| Auna Melo
WEWAK - A man sat alone drenched deep in sadness.
And all the animals drew near him and said, “We do not like to see you so sad, ask us for whatever you wish and you shall have it.”
The man said, “I want to have good sight.” The vulture replied, “You shall have mine.”
The man said, “I want to be strong.” The jaguar said, “You shall be strong like me.”
Then the man said, “I long to know the secrets of the earth.” The serpent replied, “I will show them to you.”
And so it went with all the animals, and when the man had all the gifts they could give .… he left.
Then the owl said to the other animals, “Now the man knows much and is able to do many things suddenly I am afraid.”
The deer said, “The man has all that he needs, now his sadness will stop.”
But the owl replied, “No, I saw a hole in the man, deep like a hunger he will never fill. It is what makes him sad and what makes him want.
“He will go on taking and taking, until one day the World will say, ‘I am no more and I have nothing left to give’.”
I got this story from Mel Gibson’s film, ‘Apocalypto’.
This is a true portrayal of men’s greed and desire to satisfy his wants by any means necessary but in turn destroying Mother Earth.
In Melanesian philosophy according to a lecture by Professor Kula Semos, humans are custodians of the physical and natural world that coexists with the spiritual world and the cosmos.
We belong to the Land, not the Land belongs to us.
In Melanesia we draw our philosophy from oral cultures that are connected to the physical and natural environment, the cosmos and from other humans through lived experiences.
However, in this generation, we have seen our men claim ownership of the land and the resources that are on and below it.
We have sold land and resources to other men out of greed and we have forgotten the Melanesian philosophy our ancestors embraced for generations.
In traditional mythology, it is believed that the earth world together with the sky, the natural environment, the spirit world and humans are all interconnected as one.
That being so, destroying one of these elements will destroy everything, for all are interconnected.
We have spent much time destroying our lands, rivers and forests and have forsaken our duties as guardians and custodians of the land.
And perhaps we have forgotten that we do not own the land, but are put here to protect it and pass it on to the ones who come after us.
We take and take from our land, and one day the land will say, ‘I am no more, I have nothing more to give you’.
Our ancestors were conservationists. Indigenous peoples have been the world’s best conservationists. Long before the Western words for ‘conservation’ ever existed.
Our ancestors took only what they needed from the land, not more, but we their children have taken out more than we need because of greed.
In Dan Brown’s book ‘Inferno’, he discusses what we humans have done to our environment.
In Inferno, the character Zobrist gives a gripping speech:
‘We’re destroying the very means by which life is sustained.
‘We clear-cut, we dump, we consume, we destroy.
‘Half of the animal species on Earth have vanished for the last 40 years.
‘And still, we keep attacking our own environment!
‘There have been five major extinctions in Earth’s history. Why didn’t we demand action?
‘Unless we take bold immediate action, the sixth extinction will be our own.’
Yes, the last extinction will be our own because we’re all interconnected; destroy one part of that whole and you destroy the rest.
We keep attacking our environment and destroying the very means by which life is sustained.
What sustains life on earth are the forests, rivers and the land.
But here we are, destroying our forests and polluting our rivers and digging out the earth to mine minerals.
We’re committing ecocide; the deliberate, uncaring destruction of our natural environment. And for what? Money?
There is a Native American quote that goes, ‘When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realise we cannot eat money.’
Every life-form plays an important role in the ecological balance. Each species depends on the services provided by other species to ensure survival.
It shows our Melanesian philosophy of interconnectedness to be true.
We as Melanesians must go back and revisit how our ancestors lived. They were in harmony with mother earth.
Only then can we see that we’re conservationists and be serious about environmental protection and that to protect our land and environment, we must take every measure.