Arundhati Roy is a novelist and a great activist who lives in India. She has just written an essay envisioning a world beyond capitalism or communism. As every visionary knows, our hope does not lie in the hands of western efforts to rescue the environment, nor in our technologies and especially not in the charity we give to the suffering people of the earth, always with strings attached. Our only hope lies in listening to the simple people of the earth. We sometimes call the third world. They are the indigenous populations all over the world.. It is only they who have never broken ties with mother earth nor forgotten their own humanity.
If there is any hope for the world at all, it does not live in climate-change conference rooms or in cities with tall buildings. It lives low down on the ground, with its arms around the people who go to battle every day to protect their forests, their mountains and their rivers because they know that the forests, the mountains and the rivers protect them. Arundhati Roy
We Americans are taught from the cradle that we are born to lead the other people of the world. We are taught that our great inventions and powerful weapons prove we are smarter and better than other people. We tell a false history that has been purged of our atrocities to the simple people of the earth. Drunk in such arrogance we have nothing to give or teach the world. It is they who can teach us how how to live close to the earth, and how to remember our own human hearts.
The first step toward re-imagining a world gone terribly wrong would be to stop the annihilation of those who have a different imagination – an imagination that is outside of capitalism as well as communism. An imagination which has an altogether different understanding of what constitutes happiness and fulfillment.
To gain this philosophical space, it is necessary to concede some physical space for the survival of those who may look like the keepers of our past but who may really be the guides to our future. To do this, we have to ask our rulers: Can you leave the waters in the rivers, the trees in the forest? Can you leave the bauxite in the mountain? If they say they cannot, then perhaps they should stop preaching morality to the victims of their wars. -Arundhati Roy
Our hope lies in ending our lectures to the humble peoples of the earth, and becoming their students.
I’m afraid the problem here is Christianity. Not Christianity as taught by Jesus, but as it is practiced here in the US. They have taken the words “dominion over the earth” and extended it to mean that those who are the best “dominionists” should have dominion over everyone else and is the philosophical basis for “American Exceptional-ism”.
Thus we show our disdain for other people, especially indigenous people, with economic and cultural colonialism.
America is a wonderful country, and has much to give the world. But we need to stop this culture war we have been waging against everyone else.
Thank you for writing.
I agree that Christianity as it is practiced is a problem, but my own feeling is that the problem goes deeper than that. Aboriginal Christianity was taken over by political forces that already existed before the religion was even born. Further, Christianity is hardly unique in it’s bullying of others. Judaism and Islam both have shown a willingness to dominate others, as have several non-theistic systems. I am the last one to defend what Christianity has become, but it is also important not to blame the human tendancy to form hierarchies on any one particular expression of that trait. Your mention of American exceptionalism is an excellent example of the impulse to dominate taking a nationalistic, rather than religious form.