How Can We Reciprocate The Gifts Of The Earth ? Robin Wall Kimmerer

‘For much of human’s time on the planet, before the great delusion, we lived in cultures that
understood the covenant of reciprocity, that for the Earth to stay in balance,
for the gifts to continue to flow, we must give back in equal measure for what we take.

In the teachings of my Potawatomi ancestors, responsibilities and gifts are understood
as two sides of the same coin. The possession of a gift is coupled with a duty to use it for
the benefit of all. A thrush is given the gift of song—and so has a responsibility to greet
the day with music. Salmon have the gift of travel, so they accept the duty of carrying food upriver.
So when we ask ourselves, what is our responsibility to the Earth, we are also asking, “What is our gift?”

As human people, most recently evolved here, we lack the gifts of our companion species,
of nitrogen fixation, pollination, and 3000-mile migrations under magnetic guidance.
We can’t even photosynthesize. But we carry gifts of our own, which the Earth urgently needs.
Among the most potent of these is gratitude.

Gratitude may seem like weak tea given the desperate challenges that lie before us,
but it is powerful medicine, much more than a simple thank you.
Giving thanks implies recognition not only of the gift, but of the giver.
When I eat an apple, my gratitude is directed to that wide-armed tree whose tart
offspring are now in my mouth, whose life has become my own. Gratitude is founded on
the deep knowing that our very existence relies on the gifts of beings who can in fact
photosynthesize. Gratitude propels the recognition of the personhood of all beings and
challenges the fallacy of human exceptionalism—the idea that we are somehow better,
more deserving of the wealth and services of the Earth than other species.’

Robin Wall Kimmerer

For more about her work see:  Link

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