Monday, November 30, 2015

Deep Learning

The Mystery within...
Last Thanksgiving I made a real blunder when I wished my Native American friend a “Happy Thanksgiving.”  She responded in a quiet, kind voice and told me “Thanksgiving is a day of mourning for us.  We feast on the following Friday.”  Her acceptance of my ignorance, and the kind tone of her correction, made a lasting impression on me so that a year later I am still grateful for my deep learning that is now helping me see with new eyes and a more open heart. 

And I am now reading Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States,” telling of America’s history from 1492 to present from the perspective of the people affected by those who wielded power.  He presents eye-opening accounts of a different view of history and makes me question the motives of the powerful today.  He writes of Columbus coming into a world “…where the culture was complex, where human relations were more egalitarian than in Europe, and where the relations among men, women, children, and nature were more beautifully worked out than perhaps any place in the world.” 

Zinn cites an American scholar, John Collier, who lived among Native Americans in the Southwest in the 1920s and 1930s who said of their spirit, “Could we make it our own, there would be an eternally inexhaustible earth and a forever lasting peace.”  Zinn also cites a current American specialist on Native American life, William Brandon, who “…is overwhelmingly supportive of much of the myth.  Even allowing for the imperfection of myths, it is enough to make us question, for that time and ours, the excuse of progress in the annihilation of races, and the telling of history from the standpoint of the conquerors and leaders of Western civilization.”

Mistakes come with deep learning opportunities.  Being shown mine by a kind and gentle voice was a golden learning opportunity that also brought heartfelt empathy and compassion.

What if we all learned to inform and correct one another with a quiet, kind voice?

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