Finding our place in the world order


To the Editor:

While reading Ed Merck’s article, “Connecting the dots: The pandemic and climate change” (4/25/20), I was reminded of the indigenous view of creation as related in Rupert Ross’s book, “Returning to the Teachings.”

Ross wrote, “The aboriginal world-view holds that mankind is the least important factor in creation … Mankind’s interests are not to be placed above those of any other part of creation.”  Ross goes on to refer to the Ojibway hierarchy of Creation in Basil Johnson’s Ojibway Heritage.  Ross writes, “It places the Mother Earth (and her lifeblood, the waters) in first place, for without them there would be no plant, animal or human life. The plant world stands second, for without it there would be no animal or human life. The animal world is third. Lastly, and clearly least important within this unique hierarchy, come humans. Nothing whatever depends on our survival.”  Ross goes on to write, “Because human beings are the most dependent of all, it is we who owe the greatest duty of respect and care for the other three orders. Without them, we perish.” Finally, Ross writes, “Our role is to learn how they all interact with each other so that we can try our best to accommodate ourselves to their existing relationships.”

I hope this pandemic will remind us of our role in the world and we can start acting on this old order in dealing with climate change.

Peter Meleney
Oak Bluffs


  1. Not sure that “our [4th] place in the world” is really the message we want to send right now, even for the sake of the health of the planet. This message is a bit too close to letting grandma die, along with everyone in nursing homes and all our immune-challenged children and diabetic family members, because, yes, the earth would go on quite well without them using up energy and resources that other, healthy, fit people do not. This is a harsh view of our place and purpose on earth that doesn’t account for our humanity, part of which is our compassion for others, not to mention our innate love and appreciation of nature. Unfortunately, part of being human for too many, is having interests that are all about greed.

  2. Wrong right out of the gate. Humans alone are created in God’s image. That makes us #1, with all the responsibilities appertaining thereto.

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