David Burman’s Story: Ordinary People Making a Positive Difference

As you know I have been involved with Indigenous world view and regeneration for a long time, and as the situation becomes more dire, my focus has also sharpened. 

I have come to the conclusion that the present manifestation of the suicidal economic system is a product of the ideology of colonialism, which has become an addiction to consumerism and growth even at the expense of life itself. I am coming to see for the first time that as Mother Earth is a living being she can die. As we continue to strip her forests, it’s as if we are cutting out part of her lungs every day. We are poisoning her blood, polluting her breath and fracturing her bones for ancient hydrocarbons that we use to poison her even further. 

At the same time, I see that I am not alone in my assessment. Wonderful thinkers like Diane Beresford-Kroeger and Charles Eisenstein present challenges and direction for change.

All around me movements of change are burgeoning. The Story of Separation from ourselves, each other and the natural world, espoused by the Enlightenment is becoming untenable. Joanna Macey’s The Work that Reconnects addresses the disease of separation through workshops around the continent. I have participated in the work of Otto Scharmer and Peter Senge in a mooc that has reached over 40,000 people from 192 countries learning how to listen deeply to those who do not normally have a voice, and act on that understanding. I am involved with Project Drawdown that has a science driven plan to reverse global warming by 2050 that has been taken on by the Pachamama Alliance – bringing an Indigenous world view of reciprocal relationships with the Earth to the dominant society. 

Most personally, I have been teaching a course called Indigenous Issues in Health and Healing for 26  years, and this past year for the first time I have engaged the students in addressing colonization in a practical way, requiring them to begin the self-reflective process of decolonizing themselves before allying themselves with Indigenous decolonizing initiatives. It was a risk. I had no idea if, especially the science students would take to it, of if the Indigenous Studies students would find it redundant. 

I was tremendously gratified to learn that it worked, despite all the flaws inherent in rejigging a previously successful framework. 

Now I am involved with an initiative of Indigenous people to restore and protect the Humber River watershed, through ceremony and restoration of traditional governance – to restore mino-bimaadiwin a life well led in harmony and balance, starting with the land vacated by the former Kodak plant and the Black Creek community. 

This year will be a year of radical transformation. We humans are very good at responding to crisis – the more immediate, the greater the response. We are coming to understand that Mother Earth is not a metaphor, that water is indeed life, that wealth need not be confused with money, nor quality of life with standard of living. We are gaining the courage to open our hearts so that we can listen to the sound of the Earth crying; we weep with her, and in alliance begin the heroic, and deeply satisfying work of healing. 

This is one of many stories from a wide variety of sources and a multitude of forms contributed by people upon request for my 70th birthday.   They are posted without editing, with the attribution that was with them.  I will be posting these regularly until they run out next year sometime: if you have others to add, please send them to me.

About jofacilitator

On Sept 1, 2020, I will celebrate 50 years of work with the Institute of Cultural Affairs, facilitating meetings, groups, communities, and organizations, making it possible for ordinary people to have a voice in decisions that affect their lives.
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