10. closing: a new paradigm


So, as we wrap up, I would like to ask… how has your winter been this year? It has been pretty brutal in Wisconsin too. This harsh weather has been a reminder that climate change is not just about “global warming,” it means unpredictable changes and turmoil. But I want to take a moment to appreciate the snow. Snow replenishes the groundwater. It puts the ecosystem into a temporary state of hibernation, stopping growth, bringing a period of death. But that is why the spring is so marvelous! The death of winter makes space for new life to grow. The transformation of the landscape creates a cycle which is self-regulating, decomposing and washing away the old to provide opportunity for the next generation.

I hope that we can cast aside the negative ideals associated with snow – like purity, whiteness, hardness and coldness – and cherish its life-giving qualities, the balance of life and death that brings a stable rhythm and prevents excess. The transformation brought by winter is one that we can learn from – even through great hardships, life is tenacious. All life dies – Perhaps it is time for certain aspects of our culture to die, to make way for new life. This will be very hard, but we are tenacious too. It will take courage, honesty, and persistence to talk about it and to act to change it.

And the future is uncertain. It has become painfully clear that the dominant colonial paradigm is toxic, but what do we put in its place? Ill be honest, I dont know. We will all have to figure that out together.

water temple

But one thing Ive been thinking lately is that maybe we can begin to build a new life-giving paradigm from the water, the source of all life. Here is a scene of river critters defending a water temple, where the frog statues represent the life-giving uses of water, drinking, cooking, and cleaning.

Water is like the opposite of the colonial pyramid. It flows downward into the deepest places and it spreads out horizontally over surfaces. It seeps into the soil bringing life to the bacteria which convert minerals into usable forms so that fungi growing on tree roots can facilitate the growth of the tree into water and food and shelter for all sorts of critters – water is em-powering, giving “power with” rather than “power over” someone or something else. And, water behaves in the ways we know – rain, snow, clouds, icicles – because it has strong ionic bonds, which is a fancy way of saying that it sticks to itself. That reminds us to watch out for each other, and struggle through challenges compassionately in spite of all our differences. Rain drops are drawn out of clouds by warm, moist forests, collecting into streams that flow into rivers and out into the Great Lakes, and inspiring us to build strong bonds within our closest circles, then to expand outward building potential until our movements for change are massive, deep and powerful.




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