working together for social inclusion in America

Monday, May 11, 2009

What Has Been Lost

After centuries of diaspora and displacement, identities are increasingly complex. For those whose tribal identity has been extinguished -- as in most Europeans of North America -- what's left of this essential human function is often a confused mixing of inherent cultures, combined with a vague and transitory identification with place. For settler societies, states, provinces, regions, and watersheds provide a shallow-rooted attachment to landscape and sometimes historical notions of belonging, but circumstances outside our control can easily diminish these bonds.

The synthetic modern cultures that have replaced ancient, more holistic ones are thus poor substitutes for the integrated social systems that once nurtured all humanity. Finding meaningful and purposeful alternatives outside this systematized social support has been attempted many times, but absent the political autonomy required to pursue a more coherent agenda, most gains are never institutionalized.

Resistance to the prevention or destruction of a holistic identity, without an appreciation of what has been lost, is usually futile. Understanding tribal systems and the history of cultural development helps.


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