The importance of indigenous wisdom in times of crisis

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Manitonquat, a tribal elder of the Wampanoag, put forward the thesis that our society suffers from great distance and isolation, which is why we wage wars and exploit the earth. We would have distanced ourselves from the “true nature of man”, as we distanced ourselves from “our brothers and sisters”, as well as nature itself.

“There’s only one thing we need to change – the idea of being apart.”

What significance do indigenous teachings have when a virus keeps the world in suspense?

The feared consequences of the SARS Cov-19 virus forced us humans worldwide to go into quarantine. Minimum distance and protective masks, became increasingly commonplace. Even the visit of relatives and friends was prohibited. Furthermore, the division and separation within society seems to be increasing. Camps were formed. People who consider the virus to be very dangerous and demand more measures, people who consider the virus to be harmless and see a restriction of their freedom rights.

Looking at the current situation, it seems that humanity is in a phase that the indigenous teachings warned us about –
Isolation, distance, fear, division, hatred … is this the end or a new beginning?

Manitonquat (Medicine Story) was a storyteller, elder and guardian of the knowledge of Assonet group of the Wampanoag Nation in Massachusetts. He combined the teachings of his elders with modern methods to bring us humans closer together again. For this purpose he travelled to many parts of the world for decades on invitations and taught the ancient and new methods, such as the talking circle or supportive listening. Methods in which people meet each other attentively and share from their innermost being what moves them.

For Manitonquat it was essential that we humans come closer together again and listen to each other sincerely. Only in this way could we, “together build a future for ourselves and the next seven generations that will benefit all living beings on this planet”.

Manitonquat died on 21.07.2018 at the age of 89 years.

What can we learn from this?

Now more than ever, we are called upon to listen to each other and to meet – be it personally or digitally. Calm and attentive. Everyone sees a piece of reality, his own reality. It is palpable that social isolation is almost at its peak. It can be felt that many people are financially threatened and that the economic system, worldwide, could be on the verge of collapse again. It is already visible that the earth, nature – plants and animals – are threatened. It is noticeable that powerlessness, fear and hopelessness are increasing.

What we can also perceive is the equally growing number of possibilities and alternatives. Probably never before have there been so many of them!

Never before has the time been so ripe for rapid and lasting change!

“On a question that starts with ‘HOW’, ask your mind. – On a question that starts with “WHAT,” ask your heart“.

In the end, it’s us who decide. If we are connected with our heart and our mind, then we can use our potential to the fullest. In every crisis there is also an opportunity.

When we meet as subjects and listen to each other, we can overcome distance and connect again. It is necessary that we learn to take the fears, insecurities or even the anger and indignation of our counterpart seriously, instead of “treating” or condemning them. Pigeonhole thinking and the building up of enemy images, dogmatism or panic mongering do not get us anywhere, but only isolate us.

Let us therefore come together in a circle – at eye level – and choose our way, together – no matter how different our opinions may be at present. Let’s listen to each other and look together deeply at what lies behind the emotions. Let us listen to our hearts, then there is always a way – for each of us! After all, it is about us and the seven generations that may follow us.

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