The era of global citizenship is here. Foisted on us by a dizzying mix of technology, transport and the economy we can no longer say we belong to Cuba, Chicago or Tibet but rather — -we belong to the Earth. As global citizens the old rules don’t apply. No matter where we own our homes, pay our taxes and grow our plants, what happens in Cuba, Chicago, Tibet and beyond is our business.
Some folks, of course, figured this out much earlier than the rest of us. Or rather, they knew it all along. I’m talking about the world’s Indigenous people. And, this year in North America, there’s been no greater display of their knowing than the protests in North Dakota beating to the chant “Water is Life!”
Since Spring 2016 the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and thousands of other native people and concerned parties have been peacefully demonstrating against the construction of a 1,172 mile pipeline (#NODAPL). The pipeline would carry crude oil from the Bakken fields of western North Dakota to Illinois and in doing so not only threaten the health of the Missouri river but damage indigenous sites of deep cultural and historic significance. On December 4th, 2016, much to the victory of the protestors, the U.S. Army announced that it would freeze the pipeline’s construction.
On the surface, the scene at Standing Rock seems so familiar. You know, Indigenous people protesting against the march of the modern world as embodied by the government, a large corporation, or a combination of the two.
But what is less familiar and critical for us as global citizens to understand, is that they’re fighting to protect not just their land, but the land.
The Sioux, like all Indigenous people, hold nature as their guide. From core to surface to atmosphere and all the creatures in between, they get that nature is everywhere. That nature is inclusive of everything that is alive. It does not pick sides, deciding who it will or won’t give a Spring shower or crisp Fall too. Nature does not judge. It just is. It’s truly global.
“No matter where we own our homes and pay our taxes, what happens in Cuba, Chicago, Tibet and beyond is our business.”
What better guide to lead the emerging culture of global citizenship do we have than nature? None. This being so, the next time you’re looking to create anything, a relationship, a piece of art, a new political process or business strategy I encourage you to ask what indigenous people have long been asking: “What would nature do?” In aligning ourselves with nature’s intelligence, we not only secure our survival as a species but we stand to more easily connect with anyone, anywhere. Be they friend or modern foe.