The Question...ID: 421
posted: 08 Jul 1999
updated: 02 Apr 2002
There has been much talk lately where I live (the Seattle area) of the Makah Indian tribe, who have recently renewed the practice of whaling. Having just had my eyes opened by your books, I said "this is wonderful. They are returning to something that worked for them for a long time." No-one else sees it that way however. Everyone here was angry, daring to lecture the Makah people about the "sanctity of life," but I knew it was just because these supposed environmentalists had been conditioned to think that their way was the one right way to live. I was so excited to see a principle from your works in action, but became extremely disappointed when no-one gave what I had to say much thought. How do I find a positive in this situation, when few see it as such, and the rest won't listen?
Your experience just confirms what Ishmael told Alan Lomax when he wanted him "to have at least a vague idea of what you're getting into here. Once you learn to discern the voice of Mother Culture humming in the background, telling her story over and over again to the people of your culture, you'll never stop being conscious of it. Wherever you go for the rest of your life, you'll be tempted to say to the people around you, 'How can you listen to this stuff and not recognize it for what it is?' And if you do this, people will look at you oddly and wonder what the devil you're talking about. In other words, if you take this educational journey with me, you're going to find yourself alienated from the people around you---friends, family, past associates, and so on.”
Ishmael wasn't kidding when he said this, and you shouldn't be surprised that it's no less true of you than it was of Alan Lomax. There's a price to be paid for embracing new ideas---a price measured in frustration. Perhaps recognizing this will help put the experience into a positive light for you.
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