Saturday, January 07, 2006

What we can learn from the bushmen


Bushman elder
Originally uploaded by CharlesFred.
The bushmen have a culture and way of life which has existed for 30,000 years, which in my reckoning make them the most successful race on the earth at the moment. It is not the least bit coincidental that their culture has utmost respect for the earth, taking out only what can be readily supplied and never over-harvesting.

If we contrast their culture with ours, which is not only using up resources we have inherited from our forefathers but is also borrowing very large amounts from future generations in order to create a massive spending and consumption spree, whilst resources are running out, replacements, if ever to be available, have not yet been developed and while the earth's weather systems are being chnaged by greenhouse gases, the icy poles and glaciers are melting, rains and harvests are failing and people starving and so on and so on.

Shouldn't we be using the Bushmen's knowledge, techniques, culture to help us unravel our all-consuming culture, rather than thinking that we have anything to teach the bushmen?

Should we not be thinking about un-developing rather than trying to develop other more sustainable parts of the world?

Visiting the bushmen and seeing how they deal with their environment has been one of the most impressing things we have done on this trip and has made a great impact on our (well, mine at least) thinking.

This morning I visited the Eco-Shrine, where a local artist has created a shrine to mother Earth, dealing with issues such as the sustainability of life on earth, the role and the history of the bushmen, the incredible uniqueness of what we have on earth and how fragile it is, reflecting very much the issues which have bene on my mind recently.

May I recommend Bill Bryson's Short History of Almost Everything? It does not deal directly with issues of sustainability but it does show how unique the earth is and how wonderful and incomprehnsible nature, in all its forms is?

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