Thursday, August 13, 2009

What indigenous mythology got and you don't

Confucius used to say that his first attitude if he had the power should be to rectify the words. Few things could sound more reasonable. Words model thoughts, thoughts model actions. So, focus at the basis.

The word "religion", for instance, usually points to things as far apart as confucionism and christianism. The main difference between them, I suppose, is that the first is just a coherent aggregate of moral suggestions based in their reflex over society. The second being an aggregate of overnatural dogma that, of course, also seeks reflex over society. Confucius never talked about ghosts, and had affirmed so explicitly. There's nothing to be said about something that lacks any safe evidence (for those who are fond of walking on solid ground, naturally).

Christianism is a religion in the sense we're used to - us at America Latina of XXI century in Christ's time - or you believe in their unprobable mysteries, or you're out. Salvation depends on faith, and the whole of society lean towards a dubious moral beyond reason. Confucionism seems the extreme opposite, its advices never get far from common sense. It's a system that, to work properly, does not imply our disconection from rationality. Even mystery is not perceived as a "delirium tremens" (as with "God") but as nature itself. The same can be said about taoism - although this encompasses metaphysics, it calls mystery mystery and makes no conjecture beyond what common sense would admit. Even a scientific-informed one.

Confucionism and taoism therefore are not religions in the sense of christianism and islamism. Thus, many prefer to call them "philosophical systems".

What about indigenous mythology, what is this? Yet better, indigenous mythologies?

Each people in the planet have developed its own system of values based in their experience - this applies to both religion and mythology. The crucial difference, as I see it, is that religions are monotheists (I exclude from that concept even hinduism), while mythologies (mythologys?) are usually polytheists (and can be atheists). Never existed that white-man's-creation called Tupã (or the name it might have in english speaking countries). It's nothing but a lure to make us think that "God" is a natural entity - since even indigenous peoples would have something similar. In many amazonic societies creators were a couple, not only a "male" or "something" alone - what is infinitely more logical. Nothing in the universe comes alone. Nothing is one. The Sun may look only one to us because of distance, but it's only a star among stars. The Moon is the only big natural satellite of Earth, but is a satellite of a planet like other satellites in other planets. Something so complex as life, exists only because it reproduces and evolves, adding complexity step by step. To exist a creator, it would have to have evolved first, and so it is natural - like mythology. "God" therefore rests as an anti-natural creation that throws us against nature. (It's the monotheist mythology - that one who doesn't accept to be called "mythology", or even "seita" - who states that man shall "rule" over nature, instead of live together with it as preconize the indigenous mythologies.)

Now comes other concept to be modified: the "postmodern" relativism, the habit of thinking that every truth is valid, that each person has its "own" truth, and that it should be enough (of course it makes sense only inside monotheism, which actively turns off some portions of our mentalware).

Aristotle already gave us a satisfying definition of truth as correspondence with reality. Being reality - the world out there - external to us, how can we have internal "truths"? We have beliefs, aspirations, ideals, thinkings, and we can be right or wrong. Postmodernism looks to me a creation of this individualistic society who tries to enthrone and root this individualism inside human nature, as if we have been always like that. But we are not, and we have not always been like that. There are cultures that put value also in collectivity, equal or even above the individual. We may feel tempted to reject this idea when we remember totalitarian states, slavery and historical abuses, but total individualism is not an option. However, this is what's implied when one says "each one holds its truth". It's a temerarious use of the word "truth", and today, more than ever, is indispensable that we think profoundly about this.

Indigenous mythology seems to me a synonym for wisdom. Our society has divided wisdom in many fields, such as science and religion, making them uncommunicable. Some of our exponent intellectuals had recognized the mistake and alerted us (like Abraham Maslow), but few have heard. An "indigen" is, thus, able to hear lessons from confucionism and taoism and translate them inside his/her own values (not beliefs) system. He/she is able to learn from hinduism, and I believe the opposite is also true. Listening about a religion (in this strict sense of monotheism), that it is the "belief of someone", like something somebody *choose* to believe, a wise "indigen" wouldn't hold a light condescendent smile, knowing that this someone decided to cut off his/her potential wisdom, accepting as "Truth" one myth among many, and finding pain in discussions and intellectual queries where others find pleasure.

Religions have been eliminating myths, slow but relentlessly. Their finality is to reign over the whole species, insensitive to the loss of sociocultural and biological richness day by day. Religion is not a good, but an abuse. Is not a need, but an imposition. Is no relief, but a wound. We get used to it, like we get used to anything else that stinks. But attention! It will come the day when we'll regret of our complacency, or our sons, or grandsons, and those will blame us for being so credulous, ingenuous and foolish, letting others sell nature in exchange of something intangible, illusory and vain.

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