‘Me or You’ or ‘Me and You’?
“Why does it always have to be ‘me or you’?” This question echoes in our Western world, where we often place the focus on division and fear. In stark contrast, Indigenous cultures paint a different picture. They value enough, generosity, reciprocity, and community, fostering a “me and you” heartbeat. In this way of life, the community’s well-being gets attention.
But let’s look at our Western approach. We tend to promote self-interest and winning at success, a mindset that, unfortunately, harms us, each other and our environment. This is where Indigenous ways of life provide a fresh outlook, particularly around our understanding of productivity and time.
Unlike us, often tethered to rigid schedules and addiction to productivity, Indigenous people dance to a different beat. They flow with life’s rhythm, only speeding up in emergencies. This unique perspective stems from what many call Earth-based wisdom.
Earth-based wisdom cherishes nature and sees everything as interconnected. Indigenous people believe that every creature, every object, and every process adds to life’s intricate web. They respect all beings, viewing plants, animals, and even mountains as partners in life’s grand dance.
Observing life’s cycles, Indigenous wisdom draws lessons from nature’s patterns of growth, cycles of decay, and renewal. Mindful use of resources, respect for ecosystem balance, and taking only what is necessary form the bedrock of their practices. This wisdom unites mind, body, and spirit, perceiving health as a holistic journey involving physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual facets.
Moving to “Me and You’
A journey to the Rainforest brought this philosophy to life for me. A local woman was bitten by a poisonous snake while washing clothes. Without anti-venom due to the absence of refrigeration, and recalling a boy’s death from a poisonous frog bite a year ago, we felt the urgency of the situation. Lynne Twist, our group leader, arranged for the woman to be flown to a hospital. This episode built a bridge between two worlds, teaching us valuable lessons about life, death, and the times when haste becomes necessary.
Among the Achuar tribe, I noticed people living wholly in the present. They carried no regrets from the past and harbored no worries about the future. This ability to exist fully in the ‘present changed many of us. They held intuition, direct experience, and logical reasoning in equal regard, honoring their ancestors and elders as custodians of timeless wisdom.
Storytelling, a significant part of their culture, was not entertainment. Stories were shared to transmit earth wisdom as well as spiritual, and practical lessons. There was sacredness in everything, nurturing a profound sense of awe and gratitude.
While we can’t turn back time and live in the past, we can certainly change course when we are ready. We can challenge our focus on personal branding and the “me or you” mindset. It’s also unfeasible to live solely in the future, constantly planning and anticipating.
However, when we choose to truly be present, a “me and you” community emerges in every aspect of our lives. We let go of the struggle for attention or our ‘fair share.’ Life becomes a shared dance, a tapestry of collective learning and shared responsibility.
Maybe we’re here to learn our sacred dance to create healthy lives and communities?