Language is a funny thing in some ways, the more it expands the more confusion and misinterpretations there can and will be.
Some languages are referred to as romantic and others guttural or even primitive, depending on birth language and culture.
There’s a lot to be said for what is known among the nations as hand talk, or in the movies sign language.
American sign language is more expansive but I believe there is an inherent simplistic beauty and efficacy in hand talk that makes it more difficult to misunderstand – it was something of a universal language among the nations that afforded the opportunity to communicate, exchange news, and trade.
I’ve been gifted many things culturally, among them the ability to engage in hand talk as taught to me by grandfather and grandmother.
There have been times, maybe practice sessions when I was younger and throughout my life when during the course of a day an appreciable amount would be spent hand talking, no words, and no misunderstandings.
As complicated as today’s world is and the overwhelming emphasis placed on the spoken and written word it wouldn’t meet the same requirements it once did, and even though I’ve probably “spoken” more words in this blog than I have in a comparable number of years silence doesn’t bother me.
I believe there are times when more is said in the silence of a look or touch than words are capable of – a sort of spirit talk when one spirit reaches out to another, touches the other, and speaks a language all their own.
I kicked this around with a sister prior to posting and was advised it would be controversial, kind of a touchy social and political topic.
But then I believe “civilization” has become controversial and to one degree or another life itself has become politicized – so with that being the case “controversial” isn’t much of a deterrent in the decision making process whether to post or not, and it is my belief we shouldn’t shy away from addressing or confronting controversial subjects as long as so much as even a facade of free speech exists:
What is it with “religion” and infanticide?
In the old testament you have Abraham being instructed to build an altar and sacrifice his son, apparently his “faith” was such he did as instructed but at the last moment was told to stand down it was all some kind of test. Hell of a test wouldn’t you say?
You have Herod ordering the execution of all first born and during the Passover every man, woman, and child whose house wasn’t marked with lambs blood being slain – and yes I know Herod was one of the bad guys, and then there was all that slewing and slaying on something of an epic scale.
Or would that be Biblical slewing and slaying like a flood of “bibical” proportions?
Sis pointed out a few explanations for this can be found on the net, explanations like attempting to characterize Abraham’s predicament as being something less than it was as in he was merely “asked”.
You ask for a glass of water or something of that nature – you don’t “ask” anyone to commit infanticide.
An attempted clean up that falls egregiously short as Abraham wasn’t “asked” to do anything – he was told, a demand was made to “honor” his faith – in this instance “honor” becomes the equivalent of obeying and failing to do so the shame.
Then there’s the so called “honor killings” where a child is murdered as a matter of “honor” – yeah, that makes sense as it’s always honorable to murder your own child.
But alternatives exist, you can torture them, set them on fire, stone, beat, or douse them with acid as proof of devotion and boundless faith.
Children represent an endless array of opportunities, they can be forced into child labor, sexually and physically abused, or sold as slaves and child brides all under the aegis of faith and obedience to an all powerful benevolent god in cultures permeated by such a belief – as an alibi that’s about pathetic as they come.
If they really become a problem you can just dump them off at the mall and not return or place a new born in a dumpster.
We’re big on saying children are the future and apparently just as big in saying the mess they will inherent is their’s to deal with – family values.
It’s too bad this all powerful benevolent god doesn’t protect children, that there isn’t a rule, or “commandment” in place that says what you visit upon a child will immediately be visited upon you – if that were the case there would be a real time reason to believe, to have a little faith.
Failing such direct action how about one of those “words” or “signs” to let people know they’ve got it wrong rather than some wolf in sheep’s clothing telling you to give them money as the lord himself needs such an expression of faith so a door can be opened allowing god to “honor” your obedience and slip a few bucks in your direction?
Wars have been predicated upon religion, the “holy books” are rife with such tales, and if the expressed purpose isn’t some religious insanity then rest assured proclamations will abound that god is nonetheless on everybody’s side at the same time – here’s your weapon, bow your head in prayer and now go kill someone.
That’s a pretty neat trick being on everyone’s side at the same time, understandable if it gets a little confusing, but hey as mere mortals we neither can nor need to understand such mysteries, we just need to believe, to have faith, and more importantly to obey or suffer the shame and consequences.
