Here at MCC, it is common on the island for us to share experiences and media which have changed our perspectives, or influenced us in some way. On one particular afternoon, Paul sat us down and presented a recording of an old Native American woman discussing her struggles with modern society, racism, and greed.
To say it was moving would be an understatement; I was touch by her honesty, and her pain. She demanded our attention with a powerful emotional rhetoric, her resolve was unwavering. She appeared tired, but undefeated. She spoke of fighting for her people, respecting the Earth, and the greed and selfishness of our modern society. It is hard not to hear these words and not come to the simple conclusion that western society, for all its luxuries and wealth, has corrupted this planet, and the human race, irrevocably.
This isn’t an easy concept to come to terms with, it would be easy for me, as a white man, as a representative and product of western society, to sit down and feel guilt and shame for all that my ancestors and far relatives have done to perpetuate this greedy regime, however it would not solve anything (I should know, I’ve spent many days feeling guilt and shame on behalf of my people).
Sure, I could sit down, cry a little and reassure myself that one person can’t change a thing. But history has shown us, time and time again that this is simply not the case. It is in fact often the opposite. Whether for better or worse, it is only when people rally behind one great person, with one great idea, that things ever change. Unfortunately it is often for the worse, as people only tend to band together in times of fear, and desperation.
I could use this blog to rant effortlessly about the inequalities and fear mongering which has enveloped our societies, but perhaps that is best left to someone who it has directly affected, such as this woman. Instead, I would like to address one of the more pertinent questions she asked; “What kind of future do you want?”
At MCC, there are many unspoken rules. Respect is never asked for, but always given. Everyone’s ideas and issues are allowed to be raised and discussed with equal significance. Living on a small island with a family, locals, and foreign volunteers from all over the world, this magnitude of respect for each other’s cultures and personal boundaries is vital to the spirit of the place. It allows us to learn and work together. This, I suppose, is the future I want. If more people cared about our shared Earth, about the consequences to our actions, and most importantly could see first-hand the effects our greed and demand for self worth is having on this planet then perhaps we as a species can start to make amends with our environment.
It is not a new concept for a person to demand to live free, and to have their values respected, but for many it seems that this request is impossible.