The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.
The world can only appear monochromatic to those who persist in interpreting what they experience through the lens of a single cultural paradigm, their own. For those with the eyes to see and the heart to feel, it remains a rich and complex topography of the spirit.
A language is not just a body of vocabulary or a set of grammatical rules. … Every language is an old-growth forest of the mind.
If diversity is a source of wonder, its opposite – the ubiquitous condensation to some blandly amorphous and singularly generic modern culture that takes for granted an impoverished environment – is a source of dismay. There is, indeed, a fire burning over the earth, taking with it plants and animals, cultures, languages, ancient skills and visionary wisdom. Quelling this flame, and re-inventing the poetry of diversity is perhaps the most important challenge of our times.
The measure of a society is not only what it does but the quality of its aspirations.
Sensitivity to nature is not an innate attribute of indigenous peoples. It is a consequence of adaptive choices that have resulted in the development of highly specialized peripheral skills. but those choices in turn spring from a comprehensive view of nature and the universe in which man and woman are perceived as but elements inextricably linked to the whole.
So be patient. Do not compromise. And give your destiny time to find you.
What could be more lonely than to be enveloped in silence, to be the last of your people to speak your native tongue, to have no way to pass on the wisdom of the elders, to anticipate the promise of the children. This tragic fate is indeed the plight of someone somewhere roughly every two weeks.
Risk discomfort and solitude for understanding.
Cultural survival is not about preservation, sequestering indigenous peoples in enclaves like some sort of zoological specimens. Change itself does note destroy a culture. All societies are constantly evolving. Indeed a culture survives when it has enough confidence in its past and enough say in its future to maintain its spirit and essence through all the changes it will inevitably undergo.
What is science but the pursuit of the truth? What is Buddhism but 2500 years of observation as to the nature of mind?
The surface of the Earth itself is an immense loom upon which the sun weaves the fabric of existence.
Heroes are never perfect, but they’re brave, they’re authentic, they’re courageous, determined, discreet, and they’ve got grit.
Genocide, the physical extinction of a people, is universally condemned, but ethnocide, the destruction of people’s way of life, is not only not condemned, it’s universally celebrated as part of a development strategy.
If we accept that we are all cut from the same genetic cloth, all cultures share the same genius. And whether that genius is placed into technological wizardry which has been our great achievement, or, by contrast, placed into the unraveling of complex threads of memory inherent in a myth is simply a matter of choice.
Language is an old-growth forest of the mind.
The problem is that those of us sympathetic with the plight of indigenous people view them as quaint and colorful, but somehow reduced to margins of history as the real world [(our world)] moves on We will be known as an era in which we stood by and either actively endorsed or passively accepted the massive destruction of both biological and cultural diversity on the planet.
Only, in Haiti, I realized, is it possible to drink rum and haggle with a god.
You know, once something freezes, it’s solid. That’s the key to the arctic – they didn’t fear the cold, they made use of it.
We accept it as normal that people who have never been on the land, who have no history or connection to the country, may legally secure the right to come in and, by the very nature of their enterprises, leave in their wake a cultural and physical landscape utterly transformed and desecrated. What’s more, in granting such mining concessions, often initially for trivial sums to speculators from distant cities, companies cobbled together with less history than my dog, the government places no cultural or market value on the land itself.
Its haunting to realize that half of the languages of the world are teetering on the brink of extinction.
All cultures through all time have constantly been engaged in a dance with new possibilities for life. Change is the one constant in human history.
To have that powder blown up your nose is rather like being shot out of a rifle barrel lined with Baroque paintings and landing on a sea of electricity.
Change is no threat to culture.
In the West we cling to the past like limpets. In Haiti the present is the axis of all life. As in Africa, past and future are but distant measures of the present, and memories are as meaningless as promises.