Will Falk’s third installment in his series on protecting Mauna Kea addresses this culture’s conflation of spirituality with superstition. Many proponents of the massive Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project dismiss out of hand the cultural concerns of Hawaiians who defend the sacredness of Mauna Kea and decry the construction of yet another telescope as desecration.
I often get an explanation like this, “I support indigenous people, of course, but the telescope is for science. Isn’t it a little…superstitious to block an astronomy project for a mountain?” Spirituality, I forgot, is anathema in many leftist circles.
It shouldn’t be.
I understand that many in this culture have been wounded by their experiences with religion. Some religions have, on the whole, been disasters for the living world. But, to write off all spirituality because of the actions of a few religions, is not just intellectually lazy and historically inaccurate, it erases the majority of human cultures that lived as true members acting in mutual relationship with their natural communities.
Falk explores how spirituality, a culture’s way of relating to the world, influences how members perceive others and thus how they act toward them. Many civilized religions, including the Catholicism into which he was indocrinated from birth, see the material world and natural human urges as impure and shameful. They share with science a conception of a hierarchy of beings, with God and angels (or the mind and intellect) superior to human bodies, which in turn are superior to other animals, plants, insects, and “unliving” objects such as mountains. Conveniently, both science and the major religions of civilization provide justification for human exploitation of the rest of the world.
Falk felt betrayed by the hypocrisy of Catholicism and its antithetical stance towards affirming life. In what he now recognizes as a mistake, he extrapolated his disillusionment and anger to all spirituality. He makes a powerful case in this piece that we must seek out, embrace, and protect those spiritualities which actually benefit communities of humans and non-humans:
To stop the TMT project, to stop the genocide of indigenous peoples, and to save the world, I believe we need to empower spiritualities that learned how to live in balance with their land bases. We need to empower indigenous spiritualities around the world.
Read the entire article at Deep Green Resistance News Service – Protecting Mauna Kea: Stopping Murder-Suicide. See all of Will Falk’s “Protecting Mauna Kea” essays, plus other resources, at our page Protect Mauna Kea from the Thirty Meter Telescope.