Karl Max said religion is the opiate of the masses, and if you can get past the revulsion for communism which isn’t easy to do you have to admit Marx nailed it.
An opiate so addictive the addiction leads people to do the unthinkable while their suppliers, reads evangelicals and the bogus prosperity doctrine they preach as they loll around the pool in their multi million dollar mansions, dole out the daily or weekly fix, and like all dealers rake in the bucks.
Not all “servants of the lord” are evangelical as understood in this country, some are just your old crazed run of the mill garden variety wild eyed zealots claiming special interpretative powers that if any defy can lead to all manner of mayhem including murder.
The way it goes is sin is sin regardless of whether you commit it or are the victim – if you’re a woman whose been raped in certain “religious” countries the only solution as a “co participant” is to be beaten – your measure of guilt apparently is that in being a woman the mere fact that you are drove your assailant(s) to do what they as faithful followers would not have done otherwise.
I’m not into this “great” religions of the world thing, as little that could be characterized as great has actually occurred in the name of religion – at the top, the central benevolent figure in these religions from whom all good things and blessings flow sits an omnipotent god that has no qualms about visiting infanticide upon his own children whether by his own hand or the agency of proxies who claim god is on their side.
And that sins of the father thing doesn’t quite make it off the ground. If for example your father, grandfather, or grandfather generations removed committed murder should you get the death penalty as well?
As a parent if you had two or more children would you punish them all for what one did? Yeah I know…….we’re not gods, just mere dimwitted mortals failing to grasp the big picture and “sinners” to boot who “cannot know the mind of god”
Honor killings, would that include the biblical flood, the Inquisition, the Crusades, and jihads?
Honor killings? Why don’t we just call it what it is really is? For the politically correct who shy away from such exacting definitions as murder how about dishonorable killing and forgo all the bullshit about great world religions.
A civilized world as nations bristle with mega weapons, corporations commit crimes against humanity, climate change deniers would have all rush like lemmings toward the abyss, and “honor killings” exist? I don’t think so.
Nations and cultures are defined by their priorities, what they do, not what they say – there is no honor when people on the rez haven’t access to electricity or running water, and I submit “honor killing” is alive and well in this country and elsewhere among the “developed” nations when governments “honor” corporate greed and influence by pandering to them with sweetheart deals, loophole riddled legislation, and the gutting of environmental regulations that threaten the well being of untold millions, billions, the very planet itself.
Something that shouldn’t be overlooked in the below linked article as the sister pointed out is the parents felt the “honor” of killing their own daughter was such that their other children needed to witness it and thereby serve a twofold purpose.
One to share the “honor” and the other to instill fear.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that I can work and earn a living, that I’m not sleeping in the streets and can root around for a deal on something I want, but I never forget that on a global scale there are those who can’t say the same.
I never forget that what I spend on a used piece of photo gear or tool could feed a hungry child or family – and I never forget that children are being murdered in the name of “honor” because life is about more than me or some distant patriarchal god.
“The passing of every old man or woman means the passing of some tradition, some knowledge of sacred rites possessed by no other…Consequently the information that is to be gathered, for the benefit of future generations, respecting the mode of life of one of the great races of mankind, must be collected at once or the opportunity will be lost for all time.” Edward S. Curtis
Curtis has received international recognition for the volume of work he produced, much of it of historical archival significance.
The quote above is as truthful a statement as the images he captured – the passing of elders within a culturally intact society is one thing, it is something entirely different following decades, even centuries of attempts to disrupt and assimilate.
What each generation is born into becomes the norm, and all too often acceptable – that is the great truth of the “melting pot”.
As nations in today’s world we either accept or tolerate that which have would have been unconscionable in the past from both within and without our communities, I for one don’t believe that is progress.
As a people we are compelled to live in a world not of our own making, but nowhere is it written upon our spirits that we must surrender or dilute our traditions to embrace it.
Force didn’t accomplish that and we shouldn’t voluntarily facilitate the effort.
Grass continues to grow, rivers flow, and the land remains – so too should we in the manner in which we have always referred to ourselves regardless of nation or language…… the people.
