We are a happy and simple people, that's all we wish for. I've never been to your lands, but I can feel what you are doing. It feels like a very grim, unhappy place where you live. You must only ever talk about death.' The Eastern European shaman was talking about the Western European culture.
'We're actually very bad at talking about death, it's a subject we avoid at almost all costs.'
He seemed startled by this revelation, 'that's strange, because, my people, we call you "the suicidal society".' He stared into the middle distance.
'We've had suicide cults in our people before, we know about these things, but there has never been a whole society before.' He shrunk back in his seat. 'It takes an inordinate amount of focus to kill yourself. You need to really want to die badly to go through with it.'
'Why do you call us the suicide society?'
'It's obvious.' He smiled a crooked smile. 'Everything you do is bad for you. Everything you possess, make and desire is killing you.'
'Explain that for me.'
'Listen. When you want to kill yourself you take poison, you damage yourself, you lose connection to your body.'
In his logical explanation we are trying to kill ourselves because we drink poisonous liquids that rot our teeth and guts, we eat foods that clog our arteries and slow our hearts, and we are grossly overweight because we are forgetting to exercise and keep fit. In his terms, only people who wanted to die would behave this way.
'Such people don't care about others, they become fixated on themselves, they lack community awareness.'
The way we are littering the whole planet with our waste and polluting the seas shows we don't care about the other people on the planet, and most damaging of all, we don't care about the generations to come.
'When you behave this way, then you don't pay attention to your children.'
He said, as with all children ours are born into hope and lightness. From a very early age we must be repressing their natural instincts to be happy and joyful. He asked, 'what kind of society does that to it's own children?'
'Such people also torture themselves, hurt themselves, and they destroy their souls.'
In his terms we torture ourselves daily. The jobs we seek are killing us through stress, fear and unhappiness, they don't feed our souls, they destroy our souls. The whole culture we have created selfishly consumes and competes, there is no space for kindness and joy. We have no love or compassion for ourselves. He believed our lifestyle is that of the damned, we are already living in purgatory.
'Such people in the end try to manipulate and control the future. When they fail to control the future they despair about it.'
For him we have reached the point where we can no longer control our future, because we have exploited the planet so thoroughly. This lack of control of the future has thrown us into panic, and made us suicidal. This is a paradox, as he said 'I have never been able to control my future, I've never been bothered by such grandiose delusions. Hey, I don't know what's going to happen later this afternoon, I'm happy to not know, that's how to live.'
'You are so filled with poison that it now runs in your veins, as a consequence, you have become infectious, infectious to other cultures on the planet. I really don't care if you lot want to kill yourselves, go ahead. But don't try to enlist me in your suicide pact, don't think you can bring me down with you. I'm much stronger and more resilient than you.'
He looked at me with pity, and quietly spoke ' the man who holds tightly to the reins will have a sore back in the evening.' In his terms, we are so focused on trying to remain in control and suffering from such a sore back that we are seeking to end our lives.