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Friday, April 9, 2010


Treat the earth well.
It was not given to you by your parents,
it was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
we borrow it from our Children.

Ancient Native American Proverb


  1. I don't know about you guys in Europe, but we in America borrowed a shit load of money from our children so we can finance the depletion of their future resources.

  2. When you kill all animals of a flock, it is easy to understand that your children will be threatened by hunger.
    Unfortunately it is not as easy to understand that deficit spending of a modern state is the same thing.

  3. I must confess a terrible doubt. Every time I read an ancient proverb of the ecological kind, I think "This is too beautiful to be true!". Why? Because I am not able to imagine a culture without industrial production - based on hunting, fishing or even agriculture (like the Hopi) - with the obsessive idea of ecology, expressed in such wonderful proverbs.

    Proverbs are always a faithful mirror of the problems occuring in a culture. A big part of the proverbs therefore you can find in every part of the world, and the more a proverb is specific, the more it tells you on the specific problems of the culture to which it belongs. Now, ecology would be the last problem of a culture of farmers whose agriculture is strongly embedded in rudimental techniques and hard work.

    And it is not possible that the embedding in soft, environment respecting, straining techniques is due to a careful proverb, as if the real Amish were the natives.

    Nevertheless, this is a wonderful thaught and very poetic saying, and it is a beautiful dream to consider it an ancient native proverb.

    It all comes from liking honey so much.

  4. @ epitimaios

    my first thinking was: who really wrote this down...

  5. @cs

    Yes, it is always "an ancient native american proverb" without specification of which ethnic group, tribe or "amerind nation" such traditional wisdom can have produced, and without any wider considering of the religious, mythological or philosophical context of the tradition in question.

    This reminds very much to Karl May's imagination and Carlos Castaneda's imaginative books. It fits with our romantic longings and Rousseau's ideas on peoples without literature or architecture.

    We owe potatoes, tomatoes, maize and cocaine to precolombian cultures of the continent. But in Claude Levy-Strauss's books you do not find these ecologic myths (and he studied cultures without architecture or literature).

    May be some of the "proverbs" are part of speeches of native chiefs... Thomas Jefferson compared the rhethoric talent of some chiefs even to Cicero! The culture clash of then may have produced harsh critique of our european habits sometimes, yet I presume that a big part of this is a selfmade myth as well. Popper tells us that Chrustchov's critique of Great Britain's politics in India was based on books "made in England".