My Kookum or Grandmother, Louise Paulmartin, often told me when I was young that “the world was getting crazy”. She reserved that comment mainly for when some news from the southern non-Native world would reach us about a calamity or crisis like a war, a terrible flood or if she might have viewed some violent or horrible news on the television. Of course, as a youngster, I never really realized what she meant. When I became a teenager I merely attributed that comment of hers as a result of old age and being out of touch with the modern world.

It is funny what a few years of experience can mean. Recently, it has occurred to me that my Kookum was right about her assessment of human kind on our planet earth. I am not a pessimistic person normally but because I enjoy viewing many news sources and current documentaries this results in a broad awareness of the happenings in the world. We really are quite crazy as a species. Think about it.

For example: there are at least 30 major wars or conflicts going on in the world today as I write this. Millions of people are being harassed, abused, starved and forced from their homes. Thousands are being wounded and killed. Most of these wars involve greed and often the need to control some rich natural resource, like minerals, oil or gas, has a lot to do with it. So, it seems like money is at the root of most of these problems. That’s crazy.

We have reignited the support of nuclear power because we are worried about not having enough energy to provide electrical services that light every nook and cranny in cities and towns throughout the developed world, power appliances that heat our homes, cook our food, freeze our food, cut our lawns and make us lazy. Why can’t we just alter our way of using energy a bit and save us from having to turn back to nuclear power. Instead, we have decided to return to this technology which creates very dangerous waste that we do not know how to get rid of or safely store. That’s crazy.

How about coal? Can you believe it? Coal-burning generation stations are back in a big way because of our need for cheap energy. The burning of coal creates so much pollution and, of course, that leads to all kinds of problems in creating toxins not to mention the effect on our planet in terms of global warming. That’s crazy.

We are using up water like there is no tomorrow. Well, as a matter of fact if we keep treating water as though it was infinite in quantity then there won’t be any tomorrow. Fresh water is getting more and more depleted and mostly because we just can’t seem to figure out how to conserve our most precious natural resources. There are huge parts of the planet where people do not have access to clean water. Here, in North America, we shower in it all day. That’s crazy.

Thousands of people, mostly children die every day due to starvation, malnutrition, thirst and disease. We have figured out how to put a man on the moon but we refuse to put the effort, creativity, money and devotion into providing everyone on this planet with a decent life. Most of us here in North America have two or three gas-guzzling vehicles, we eat to excess, we live in nice homes and we have jobs and generally good lives. Thousands of children are dying to have just a little of what we consume. That’s crazy.

My Kookum grew up in a harsh remote environment north of Attawapiskat on the James Bay coast. She never had much but she worked with her family in those early days on the land to survive. Life was not easy for my ancestors but they managed to feed themselves, provide shelter and stay healthy. People like my Kookum knew firsthand that there was a relationship with the land. They realized directly that it was a fundamental truth to respect Mother Earth. It was a matter of survival. I now realize that my Kookum was viewing the world from her traditional life on the land when she commented on how “crazy” things seemed to her in the new world.

She understood the natural connections between the land, the people, animals, birds, fish, plants, trees, the wind, moon, sun, stars and water. It must have worried her to see things so out of balance and disconnected. If I close my eyes and drift back in my memory, I can still see her sitting in her chair in her little house. She is looking at me with a sad expression and shaking her head. “The world is getting crazy,” she says.