What a fantastic people and story, the Moken, but yet another nation whose numbers are in decline.
I think humanity has lost a great deal in it’s march towards “civilization” – as a species we have become weaker, more dependent, and lost the physical, mental, and emotional stamina and immune strengths we once we had.
A change in location such as a trip to Mexico or another foreign country and something as universally common as water becomes a issue causing intestinal discomfort and sometimes serious illness.
Our dependency on chemicals and synthetics has become for the vast majority full blown – have a cold, the flu, a stomach ache and run to the store to seek a chemically concocted relief.
Our bodies and immune system no longer responding naturally but by artificial inducement.
Antibiotics credited with saving untold numbers of lives are losing their efficacy due to over use, new varieties are being produced with a list of potential side effects as long as your arm, among them the potential for suicidal thoughts.
People are satisfied with the momentary relief of addressing symptoms rather than the root cause, rather than prevention through a healthy lifestyle and diet.
Our visual and olfactory abilities have declined in a sort of use it or lose it proposition.
We are inundated with a cacophony of unnatural sounds , a steady stream of intrusive “background” noise that has become acceptable and the norm, and one can only wonder what else has been lost, what other senses are in decline and at what cost?
There was a time when people moved through their environment guided not just by a visual acuity but also scent, even an instinctive understanding of their surroundings.
They knew what grew around them, what was useful and what wasn’t, and I have no doubt operated with a level of instinctive understanding and behavior much the same as their counterparts who they shared the world with.
I believe for every illness known to man the cure or remedy exists in nature, a knowledge lost and often discredited.
Science “discovers” these natural remedies and immediately goes about synthesizing them with an eye to profit while commonly denouncing or qualifying them in their organic form.
I don’t deny there is a time to visit the doctor, every culture that has ever existed has had their own “doctors” who prescribed and treated – but it seems like wisdom to develop and nurture latent inherent abilities and immunities as much as a person can.
I think it would be a great thing to have the visual ability of dolphins – people have told me often enough about what good eyes I have, my ability to see things and my sense of direction and asked if that is hereditary, if it’s “ndn”?
I don’t get lost anywhere, not a boast, just a statement of fact.
Maybe it is as the time distance between the nations reliance on such things as our senses is shorter than that of others.
But somewhere in the mix I feel the “good eyes” are in part about being observant, noting what others may gloss over or take for granted – I consider that to be a remnant of a hereditary survival skill and I do what I can to cultivate it.
Humanity is being drowned in artificial stimuli, artificial food, artificial everything, and surrendered so much of their natural abilities and surroundings, little wonder it so often flounders.
Civilization seems unsettled by anomalies, the Moken, uncontested tribes, and various minorities are seen as anomalous.
There’s a misguided belief and attempt that such anomalies need to be exposed to and receive the “benefits” of the modern world that ignores the cultural impact it will have.
Some societal obligation exists to assimilate them into the melting pot – this of course seldom works out well, but the effort to “nation build” goes forward often destroying a nation that has existed and functioned quite well for centuries.
That’s basically what happened with the indigenous nations of this country and hemisphere.
We had to be civilized – that led to genocide and a devastating impact on culture on traditions, not to mention the gulags.
Change is a vehicle perpetuated by change that scoops up everything in it’s path – it feeds upon itself and the race is on for new and improved, with new and improved being touted as convenient and time saving.
With all the convenience and time saving you’d think the would world have the ability to operate at a more leisurely pace – yet that is far from the case as people multi task and complain about there aren’t enough hours in the day.
Convenience seems to imply simplified, yet the world we live is becoming geometrically more complicated with each passing day, and like it or not people are being assimilated into this complexity.
Stress is at an all time high, people are stressed, the environment is stressed – the problems the world faces are man made, not naturally occurring, the toll extracted by “civilization”.
Be well and live as though you mean it – live with an awareness of self, but even more with an awareness of and concern for community.
A shout out to bearspawprint for the link.
This is a particularly heart rending testimony, in the midst of it Windyboy makes what I consider a salient point – “our spirits don’t speak english”.
