poster by Jess X. Snow

We love this earth as the newborn loves its mother’s heartbeat

Greg Twemlow
6 min readDec 25, 2020


“Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it. Preserve the land for all children and love it, as God loves us all. One thing we know, there is only one God; no man, be he red man or white man, can be apart. We are brothers, after all.” words of Chief Seattle, 1852

We think memory cannot see into nor through events of history. Such thinking is a convenient forgetting — the past infuses everything present.

Ancient memories of place seep into the contemporary psyches. Imagine inhabitants of an Australian river valley preparing for a kangaroo hunt while halfway around the world, Sumerians were measuring the foundations of new civilizations.

Earth’s oldest known piece of continental crust dates to the era of the moon’s formation. Researchers have confirmed that Australia holds the oldest continental crust on Earth, some 4.4 billion years old.

Hills of rocks, billions of years old, and their troves of memories across the millennia, perched along the banks of the rivers in outback Australia, contrast with evidence of a growing, exploitative, and destructive human presence.

Images, imagination, feelings, sensations, intuitive knowing, may well have been the most common and effective ways in which indigenous peoples communicated with each other and with mother Earth.

Earth produces human beings, like apple trees produce apples, the land that sustains and nurtures us, the land that challenges and tests us and ultimately reabsorbs us, also holds memory and emotion.

Surely we are but custodians of mother Earth during our lives?

Joseph Campbell was a Mythologist, prolific author, and teacher who was known for the message “Follow your bliss” and the concept of the Hero’s Journey.

Campbell’s heroes had a cause they were fighting for, that was bigger than themselves.

Hero’s Journey meant: getting to that level of consciousness and maturity where you let go of self-preservation and me-first thinking and gave yourself over to the cause.

Joeseph Campbell said: “A hero is someone who has given her life to something bigger than herself. When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.”

The smaller, micro-hero opportunities appear often every day.

When you evaluate whether you are going to go to an event or social gathering, the tendency is to start having an internal dialogue like this:

Will I like it? Will I be comfortable there? What will I get out of it? Will it be worth it?

It’s usually about what you are going to get out of the deal.

A change of perspective moves you into the territory of micro-hero.

Thoughts change to:

How will my energy add to the mix? Whose day can I uplift in some way? How can I best serve the whole and not just me?

Changes the nature of the experience, doesn’t it?

19th century philosopher, Otto Rank, “We are all a hero in our birth. We undergo a tremendous transformation from a little, you might say, water creature living in a realm of the amniotic fluid and so forth, then coming out, becoming an air-breathing mammal that ultimately will be self-standing and so forth, is an enormous transformation and it is a heroic act, and it’s a heroic act on the mother’s part to bring it about. It’s the primary hero, hero form, you might say.”

Our Earth needs heroes. Not just heroes on the grand scale of a Mother Therasa or a Malcolm X. Earth needs micro-heroes, a chance for each of us to occupy the territory of micro-hero often, every day.

Chief Seattle, 1852, “The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky, the land? The idea is strange to us. Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, all are holy in the memory and experience of my people. We’re part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. Each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father; the rivers are our brothers.”

Humans of the 20th and 21st century are entrapped in a pace of life that had never before been experienced. Our pathways in life carry us toward what we think is an ideal; at first, economic self-sufficiency and ultimately economic riches, realized through ownership of the land and of Earth’s resources.

Indigenous Americans and Australians developed their guiding ethos independently across millennia.

There was no sharing of histories and ideals, yet the guiding philosophies of both civilizations were remarkably similar.

Like all human societies, indigenous Australian society has operated on a core set of values and beliefs that are complex and that form the basis for religious practice and ways of being and doing. This philosophy constitutes “truths” for people that define the parameters of knowledge, reality and cultural practice.

Human culture is clearly complex. It’s learned and shared across millennia. It’s continually adapting beliefs, values, attitudes, language, patterns of thought and communication, religion and knowledge as well as tools and capabilities. Adaptation is a human response to changes in the environments in which they live. Indigenous societies have never been static but have been essentially non-materialist and extremely conservative of the environment.

The philosophy of indigenous peoples is a wholistic template for living in concert with the environment, for the conservation of the species and the natural world, for minimising conflict in human relations and for ensuring the continuation of the conditions for survival.

We think memory cannot see into nor through events of history. Such thinking is a convenient forgetting — the past infuses everything present.

Indigenous understandings of the process of creation and of peoples’ place in the natural world, which does, after all, sustain all of humankind, is a valuable source of knowledge and inspiration for all peoples.

Spirituality of indigenous Australians, just like indigenous Americans, derives from a philosophy that establishes the wholistic notion of the interconnectedness of the elements of the earth and the universe, animate and inanimate, whereby people, plants and animals, landforms and celestial bodies are interrelated. These relationships and the knowledge of how they are interconnected, and why it is important to keep all things in healthy interdependence is encoded, are expressed in sacred stories or myths.

In 1852 Chief Seattle implored, Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it. Preserve the land for all children and love it, as God loves us all.

His words were prescient and sadly ignored.

The belief systems of indigenous Americans and Australians were remarkably in synch, despite developing remote from each other over tens of thousands of years.

Indigenous Australian elder, “The land is my mother. Like a human mother, the land gives us protection, joy, and provides for our needs — economic, social and religious. We have a human relationship with the land: Mother, daughter, son. When the land is taken from us or destroyed, we feel pain because we belong to the land and we are part of it.”

Joe Campbell, “Life is always on the edge of death, always, and one should lack fear and have the courage of life. That’s the principle initiation of all of the heroic stories. Your bliss, where the deep of sense of being in form and going where your body and soul want to go, when you have that feeling, then stay with it and don’t let anyone throw you off.

Namely, that if you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you’re living somehow. And well, you can see it. You begin to deal with people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss, and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

Our indigenous ancestors are portrayed as unsophisticated simpletons, yet their relationship to mother Earth and to each other was intuitive with the need to preserve the capacity for future generations to live a good life.

In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Surely it’s time we all apply this definition in our daily lives?

About the Author:
Greg Twemlow is a Sydney-based Social Enterprise Founder | Startup Mentor | CEO | Writer | Speaker | Host of



Greg Twemlow

Pioneering AI-Enhanced Educational Strategies | Champion of Lifelong Learning & Student Success in the GenAI Era