Walk the Line or Dance the Circle?
- Jay Bird | June 27, 2023
Popular legends tell us the west was won by conquest. It wasn’t. It was controlled via a cultural war. The more Indigenous cultures were denied, dehumanized, and suppressed, the more Western values were allowed to thrive, and become the normalized story for Canadian society. Everything was influenced by these Western values: cinema, art, dress, communities, language, history, governing systems, legislation, economics, business systems, etc. These became the societal norms, everything outside of them was insignificant.
If we want to win the west back, we need to know our Indigenous roots. We need to get in touch with our story to challenge the mainstream narrative.
It all starts with a philosophy, the circle. Indigenous worldviews start with the foundational principle of the circle. Well, what does that shape mean? It’s not about a shape as much as it is about a way of being.
The concept showed us we are equals with all things around us, and all things around us are interconnected with us. Things are seamless, from one thing to the next, we all share the same existence. To quote Chief Seattle we’re all part of the ‘web of life’. However, we are one strand in it, not the web itself. Let’s keep our ego in check.
Animals, plants, land, water, air, and the universe are interconnected, if one thing in that web of life is affected, the rest will feel those consequences. As with the circle, things are reciprocal, both positive and negative, and feed back into one another, like a loop. If you poison the water, you poison yourself. You kill off one species of being, it allows another species to affect the ecosystem in an adverse way, the balance is lost. We have an eco-spirituality that outlines our existence.
Humans have this design built into them. We are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual beings. We are holistic, the whole person is connected, and you cannot compartmentalize one piece and pretend it won’t affect another. Just like the world around us, everything functions as one, consciously this idea lives in us, because we are part of the unity of the planet.
First step in recovery from the Western approach is to challenge their values with ours. Our values make sense on this land, they have been practiced here and worked for eons, we must pursue their use. Why? Because we are invested by the lives of our ancestors, to care for their legacy. We are invested by the Creator, to sustain this place and define our experience. We also must consider what we leave for future generations.
Theoretically, it’s a circle versus a line? Is reality linear (compartmentalized) or is reality circular (interconnected)? We have lived with this compartmentalization theory for some time and it’s failing society. It’s taking the relationality out of our lives, isolating pieces of our existence, and creating an artificial reality. The Western worldview functions in a fallacy. We need to bring it back to authenticity, to sensibility.