Yesterday, I explored six dimensions of bodies on the grasslands. I’d like to show you the seventh today. I’d like to talk about ethics. Let me introduce you to one of the problem deer of Bella Vista. By problem deer, we mean that she comes down at night and nibbles shrubberies planted in the front yards of people who keep houses for the summer and go away to some place in the Southern United States, or in the Caribbean, for the winter. For this, there are people who call for her and her sisters to be shot. You might see what they think about that by clicking on the image below, so you can have a good close view of her sister (or just keep scrolling).
You see that? Not very trusting is she. And what was she doing anyway? Well, mid-afternoon snack!
The only edible thing on the hill is this saskatoon bush. That makes for a lot of wandering, back and forth, from one bush to the next, and, here’s the thing. The grassland didn’t evolve for this, and it’s destroying it. Hence the descent to the shrubberies.
Deer trails. It’s like a lion pacing in a cage at a zoo. Up on the hill, the aspen saplings in the wetlands, that one might eat, are dead, because someone misunderstood just a few things, so one can’t eat them.
Because of that, and because of long-term cattle grazing and the over-concentration of deer caused by building housing for humans that blocks the access of deer to the valley bottom, where the food is, the aspens are dead. One error made here is that this is just a pond. Hardly. It is the heart of a body that includes deer, ravens, flickers, foxes, coyotes, dogwoods, hawthorns, firs, aspens, alders, mice, ducks and so much more. Another error made here is that deer eat grass. They don’t. Another is that aspens are trees. After all, aspens have trunks and leaves and branches, right?
This is one organism, that grows underground and sends up vertical trunks. It is preyed upon by more fungi and bacteria and viruses than anything else going and dies like the dickens, hence it is important that it continually throw up a huge number of new, sapling trunks. The organism above is dying. All the aspen creatures are dying, because people let their cattle go to the ponds for water and they trampled the saplings, and then to make things worse, people drained the water away for a golf course, so humans could putt on, get this, green grass. The price of all this is that the aspen creatures die, the deer over-graze the saskatoons and pace back and forth in jail, and when they finally get hungry enough to go down at night and nip at some shrubberies as they try to ford through a human housing development laid out directly in their path rather than around it, some humans demand that the deer be shot. That is the seventh dimension: beyond the grass getting up and moving in the form of a deer or a human, which is the sixth dimension, all living creatures are one creature; what one does affects all the others as if it were done to themselves.
(Click it for a better view.)
The thing is, it is. If cattle graze the wetland, the aspens die and deer must eat saskatoons. If deer overgraze the saskatoons, there are few berries for birds, coyotes, bears and humans. With little to graze, because saskatoons grow slowly when deer chew on them, if they don’t just die off (aspens are more resilient, that’s the point of aspens), the deer pace back and forth across the hill, eroding the microbial crust of the earth and breaking up the grass and balsam root communities, with a detrimental effect on mouse and marmot populations, coyotes, foxes, badgers and hawks. And why does it matter, if you have cattle, you might ask? It matters because the resilience is gone from the land and what was able to feed all the people, including deer and humans, now feeds only cattle, who are incredibly inefficient at converting grass to protein (and, besides, there isn’t much edible grass up there on the hill for them.) The land ends up producing less, which means it lives less, and since you are in the seventh dimension, and thus part of this life form, you live less, too. Here’s an image of a grassland converted into a field, across the valley, and a wetland clogged with houses and roads in the valley bottom, where the deer should be hanging out and which should be feeding thirty kilometres of 135-kilometre-long Okanagan Lake, but is not any more.
Since we are the same organism, if the deer are blocked from access to the valley bottom and the life that should be produced there out of the flows of rain, gravity and sunlight, so are we, the humans. We are the prisoners just as much as the deer.
There is a name for this organism, by the way. It’s called Syilx, which is the name for the indigenous people of this place. It doesn’t really mean “the people” or anything like that. It is a way, a relationship, a form of inclusion and respect. It is a way of talking about things similar to what I talked about above. The people gained their understanding from living on the grassland and watching it. I know this, because this is how I gained my own. Here’s what the Okanagan Indian Band has to say about Syilx:
The word “Syilx” takes its meaning from several different images. The root word “Yil” refers to the action of taking any kind of many-stranded fiber, like hemp, and rolling it and twisting it together to make one unit, or one rope. It is a process of making many into one. “Yil” is a root word which forms the basis of many of our words for leadership positions, as well. Syilx contains a command for every individual to continuously bind and unify with the rest. This command goes beyond only humans and encompasses all stands of life that make up our land. The word Syilx contains the image of rolling or unifying into one, as well as the individual command which is indicated by the “x” at the end of the word which indicates that it is a command directed at the individual level. The command is for every individual to be part of that stranded unified group, and to continue that twisting and unification on a continuous basis. It is an important concept which underlies our consideration of the meanings of aboriginal title and rights.
You can read more by clicking here. Or by going up the hill.