Far North Rambles #24: Things I Don’t Understand - Part 1
Chances are, after you read this post, some of you will say “Andy has gone off the deep end”.
In my world, I was trained to look clinically and critically at the world and to accept nothing without proof. One of the many lessons I learned while visiting remote areas of the “Far North” is that some things do not have an easy explanation, but that is no reason to dismiss that “something”.
We used to quietly caution first-time travelers, on their inaugural trip north with us, that they may see, hear, and perhaps even experience things, practices, or beliefs they cannot easily explain using their training, life experiences, knowledge, and world view. But, that is no reason to dismiss or criticize those things, practices, or beliefs, just because they don’t meet your “standard of proof” or your world view.
你的即时反应Sasq这样的词是什么uatch (mii noo soo kan or kitchii ininii), Little People (maa maa kay shii wick), medicine wars, medicine berries (mush key key minah), The Giant Skunk (Mi-she-shek-kak), or Shamanism (mi-te-wi-win). Those words, or variations, represent understandings that exist among many indigenous cultures. Do they describe spiritual realities? Or are these just stories created to keep children away from dangerous situations. Do you dismiss them?
Now, please don’t misunderstand my perspective. I am not saying that you must accept the beliefs, practices, and experiences of other cultures. I don’t understand all beliefs held by European cultures, but I do not criticize them because they are important and real to those who do believe. “Tolerance and understanding” are two words that come to mind.
There were reasons to have that conversation. Trust and tolerance of you, by other cultures, is partly determined by your response to another culture’s beliefs. People who quickly dismiss and criticize are not easily trusted or accepted by those who hold true the belief or experience you dismiss. Important doors of mutual understanding, relationships, and collaboration may close. There is a big difference between “I don’t understand” and “I don’t understand and I dismiss your belief”.
So, has “Andy has gone off the deep end”, perhaps, but I see it as part of seeking mutual understanding, mutual respect, and marveling about the world around us.
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Andy Fyon, Oct 4, 2020 (Facebook, July 10, 2020).