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563x773 version of `Primitive'/`Advanced' -- Is This Progress?
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What is "progress"?
747x1024 version of `Primitive'/`Advanced' -- Is This Progress?
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As we go through the world and we observe life, the western civilization of looking at life as resources, and as long as they use that term for life as resources you're never going to gain anything. When you recognize life for what it is: a tree as a spirit, a tree as a living being, a tree as a grandfather that we call; when you recognize that there is a reason for all of these beings and that these beings are interlocked, that we depend on one another; if we can change the definitions, if we can have people speak about life for what it is -- as life with equal value, as life is necessary for survival and not as commerce and not as resources then we may have a chance. But as long as we look at forests as resources, as long as we look at these things as board-feet of lumber or we look at the fish runs as resources for people, we're going to continue to use them without restraint and without guidance.

--Oren Lyons, "Agenda for the Earth," Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 6/9/92

We rarely acknowledge (especially to ourselves) or even realize the power words exert upon our perception and interpretation of what we call reality. This is particularly true where the words employed to convey the highest values of a society or culture are concerned. In recent centuries, "progress" has been evoked as one of the supreme arbiters for determining what is most worthwhile and justifiable with regard to any human activity or endeavor. But the meaning of that word has been as trampled upon and misused as such similar arbiters as "freedom," "peace," "security," "welfare," and "democracy".

Along with "progress," we will do well to re-evaluate what we mean by "property," and "ownership," and to re-assess how we ourselves think about and relate to the ideas and concepts embedded in these words.

When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.

--J. Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, pp. 51-52