Three months ago (on May 2nd) I posted an essay on “Soft-Headed Nationalism”. I feel I need to say some more about that.
I remember – when I was a kid (perhaps 6 years old, in northwest Ohio) and I was, one day, playing with a neighbor boy (Mike) … he informed me that – “My old man can beat up your old man!” … I was astonished that he would say such a thing. I mean – even if his assertion were true … what does that have to do with anything? (And where did he learn to think like that?)
I am prepared to regard this type of thinking as ‘attributable to being young & stupid’. Perhaps it comes out of “magical thinking”. After all – there is a close connection between the Magical and the Miraculous. We find ourselves the beneficiary of mysterious forces. We (basically) just ‘show up’. We do not choose our parents, our culture, our species, or our gender. We find we have a body (which we did not choose or design) and that we are able to conduct it about – here and there – by mere intention. We eat food and digest it. We speak with other people, and understand what they say. And we do not know HOW any of things occur.
It is probably best to categorize these basic givens of life as – Miraculous. But Magic is similar – in that the connection between an action and its result – is beyond our ken.
(I suppose – that with things Miraculous – not only is the connection hidden … the action is hidden as well.
I mean – basically, we just show up … don’t we?
Later on we may learn about genetics, evolution, sex, embryonic development (and so on) … and we gradually develop a sense of continuity … of sequential causation.
It is well known among cultural anthropologists – that when the adults of a culture do not initiate the oncoming generation into adulthood … the young people will themselves conduct these rites of passage for each other.
When I lived on Quadra Island (in British Columbia) I would ride a ferry to get to work (at the Junior School in Campbell River (on Vancouver Island) … and I would often overhear the junior high and senior high kids telling each other about how much poison (drugs or alcohol) they ingested last night – and survived. They were (I realized) “proving” their adulthood. They were conducting rites of passage.
This is, no doubt, one of the ways we have failed our youth, our young people … by failing to initiate them into adulthood. Maybe we don’t feel qualified … but I’m pretty sure we are more qualified to do this than the kids are.
Another way we have failed them – is that we have not educated them in “how to appreciate other cultures and people who are different (in some way) from us.
I think that we considered it “good” that our young people take pride in “who we are” … our school, or our neighborhood, or our city, or whatever. And THIS is where we got the pep rallies, the cheerleaders, the fight songs, and so on. And I suppose we just didn’t realize that (without some augmenting and contextualizing Education) this “group pride” would soon translate into a Nationalism which is dreadfully irrational and immature.
I want to include here – the poem I added (to the Poems section) last week … because it exemplifies the sort of Clarity, Maturity, and balance – which we ALL be aiming for (both for ourselves and for our children) –
For the graduates of the University of Arizona.
This morning we gather in gratitude for all aspects of sacredness:
the air, the warmth of fire, bodies of water, plants, the land,
and all animals and humankind.
We gather to honor our students who have achieved the extraordinary
accomplishment of earning doctoral or master’s degrees.
We gather to honor their parents, grandparents, children,
family members, and friends who have traveled with them
on their path to success. They have traveled far distances to be here
this morning: we honor their devotion.
May we remember that holiness exists in the ordinary elements of our lives.
We are grateful for a homeland that has always thrived
on a glorious array of people and their diverse cultures, histories,
and beliefs. We acknowledge the generosity of the Tohono O’odham
in granting this land on which we learn, teach, celebrate
accomplishments, and sometimes mourn losses.
May we always cherish our ancestors as we prepare for the days ahead.
May we remember that we exist because of their prayers and their faith.
We are blessed with distinct and melodious tongues.
Our languages are treasures of stories, songs, ceremonies, and memories.
May each of us remember to share our stories with one another,
because it is only through stories that we live full lives.
May the words we speak go forth as bright beads
of comfort, joy, humor, and inspiration.
We have faith that the graduates will inspire others
to explore and follow their interests.
Today we reflect a rainbow of creation:
Some of us came from the east, where bright crystals of creativity reside.
They are the white streaks of early morning light when all is born again.
We understand that, in Tucson, the Rincon Mountains are our inspiration
for beginning each day. The Rincons are everlasting and always present.
Those who came from the south embody the strength of the blue
mountains that encircle us. The Santa Ritas instill in us
the vigorous spirit of youthful learning.
Others came from the west; they are imbued with the quiet, yellow glow of dusk.
They help us achieve our goals. Here in the middle of the valley, the ts’aa’,
the basket of life, the Tucson Mountains teach us to value our families.
The ones from the north bring the deep, restorative powers of night’s darkness;
their presence renews us. The Santa Catalina Mountains teach us that,
though the past may be fraught with sorrow, it was strengthened
by the prayers of our forebearers.
We witnessed the recent fires the mountains suffered,
and in their recovery we see ourselves on our own journeys.
We understand that we are surrounded by mountains, dziił,
and thus that we are made of strength, dziił, nihí níhídziił.
We are strong ourselves. We are surrounded by mountains
that help us negotiate our daily lives.
May we always recognize the multitude of gifts that surround us.
May our homes, schools, and communities be filled with the wisdom
and optimism that reflect a generous spirit.
We are grateful for all blessings, seen and unseen.
May we fulfill the lives envisioned for us at our birth. May we realize
that our actions affect all people and the earth. May we live in the way
of beauty and help others in need. May we always remember that
we were created as people who believe in one another. We are grateful,
Holy Ones, for the graduates, as they will strengthen our future.
All is beautiful again.
– Luci Tapahonso
The person who wrote this speech is Spiritually Mature and Educated. She sees the Situation with clarity and comprehension. And she dwells in a psyche which has Love at its center.
This is what we should all strive for.
A Clear person would never presume – that the ways of (whatever) group they happen to belong to – are superior to the ways of other groups or cultures (without honest and impartial enquiry)
But (I am afraid that) by the time an Oncoming Generation of our culture steps into their role as fully fledged Adults (which is to say – that they have completed their Education) they generally do NOT have these qualities. We are NOT spiritually mature. We are NOT Love-Oriented. And we are NOT Educated (not even, in most cases, those who have graduated from college)
What to do?