Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Response to a question

Tile of a spider taken at the
Occidental Arts & Education Center
A couple of months ago i was interviewed for a Berkeley-based radio program. Though it hasn't aired, a question the interviewer asked has remained on my mind. 'You seem to be involved in very different activities and disciplines - environmental justice, natural healing, African history, and more - wherein lay the connections?' There are many. And i hope to weave together certain elements that make the most sense for this public forum. 

Humans are one of many many species that live on this earth. And in comparison with some, are a relatively recent emergence in the vast span of the earth's life. We share space with other beings...flora and fauna, seen and unseen, large and small. 

Human populations evolved in biologically diverse ecosystems that have generously accommodated their expansion, movement, and laying of more permanent foundations. And it was in relation to the natural world that humans learned about the plants, animals and other life forms that could feed, help, heal, hurt and kill.

At a certain point, under certain conditions, some populations developed a preference for taking what they needed from others.  These populations evolved entire cultural systems around theft, pillage, rape and war; cultural systems that embedded war-rooted values into language, celebrations, religious practices, laws, and more. These same populations invaded and pillaged Africa and other nations/peoples of the Global South. 

In this current moment, we continue to live in conditions we've inherited. Conditions that value white over people of color; men over women; wealthy/middle class over working and poor people; and European culture(s) over all else.   Conditions in which profit is more important than the lives and health of humans, plants and animals. Conditions that permit corporations to destroy life, purchase public officials, and be protected by laws at the local, state, national and global levels.  

I see my work as intersecting and weaving through philosophy for a coherent system of understanding the world; history to understand chronologically and logically what has happened throughout time and space to who i call My People; research methods to improve the tools for observing, analyzing and problem solving; environmental - or more appropriately ecological - justice to oppose harm to people, the planet and the systems of knowledge and relationships that sustain both, while supporting efforts to heal and build them up; healing arts and spirituality for fortitude, strength and healing to carry out my life's work and to support others in their quest to do the same. 

So it all fits together. And simultaneously lived makes the most sense to me.

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