There is a simple solution to chronic wasting disease: we as human beings need to return to a state of mind and daily practice of spiritual reverence and respect for all life.
In the tens of thousands of years that Native Americans inhabited North America, animals and humans were recognized as planetary family members. In the Native reckoning, all of creation comes from and returns to God, is interconnected through God, and has a spirit, fulfilling a spiritual purpose. All spiritual beings—animal, vegetable and even mineral—are guides, experts each in their own areas, and teachers, in communication with human beings through Hail-o-way-an, the language of the heart. (1) It was through this language that healing herbs were discerned and other gifts given to man in abundance.
In oral traditions that go back to the beginning of the first ice age, it was our spiritual brothers and sisters, the animals, who volunteered their hides and meat to help their hairless sibling, man, survive. Before a tree was cut to build a canoe or a lodge, prayers were offered and the eldest tree in the area was consulted and permission obtained first. Likewise, hunting was not simply a matter of food and certainly not a form of entertainment; that would have been considered blasphemous. Animals that fell to bow or ensnared in traps were thanked, recognised as spiritual equals who freely gave their physical lives so that the people could live. And it was paramount that something always be given back. (2)
It is interesting to observe that despite the fact that tens of millions of aboriginal peoples speaking over 500 different languages peacefully co-existed for thousands of years, cultivated food crops, created extensive trade routes into South America, developed sophisticated democratic political systems on which our own Bill of Rights was modeled, and preserved a natural resource base that supported them healthfully—for thousands of years longer than most of northern Europe was even populated—that there were virtually no communicable diseases present in North America. By contast, Europeans suffered from a myriad of communicable afflications. When infected with these new diseases, it was said by the Native victims that the fevers had “a face” of evil. It was said that the newcomers walked in an unholy way.
What could be more unholy, more disrespectful, more sacriligeous, than to cut up your dead relatives with chain saws—which is how modern meat processors butcher animals? Think about it. We must stop treating God’s creation as a disposable commodity, much as we stopped treating other human beings as disposable commodities when slavery was abolished and women got the vote. Respect for all life is evident in the Bible as well. When God instructed Noah in the building of the Ark, he was directed to collect two of every animal, not just the domesticated species. As the Yaqui Indian medicine man, don Juan Matus, told anthropologist Carlos Castenada, death stalks each one of us just the same as it stalks a cockroach. (3) Face it. We are all going to die, to return to the spirit world some day. We do not actually own anything other than our spirit. And to act as if we do is not only foolish, it is ungodly.
Hunters: start rebuilding your spiritual bank account. Cultivate sensitivity, respect and an attitude of gratitude for your prey. Chronic wasting disease first appeared in captive stock of elk and deer—not in the wild. Let these majestic beautiful animals live freely as God intended them to. Look to see if an animal is sick before you shoot, pray and listen to what your heart tells you. If you take the shot and hit the mark, be grateful. Learn how to butcher it yourself, respectfully, using as much of the animal as you can, wasting as little as possible, or find a spiritually centered, respectful butcher. Do not take more than you need. Recognize that God created a balanced, functional ecosystem and allow balance to return by supporting protection of our wilderness areas and the return of the high-end predators: wolves, bears and lions. They will immediately help maintain a healthy population of prey, for they take only the sick and injured.
Chronic wasting disease is a symptom of a deeper spiritual problem which will be resolved when human beings rewaken to the truth of our connection, through our hearts, to all of life, and simply allow the return of natural balance established by God.
1) For more on Hail-o-way-an and the Seneca creation story see Other Council Fires Were Here Before Ours by Jamie Sams and Twylah Nitsch.
2) For more on Native spiritual traditions see Mother Earth Spirituality by Ed McGaa.
3) See The Teachings of don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Casteneda.