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Excerpt from ON INDIGENUITY by Daniel R. Wildcat

Let’s Stop Lying

Lying in most instances cannot be justified, especially when it results in harm to others or is selfishly motivated. Our Earth climate-change situation is made worse today by some who knowingly mislead the public with lies, half-truths, and by withholding the truth. Among the liars are corporations who continue to tell you they are “green” when they continue to pollute and heat up the planet. Among those spreading half- truths are those who knowingly invoke factual claims without properly contextualizing or placing those facts in our current extreme global situation. And as for those who withhold facts to protect their financial interests at the expense of biodiversity and environmental and ecosystem well-being, all while perpetuating human suffering, most recognize that omission plays a fundamental role in producing logical errors and distrust. Certainly, Exxon’s knowledge of climate change and the role that burning fossil fuels plays suggest that over the course of the last half-century, Exxon officials used all three methods of misrepresenting the facts about how their activities have produced it. I start this essay with these difficult facts—difficult for what they say about Earth’s current situation—because as difficult as honesty can be at the present moment, I see it as the most important attribute of anything we do today. The distance between those who intentionally misrepresent what they think they know, and those whose error is based on what they honestly think they know, is vast. I want to make it clear that the lying perpetrated now by people who “know better” is an important part of the climate crisis and other crises we face, but one only implicitly, not directly, addressed in this essay.

What is addressed in this book are the mistakes made by those who are honestly wrong, who misunderstand—as opposed to those who misrepresent—the world and our human place in it. Therefore, I hope the ideas offered here might cause them to rethink how they see and understand the world. Many of the problems we currently face, I believe, are associated with the dominant modern, overwhelming, Western-influenced worldview that has culminated in the age we now rightly call the Anthropocene, the age of humankind: a worldview that plays a large role in many of the global crises we now face and one not likely to produce any solutions. As I have argued for more than a decade, we cannot successfully address the physical global climate change facing us until we have a cultural climate change. And here is the good news— there are better, more realistic ways of understanding the world in which we live. There are Peoples on the planet who see and understand the biosphere we live in very differently from those who created global climate change. Indigenous Peoples view the natural world through a lens that sees different features of the world we live in. My hope resides in the belief that a fair amount of humankind’s bad behavior is an artifact of the cultural lens through which most of modern humankind understands the biosphere and our—dare I say—natural role in it.

Therefore, a different worldview, or lens, is in order. What is offered in the following essay is a worldview—an Indigenous worldview, not the Indigenous world, for there is no such thing—different in fundamental respects from the dominant view manifest throughout the modern institutions of government/politics, education, economics, and science. The worldview, the cultural lens, presented in this essay sees and understands that the diversity of Indigenous traditions resides in the nature culture nexus (NCN). A lens that sees a symbiotic nature–culture relationship as opposed to a dichotomous or dualistic tension. A worldview grounded literally and figuratively in the Earth. Think of what follows as an Earth work.

Take the ruminations, indignations, and imagination shared here and the honesty with which they are offered as an invitation to critique, disagree, correct, and improve because, after all, hasn’t everyone found themselves honestly wrong many times in their life?

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