The Indigenous Worldview, Part 10
by Dr. Denise R. Ames
Why can’t we just get along? This is a question that I have been working on in my new book, Divided: Colliding Ways We See the World. In the next several posts in this blog series I am looking at one of the five worldviews: Indigenous Worldview. I would like to share with you some ideas that I have been exploring.
Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents,
it was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
we borrow it from our Children. … Ancient Proverb
Modern and Indigenous Psychological Differences
The psychological changes that accompany modernization are perhaps the most unsettling for indigenous people who must modern values instead of traditional values that have served the community for generations. Probably the most significant change in values is the increased focus on self-orientation and individualism—the modern individual—rather than a focus on the collective or group orientation of indigenous peoples.
The modern individual is socialized to be independent, active, and open to new experiences, interested in public policies and cultural matters, and to think about long-term, future plans. Traditional individuals are socialized to be passive and accept traditions of the group, think in the present and short-term, defer decisions to group leaders, and are rooted in their local place.
Modern individuals have a mobile personality and readily adapt to a rapidly changing world, even if it means relocating to a different place apart from their family. Modern individuals are socialized to strive for an achieved status—through education and hard work—and understand that there is the potential to become something different in the future. Indigenous individuals, on the other hand, willingly follow their ascribed status, to which they are born.
An indigenous person often experiences the disruptive forces of modernization which tend to produce alienation, anomie, and psychological disintegration. Alienation is the state in which individuals feel separated or detached from their past experiences, family, or group. They are forced or pressured to create a new modern identity which can lead to physiological stress, often resulting in an increase in violence and conflict. For example, the increased incidences, especially among indigenous men, of alcoholism, drug addiction, and abuse of family members repeatedly accompany the transition from traditional to modern societies.
One source of violence in societies making the transition from traditional to modern is the gap between new aspirations that individuals strive for and their ability to satisfy these aspirations because they remain marginalized from mainstream society.
About the Author
Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a eight “path” approach.
For more about worldviews see Dr. Ames’ book Five Worldviews: How We See the World. $9.95