A recent article inspired me to write this essay on the need to re-member, to re-discover, and to re-form. In all cases, we cannot move forward to a more just world without first re-claiming our ancient heritage, which has all but buried.
This statement from a recent book (Shifting the Universe) which is featured in the OEN article: How Change Happens inspires this journey: ""The long memory is the most radical idea in America. That long memory has been taken away from us," said the late folk singer Utah Phillips..... "We're being leapfrogged from one crisis to the next. You can't remember what happened last week because you're locked into this week's crisis."
Phillips' solution is to "Go find your true elders."
This essay fleshes out that deep wisdom.
Let us begin with the issue of the loss of memory as a form of theft.
Orwell taught us that the way to destroy a people and enslave them is to destroy their memory. ""The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history."
Orwell illustrates this idea, by making the Memory Hole a key feature of the totalitarian regime in 1984. This essay seeks to glimpse the lost history which ms of us busy robots and enslave us.
Cultural genocide includes destroying the vessels of memory: language and culture. This term was first used by lawyer Raphael Lemkin in 1944 to highlight the cultural aspect of genocide, the destruction of a people's cultural heritage.
This includes moving people from their native lands as well as banning their language. Examples include the treatment of native Americans, who were forced to leave their homelands and whose children were then forced to use English.
A more recent example is the initial proposal in the Ukraine Rada, immediately after the elected government was forced to flee, that Russian and other minority languages be banned in "official" usage. The fear and disgust this proposal created in Crimea and other mostly Russian-speaking regions led to the referendum to exit Ukraine and the rebellion in eastern Ukraine.
In our own nation, those urging an English-only policy are also advocating cultural genocide, as language is the key way that a cultural heritage is preserved, for language is the living memory of custom, ideas, values, and identity. The first step in destroying a people (genocide) is to deny them their identity. An example of this is the Zionist argument that there is no such land as Palestine, no such people as the Palestinians. The next step is to ban the vessel of memory, the native tongue.
In Israel, even Yiddish was once banned in order to create a Hebrew-speaking Israeli community: " Banned in theatres, movies and other cultural activities during Israel's early statehood, Yiddish has undergone a cultural revival in recent year" Israel, as a hodge-podge of peoples ended those bans but the Yiddish speakers are dying out . That is why to recover the long memory, we must hear the elders before the memory is completely forgotten.
Wikipedia reports on efforts to ban language other than English in the US:
""The US has never had a legal policy proclaiming an official national language. However, at some times and places, there have been various moves to promote or require the use of English, such as in American Indian boarding schools. Some language selection policies have been implemented at the state level."