On "All My Relations" and the "Seven Generations"
Chris Daniels - Excerpted from the post "Indigenous Wisdom Toward and Ecological Civilization"
"This way of understanding, and the reason why Whiteheadians like John Cobb Jr. have become so concerned about and focused on ecological issues, also leads to the obvious conclusion that all decisions we make and actions we take, no matter how large or small, have pervasive consequences to the world and each other, now and in the future. We are NOT separate “things” objectively isolated from each other. It is NOT just a metaphorical model, it is an ontological reality. And with that relational understanding the deeper meaning of “the seven generations before and the seven generations after” begins to come clear. For Whiteheadians, the choices in each moment are intimately related to both the past and future. The past has determined the potentials that are relevant in the moment and the choices made in the present provide the vector to the future. Each moment is at the crux of what has been and what could be. And from an Indigenous perspective all decisions, thoughts, choices, and actions, must take account of, and be responsible to, the past seven generations of relations, and the knowledge and wisdom they have contributed, and the consequences and responsibility to the seven generations of relations that will come after. As it is in Whiteheadian thought, every decision and action is balancing between the wisdom of the past and the consequences for the future. When relations are understood in this context as involving all of creation at all times, there is no greater wisdom for moving toward an ecological civilization. If in every decision we make, whether personal, public, or corporate, we understand ourselves as responsible to all our relations in the past, and all our relations in the future, it will change not only the decisions themselves, but the entire decision-making process. By necessity it would become more honouring, more inclusive, further reaching, and more progressive. If we truly understood and incorporated the perspective “We are All Related,” in a way that reflected that paradigm as a primordial ontological reality, we would fundamentally understand what it meant to have sacred places that should not be disturbed; or languages, beliefs and practices that the world, let alone the individual communities, cannot afford to lose."