading. They looked strange and smelled bad. And for men who were clever enough to have such powerful weapons and useful tools, they did not seem to recognize the most obvious truths about the world--that humans are neither more nor less than other beings in the circle of life, and that even the rocks and stones have vitality and a right to speak. The Europeans laughed at this as animism or pantheism, the superstitions of savages. That was five centuries ago. The two worlds collided--slowly at first, then with ever more momentum, until the friction set settlements afire and the land was bathed in blood.
For thousands of years the People had hunted, traded, and cultivated crops on this continent. Their numbers were in the tens of millions. They were not a perfect People, of course. They lived in hundreds of different communities, spoke countless languages and dialects, and certainly practiced a multitude of customs and rituals. Moreover, when territories came into dispute, what could not be settled with words was probably settled with weapons. But even that conflict was ritualized, and one community did not seek to exterminate another. Regardless of the religious differences, all People recognized a common Creator. They understood what contemplatives in other traditions allude to in describing their experience of the Divine Mystery: The intimately animating creative force that enlivens and sustains all creation in a web of connections, both seen and unseen. It is the deepest depth of being.
The Europeans continued to come in overwhelming numbers. They saw the land and they wanted it. They conquered the People, they crushed their culture, and they thought they conquered the land. Now we the descendants of these Europeans devoutly believe that we legitimately own our individual territories, as if the Earth can be bought and sold to the highest bidder. Our traditions keep the Creator carefully contained and restrained from interfering in human affairs, except when petitioned in prayer. Survival of the fittest is accepted as the culture of commerce where each being is a commodity in the market place of possible profits. The best government is the one that governs least, we say, and allows the individual to pursue the freedom to possess, prevail, and consume without fear of the consequence of connectedness—to the Creator, the creation, or to one another. Collectively, we have acquired an infinite abundance of clever weapons and useful tools, but hold only the dimmest recollection of a soul and the source that sustains it.
Now the land itself seems to be arising, crying out in increasingly unsettled seasons. Mother Earth is stirring and stewing. Father Sky is writhing with the winds of change. The seas are surging with currents searching new directions. Tides swell and seethe, seeking unseen inlets to the places where ancient waters once whirled. The world, our world, will never be the same, and neither will we. In this time of Great Turning, we will either learn to live together in accord with the Creator’s way, or we will all dissolve in a cauldron of disconnected individual delusions.