A while ago, I came across these words from Chief Seattle from the time when his people were required to give up their land in the middle of the 19th century.
Chief Seattle’s Prayer
Every part of this earth is sacred to my people.
Every shining Pine needle, every sandy shore, every
mist in the dark woods, every meadow,
every humming insect.
All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.
We know the sap which courses through our veins. We are
part of the earth and its part of us. The perfumed flowers
are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle,
these are our brothers.
The rocky crests, the juices in the meadow, the body
heat of the pony, and man, all belong to the same family.
The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is
not just water, but the blood of our ancestors.
Each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes
tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The
water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father. The rivers
are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes
and feed our children. So you must give to the rivers the
kindness you would give any children.
So you must give to the rivers the kindness you would give
any brother … Remember that the air is precious to us, that
the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that
gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last
sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life .
Will you teach your children what we have taught our children?
That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth, befalls all the
sons of the earth.
This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth.
All things are connected like the blood which unites us all.
Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
– Chief Seattle 1855
Though there are various versions of this “prayer”, the essence of Chief Seattle’s wise words come through – it is our land and it is up to us to care for it. Just what would he make of all the damage we are currently causing to our planet?
The point is that it is up to US to do something about it.
When will you start?!
I remember the last time you posted this – it is so apt for today! We are becoming so disconnected from each other and the earth and this is a beautiful reminder.
Personally I think eating organic is one good way of protecting the earth and oneself – even though there has been a report out saying that there is no difference in organic and non-organic food – I think they are missing the point – less chemical pollution, no hormones being passed into the water and land and our bodies. Obviously recycling as much as possible and being careful with the electricity and gas and how much water we use. I do my best on a daily basis not to waste these resources either. I feel we also need to connect more to each other – to realise the truth of what is said in that poem. How many times on buses and trains do you see someone who wants to get off at a stop just getting up and either pushing past the other person or just giving them a look – when did we lose the ability to speak to each other and just say excuse me or can I get out please! Please can we all be more caring and considerate of each other – a little word and a smile goes a long way.
Thanks Hilary for your heartfelt words. We are indeed more than ever in need of these sentiments.
What I have found is that it takes so little to make a difference and to show consideration for other people.
By the way, you are correct in mentioning this article being posted before – I previously wrote this post on my blog about Personal Social Responsibility – I am now focussing only on this, my main blog. The other blog will soon become just a site for my book.
This will make it easier for my readers to follow my writing and of course help get get more focussed on just one blog.
Arvind, As someone who has lived in Seattle for many years, I really appreciate this post.
It’s amazing what senseless damage we’ve done to our planet. In the US, we destroyed the Native Americans’ way of life, including slaughtering the buffalo– animals which had lived and thrived here for countless millenia. And then we imported cows from the British Isles–animals not at all well equipped to withstand brutal winters on the Great Plains.
By the way, a fascinating book on man’s effect on the environment is Collapse by Jared Diamond, a professor at the University of California.
Madeleine, thanks for sharing your own personal insights.
It really breaks my heart to see the irrevocable damage we are causing to our planet and the harm we cause to our fellow human beings.
However I get a lot of hope and great inspiration from people like you and other readers who genuinely care about the world and other people.
Thanks for the book tip – I have just put it on my Amazon wishlist:-)