Friday, April 15, 2011

The trouble I see.

I've been doing some thinking about a certain program I viewed on my tee vee set.  I enjoyed the show.  It was a documentary about a reclusive tribe of people in South America.

Sometimes I like to stand on the roof at my grandmother's place and look at the large sky.  I also have a vista of very rural countryside.   These are often reflective moments.  I have lived other places of course.  Places urban and even foreign have been on my life roadmap.  I find I haven't really changed at the core of me.  I'm curious and believe that, instead of killing the proverbial cat, curiosity actually keeps a person moving forward.

We can become jaded and rooted in somewhat stagnant theology that  "there's nothing new under the sun."  While it may be true, there's stuff that's new to ME.  There's always a truth to be revealed, or an epiphany to be had, or a new way to look at something.

California, for instance, is America...but the topography and the way people have settled on it is fascinating. I
 stood transfixed in front of all kinds of different flora there.  I was even mischievous in Malibu.  I called my cousin in Illinois when I was there and said, "I'm standing in the Malibu McDonald's...there are no celebrities here eating burgers."  Of course that would be fauna.

There are always people.  They are the constant in life.  All kinds of people.  Short ones, skinny ones, fat ones, tall ones...males and and adults.  Diversity, but sameness, no matter the locale.  Smiling, crying, yelling, laughing, whispering antical people.  Different, but knowable.

The trouble I see is that we seem to be racing towards sameness.  I genuinely like diversity.  I want to go to Italy and eat pizza and see people talking with their hands.  I want to go to India and eat curry and see cows in the street.  I'd like to visit New Orleans to see the French influence and enjoy Cajun culture.  I'd like to see Carnival in Brazil.

Should we make a mad dash to "diversify" everyone into set of acceptable characteristics and practices decided by an organization, government or committee?

So imagine, if you can, my thoughts after seeing a special about a little tribe in South America.  Imagine, if you will, that it's fundraising month on PBS.  The announcers talk about the show we just watched:

"Well, Rob...we certainly have much to learn from the Weebee tribe.  Isn't it amazing that they have the rich oral religious tradition?"

"Yes, Jane.  They want nothing more than to wake each day and live in harmony with their God.  The families are strong and they support each other.  The elders are revered."

"And Rob, the sense of community is remarkable.  While they are mistrustful of the western world, they were very friendly and welcoming to the documentary crew.  They explained the various duties of the tribe members."

"You're right Jane.  They are a fantastic culture.  They have their wedding celebrations and other ceremonies where they sing and dance.  The villagers make wonderful meals from the game that has been hunted.  The children are free to run and frolic until the time comes for them to mature into the adults who will contribute to the important ceremonies and tribal life."

"If you'd like to support more progams like this on public television, call in and make a donation..."

And you take out your billfold, because, doggonit, those Weebees are fascinating!

You feel erudite and special.  You feel kind of warm inside to know that this great group of people are here on this Earth.  You think it's important to preserve and be informed about their way of life.

But it doesn't really occur to you that the things that were highlighted in the program, those traditions that were made glorious and reveled in, are some of the very things that seem to be under attack in the Western World.  The sense of community.  The practice of religious traditions.  The importance of family.  A respect for the elders.

So how is it that we admire, lionize and recommend the values of the Weebees, feeling so enlightened as we praise them, but there seems to be such discord in the ranks of American culture?  Why is there such a tendency to scorn religion?  Why do some folks poo poo the idea of the importance of family?  The Weebees celebrate their holidays and we are transfixed.  American Christians celebrate their holidays and are often criticized or even told that their traditions aren't real.

Many people disrespect the elderly and disdain them for holding old-fashioned values. 

The culture of the Weebees is to be preserved, but the culture in the West needs to be changed.

Don't misunderstand me.  I love the melting pot.  I enjoy diversity.  I, too, recognize wrongs in the past that needed to be righted.  It just seems to me that we celebrate some traditions when we see others practicing them, but we seem somehow to vilify those same things in our own environment.

If it's laudable for the Weebees, why is it wrong for us?

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