In believing that I can only ask the question how can anyone who doesn’t speak the language be named a sundance chief, a “licensed” one at that, and conduct such a ceremony?
How can anyone conduct any of our ceremonies without knowing the language?
“For that whiteman it’s a terrible shame for him to be treating people like this”
The marketing, licensing, corruption, and appropriation of our ceremonies and culture is no less a shame – yet there are those among us who have placed a price tag on them , those among us, on the fringe, and elsewhere who haven’t the language and yet present themselves as a medicine person, seer, prophet, chief, or any other number of things.
Faux tribes, faux clans, new agers, and wannabes all adorning themselves with titles,
bonnets, and pipes while a great many of them go on about the importance of ceremonial integrity as they cobble together some hybridized version specific to the role they have created for themselves.
I say these things are no less an act of genocide, a cultural genocide equally as destructive as the genocide that spills blood and takes lives, a genocide that attacks the heart, spirit, and poses as distinct a threat to the identity of our nations as did the boarding schools and relocation.
In the darkest of times, in the midst of poverty, death, being hunted like animals, the gulags, and all we have endured as a people it has been our ceremonies and traditions that sustained us – we cannot surrender them now.
It has become something of an expectation after originally posting this three or four years back that I do so each year on this day – and so I have again.
No expectation should exist among any that as a people we would celebrate a day irrevocably tied to our decline, to the loss of land, culture, lives, and gencocide – nor in electing not to should we be castigated or our integrity as a people called into question.
For the most part I don’t believe that for the majority of people Thanksgiving day is linked to a religious celebration as it once was, I believe it is more about families and friends gathering – nonetheless we remember and cannot, should not, forget.
In the beginning we were made of the elements known to us- earth, wind, water, and fire, stone from the earth-we were a strong people, made tough and able to endure like stone. Our understanding grew and we fashioned stones into sharp edged instruments to employ in our daily lives, to defend and to hunt. We did this and found our place within the circle-we had no need of steel or the grief that always accompanies it. The age of steel had not yet come to us, and when it did we would be decimated.
In stone there is an affinity, an animism we recognized-in steel there is none-it is cold, impersonal, and above all indiscriminately deadly, belonging to a people completely unlike us, alien and different in ways we could not begin to understand. We are trapped in this age of steel now and we may never be the same again.
Our forward march was always in tune with the elements we were kindred to, a natural progression that went with the flow rather than against it, and so all things remained in the original balance Creator made.
The earth, the land, was the loving and beneficent mother whose breast we clung to and were nourished. We respected her, listened to, and understood the things she spoke to us. We neither pillaged or raped the land-we constructed no barriers, decimated the forests, befouled the air she exhaled for us to breathe, or ravaged her body for monetary gain. We were brother and sister to all who shared her bounty.
Now in our separation we do as others do, those places we live show the same blight as the inner cities-vacant abandoned buildings where the night crawlers gather, broken down rusting cars and trucks, refuse piled in proximity where we eat, sleep, and go about our lives with poorly clad children scrambling about the monuments of decline in play, and perhaps in search of some meaning.
It is not enough to accept and embrace the conditions the nations find themselves in, pride lost can be pride regained. Unwilling tribal councils should be circumvented and vacant decaying buildings razed- a tribal movement should begin to remove all this litter and the rusting monuments to the age of steel.
There is an undeniable responsibility that lays in accusation at the door of the oppressor, but likewise there is one that lies at the door of the nations-it is one thing to be beaten down and live in squalor without pride, it is another to be beaten down, live in squalor, and fight to retain some measure of pride.
It is fools errand to mark the days and wait for another to do something, it is a fools errand to mark the days and in an unwarranted act of reliance plead for the great black father to send a few blankets and trinkets to his distant children.
On this day while others gather at their tables to feast and give thanks for the destruction of the land, for a history fraught with betrayal, death, conquest, and greed, pause for a moment and remember who you are, where you came from, and more importantly where it is you would go-for now we have become like orphans, separated from the mother and not able to hear her voice as we once did-no longer nourished and suffering the loss for it. Casting about looking for direction, for the way home-failing to recognize that the mother dwells within us as is the way of all mothers, and in looking inward to find her we will find ourselves as well.