From chapter "“Rebooting the World,” or The Destruction of All That Is"
Here’s the thing: whether or not stones are actually sentient, whether or not redwood trees are smarter or stupider than humans (or whether, as I think is the point, their intelligence is so vastly different as to be incomparable, and cross-species measures of intelligence are both impossible and at best meaningless (and at worst harmful, as we see, when we use them to buttress pre-existing supremacisms)), whether rivers are simply vessels for water or beings in their own right, these are not the primary questions to ask.
Think about it: the Tolowa lived where I live now for at least 12,500 years, if you believe the myths of science; and they lived here since the beginning of time, if you believe the myths of the Tolowa. And they did not destroy the place. When the Europeans arrived here the place was a paradise. I’m not saying the Tolowa were perfect, any more than anyone else is perfect. I’m saying they were living here sustainably.
The dominant culture has trashed this place, as it trashes every place.
The biggest difference between Western and Indigenous worldviews is that Indigenous humans generally perceive the world as consisting of other beings with whom they can and should enter into respectful relationships, and Westerners generally perceive the world as consisting of resources to be exploited.
The western civilized worldview is unsustainable. A belief in human superiority—and the beliefs that nonhumans aren’t fully sentient, that rivers aren’t beings, and so on—is not sustainable. The fact that it is unsustainable means it is terminally maladaptive. The fact that it is terminally maladaptive means it is an evolutionary dead end. The fact that it is unsustainable makes clear to me that it is also inaccurate: an accurate perception of one’s place in the world and actions based on this perception would seem to me to be more likely to lead to sustainability; while an inaccurate perception of one’s place in the world, and actions based on this perception, would seem to me to be more likely to lead to unsustainability. As we see.
I don’t know why more people don’t understand this.
I guess because unquestioned beliefs are the real authorities of any culture.
And I guess because most members of this culture have been inculcated into not caring about life on this planet.
That last sentence alone is enough to damn a belief in human supremacism.