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Circles and Squares

August 14, 2012

The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.

If diversity is a source of wonder, its opposite – the ubiquitous condensation to some blandly amorphous and singulary generic modern culture that takes for granted an impoverished environment – is a source of dismay. There is, indeed, a fire burning over the earth, taking with it plants and animals, cultures, languages, ancient skills and visionary wisdom. Quelling this flame, and re-inventing the poetry of diversity is perhaps the most importent challenge of our times.

– Wade Davis

Here is a poem, that celebrates diversity, circles over squares, by ‘Ali Cobby Eckermann’, an Australian aboriginal, given to me by a dear friend who I had met somewhere in the mountains.

I was born Yankunytjatjara
My Mother is Yankunytjatjara
Her Mother was Yankunytjatjara
My Family is Yankunytjatjara

I have learnt many things from my Family Elders
I have grown to realize that my Life travels in Circles
My Aboriginal Culture has taught me that
Universal Life is Circular

When I was born I was not allowed to live with my Family
I grew up in the white man’s world

We lived in a Square house
We picked fruits and vegetables from neatly fenced Square plot
We kept animals in Square paddocks
We sat and ate at a Square table
We sat on Square chairs
I slept in a Square bed

I looked at myself in a Square mirror and did not know who I was

One day I met my Mother
I just knew that this meeting was part of our Healing Circle
Then I began to travel
I visited places that I had been before

But this time I sat down with Family

We gathered closely together by big Round camp fires
We ate bush tucker, feasting on Round ants and berries
We ate meat from animals that lived in Round burrows
We slept in Circles on beaches around our fires
We sat in the dirt, on Our land, that belongs to a big Round planet
We watched the Moon grow to a magnificent yellow Circle

That was Our Time

I have learnt two different ways now
I am thankful for this
That is part of my Life Circle
My heart is Round like a drum, ready to echo the music of my Family

But the Square within me still remains
The square hole stops me in my entirety

– Ali Cobby Eckermann

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 15, 2012 01:26

    Good that you shared this. I wanted to talk to you to ask why preserving diversity is so important. What is the inherent goodness of having diversity? Or is it just a thing and we need not attach any value to it? But if so, then why be dismayed by humanity’s march towards uniformity?
    At some level I root for diversity. It makes sense. It seems natural. And peaceful. But I can’t think further than that. Help!


    • August 15, 2012 06:11

      This is a big big question, but let me share my views (in short) here –

      1. Well one reason for dismay is that in this march towards uniformity “a lot” is not happening naturally, not as an evolutionary process, but is forceful and violent and is happening at an uneasy fast pace. A lot of places and at a lot of times diversity is being quashed as either failed attempts or because it stands as an obstacle.

      2. I feel sad for those who are being forced out of diversity and not who are voluntarily moving out of it. And it is very hard to figure out who really falls in the either category.

      3. Coming to diversity Vs uniformity – I feel as someone has said, real uniformity (unity) lies in diversity. As you have said and if we believe in nature, it is but a natural process. The diversity that we see is a very small part (limited by our senses etc). There is a lot more diversity of life that lies beyond what we can see, beyond what we can touch and destroy.


  2. August 15, 2012 06:20

    Doesn’t real diversity lie in all of us, something that we can never destroy…?

    Hermann Hesse, author of Siddhartha, in his book ‘Knulp’ wrote – “Every human being has a soul, he can’t mix it with any other. Two people can meet, they can talk with one another, they can be close together. But their souls are like flowers, each rooted to its place. One can’t go to the other place because for that it will have to break away from it’s roots, and that it can’t do. Flowers send out their seeds, their scent, because they would like to go to each other…”



  1. Circles and Squares | The Abstruse Bong

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