If I close my eyes, I can still see it.. You could say, I can even feel it and remember it. Some old way of life, an old way of existence. Certain memories that have engraved themselves into my mind–a collection of different feelings, a chapter of life that no longer exists or has ceased to exist.
The whole idea of extinction–something or someone is now dead and will not return in that same form. Particular life forms just go extinct. Perhaps through our storytelling and through our myths, archaeological records, the bones we find, the skeletons that are unearthed, we can look back and say, “Alright, this existed here once.”
But for some reason, it disappeared.
It could have been due to a sudden and natural change in the environment. Other known species, however, could have been systematically driven to extinction due to over hunting, overfishing, the exploitation of the environment, government policy, human intervention… There are many reasons why a species, a people and a way of life go extinct. And no matter what we do, that’s that, I think. So, who do we hold accountable? What do we hold accountable for certain cultures, certain traditions, certain ways of life just going extinct?
Documentary makers, photographers and people who are in the business of selling stories; they like to go to the location where something is still around and proclaim that it is so wondrous that it is still surviving despite all the odds–be it a practice, a culture, a tradition or a custom. They are like, “Oh, wow, look, the rest of the world has ‘moved on’, but somehow here, there’s this ‘thing’ that is still continuing…”
The younger generation is very fascinated by these ‘things’–the heritage and the initiation into their heritage. They’re trying to find or perhaps even create their own identity–which is not uncommon for people in that age group. It’s just that I think that compared to the ages that have gone by, we don’t really have any sense that there exists a continuity between maybe two generations prior and us. We’ve undergone a big leap in a very short period of time.
Then again, who has ever been given that continuity, you know? I think, maybe to a certain extent, Japanese culture has that continuity. There are certain other cultures that have continuity. In most circumstances–technologies, objects, species, a way of life–they all go extinct. I think perhaps my generation is searching for that broken link that connects us to the generation that lived and thrived two generations prior to our own. Why is that link important? I think it is because it was their lives that shaped our own almost irreparably.
If you believe or have faith in spiritual or cosmic law, you know that if something has died, it is only ‘the form’ and the structure that has died. The cosmic substance is still in the Oneness. Why must things die? It needs to be reborn in some other form. If we think of it in that regard, then there’s not much to be said about extinction because sooner or later things are repurposed in some way. The energy that died is repurposed.
Through these policies, these self-preservation measures, and this careful crafting of edifices–certain leaders; they’ve seen to it that certain people, a certain way of life–that maybe was not even that dangerous to begin with–was eradicated and systematically wiped out. Whether it’s a language, a culture, a belief system, a way of life: for some reason, some leaders felt the need to recklessly destroy so much to create their vision in the world.
And this is when I think that we need more–I’m not going to say tolerance, I’m not going to say political correctness–I don’t care about those things. We actually need to have more heart and less ‘intelligence’. What we perceive to be intelligence… I’m not sure it’s actually intelligent: what we are doing as a species. You know, human intelligence is very narrow-minded. If you’ve ever met people, which I have, who are so-called very intelligent or people who are deemed very intelligent by society–what do they all have in common?
I mean, think about it, they are narrow-minded. Intelligent, yes, but they are intelligent within a few small pockets of knowledge. They are lulled into a false sense of security within these small pockets of knowledge. They think they know it all. But they are narrow-minded. And you see this phenomena a lot in the world. A highly intelligent species making small but grievous errors in judgment time and time again. And these are the people who we celebrate for their intelligence, mind you.
I think that if you had a bone to pick with someone for destroying your way of life as well as any talent your community might have had–and you had the opportunity to meet this person, what would you say to them? I would say to them, “Hey, you not only took away our wealth, but you also made it very difficult for us to survive here. To the point that you have almost nearly driven us to extinction.”
If you had the opportunity to meet such a person to let them know that it was their doing that led to that, what would you do? Instead of blaming them or seeking compensation and reparations, or any of those things, you decide to tell them–and of all the things you could have told them; you decide to just look at them and say, “What I really wanted: it’s just take care of me and look after me.”
Why would someone look at their leader and say that? Because you, as my leader, whether elected or not, represent all your people. I mean, if you, as a leader, decide to represent your people, you have to represent all your people. But even democratic systems cannot do that.
You know, a country’s leader–he or she signs treaties, signs the Declaration of Independence and signs documents on behalf of their people. They don’t sign it on behalf of just the people who voted for them. What is the contract, you know? I so-and-so, on behalf of the people of so-and-so, I sign this contract.
Yes, life is hard. Life is tough. I’m sure everybody has their difficulties and leaders even more so, but when they feel justified, for having done these things and they’re so proud of their achievements and everything that they’ve done. It’s shocking that they don’t even feel the need to apologise to people whom they’ve hurt. They feel no need to apologise to the communities that they have hurt.
They confuse who is the enemy with who is the friend. When they tell history, based on their own inaccurate and incomplete versions, and might I add the propaganda-driven versions of the truth–their stories are designed to instil fear, designed to instil panic. And they’ve passed off these stories as facts and as truths all because they think that within their narrow scheme of vision that they are extremely intelligent. And intelligence is what matters.
They do all this so that they can take pride in their legacies as leaders. It doesn’t matter who they are. All I can say is that for them to create a new way of life, death is a part of that equation. But I think unlike nature, culture is a beast that has audacity to say I am better and therefore I deserve to live and others don’t.
(This is a transcription of a spoken text.)