Central to indigenous cultures is the feeling of being an integral part of the earth and the natural environment in which one lives.
Contemplating the beauty of the earth while our feet are in contact with it gives us the feeling of being at home, of feeling its warmth and of feeling connected to it by the beating of our hearts. These are sensations that words cannot describe exhaustively.
Yet each person can experience it in the place where she or he lives, whether in a large city or a small town and “feel” that we are part of it (cf. Laudato Si’. ‘139). For many people, descendants of indigenous cultures, feeling part of the earth is natural. Their relationship with her is one of reciprocity, of mutual care; this is why it is difficult to understand the actions of those societies that tear apart the life of the earth, which is also the life itself of human beings.
Singing is a way to express the great existential pain. In this song, in the Quechua language, Luzmila Carpio says: Pachamama, mamay, amaña quyay kaychu. Pachamama, mamma, don’t suffer anymore Pachamama, mamay, anchataqa nanachisuyku Pachamama, mamma, we hurt you so much Pachamama, mamay, kunan jampikususqayku Pachamama, mamma, we will look after you now
Ahi! Mamita, quyahuayku Oh! Little Mamma, take care of us!
We realize that this song expresses the awareness of the pain that human beings cause to the earth and that she suffers and groans. It is not an object, as Pope Francis states in LS 146: “For them, the earth is not an economic good, but a gift from God and from the ancestors who rest in it, a sacred space with which they need to interact to support their identity and their values “.
This interaction is one of mutual care, of co-responsibility, where the urgent need to say: “Now we will cure you” is emphasized; but in this work of mutual attention and care, there is also the request that the earth may take care of us.
Vital movements must generate balance, not addictions. But how can minority populations take care of the common home by opposing a system that considers it only a resource to be exploited? It is a challenge that needs “many small people, in small places, who do little things to change the world” (Eduardo Galeano).
At the same time, it is necessary “To affirm that in order to guarantee human rights it is necessary to recognize and defend the rights of Mother Earth and of all the beings that make it up and that there are cultures, practices and laws that do so” (Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth, 2012).
Once again, reality requires learning from the experience of indigenous peoples, not with the nostalgia of a museum, but with the strength of their knowledge, which has managed to keep the land fertile, healthy and in balance, carefully using it for human consumption. “Nobody is saved alone”, Pope Francis continues to repeat; and today the earth needs us (and we her) – people of different cultures and ages – in order to be healed.
(Tania Ávila Meneses – Bolivia Photo: 123rf.com)