Out of Eden

There is a feeling afoot that we are being manipulated and pushed down upon by forces we do not control. This is not a new feeling. And it is not wrong. In fact, it is clearer than ever that [cue the sound of falling shibboleths] humankind is not in control. That we do not make it happen; we are to whom it happens. That we are not the doers; we are the done-to. The world today is precisely as the American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson described it 200 years ago: “Things are in the saddle and they ride mankind.” The Christian mystics were expressing this truth still earlier, in the 14th century during the time of the bubonic plague when fully half of England’s population was wiped out. Anonymous, the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, described a pervasive feeling that “the creatures who should be beneath us and under our control, press obstinately down on us from above, between us and our God.” Today, indigenous peoples probably have the clearest perspective on this.

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