In his iconic book, Ishmael, Daniel Quinn has his protagonist gorilla teach us that we made a wrong turn when we invented totalitarian agriculture. As soon as we were no longer responsible for finding our own food, back in Mesopotamia 10,000 years ago, they could lock it up and start charging people for it. That turned on a switch from which we are still suffering.
We were once connected to the land in small groups. Quinn called our hunter-gatherer ancestors ‘”leavers.” We once knew we had to leave the soil intact and give the trees room to replenish. We knew about protection, nourishment and renewal. Those values were embedded in our very lifestyles. Leave some berries for the wildlife and they will continue to plant more as they eat and plant them with their very own fertilizer. Leave some fish so that they may spawn. Continue to live well on holy mother earth and she will protect you as long as you don’t get greedy.
Leaving enough for the future is a sustainable philosophy. It is a mother culture. Mother culture nourishes. John Perkins refers to this as a dream. In his book, “The World as We Dream It,” he says that our reality is a reflection of our dream. In the Americas, the so-called New World, Leavers were able to sustain themselves for thousands of post-ice age years before Columbus unleashed the demons of a very different father-culture dream. Quinn calls those who dismantled sustainable culture, Takers.
Takers do just that, they take. They take from Mother Earth and turn it into material goods that have short life spans, which keeps encouraging more taking. Takers do not dream that this is a planet that needs time to rest in between the pillaging. They dream of golden ships and private golf courses. Their dream has no room for limits. If you think in terms of limits, they would tell you to start thinking outside the box. Technology is the god of takers. It brings them new forms of energy with which to produce more gadgets. The only things Takers leave are huge scars on Mother Earth. This dream is the foundation of what Perkins calls predatory capitalism.
The Taker god is always male. Female figurines of the goddess years teach us that females were once worshipped as the givers of life. Father gods dominate females. In the Taker creation story, Eve is created from Adam’s rib and is responsible for the downfall of man. These are the dreams of the Taker. God is male and watches over man and the earth is a temporary vessel, a place to wait until a post death world embraces the forgiven sinner. Takers only give lip service to the dream that Earth is a living breathing nourishing place that gives us air, water and soil. The Taker dream says that we are here doing god’s bidding which is to convert all natural capital into products for human consumption.
Leavers could have never survived were they to overpopulate their spaces. This did not fit their dream. They could only find so much food to fill the bellies of their members. Takers see overpopulation as a mandate and just refer to it as GROWTH. Growth is the twin god of the Takers. More is better and that refers to our numbers too. Takers dominate what and who they believe to be weaker than themselves. Mother is female to be dominated by the superior and in-charge male.
While this dream is in place and becoming more rancid each day, we can expect sexual predation to continue. We can expect our already overpopulated world to grow by 87 million more net gain each year. We can expect our resources to become more and more scarce fueling more conflicts. We can expect our climate to falter rendering our fields useless for growing food.
While we can and must work to call out those who carry the torch of the taker dream, we must understand and begin to dismantle the dream itself and replace it with one that honors mother earth, her other creatures and her limits. This time we can be inspired by knowing the price we are paying by living the wrong dream.