• Laura Perry

On Being an Animist

Let's face it, we're probably all born animists. Every child knows it's perfectly normal to talk to rocks and trees as if they were people, too (because of course they are).

Every child understands that the whole world is alive and inspirited, even if they don't have the language to express the idea. We just get it trained out of us as we grow up. "That's silly. Don't be stupid. That's so primitive and backwards."

Except it's not silly or stupid or backwards, at least, not to all the indigenous and traditional societies around the world that are still animist today, or all the ancient cultures that were animist back before organized religion decided it would be better if people didn't experience the world that way (that's a rant for another day).

Some of us in the modern western world are animists. Somehow we managed to resist having it trained out of us, or we came back to it after trudging through the "inanimate" insistence that the Big World feeds us.

So here's the thing. Instead of trying to define animism or compare various traditions that include animist components, I'm going to give you a very simple explanation of my worldview. If it's not your worldview, that's fine. But it is mine, and it's a legitimate one.

And I'd like you to consider how humans - individuals, companies, governments - might behave differently if this were their worldview, too.

The way I experience the world is simple. To me, the universe is full of persons. Inspirited persons. Humans, animals, plants, rocks, trees, mountains, rivers, stars, planets, and yes, even cars, ships, and laptop computers.

But there's one very important aspect that you need to wrap your mind around in order to fully understand my point of view. And that is this:

It's not that they're all people, just like us humans. It's that we're people, just like them.