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The Modern Garden of Eden

It started with a cabalistic garden. A garden in which the first (presumably white) couple lived in paradise: the Garden of Eden. And it was here, secluded from the outside world, that the first tokens of God’s affection lived, in all the blessings of that cabalistic garden. These were God’s humans--gods blessed ones.  They lived in ignorant contentedness until the serpent told Eve that if she ate the apple of the tree, “your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil”. Eve ate the apple.

We still live in a garden, half brain child of human creation, and half wild stepchild. This garden is nature. This nature is deemed a garden purposely so. Because, there is no place on earth where humans, like god, have not changed something about it. Suited it to their own liking; created it for themselves. There are places on earth where in our Eurocentric egoism, we may pretend are pristine, forgetting the ancient indigenous cities, the ancient field burnings to increase productivity. Even nature before European colonialism was not pristine. It was still a garden.

 It is in this garden that we dwell. Assuming it is still the gifts of god. The gifts of the garden, the manufactured consumer goods that come and go through trade routes to and from our isolated garden. The things we think are inherently justified to us as creatures of the land. In our isolation, we feel we are god’s image. White, affluent, civil, respectful humans living in peace in the garden. We often look to countries afar, such as Rwanda, Afghanistan, and Libya. We see them as peoples still troubled by the primitive entrapment of war, sexism, slavery, and cruelty. We often look at them in distain, as fallen.

Even in everyday rhetoric, war ridden places of the earth are often deemed “hell on earth”. And it is not frivolously so; photos haunt with children bare boned, eyes deep in their sockets. The dredging countless hours of work the Indian slaves in the brick trade bare in extreme 108 degree heat…

Then there are the affluent oases of earth. America, the home of the free. With its sheltered homes, and well fed children.  In a trip to these well off regions of America, one can see how affluence allows residents to view the garden, the landscape, without the pollution caused by their affluent lifestyle.  In this garden, its residents are able to live as though they are god’s creations. White, well cared for, and part of nature’s beauty. It is easy to forget however how these two worlds, this heaven and hell on earth are inextricably linked.  Like god needs the devil to survive, so does affluent America need the war ridden regions of impoverished countries. It is from their garden we till our raw resources, in their fields we plant factories for our Nike Shoes. Without these devilish places, there would be no American luxury. The fallen it seems is our best excuse to hide from our own consumerism, to realize that it is us that cause their war, their poverty, their hell on earth.

In this time, and in this state of environmental crisis, we are all Eve, left with the snakes offering. We can choose to understand why we live in such a rich oasis of a garden, sheltered from evil. Of course we could also choose never to know, never to question why we are so lucky in America. We could continually live in our self made garden as the resources which feed it come and go from exotic unknown locations. Or we can question why we live in such plenty in a world of few.  Perhaps our own curiosity like Eve’s can lead us to understand the true basis for why we live in our isolated garden, and if our hunger gets the best of us I can only hope our “eyes shall be opened, and [we] shall be as gods, knowing good and evil”.  


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