A Modern Madness

I‘ve written about the intense resistance to renewed Makah whaling in other posts [Devouring Intelligence, Makah Whalers] but I’ve struggled to understand the depth of that resistance until I read an article by John Wickham titled "Resistance to Makah whale hunt exposes modern madness" published in Indian Country Today.

In that article Wickham writes "The fierce public resistance against the Makah whale hunts confirms our modern irrationality — a kind of madness in American attitudes towards nature that lies at the roots of our global ecological crisis."

I suspect that madness is deeply routed in American culture. We are rushing toward self-destruction with the abandon of berserkers, ruining the Earth’s ability to sustain life, at the same time discounting an ancient aboriginal wisdom that dramatizes the mystery of life and death that unties us all.

"Our affluent society seems obsessed with an urge to destroy the planet and its wild species, as if towards an apocalyptic suicide. Underlying this madness is a modern denial of man’s ‘ecological unconsciousness’ or biophilia — a fundamental psychic need or craving of our genome to connect intimately with wild nature’s diverse other life. If repressed by poor parenting and culture, an individual’s full emotional maturity becomes stunted into adulthood as an ecological attachment disorder. Left untreated, this failed development of self, when aggravated by society, never moves beyond the pre-adolescent impulse to control early fears in a frightening environment."

We grew up in fear and have never outgrown those childhood fears. We remain afraid — afraid of the solitude, afraid of the night, afraid of the vast encompassing wilderness, afraid of our impending death. Paradoxically, we seem intent upon destroying ourselves while all the while denying our own mortality.

There is a much greater mystery here than the killing of a gray whale.

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