Okay. Stay with me. I’ll explain how this is connected.
So, yesterday, we continued our talks about mythology. The specific story was about Hermes (Mercury), the mischievous, precocious little scamp who outsmarted his big, golden-boy brother Apollo by having a round-up of his cattle.
Some of my students questioned, “How could a baby do that?”
(These are students who tend to be very concrete thinkers. That’s okay. But a fixed mind set isn’t always the best approach to mythology. You usually end up with wet cement – nothing really holds together.)
It’s mythology. It’s fiction. It’s not REAL.
“But…how could he talk?”
HE IS CHARACTER FROM MYTHOLOGY. IT’S NOT REAL.
This led us into a conversation, a reminder, a reinforcement of some concepts:
*Mythology is based largely on origin myths/stories; humankind trying to make sense of the world, human characteristics, and phenomenon.
*Stories become mythology when the majority of the group or groups no longer hold faith in the “religion,” in other words, practicing religion requires faith. They are reminded that the Ancient Greeks believed in their gods/goddesses just as much as some of them believe in their current spiritual practices. But, they are stories. The degree at which one “believes” or is a “skeptic” depends on personal beliefs, culture, and faith.
They were surprised when I told them people had gone to battle over these concepts. Really?
Yes, and that’s not fiction.
Okay – fast forward to driving home, listening to NPR: There was a story about two people of Arab descent who are trying hard to dispel many of the stereotypes about being Arabic. The segment was called, “Ask An Arab,” and their attempt to break-down cultural misunderstandings is admirable, but it kind of upset me a little bit, too. Are we still so ignorant that we don’t know that everywhere, people are complex? That even within a nation, there are different political, religious, and philosophical differences?
Do we still think this:
Well, quite possibly, especially when we consider more recent images of Arabic characters:
But, in reality, people are more like this:
To see/hear this radio program, go to: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123806794
What stereotypes and misconceptions do you live under? What should people really know about you, your family, your background, your country? If you could think of 3 essential things that might clear up any misconceptions, racism, or misunderstandings, what would it be? We are all far more complex than we appear; paradoxically, we are all more simple, too — we just want to be understood.