Tuesday, 10 February 2009 at 10:37
It seems that the relationship between the terrestrial and celestial
worlds is omnipresent in Native American culture. The idea that a soul
or a spirit resides within pretty much everything, from humans to
plants; from animals to rocks, is the simplified definition of
animism. The idea of animism confirms the existence of shamanism since
it is a central concept in various forms of it (that spirits exist in
all mentioned forms of life). If the idea of a spirit existing within
another entity (other than human) were not prevalent then the mediator
function of the shaman would have no meaning. Simply put, without
spirit there is no one to mediate with (on behalf of the community).
After all, it is the shamans that are entrusted with the task of
entering supernatural realms to provide answers for their community.
Animism and shamanism are reaffirming one another.
Animism manifests a sense of balance between the supernatural world
and the terrestrial. Animism has a universal meaning, and that is the
respect of that balance. Animism is culture, is understanding; is
accepting the boundaries, the boundaries between the celestial and
terrestrial worlds, the boundaries between territories, villages,
countries, beliefs. Animism is democracy. Democracy runs on rules,
that when respected provide us with a social system that societies can
exist and prosper in harmony. When democracy is not respected, when
the boundaries are not respected, when the culture and beliefs of
others are not respected then the balance is disturbed.
If Andrew Jackson knew anything about respecting the balance, the
culture, or the beliefs of people different than him, then there
wouldn’t be a “Trail of Tears”; there wouldn’t be a “Wounded Knee”
years later. Andrew Jackson, a “hero”, past president of this country,
immortalized on dollar bills and statues, overruled a Supreme Court
decision, a decision that was merely democratic and respecting that
balance. The disrespect of that decision led to the catastrophe of the
Cherokee people. Animism is culture. If Jackson knew anything about
culture things would have been a lot different. What saddens me the
most though, is that 2 centuries later the US is still acting in the
same manner that Jackson acted; and that means that almost two hundred
years later the leaders of this country have not…evolved. The same
thinking was demonstrated in Korea, in Vietnam, in Afghanistan, and in
Iraq. Professor Wyman said that the lecture was not about politics,
and maybe she was right, but on the other hand it is because leaders
like Jackson and Bush lack cultural sensitivity that politics always
go wrong. Imagine a world where everybody respects one another’s
unique differences. Imagine a world where Jackson’s statue gets
toppled just like Saddam’s, and his actions (Bush’s too) are just as
accountable as Hitler’s was. After all what does constitute genocide?
So until the day when a parent will tell his child that Jackson was a
murderer, don’t expect too much of a change.