Saturday, November 27, 2010

Myth as Tribal Value System

"Cultures as well as individuals live in service to values, not simply values that are conscious and rationally apprehended, but values which operate unconsciously as well."  (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 11)
 Today's photo was taken at the YanCheng Safari park here in Changzhou.  I had already chosen the topic for the day and was in search of a photo to "fit."  I had o  riginally thought to use a group photo of one of my classes that I took yesterday, but opted for this photo as soon as it scrolled past my eyes.  The image does evoke tribe, it does evoke instinct as well as awareness.  And whether or not one sits alone or with others, one is part of a tribe - contained.

I commented yesterday about being the "lone wolf" as part of my personal myth.  I have no doubt that I also must include a thread of being part of a tribe,  Living in China is proof to me that I operate both consciously and unconsciously on a tribal level.  Each day is confusing in its own way, a good confusing to tell the truth.  As I walk the streets, it appears as though much that happens in front of my eyes is chaotic and that all have lost "common sense."  I don't understand how there aren't a hundred traffic accidents a day in front of my apartment building.  That, forces me to look at "common sense" or at how I define common sense.  Everything I take for granted about community is based on my home culture.

Of course, this is worrying for me.  What values do I bring with me as I interact with my Chinese hosts?  I consciously work hard to be a good visitor, one that respects the host community.  But, I "know" that I still act out of unconscious values as much as I act consciously.  Being in a foreign environment becomes even more of a blessing as when I act unconsciously.  It becomes hard to pin it on others and forces me to own and to weigh the unconscious tribal value that got acted out.

I learned a long time ago that when one is a teacher, one doesn't really teach a course, or teach students; one teaches one's self to others while thinking one is teaching Math or History or whatever, to a group of students.

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