"Only when the last tree has died
and the last river been poisoned
and the last fish been caught,
will we realize
we cannot eat money."

      – said to be a proverb of the Nehiyawak.  

Eight months ago I wrote:

      "Currently, our federal government is providing financial aid to the unemployed, to middle-class enterprises, and to provincial governments in the hope it will see Canadians through this pandemic .... Conservative political strategists have a word for this spending on aid, a word that smacks of cynicism, 'largess.'

      "Cynicism is cheap. Not cheap is the risk that comes with such spending: inflation; inflation getting out of control as it did in Germany within a few years after the 1911–1918 world war.

      "Therefore, while trying to stay on the logical, unbiased straight-and-narrow, we must act against inflation, the rising of prices in terms of currency.... I am thinking of taking some basic human needs out of the money-economy's loop. Those would be food, clothing, and shelter. Taking things one-by-one, food is the first to be shifted into a distinct economy, a coupon-economy.

      "This is not an altogether new idea. In my teens, under Nazi occupation of The Netherlands, food was rationed for which government provided people with ration-coupons to limit consumption of certain items that money could then (hopefully) buy.

      "But what I am now thinking of goes further: a coupon-economy entirely separate from the money economy. Ration coupons issued by the federal government should not be exchangeable for money except when transacted by the federal government itself. Any illigimate occurrence calls for some form of severe punishment.

      "The government provides ration-coupons to registered citizens and sells ration-coupons to visitors from other countries for the duration of their stay. The government pays farmers and food distributors in currency. To partially compensate (as much as possible) for the 'largess,' the government raises taxes and other payments that are its due."
*  4

Circumstances will dictate whether items other than food need to be shifted from the money economy to a coupon economy, or vice-versa. The unbridled consumption of polluting materials must be sheltered from the money economy one way or another.  5

A coupon economy is not intended to give everyone a free lunch. There is much work to be done to see us through the hazardous times facing us. Those unemployed should be called upon to participate in doing it. There is work to be done on our farms, work to be done for distributing food and other goods, work to provide suitable shelter for all, work by people in the trades and professions, and so on. All of which requires education and training. That education includes inculcating a level of understanding of how society functions for the benefit of all, in other words, ensuring that our citizens understand what citizenship is about, what it calls for.  6

Consider why we wear masks in public. We do so to protect others; we do so for others what we want others to do for ourselves: the Golden Rule. Twisting things about, we have the Silver Rule: Do not do onto others we don't want others to do onto us, a reciprocity that goes back at least some 2500 years, to Confucius. We are, ought to be, our siblings' keepers.  7

* * *

Well, I guess you already know that I am old—93—and that my short-term memory is impaired. To challenge myself I decided to take an on-line course in Canadian history presented from an aboriginal perspective by native professors at the University of Alberta. The first of twelve lessons is about worldviews that are introduced as origin or teaching stories passed from generation to generation, stories to live by. These stories are, or have been until recently, passed on orally.  8

Quoting an indigenous chief: "If the legends fall silent, who will teach the children of our ways?" The motivation and behavior of the characters in these stories—human as well as animal—serve as models for personal conduct, good, mediocre and bad.  9

The course tells us that stories are powerful pedagogical tools that help learners understand their history and the environment in which they live. The teachings from stories allow listeners to come to their own decisions and conclusions. They help demonstrate that there are many different ways of looking at problems and solutions to those problems.  10

Here is a tiny excerpt from a story about the Sky Woman who fell from a lush island in the sky. A discussion ensued among the creatures below and the geese were chosen to catch her. They joined their wings and caught her in a soft feathery net.  11

The Sky Woman creation story is one that both the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples across Eastern Canada and the United States share. There are many versions of this particular story and some can take weeks, or even years, to tell.  12

Story-telling has been and continues to be a central part of Indigenous identity as people and as nations. Cannot the same been said about sacred stories of peoples the world over? The Bible, for example, transmits various creation stories, in writing to begin with, later in print. The Gospel of John begins:

      "1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

and on it goes.
*  13

Besides the Indigenous peoples' creation stories, there are personal stories about observations, accounts of places, and experiences. These evolve over time and are influenced by the needs of and relevancy to the population.  14

Again quoting from the course:

      "Indigenous ways of knowing are based on the idea that individuals are trained to understand their environment according to teachings found in stories. These teachings are developed specifically to describe the collective lived experiences and date back thousands of years.

      "The collective experience is made up of thousands of individual experiences. These experiences come directly from the land and help shape the codes of conduct for Indigenous societies. A key principle is to live in balance and maintain peaceful internal and external relations. This is linked to the understanding that we are all connected to each other.

      "The hierarchical structure of Western worldviews that places humans on top of the pyramid does not exist. The interdependency with all things promotes a sense of responsibility and accountability. People respond to the ecological rhythms and patterns of the land in order to live in harmony."  

* * *

Alhough global warming is a threat to life more than the current pandemic appears to be, it is the latter that has begun to make it evident that the worldviews of our First Nations are a model to live by. The change in collective Canadian—nay, global—mindset won't come easy if at all. Come what may, we can't eat money.


blog-39.html#17 ff.  *   fn1

Having quoted these lines made me turn to "The Great Transformation" by Karen Armstrong. On page 4; "The Avesta Arians called their gods daevas ("the shining ones").... The Aryans took the spoken word very seriously. Like all other phenomena, speech was a god, a diva ... and the lie was absolute evil because it perverted the holy power inherent in the spoken word."  *   fn2

The space below serves to put any hyperlinked targets at the top of the window

Valid XHTML 1.0!     tux     mveMVE


Above space serves to put hyperlinked targets at the top of the window