October 10 marked the opening of a gallery exhibit for a cultural mapping project of the Ese’Eja at the University of Delaware. In his opening remarks, Dr. Paul Morgan, chair of the board of ACEER, posed an unexpected question to his audience; is the future envisioned by the TV show “The Jetsons” a future that we actually want?
So does living in a world that looks something like the one portrayed in “The Jetsons” sound like an appealing idea to you? A skypad apartment? Robot housekeeper? Three-day workweek? What could be better? Dr. Morgan, however, sees things a little differently. In fact, he looks towards indigenous groups like the Ese’Eja of Southeastern Peru for a more ideal portrait of what the future could hold.
The future depicted in “The Jetsons” is one that sees the human race even further removed from the planet than we already are.
Indigenous groups like the Ese’Eja have lived in unison with the Earth for thousands of years. Dr. Morgan said, “They have a culture that says, we’re going to arrange ourselves so that we’re good for people. Our culture is good for economics, it’s good for efficiency.” But it isn’t good for the Earth. Our modern industrial culture positions humans as a parasite on the Earth and this is not a sustainable way to live.
Like many indigenous peoples of the Amazon, the Ese’Eja have been pushed out of their ancestral lands. First, by illegally operating miners and loggers and later, by the government, as they are now regimented to an area that constitutes only about 2 percent of the traditional land they had inhabited throughout history.
By preserving the cultures of indigenous groups like the Ese’Eja, we preserve the unique relationship that they have with the Earth. We can learn from them. They have thousands of years of tradition and spiritual connection to the lands on which they live. They rely on that land and have a deep understanding of how to live sustainably in their environment. As Dr. Morgan says, “They’ve got something to offer, we should hear it.”
For more information about the cultural mapping project, visit, www.eseeja.org