Where did we get lost?
It’s hard to know. It was so long ago. We began as hunters/gathers. At that time, we lived with nature. Hunters followed the herds and killed what they needed for food. We did not control the herds. The movement of the herds controlled us. In good years, we lived together.
And we gathered nuts, fruit, and grains from the earth’s bounty. We adapted to what was available. In good years, we lived together. Just as we celebrated the cunning and wisdom of animals, we also celebrated the earth’s fertility.
Then some of us became shepherds. Instead of a hunter’s life of living with the herds, we created our herds—domesticated animals—and made them live for us. We began our domination of nature.
And some of us became farmers. Instead of gathering what nature had provided, we took nature’s seeds and planted them to serve us. We dominated nature.
And so it goes. Adam Smith made it clear to everyone. In his Wealth of Nations, he describes the four stages of “man.” We were first hunters, then shepherds, after shepherds, came farmers, and we ended up as a commercial nation, as traders. What he forgot to mention, of course, is that the prosperity of the traders depended on the domination of millions of Africans, of millions of Americans, and of the earth. That’s where we are.
How do we find ourselves? We cannot return to hunting and gathering, although we certainly need to listen to those who continue these traditions in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere. We do need to adapt our life to the planet’s life. We must live with the planet, much like we used to, when, in the good years, we lived together.