This word “eco” comes from the Greek OIKOÇ for “house” or “household”. More recently it is a word that has entered our language through ecology and into the world of politics, economics, our cultural life and citizenship. It is a word that connects us with many different areas of human activity. Through this word, we can fly to some very interesting areas of human contemplation. It is clear that we don’t always realize this. There is nothing new about it. The frequency with which the word is used shows it has entered the everyday language of many people.
This calls to mind the letter written by the Native Indian Chief Seattle to the Great White Chief Franklin Pierce, in Washington, which was about the very subject of ecology. It was written in 1854 during the time of great conflict between the colonizers and the Indians on their reservations. “How can you buy or sell the sky? How can I buy or sell the warmth of the land? The very idea seems strange to us. For my people, there is no piece of land which is not sacred. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. If we sell this land, I will not, of course, teach their children that it is sacred. Our rivers feed our children. We know that the white man does not recognize our way of being. There is no single place of quiet in the cities of the white man. For him one piece of land is the same as any other piece of land… I have seen thousands of buffalo left to rot, shot dead by the white man who shoots from a passing train. Everything that happens to the beasts also happens to man. All things are connected. All things are interconnected. We know that the earth does not belong to man, but that is man who belongs to the earth.