September 5th, 2003

red panda eating bamboo

A meme I can't stand.

via wispfox
note: no criticism of wispfox is intended or implied

Wisdom From an Indian Elder, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer - Indian Elder

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for,
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

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Boring old factual corrections

The "Indian Elder" part wasn't tacked on there the last time I saw the poem being circulated. Oriah Mountain Dreamer is not an Indian Elder. She is a white female poet. (Note, no disparagement implied; so am I.) The poem is not called "Wisdom from an Indian Elder." It's called "The Invitation."

The poet describes some of the other ways the poem has been changed as it has circulated. One change she didn't mention is that the line breaks and stanza breaks she put in have been mangled. (The original poem is posted on her web site.)

PC ranting

It tells me something I really don't like about the culture I live in that some people need to pretend this is written by an "Indian Elder" instead of a white female in order for it to speak to them.

It also tells me something I don't like that anyone believes stuff like this comes directly out of Native American culture, which (from my limited understanding) has a very different view of individuality than what's expressed here.

The kind of ignorance that erases cultural differences and goes on to ascribe parts of one's own culture to another group's culture is an insidious form of cultural imperialism.

Talking back to the poem's message

This is a good poem that expresses a feeling of frustration about superficiality. But I really hate it when people think it's a good way to approach life and other people in general. It's way too limiting, self-righteous, and judgemental for that.

Yes, I want to know what someone is like on the inside. I also want to know what their situation in the world is, what they're like on the outside, and how that affects the inside.

And I certainly care whether what someone tells me is true. If they want to invoke poetic license to say something, by all means they should, but that's a long shot from not caring.
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