Center for World Indigenous Studies
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Toward Oblivion

Published: January 28, 2009, Author: JayTaber

On my blog Endurance, I look at the persistence of ancient identities, values, and cultures in a positive light for what they continue to contribute to our humanity in the present. But I would be remiss to ignore the fact that other aspects of our human past endure as well, some not so positive, some lethal.

Reading authors Henryk Grynberg and David Albahari and their accounts from the Holocaust, it is not hard to imagine that such traumas can endure for very long periods of time–perhaps centuries. Having listened to American Indian storytellers, I can attest to that reality on this continent. And perhaps the ruthless brutality unleashed on Palestinians by the state of Israel has something to do with that and earlier traumas insufficiently addressed, left to fester and erupt over and over again.

But the madness of the Europeans and their diaspora here and elsewhere suggest something so terrifying in our collective past that even millenia cannot erase it without a concentrated effort of coming to terms with our psychic distress. And the only clue I can locate is in the hysteria surrounding the Black Plague of the 14th century that author Barbara Tuchman wrote about in her classic history A Distant Mirror. Indeed, it is the perpetuation of medieval myths of race and religion still extent in the literature of lunatics and minds of millions that seems to presently propel us toward oblivion.

(Jay Taber is a writer and storyteller in San Francisco.)

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

access here