I concluded some years ago that the only social movements or spiritual paths that interest me are those that explicitly have at their center this truth: Human beings are not in any way superior to or more deserving than non-human beings and ecosystems. Different, yes. Uniquely gifted, perhaps. But not intrinsically more important.
We humans have been indoctrinated for many generations by the dominant culture and its institutions—including mainstream Christianity—with the conviction that we are superior to everything else that exists. Most humans everywhere unquestioningly believe that not just our survival, but our day-to-day comfort and narrowly defined well-being comprise the most important agenda being played out on earth. We don’t have to look far to see what a mess this has created, with the land, waters and air being polluted all over the planet, wild habitats shrinking, entire species dying, and now the specter of seemingly irreversible, disruptive climate change.
Humans are literally killing the Sacred Land—and thus our very selves, for we are of the Land. Through deigning everything about us and our lives as hyper-important, we have made ourselves hostile and aggressive in groups, and lonely, disconnected and sad as individuals. We are trampling our souls, and depriving ourselves of vast levels of spiritual understanding and deepening that are our birthright.
For most of human life on earth, however, the ancestors of every human being now alive revered the Sacred Land. From birth to death, their practical and spiritual lives were centered in knowing themselves as part of Gaia’s green web. In the famous words attributed to Chief Seattle, the great Native American leader of the mid-1800s, “Humans did not weave the web of life—they are merely strands in it. Whatever they do to the web, they do to themselves.” Our ancestors knew this, and lived accordingly for thousands of generations.
The Sacred Green Land is the center of the Green Christ’s world, and of our world. Those Christians who define their Savior and Redeemer only as the One who died on the cross in the Judean desert—generations after that region had been largely deforested and was barely adequate for grazing—might be excused for overlooking this fundamental truth in the past. But we must all stop overlooking it now.
The Sacred Green Land is the Green Christ’s dominion. Humans are of the Sacred Land, in our deepest nature. Thus we are in this dominion. We are of this dominion. We belong to it, if you will. But it does not belong to us. Acknowledging and surrendering to this truth is central to the awakening of humanity.
When we put the natural, wild world at the center of our personal and spiritual aspirations, all the former “Christian” ideals and values are recast. They do not change in their essence. But they also no longer support a solely human-centered world and way of life. These values expand to become earth-centered, and praise and support all life, human and non-human, and all places and ecosystems that are home to this life.
Thus, essential values such as charity, humility and generosity become values on behalf of the entirety of Gaia’s green web, not only the world of human beings. This is the value system that the Green Christ offers to us—because he knows that in our deepest nature, we are whole people with the capacity to participate fully in the natural world that is our home and that holds and defines who we truly are.
© Copyright Mary Janet Fowler, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Reproduction of this material in whole or in part is strictly prohibited without written permission.