How I Feel About Technological Answers to Today’s Problems like Climate Change
By Erin Everett
A few weeks ago, I got into a discussion with my old friend, a long-time environmentalist. He made clear that sustainable solutions for today’s problems of environmental degradation, like climate change, will come from more and more advanced human-created technology.
I admit that I’m generally of a different opinion.
If our human mind has gotten us into the pickle we’re in, doesn’t it follow that we need some help? Where is the wisdom we’re seeking? Someone’s got to know how to solve the problems that more and more growth, production, industry, technology have gotten us into.
When I go for a walk outside, I experience ancient trees in a beautiful, balanced relationship with the ants that crawl up their bark, the lichens that make their home there, the rain that falls and the sun that shines on them. I learn from more recent modern scientific discoveries something that ancestral people have said before: forests, trees, streams, sky, mountains and more are interrelated in a way that shows a special livingness. Plants host a type of awareness that enables them to protect each other, nourish each other, support each other and die with something that seems like grace.
Where is this wisdom and balance for my human brothers and sisters? Is it just for plants, weather and animals? Or is there a way for us humans to find balance, too?
Our culture as modern people seems to have a different trajectory than what’s going on with the trees, stones, and the other animals in how they are in the world. For example, you won’t find a tree saying to its neighbors, “I know! Let’s create a new way of photosynthesizing that will innovate the food market!”
Those ways, both for trees and human people, that have worked in the past are sublimely suited to this world that we share. Those ways are successful because, over countless years, these interrelationships have been naturally established. When we speak in these terms regarding what we learn, and when we conserve for a good future, we call that wisdom, which represents something similar to those tried and true ancient tree-ways.
When I went to Mexico for the first time, I brushed up against village people who were living in similar ageless ways, the tried and true ones that have worked for millennia for human beings. As I return to those vibrant, dynamic villages, I continue to learn a great deal. These are not wealthy people, trying to make their lives more comfortable by the minute. Instead, they live simply and sometimes ruggedly, with lots of relationships with others who have their backs. They learn relationship skills early, in order to ensure that they will be taken care of well and can care for others.
And, how do they interact with the divine natural world? At certain occasions of the year, when the feeling of those living, natural times of intersection are near, such as the begin-rain time or the begin-corn-planting time, they put their time, comparably meager resources, and energy into celebrating and honoring those key relationships through ceremonies, engagements with the world around them to which nature responds in turn. And for them, the ceremonial cycles are like breathing. Why would you cut yourself off from your exchange with the world that happens when you receive oxygen from the plants around you? Why would you refuse to exhale the carbon dioxide that is needed by other living creatures and which is your natural exchange for the gifts you’ve received?
My brush with ceremony on that first trip south changed me. It was hard to integrate with the world-view that I had been taught. But, as the years have gone by, this work, like the ancient but ever-relating dance with life has become as welcome and natural as my breath.
So, back to my old friend. He seems to be saying that more technology will solve things like climate change. After all, in his mind, without technology, what do we have?
My response is that technology is our reaction to something missing in our lives. It seems like we need to build something artificial, like an artifact, to solve a problem. However, these solutions often produce new problems which then need additional solutions, and so forth. What if we go back to something tried and true by seeing that some things may not need artificial solving? Maybe we need to just understand “nature” and therefore move into relationship with it as those sustainable and wise cultures did before. I find, like the elders, that this works amazingly well.
And if you would like to experience this, please join us at our annual Traditional Weather Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 6 at Sacred Fire Asheville. My husband, Adam, and I, along with my fellow quiatzlques (ones who work with weather for the benefit of their people) who are part of this time-honored tradition from indigenous Mexico are hosting this event. We will be celebrating the rains and the bounty these great living expressions as wind, clouds, lightening, sun and rain have produced through the bounty of crops and water for drinking.
This event is free, kid-friendly, and open to all. And it is our birthright to be in good relationship with the living, aware world around us. When our dance with the world is a joyful, coordinated one, our fields and farms thrive and our people are fed and live together in good community once again.
Learn more about our Harvest Festival, including what to bring to offer back to the Weather Beings, who have been so kind to us this year. When you want to share true, practical sustainability, the simple act of giving thanks makes all the difference.
Erin Everett and her fellow quiatzlques are taught and initiated in the Nahua weather working tradition from the central highlands of Mexico. They work during the year asking for beneficial weather for the Asheville and western NC area, and they return to their spiritual homeland in Mexico every year to renew their connections. Their fall Harvest Festival is an opportunity for people from all walks of life in the Asheville NC, USA area to join them in celebrating the weather and the harvest.