Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Morality of Culture

I was looking up moral references to something completely different when I stumbled across an article with this line:

"A rock has no moral status: we may crush it, pulverize it, or subject it to any treatment
we like without any concern for the rock itself. A human person, on the other hand,
must be treated not only as a means but also as an end."

It's such a very wašíču way of perceiving the world, as something without moral value, something to used and destroyed at whim.  Which is exactly what they are doing, and the results of this include a great deal of harm along with the things that people like.

There are whole other ethical systems out there, one of which is framed as mitakuye oyasin.  In this philosophy, everything is alive and everything is connected.  What we do to the world around us, we also do to ourselves.  This is factual in two ways: 1) We are all made out of the same elements: stars, planets, rocks, plants, animals, humans, came from the same source.  2) We all share the same biosphere here on Earth, and unbalanced destruction spreads whether you realize it or not.  And so the tribal philosophy reminds us that we are part of a very large, very tight-knit family; that we must not do things on a whim, but think first whether it is needed, because other beings and things have a right to their own existence.  The hunter would look for an animal ready to die, not a mother with young.  The knapper would look for the knife within the stone, not a rock that was busy being something else.  

To see the world as full of life and meaning and rights is to walk through a very different world indeed.  But at least that one does not lead to lighting the biosphere on fire because driving cars seems like fun.

Times like this, it becomes obvious that I may have fair skin, but I'm not really white.  I don't think  like they do.  The best description of my ethnicity, I got from a black friend in college: "Yeah, you can pass for white ... until you open your mouth."

What are some of your ethical principles or observations?

Tags: ethnic studies, life lessons, reading, spirituality
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