Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The History of the Conservation Movement PART 2: The Fight for Land

Respect for the land shared among so many species really is the underlying factor that ensures a healthy planet. Unfortunately, our planet has a history that demonstrates the disrespectful side of humanity. Native Americans inhabited the Americas several thousand years before the Europeans visited the continent. Native Americans are a people with a history of high adaptation to their environment. It is so unfortunate that the Europeans were so arrogant to their different ways of living. The technological advances in Europe had plagued their perspectives and distorted their view of what should have been truly important - respect.

As documented in Christopher Columbus's personal diary, the firsts thoughts upon encountering the natives were how to take advantage of them. This typical frame of mind was persistent through the centuries until the cultures of the Native Americans were nearly nonexistent. Fortunately, some culture has been saved over the years. But the numbers of people and the numerous cultures that were eradicated from their home land are impossible to reestablish. The Europeans greedily took the land from the natives with force and without remorse. The Europeans claimed land that was not theirs and ravaged the land and wildlife after killing thousands of Native Americans. As mentioned in Part 1, the Native Americans lived sustainable lives and did not understand the ways of the Europeans. Likewise, the Europeans did not understand the ways of the natives.

My intention is not to excuse the Europeans' behavior, but perhaps try to draw some insight into why they chose to behave so poorly. They were coming from a culture where status and greed were very common and accepted by many, especially the wealthy. These were the customary ways of their culture, complete opposite to the natives they encountered. Understanding where this divide originated can help provide insight and understanding into the ways of different groups of people. The Native Americans respected their land, their people, and the Great Spirit. The Europeans respected their own egos.

Let us use the knowledge of the present to reflect upon the actions of the past. Neuroscience helps to explain the profound underpinnings of the brain that have been philosophized for centuries. They have been able to demonstrate how rationality cannot exist without healthy emotion management. What dampens emotions? Stress does. So without effective coping techniques, people are irrational beings. Perhaps the stress from a used up environment contributed to the Europeans distorted viewpoint of what their needs were. Understanding European culture and its history may help to remove the lenses from our eyes of the horrible atrocities that took place upon their arrival to the "New Land."

I would like to move on to how it contributed to the conservation movement. As the Europeans wiped out the majority of the very people they could have learned the biggest lessons from, they continued their old ways of using up the land. After multiple centuries of killing and conquering, the ways of the Native Americans were almost extinct. As the Europeans began settling and taking over the land, they established control over the reclaimed country. Fortunately for the land, the European Americans began to understand their impact on the land and began to make reforms. Slowly, awareness of the needs for conservation efforts was raised and the government of the United States began to take action. The ways of the Native Americans would unknowingly and unintentionally become a part of the European American culture.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent informative article looking forward to reading more from you Kandace, Thank you


Always welcome.