Saturday, May 12, 2012

Some Things Are Not Connected

All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth
Befalls the sons of the earth.
Man did not weave the web of life,
He is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web,
He does to himself.
Chief Seattle

A Google search for “all things are connected” produces quite a few that cite this supposed poem by a real American Indian chief whose name was probably Si’ahl, but English-Speakers made Seattle from it—and then named a city after him. I saw, I read, I doubted. The flavor of that verse is too, too, too twentieth century. Took a moment’s digging to confirm it. American enterprise all the way. First, the three sentences that make up this verse were written by a television writer called Ted Perry as part of the script for a film called Home. Next, another enterprising writer lifted them from here and there and put them together as a poem. And since then all sorts of people have quoted Chief Seattle aka Perry, among them Al Gore. Snopes.com provides the evidence (link)—confirmed by Wikiquote (here). Snopes? Wikiquote? Well, you have to believe somebody.

3 comments:

  1. I love it.

    I have just finished "1491", which includes a good section on the management of prairies and forests for a long period of time by fires set intentionally: it was very effective for what the Indians desired to achieve, but might not be approved by the ecologically minded.

    It reminds me of a poem my grandfather had up on the wall of the cottage: it was about the uncanny and savvy knowledge of Ojibwa Indian fishing guides, and it ended with

    "We Indians know about the spot;
    sometimes we catch...
    and sometimes not."

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    Replies
    1. Projecting backward, yes. A version of this in movies is when in movies of the time of Christ people behave and speak as if they already possessed what two thousand years of theology would eventually create...

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  2. And the great irony in all of this is that the people of two thousand years ago possessed something more intimate and far greater than the present dogma diluted by the tears of those whom religion could not and cannot aid.

    For some reason, we cannot feel it now in our reality, nor can we imagine it in our fictions. We are merely straw men who would be burned and blown away by such manifestations.

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