We are very lucky here in Samford and its surrounds to live in a beautiful natural environment. Posts on the community Facebook pages show serene sunsets, precious wildlife and daily life enjoying the trees, creeks and abundant space. Discussions that arise from some of these posts however, reveal how differently we as humans approach the purpose/point/utility of this natural environment. To fully understand these differences, it is useful to dig a little deeper to explore the assumptions/values/beliefs that underpin them.
Flowing from our understanding of our self-identity is our place in the world. Whether we now believe in a God or not, many of our current western values have been shaped by an intergenerational religious foundation. This is a belief system that sees man as the pinnacle of the evolutionary chain. It presumes a linear progression from bacteria to civilised man in a constant striving towards perfection. Consequently, man, as a superior being exists independently from the natural world which is a mere input to be controlled and used as he sees fit. If we look to Indigenous approaches however, we see life as a web of interconnections. Each living thing evolves as an adaptation to its current situation and is changed by the changes around it. Therefore, there is no perfect final being only continual change and it serves us well to work with and care for what supports us.
If we start from the belief that we are but one part of the natural world, not its master, that we are dependent upon it and changed by it rather than able to manipulate it to our will – how differently would we live, how would it affect our choices? While it is not possible, or even desirable to return to what is in an idealised version of the past, our challenge is to plan a path to a sustainable future. As complex and diverse as humanity has become our existence still depends upon the essential basics of water, healthy soil and the generation of life and our policies need to reflect this.