Custodians of the Planet

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Years ago go after I had attended a band council meeting and watched representatives of this small nation wrestle with affairs that we divide up into federal, provincial, and municipal, I had dinner with a Chief. A friend had told me the Anishinaabe language contained no swear words, no blasphemes, and so I asked this Chief what his people would say when angry, when mad, even after twisting an ankle or hurting a toe. He replied with a wry smile, “You must remember, we Indians had nothing to be angry about until the white man came.”

I was thinking of this as we drove through a First Nations Reserve in the beautiful Q’Appelle valley in Saskatchewan. We have driven through many reserves this summer and there is a sameness to them: clusters of small, poor houses, randomly spaced, minimally maintained, in much the same manner as the temporary abodes of a nomadic hunting, gathering society.

And I am sure before the Europeans came the consciousness of this world, of the indigenous peoples, was limited to the land they could see, and of stories passed down through generations. And now they live on small islands surrounded by an organized nation of others, with full awareness of many other organized (or marginally) organized nations of others on this shrinking planet.

A few hundred years ago the First Nations People began to learn they did not own this land, they had no God given right to this land, this part of the earth. There were in fact hordes of others seeking refuge, a field to till, a place to live and raise a family. In truth the lore of the First Nations People had always been more about stewardship and custodian responsibilities for the land and it’s abundance than ownership.

There is a connection here with Marvin’s blog, for we are now, all of us, in the position of being First Nations 400 years ago. And what I am talking about, as Hungary closes its borders, as Britain isolates itself, as Maxime Bernier shouts NO to immigrants, as the US rounds them up, is that we must accept, as the First Nations People had to, that we are collectively just custodians on this small planet. We “own” nothing. And if we are to survive we must do a better job as custodians, and where there is bounty we must share, and where there is trouble we all must help.

The indigenous people, a few hundred years ago, did not know there would one day be a Brazil. And 50 years ago I’m sure I did not know the Amazon was responsible for 20 percent of the Earth’s oxygen, the cycle of stripping carbon from CO2 and releasing oxygen to the air. But, apparently it is, and it is burning.

Canada has pledged $15 million and water bombers to combat the fires, on top of $20 million promised in a G7 meeting. Trump skipped the meeting.

The good news here is that, apart from Trumpland, we are beginning to accept the fact that we are collectively mere custodians of a fragile planet and must take this role seriously.

Whoops, I wrote too soon. I forgot we have managed to elect so many stupid narcissistic teenage boys to high office and positions of power.

1 thought on “Custodians of the Planet

  1. Thanks for your piece today . The last sentence rings true to me regarding narcissistic teenagers ruling the roosts. When BOB Rray came to power as an NDPer m I quickly learned that some of his big manipulators in his fold were a wild greedy mob. They squeezed the sense out of him.

    Electing and appointing more moderate and responsible people to the reins of power ibecomes the everlasting challenge. Clever clogs Boris if left to his own devices will sink a nation swilling them over Dover Cliffs as will some of the extreme lefties and righties elsewhere.

    I once sat at a meeting at Queen’s Park regarding the implementation of a bill, and a committee member described an injection as an “assault.” AS he lurched into his diatribe ( a lawyer) there were a lot of nodders around the table. The were extreme rights peopl,.with in my opinion no notion of responsibility.

    Do you call a lifesaving dose of insulin can assault? said i quietly but fired with adrenaline. No response to that at first, “but they choose” someone said. Not if they are comatose I said I. Barely a dent in their argument registered. .

    In this day and age we have the anti vacinaationers. And so we marsh on . Science sometimes errs but so do fools And some are still counting angels on a pin.

    Sad to say I still wince when I recall that meeting in Toronto. They did not get Bill 74, the Advocacy Bill through because the government was given the boot. , But alas some things akin to it, have screwed up the Mental health System ever since. It is why more and more people are sitting neglected on the streets of this disappearing planet


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