|Close Encounters of the Fourth World
: History and culture of the people of the Fourth World, victims of civilization who will become the new future of mankind
Few years ago, I had a chance to meet Father Thomas Berry. More than 90 years old Father was living a serene old age. He is not in this world anymore but the house where he spent a long time writing is still in the quiet wood. What came into my mind after coming across native Americans empathized with Father’s writings when I read through them. The ties with him led me to a deeper involvement with many natives’ lives. In particular, I was able to understand more about the natives’ world or the Fourth World after reading his writings on the reconciliation between civilization and nature.
Last March, I have realized afresh how weak the civilization was after the tsunami in Japan. Everything on the earth was helplessly destroyed by enormous waves. Damaged nuclear power plant has been emitting inconceivable amount of radioactive substances and is polluting the world. The mere thought of it makes me shudder. It was all the fault of human beings. It was not a natural phenomena. This “fire” created by science of humans is a demonic fire that never dies out for 30 years once it is ignited. Instead, it is threatening human beings in front of terrible natural disasters.
Modern industrial civilization has instigated exploitation of natural resources in all areas. People who considered the nature as an object to develop in connection with industries thought the development was a progress. However, as they developed the nature, the earth was polluted and destroyed. How could mankind live in harmony with the nature once again? I was able to find some answers to the question after spending eight years with native American communities throughout North America.
The three major racial minority groups in the United States are African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans. Native Americans are not even as a minority group so they are having a lot of difficulties protecting the right to life and human rights. After hundreds of years of suppression and exploitation, native Americans initiated a movement called “Fourth World Movement” in 1970s to recover their human rights. It links all indigenous people throughout the world. In 1973, they had appealed their identity at the UN after long years behind the First, Second and Third Worlds, and various policies have been developed by the UN since then.
Natives, who go on a canoe trip for weeks and carry out a horse-riding ritual, put enormous effort to revive their history and traditions, heal wounds of history and preserve traditions. Also, the canoe trip initiated by the native North Americans is now conducted by native Hawaiians and New Zealanders. People of the Fourth World are gathering to join the canoe trip of native North Americans. Such movement is the past and future of mankind where they had to move along the waterway towards a distant world. Accordingly, readers can look in-depth into how the nature and humankind communicate through various activities of natives in this book.
Rituals of natives are good examples how the ecosystem of the earth and mankind can recover credibility once again. For this, the civilization should stop destroying the earth and be in harmony with the ecosystem. Like the history of natives who established the Anasazi civilization that left enormous structures... Humans' knowledge should not be used to control but stay in harmony with the nature. The earth can recover its original condition full of life force only when humankind reconcile and recover intimacy with the nature.
This book re-highlights the culture of people of the Fourth World who harmoniously communicates with the earth instead of exploiting it. Their community is at the center linking the ecosystem, universe and mankind.