What is the way of the human being?

BAM! The question hit my conscience like a bullet train. What is the way of the human being? Well, heck, I sure didn’t know. Isn’t one of the main lessons in Ishmael that there is no “right” way to live, thus meaning that there is no “way of the human being”? Well, that’s what I thought…

Our discussion today kicked off with that question and it seemed as though everyone else was just as puzzled as I was. I tried to think about the question. Really think about it. But my mind just kept drawing blanks each time I tried to take my thoughts in a specific direction.

The discussion moved on quickly and I didn’t have much time to think. A while later we started talking about why we should save native cultures. More specifically, why we should save the Alaskan Native culture from drinking itself to death. As a class we listed the following reasons:

  • We can still learn from the native culture
  • If our way of life fails, we know that we will have another way of living
  • The natives know how to live here (in Alaska)
After we finished listing reasons to save the native culture, I started getting really upset. One of the most important lessons I got out of Ishmael was that we should take care of our community because it is the right thing to do. We should care for each other, Mother Nature, and planet Earth, otherwise our mission to succeed as a species will fail.
Caring for each other in my book means that we don’t have to get a gain out of something. We have talked this entire semester on and off about how we should do things to conserve our planet because it’s where we live. Alaska is where we live and taking care of each other is a huge step in the right direction. If we want to be able to put energy and time into conserving Earth’s natural environment, we have to be able to fix the problems that we have within our community.
I know extending my community to include all of Alaska is a bit of a stretch, but Alaska is just kind of like that. We are cut off from the rest of the United States so we’re a little different in that way. We’re supposed to take care of each other. The same kind of Taker culture that works in the lower 48 alright doesn’t work well up here. We’re secluded and we don’t have an escape unless we want to go through Canada (and anyone that’s done that will know how hard it is) or on a gas-guzzling airplane.
The reasons we listed brought me back to the Taker mindset. Sure, they were all valid ideas, but they contained the idea that we have to get a gain out of something or it’s not worth doing (which is the opposite of the native mindset). In the native culture, you do things because it benefits your community as a whole, not because it benefits you. Actions are done and decisions are made with future generations and the impact on the community as a whole in mind. Thinking like that makes sure that everyone benefits in the end and the community is lifted as a whole, rather than benefiting an elite few and throwing the rest into poverty.
I know this post is rather negative, but I was just really upset when I realized that our inspiration for saving something was drenched in Taker motives.

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