13. Re-searching America
If you go back about five hundred years to pre-colonial times, one of the most astounding features is the cultural diversity amongst the indigenous peoples of this land we now call America. Consider just the North American continent for a moment. There were hundreds of culturally and linguistically diverse tribal regions. The ethnography of pre-Columbian North America is a rich mosaic in human tribal expression and way of life. It is a study in what arises and evolves in natural human response to this land. Looked at through the lens of wishing to deepen one’s understanding of America, native peoples’ inward beliefs and outward expression hold keys to the deeper nature of the land itself.
VARIETY is endemic to North America. Variety is to this land as Rhythm is to Africa, as Precision is to the Swiss, as Red is to China, as Song is to the Welsh… It is a core feature that emanates from the land through the people.
Contrast that with the America that has been reduced to a mono-cultural brand.
Economy and convenience have driven the American culture into a bland and monotonous homogeneity. Think of the way everything is packaged. The ‘big box’ reality leads to ‘big box’ mentality. But we are human beings. We are not all the same! In fact, it is the rich variety of human life on this planet that makes life so interesting.
Diversity in the flora and fauna worlds of our planet increase natural immunity and adaptability. It is the same for human beings!
So in re-searching America with open eyes and an open mind, consider the dynamic trends of the 21st century. While the world is becoming a ‘smaller’ place, unifying and integrating more and more peoples through various media, isn’t it important that the extraordinary variety, versatility and virtuosity of humanity is upheld, honored and brought forward as well?
To respect and maintain the natural variety endemic to our home planet earth is an AMERICAN VALUE! It is a human value.
As we do the best we can as parents, educators, counselors and coaches, keeping up with the sometimes relentless demands of 21st century life, it is important to remember all is not the same for all; we all don’t fit inside that ‘big box’ version of the world. Standardized tests for example, while valuable as a gauge, DO NOT represent comprehensive assessment. So it’s our job to foster an ecology of respect and value for multiple intelligence and arts integrated learning, believing that eventually the tiny seeds of new pathways in education will become the magnificent learning trees of the future.
To listen to a lovely tribute to America, you can listen to the song America here.