Lessons learned in West Samoa: reconnecting with our past to ensure a better future.
My concerns with modern culture lie in its detrimental effect on the earth, human emotion and its manipulation of our souls.
Humanity is approaching a new horizon and if our past is not remembered, we will lose our connection to nature and alienate ourselves from the human race itself.
While studying abroad in West Samoa my eyes were opened to the inner connections between cultures and society and the individuals living in them. It seems as if society is growing against the sustainability of humanity. Our souls are manipulated to what purpose? We are turned into corporate robots with dulled senses and desire only for profit.
Modern culture is ascending humanity’s horizon, eclipsing our history as a species, and our connection to earth. Our understanding of happiness, freedom and a purpose are molded by its tight grasp.
Here are seven ways to remember where we came from so that we can know where we want to go to, and get there.
Physical and nonphysical boundaries are essential aspects to our comfort.
Samoans live without walls in “fales” or huts. Neighbors must decide of their own accord where one person’s personal space starts or ends.
By learning others’ boundaries and expressing our own boundaries, we formulate our basis of respect.
Respect for other humans might not be an entirely direct method of saving money, but it is a step in the right direction. With more human respect and compassion, people would see that instead of taking all you can from the world, you should share all that you have. Respect for others can override the deep-seated greed that compels modern culture.
The Method: Mind others’ comfort zones; don’t feel guilty about defending your own.
The American family has become one where separation follows disagreement, detachment follows attempts to control, despise follows guilt and solitude follows all of the above.
The result of such solitude is depression.
In Samoa, families live, work, play, philosophize, eat and pray together. The weights of the world such as housework, finances and all other struggles of life become light loads of a common experience.
The Method: Remember that the origin of family is as shelter; not shackles. Give yourself the space you need, but when you engage your family unit, reflect on the needs that you fulfill for and with each other.
3. Food, Health, Medicine
When presented with health issues we tend to look toward medical “professionals” for solutions. Tests and visits often end with indeterminable results, but somehow these professionals still have suggested treatments.
Regularly these so called treatments entail more negative side effects than positive change, whether it is through drug addiction or more symptoms. The medical field has transformed from a healing service into a form of big business industry profiting from peoples’ misfortunes.
The amount of money that goes into the medical and insurance industries is mind boggling. Imagine if we could cut those costs by changing our approach to health issues rather than changing the political policies that support the system.
Medicine people in Samoa are drawn to medicine work because they’ve had a health crisis themselves. They’re bound to assist others because they know what it feels like to be sick. They have a heightened awareness of what healing means and how to do it in a way that is both healthy for your body and budget.
Indigenous medicine workers have been impelled—not compelled—to practice healing as a vocation. Although they are branded as quacks in modern culture, true medicine workers, “healers,” advertise sound guidance in relieving your body’s illness through their personal experience. As opposed to a medical professional whose guidance is rooted in statistical analysis and financial gains.
The Method: No one knows your body better than you. Observe your body regularly and act on what you find! Read pertinent literature. If you need help managing illness, consult people who have been through something similar.
4. Awareness and Change
It is human nature for one to assume their immediate surroundings are reality. These assumptions are what actively design our culture, society and the individuals that make it up.
Culture was once compiled by impulses, enacted by a community as a means to survival.
Now however, it seems as though the individuals aren’t creating the culture, rather the culture is defining the individuals. It has grown to the point where people that are consumed by modern culture have grown blind to its destructive tendencies. It feasts and grows increasingly corpulent to this day, but no creature can gorge itself and run simultaneously. While modern culture advances outward it cannot move onward. In its stasis it defies cultural evolution and it binds the human race on a pathway to annihilation.
The Method: Become aware of modern culture dogma, and analyze its core principles. Then act on fresh impulse, untainted by societal forces. Purify your impulses with spiritual practice (see below).
5. Spirituality Part One
There is a big distinction between the spirituality involved in the connection between the self and a religion, and spirituality that arises from the self-awareness of one’s consciousness in perspective to the world.
Religion has become a practice more associated with a means to an end rather than its original purpose, that is, a personal awakening to the connection between yourself and the world around you.
Religion is instead used as a tool to reach salvation.
Any fool can read a book and say they believe; the real spiritual growth comes from recognizing the values that you hold dear while infusing those positive values into your interactions within your community. Genuine spiritual practice is the affirmation of earth’s continuous metamorphosis, the object of worship in Samoan and other indigenous cultures.
The Method: Search for patterns embedded in the ‘big picture.’ Search inside yourself and find the connections that bond you to other people and the world around you. Through these connections create a system of values and living that best promotes your well-being along with the well-being of the others around you.
6. Spirituality Part Two
People in modern society often accept common beliefs as their own and assume speculations about a creator, god, divine spirit, great spirit or oneness as “the way,” or worse, the only way.
Experiencing nature can have a dramatic effect on one who believes there is a “way” or who is imprisoned by the walls of society. It can bring about a sense of awareness of the actual state of things and one can come to the realization that the walls are socially constructed and you are not bound to their confinement.
The Method: Enrich your own neuro-physiological input and output circuit, or in other words, interact on a higher level with the natural environment around you and let nature interact with you.
7. Perceptions of the Future
In modern culture the idea is to prepare for the future, retirement, the day when enough money exists, when there is nothing left to do and when you can relax.
Death comes to all, it is of one few universal qualities of all living organisms. The opposite of death, awareness, is also a quality shared by all species.
In indigenous culture, individuals live out their purpose through daily life instead of just going through the motions to achieve some grand future goal. Their relationship with their surroundings molds their experience of life into a sustainable and compassionate way of life.
The Method: Wake up! It is a dangerous mistake to posit that we can be entirely self-sufficient, but learn to do your best. Remain conscious of your actions and focus your awareness on your immediate surroundings.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman