Think about what it must have been like to be an early human. You roam the plains in small communal bands. The women gather nuts, berries, roots and bugs for food; the men hunt lizards and other small game. Spirits reside in every rock and tree and animal. Nature is alive.
Nature can be terrifying, bringing violent storms, freezing cold, poisonous insects and dangerous animals. But it can also be bountiful, providing food, shelter and pleasure.
To a small extent, you have control over nature. You have learned to use tools for hunting and cutting. You have learned how to set traps to catch game and build simple shelters against the elements. But nature also controls you, setting the rhythms of your life, bringing the threat of famine and illness.
You perceive yourself as a part of the interconnected web of nature, influencing it and being influenced by it. You are not separate from nature. Every action you take affects nature, and its every act affects you. You don’t set yourself above nature, nor do you consider nature above you. Nature may be more powerful than humans, but it is not All-Powerful. Accordingly, the nature spirits you worship are not omnipotent.
You live in a world of interconnectedness—a junior partner in a great cosmic plan. You perceive power as an interplay, an interaction, and your social system is modeled after this conception of power. It would never occur to you that one social role could be superior to another, or that a certain talent was more important to the well being of the tribe than another. Even though there are elders in positions of authority, every member of your group is valued for their unique personality and abilities. And the elder leaders of your tribe realize they need your support, just as you need their guidance.
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