Updated: Apr 28
Today I read a fascinating fact: 36% of biomass of fauna on Earth is human, 60% are animals that we breed for food, and only 4% are animals in the wild. Thus, 36% of earthly biomass kills and eats the unfortunate part of the remaining 60%, while only 4% live in freedom. These figures best demonstrate the essence of the civilizational phase that has been going on for the last few centuries and which we call industrial capitalism.
We must ask ourselves, are we even "civilization"? The Aboriginal culture of Australia lived harmoniously forty thousand years until the "civilized" Europeans arrived and destroyed its continuity. The culture of North American Indians had a similar destiny. After ten thousand years of coexistence with nature, "civilized" settlers arrived and practically exterminated them. The millennial history of Aztec, Maya and Inca was destroyed by greedy Europeans in just a few decades. The same happened, and still happens, to traditional communities of Polynesia or parts of Africa.
We did that to others, but what are we doing to ourselves? The self-centered and aggressive culture of industrial capitalism destroys the ecological and biological substrate of the planet every day and calls it technological progress. At the same time, its tradition of violence, dominance, imposition and intolerance, greed, and selfishness, destroys the mental state and stability of an already vast population. Humanity seems to travel full speed, hustle and heart, toward its ecological and psychological end.
The peoples we call primitive, lived in harmony with nature, while we keep on raping it out of selfish interest. For the natives, the world was made up of human people, plant people, forest people, marine people, stone people... These categories, except for tribesmen, included all plants and animals, land and sea and even rocks. Every part of nature was considered "living beings", deserving to be respected and lived with in harmony. They believed that every living thing had the right to live and die with dignity. This was equally true for men, trees, animals, fish or rock.
Our civilization calls such a view of the world "primitive." But what's more primitive? To see the eternal "soul" of nature in everything, or to seek it only in people? To treat and protect everyone around us as life itself, or to celebrate never-seen gods who will save our souls regardless of the amount of suffering we have caused to people and things around us?
When natives claim that "a tree, forest, river, or sea contains the spirits of their ancestors," we call it irrational. And what do you call our behavior of logging and burning the planet's lungs, waging fraternal wars, or polluting drinking water with tons of garbage?
When making important decisions, American natives considered their impact on seventh generation. We don't even think about the consequences for our children's generation. If they killed a buffalo or a river trout to survive, the natives would apologize to them. We rarely apologize to victims of war crimes or traffic accidents, let alone those killed out of interest, greed, or hatred.
Today, the civilization of industrial capitalism creates a few hundred billionaires who will never be able to spend a fraction of the money from their fat bank accounts, while several billion people live in poverty. One third of the world's population is starving, while one third suffer from obesity. The wounded planet is scarred with melted glaciers, flooded plains and scorched forests, while we continue to draw oil and mine coal. We are conquered by two pandemics, Covid and chronic depression. We no longer know how to fall asleep, or rejoice, or grieve, or concentrate and calm down without drugs and pills.
When the British soldiers taught the African tribe to play football, the natives moved the ball until nightfall, but even then, they did not stop. The soldiers asked them why they keep on playing, and they answered: "We're waiting for it to be a draw. We can't stop if one side won and the other side lost. The game only makes sense if we all win and walk off the field embraced and happy.”
On one Polynesian island, people who sell coconuts, bring 20 fruits to the market every morning to make $3. When the price of coconuts goes up, they bring in 15 to make $3. They don't care about the fourth dollar; they don't know what to do with it because they don't need it for harmonious survival.
Can our civilization still learn from such examples, or is it long too late?