Bare Bones Biology 162 – Aboriginal Wisdom

Last week I commented on the commentary of Kooper ( a modern Navaho rap artist. Today, I quote from Henry Crow Dog (Crow Dog, by Leonard Crow Dog and Richard Erdoes. Harper, 1995), who was a third-generation Sioux medicine man. After that, I will repeat my favorite quote fromOren Lyons, former Chief of the Onandoga. Here are some words of Henry Crow Dog:

130801-cliff-ASC_4981RLSs copy“Why did the white man come here? Why did Custer steal the sacred Black Hills from us? White men are crazy about gold. They have gold rimmed glasses, gold watches, gold teeth. They were always rooting around, tearing everything apart, digging, digging, digging. They tore up the whole Black Hills to find gold, silver and precious stones. They still work the huge gold mine, the Homestake Mine, up there. Now they’re after gas, coal, oil and uranium. You can see the big trucks with the nuclear stuff coming through here from the Black Hills.”

“The white man has eyes but he does not see. He has ears but he does not hear. The clock of the universe, the spirit clock, has already struck twelve. It’s time to set this clock right, time to stop and think.”

“We’ve got to civilize the white man because he has gone astray.”

You already know that I agree with the wisdom of these words – except of course it isn’t our whiteness that makes us crazy. It is the structure of our corposystem culture that makes us believe we can build the good life out of things, rather than with wisdom.

This, I believe, is also the basic reason for the Compassionate Earth Walk that I have talked about before, led by a white American Buddhist monk with international and intergenerational followers. They are now walking from the Tar Sands in Canada toward the home of Henry Crow Dog in South Dakota, along the route of the latest “white man’s folly” the Tar Sands Pipeline. Unfortunately they will probably have to stop somewhere

130802-Pup-ASC_5037RLSsPeople have been walking along the wisdom trail since long before Martin Luther King, and including both Leonard Crow Dog and Chief Oren Lyons, whose words I have quoted before and can be found in conversation with Bill Moyers obtainable from PBS. He said:

“We are now. Now is us. We’re the seventh generation. I’m sitting here as the seventh generation because seven generations ago there were people looking out for me. Seven generations from now, someone will be here, I know. And so each generation makes sure that seven generations is coming all the time. That’s accountability. We’re accountable. We, you and I, we’re accountable. Yes we are, and they are going to call us. They’re the ones that are going to say, why did you do this, or why did you not do this?”

Indeed, Chief Lyons was also a walker along the wisdom trail. I wonder if that is anything like the original wisdom of the Bhodisatva path? Anything like the life of Jesus? Ask Joseph Campbell (also available on PBS), and he would (did) say yes, the aboriginal wisdom of human kind is the story of how to survive as a part of the Creation. It is the story of human wisdom, the same wisdom, spoken in many voices – many stories.

And so this is a biology program. What has that to do with Biology?

Not very much, because Henry Crow Dog is right. If we continue to pursue science without wisdom “. . a time will come when the bullets won’t work, the bombs won’t work, the spaceships will fall into the ocean. The generals, the senators, the president himself, won’t know what to do.” Because global science without human wisdom cannot save us from ourselves.

But it’s also true that human wisdom that denies reality will come to the same end. Because wisdom that does not include an understanding of factual reality isn’t wise enough to deal with today. And we are today.

So I can’t understand why we have divided ourselves into those two groups, those who believe that human wisdom can conquer global science, and those who believe that global science should conquer human wisdom. Both groups have the same basic goal of the good life, but neither can achieve that goal in today’s world without the knowledge that is available from the other. And so long as we won’t listen, each to the other, we will have neither wisdom nor the good life.

What is the solution to this problem? If you are technical minded, discuss with your neighbor whatever wisdom system she or he best understands; if you are completely devoted to learning about compassion, or Christianity, or Buddhism, or even if you are already a Medicine Man or a Bhodisatva – part of your obligation to the future is to take the time to discuss (or read about) some fact-based science – not human technology (prowess) or the fanciful tales of the corposystem propaganda, but the unchangeable processes that physically function to keep our Biosystem alive and well. What most of you were not taught in school.

Bare Bones Biology is a production of and KEOS FM radio, 89.1, Bryan, Texas. The podcast of this episode can be downloaded here or at: