New York Times bestselling author and wildlife ecologist Carl Safina argues that humans should be called Narrator replace Homo sapiens, Storytelling Monkey, because stories play a central role in our lives. Thousands of years ago, the stories were told around the sacred fire and later on the back porch. Today they are told on YouTube, Instagram, and Tic Toc, but lack context, public connection, and in-person intimacy. They are shared by others and help us understand our place in the world, which has been the cornerstone of human civilization for thousands of years.
Those old stories entertain us, teach us lessons, help us feel connected to our ancestors, place us in the great chain of history, and connect our lives to the rest of the living world. Aboriginal people understand that nature means that all things are connected, and they know in their lives that anything taken away must be returned, otherwise the world will lose its balance. JuktaFollowing the right path is an important part of local life and is likely to be each A cultural trip, before we get lost.
Fast forward 100,000 years and we find ourselves at a critical turning point. Our western thinking centers on the use and extraction of resources without paying attention to the replacement and restoration that lead to depletion and eventual loss. Stewardship is the cornerstone of most civilizations, Appalachian included. but not anymore. Today, we tell ourselves a new story, that the world revolves around us. Consumerism has risen to a new religion. As long as we ship one day, we don’t have to worry about mass extinction. Our new mantra: Shut up and buy.
Years ago, technology was supposed to be our friend. I had dreams of the Jetsons (the old futuristic cartoon characters) traveling with my jetpack, meeting with a smile on my face, and having free time to slow down and smell the roses. what happened? Instead of making our lives easier, technology has become our own worst enemy. It pierces our every move, it manipulates our minds, it turns us against each other, and its devices become a waste product containing chemicals that poison our environment forever.
So where do we go from here? Maybe take two steps back. For me, it’s about putting away my devices and not letting them rule my life. The smarter our devices, the dumber we seem to be. I choose to detach myself from digital reality as much as possible and immerse myself in the real world. Walking in nature, spending time by a stream, sitting on a mountaintop, and immersing yourself in the sounds, tastes, and smells of our natural heritage are the perfect cleansers to get rid of everything that is caused by too much technology, too much noise. And too many reasons to be busy. We often don’t realize how damaging these distractions can be until we separate ourselves from them. The result: the healing of our minds, bodies and spirits is immeasurable.
My new film will revolve around this theme – telling the wisdom of nature through stories and the wisdom of our elders. It contrasts the stories nature tells us with the stories society tells us. Relearning the healing wisdom imparted by native cultures and natural wisdom may be one way we heal ourselves and the planet. Want to help me make this movie? Consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Cultural Preservation Center and appearing in a movie credit! Contribute at SaveCulture.org –
After writing a column for The Times-News for nearly 16 years, I’m taking a break. I really enjoy exploring history, culture, the environment, health and wellness, science, politics, and more with you. It’s been a beautiful journey, and I hope that even if you disagree with some or anything I write, it will give you a slightly different perspective on your world, your community, your neighbors (both human and non-human) ) perspective, through a new lens. As quantum physics tells us, if we change the way we see things, what we see changes too.
I’ll continue to write the column occasionally, but there are many other creative projects I’m exploring that I’ll focus on as I expand my creative horizons. If you want to read my past columns as well as future projects, feel free to visit my blog at www.thewisebuck.net Thanks for a great journey!
I appreciate the time we spent together and thank you for your wonderful correspondence over the years. I’m really lucky!
David Weintraub, a preservationist, filmmaker and local environmental problem maker, runs the Center for Cultural Preservation. Contact him at SaveCulture.org or (828) 692-8062.