AnonymousDeleted UserNovember 6, 2020 at 12:02 pm
Over the summer I participated in this program called “Agro-Living Wellness” which was about connecting with traditional agricultural community by spending two weeks in a rural Hakka village to connect with the local community and to learn about ecology and sustainability. During this time, I had a lot of chance to reflect on human relationship with nature and land. Someone asked me what traditional agriculture in the US looked like, and I told them that it had a very different orientation, that view of dominion was the negative example, one of wielding power over, exercising will, forcing the land to submit to human might, one of extraction and exploitation that was ultimately unsustainable in terms of ecology and labor. I have understood this relationship to land and conquering as a large part of the theology of European Christianity that permeated colonialism.
One of my close friends and I travelled back to his hometown a few years ago to work on a project he was doing addressing his own ancestry, relationship to, and inheritance of whiteness and we learned about how his white ancestors farmed the land unsustainably, tapping out all the natural water sources, and how this lead to the dust bowl, and the current drought circumstances and poverty of the area. When I was in this Hakka village, I learned from elders how to work smart and efficiently, about organic methods of fertilization, and about tea growing, which is one of the few crops they can grow on their poor mountain soil. There, they live in harmony with the land, trying to give to it and care for it, knowing that in return it will supply them with what they need to survive and flourish. In traditional Chinese philosophy and values—virtue is understood as harmony and balance, whether that is between genders, humans and God, and heaven and earth. In that sense, dominion is understood as mutual dependency, flourishing, serving, and giving. We as humans have a responsibility to the earth, and as we care for it, we are doing the work of heaven, and this was in direct contrast to the brute force attempts to wrestle the earth into dominion in much of American agriculture, which ultimately makes the soil, as well as labor, unsustainable.
There are many ways for me to exercise dominion in my life, for me, I have spent almost the last ten years trying to understand better how I need community and how my communities need me, this mutual dependency, and how we can live together with the earth, hoping to learn more about sustainable agricultural practices and economy in tangible ways. I invested in learning Chinese better so that I could communicate with and learn from my communities and histories back in Asia, and then studied here, and have been working to connect with programs and peers with similar hopes, visions, and goals which has been a big gift the last two years since I moved to Taiwan.