“…when an Indian hunter killed a deer or bear or salmon, the death did not signify human domination over nature. Rather, the killing was understood as a gift of food or fur, given by the animal to the man. The salmon or deer allowed the human to kill it, and in accordance with the rules of the gift economy, the hunter assumed an obligation to treat the animal (the gift) with respect. Animals would retaliate if they were not treated with respect…”
— Salmon Without Rivers, Jim Lichatowich
“In his book The Gift: The Erotic Life of Property, Lewis Hyde expresses the spirit of a gift economy (and its contrast to a market economy) as follows: ‘whatever we have been given is supposed to be given away not kept. Or, if it is kept, something of similar value should move in its stead…The gift may be given back to its original donor, but this is not essential…The only essential is this: the gift must always move.’
Hyde further remarks that a traditional gift economy is based on ‘the obligation to give, the obligation to accept, and the obligation to reciprocate,’ and that it is ‘at once economic, juridical, moral, aesthetic, religious, and mythological.’
Gift economies are potent systems for eliciting and developing behaviors that the (conventional) market cannot — sharing, collaboration, honor, trust, sociability, loyalty. In this capacity, gift economies are an important force in creating wealth, both the material kind prized by the market and the social and spiritual kind needed by any happy, integrated human being.”
The Cornucopia of the Commons, David Bollier
Poet Gary Snyder has taught and continues to teach me with each reading of his The Practice of the Wild. Gratitude and grace swim through his words.
Everyone who ever lived took the lives of other animals, pulled plants, plucked fruit, and ate. Primary people have had their own ways of trying to understand the precept of non-harming. They knew that taking life required gratitude and care. There is no death that is not somebody’s food, no life that is not somebody’s death… Eating is a sacrament. The grace we say clears our hearts and guides the children and welcomes the guest, all at the same time.
The shimmering food-chain, the food-web, is the scary, beautiful condition of the biosphere. Subsistence people live without excuses. The blood is on your own hands as you divide the liver from the gallbladder. You have watched the color fade on the glimmer of the trout. A subsistence economy is a sacramental economy because it has faced up to one of the critical problems of life and death: the taking of life for food.
We too will be offerings—we are all edible…← Previous Journal Entry