I decided a while back to stop blogging. Well, I’ve changed my mind. I want to document some changes in me and my worldview.
Since I stopped blogging and relieved myself of some toxic relationships, I’ve had a series of insights. I’ve gone on, one could say, a vision quest, where I’ve not only gained knowledge but wisdom. I wanted to share this with you.
It’s been a preoccupation of mine to help end oppression of people I am more privileged than. Sure, I have my fair share of “markings” that set me aside for oppression: I’m disabled with a very stigmatized “disability,” I’m poor, I’m female, and so on. But I also know I have it better than some.
What makes me oppressive? It’s not merely my skin color. My oppressiveness has been a worldview lurking in the back of my mind. A worldview, I’m sorry to say, that inhabits the minds of many and is incredibly false. This worldview is The Great Chain of Being.
On this worldview, there’s a hierarchy in the universe. God, if you believe in such a thing, is at the top, followed by angels, humans (some of which are higher than others), domesticated animals, wild animals, and nature. You can learn more about The Great Chain of Being here.
We know, from science and our studies of humans, animals and the environment, that this worldview is false. But it has lurked in the minds of so many for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. It possibly began with Europeans, who tried to spread this worldview to non-Europeans.
Be honest with yourself. Is this the worldview in the deep cognitive structures of your mind?
It was for me.
Partially through behavior modification, I’ve come to change my worldview. I’ve been replacing it with something more true and more beautiful: Mitakuye Oyasin (We Are All Related).
We Are All Related is a phrase that reflects the Lakota worldview. Like The Great Chain of Being, it also posits an ordering to the universe. However, this ordering is more in line with what we know to be true from science. In a nutshell (and I’m certainly no expert here), We Are All Related says that everything in creation–humans, nonhuman animals, plants, nonliving things–are all interconnected. It’s a philosophical statement about how things are in the world.
It’s also, however, used as a prayer. So it has a normative force to it, just like The Great Chain of Being.
Both of these worldviews say “This is how things are and ought to be.”
The problem with The Great Chain of Being is that it is false. Moreover, it leads to ill treatment of certain humans, animals and the environment.
As I was reading literature on dehumanization, much of which presupposes The Great Chain of Being, I realized that I needed to have a worldview overhaul. Immediately, We Are All Related came to me as a better, more true alternative.
Now, there’s problems here, obviously. I’m white. And I don’t wish to appropriate from Native cultures. I’ve studied under, however, the best of the best–and I aim to continue to do so. But what I’ve found is that, to help end oppression, we need to completely overhaul our worldview. It’s false. It hurts people and animals. Let’s do away with The Great Chain of Being and replace it with something else.
You can choose a different worldview to replace it with, as long as it’s more true and more beautiful than The Great Chain of Being. I chose We Are All Related because it came to me in a flash of insight. And, after examination, I’ve found it to be more true to what we know.
I am still in my baby phase here. I’ve done the work to overhaul my worldview, but, as I said, I don’t want to appropriate. I don’t need to have an eagle feather. I don’t need regalia. I can buy my clothes used from Goodwill and still keep this new worldview in place. I can do my best to live in balance and harmony with all things, including all humans. That’s what I can do.
The problem, in the end, has been our (Europeans’) worldview. It is oppressive, false and ugly. And we’ve run around the world supposing it’s true and good. We’ve also tried to assimilate others into thinking this way. Well, I’m assimilating the opposite way.
You can call me a “wannabe” Native all day long. But I don’t wannabe.
What I truly want is the very structure of my cognitive content to reflect reality and beauty. And, at this time, anyway, I’ve found We Are All Related to be a good replacement.
Prove me wrong.