Monday, December 28, 2009

Two Values All Societies Should Embrace


I'm in the midst of reading Craig Stephen Smith's Whiteman's Gospel. He identifies a value that is very dear to the culture of his people, the Native North American and one that is very dear to the Anglo-Saxon North American culture.

His people value the role of the elders of the community and their responsibility of passing down from one generation to the next their oral tradition.

The Anglo-Saxon North American culture places a very high value on formal education and the pursuit of degrees that qualify people for jobs, advancement and honor. Anglos pursue their traditions, values and culture through education and degrees.

What is interesting is that both values, that of the 'elders' and 'education' are both based on the desire for 'learning' and perhaps even 'wisdom'. If the Native American wants wisdom, he/she listens to the elders. If the Anglo-Saxon American wants wisdom, he/she pursues higher education.

But is one value right and the other wrong? Is one more important than the other? Does one have more benefits than the other? No and no and no.

Now think of a third culture and for the sake of argument, let's pretend it is the "cross-cultural" culture known as Na-xons. The Naxons embrace both the pursuit of education and value the insight and inputs of the elders in their communities. The first value gives them all the facts there are to learn at any point in time. The second teaches them how to view and utilize those facts wisely and in a manner that is conducive to the perpetuation of a good life on earth. In addition, one value can, as Smith suggests, be the 'complement' of the other. What education is weak in, can be provided by the elders and vice-versa.

Now, here's the challenge. What are we doing as parents, communities, the church, educational institutions, etc. to foster a Naxon approach to learning? What can we do? I'm open for suggestions and welcome your comments in the comment section below. Let's hear from as many as possible. Who knows we may change the system yet. If not, by giving it some thought, we may change how we view our grandchildren or how they view us.

-- Ken Godevenos, Epistoli, 091228

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