Friday, December 14, 2012

The Do-Over 'Fest: Progress

Originally posted on April 18 this year, for the A to Z Challenge: Progress. Brought to you via the Deja Vu Blogfest, courtesy of DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude 2.0. Thanks, DL!





Tarahumaran women in the
Chihuahua mountains.
Up in the Mexican Sierra that scars the country from North to South (same tectonic origin as the Rockies), there are a few communities left that live the way they have for hundreds of years, maybe thousands. No electricity, no plastics, no pop culture.

Once in a while, medical missions make their way up the craggy paths and provide basic care--vaccines for children, prenatal controls, setting bones, treating infections. But most of these communities have, at best, minimal involvement with the modern world.



I've never been there, never seen these people. I, and most Mexicans, know about them because of protests on their behalf.

Some groups protest that the government has forgotten these communities, that they've made no effort to bring water and electricity to their remoteness, that they've let the children grow wild, outside the framework of modern education (and the Catholic church, of course). These people clamor for immediate "integration"--these indigenous communities must be brought into the twenty-first century without delay. Medical care, primers, Coke and TV.

Other groups protest, instead, that the government has done too much--they accuse the government of trying to destroy cultural uniqueness under the guise of preventing margination. These groups defend the way of life the indigenous communities have upheld for centuries, and they argue we, the inhabitants of modernity and this plastic era, have no right to interfere, to destroy their purity.

Which is progress, then? Our modern standards, or the previous ones? Somewhere in between, no doubt. But for these communities up in the Sierra (and for many others in similar situations around the globe), the question is a pressing one. How much is too much? Do they need to copy us, or do we need to copy them?


P.S.--I'm a guest over at Deb O'Neille's blog, Writing Against The Wind, talking about critique vs. cheerleading. Drop by and join the conversation!

15 comments :

  1. So far three of the four deja vu blogs I've read have been from A2Z. (Mine, too!) I remember this from April, yet it moved me in the same way today.

    This would be a great topic for a high school debate class to tackle, wouldn't it?

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    1. It would! I think both sides can be argued pretty well--the problem, as always, is the concensus :) Thanks for the visit, Cindy!

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  2. Great post, Guilie! (and I revived an old A-to-Z post, too, lol!).

    That's a very hard question to decide: Is it better to bring modern benefits to these people, or let them live in their traditional ways without them?

    My thought is -- what do the people themselves want? It's probably best to respect the wishes of the people themselves.

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    1. Exactly this. Let the people choose how they want to live. They know about the existence of modern life if medical missionaries are visiting them. If they decide they want to know more and integrate themselves, then the government can step in. If not, they should be allowed to continue their lives as is.

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    2. You're right, Chris--and Kristin. In the end, it's about what the communities want. But here's the problem: they're divided, too. The younger generations want integration, so they move to the cities, forget about the "old ways". The ones that stay do so because they don't consider "progress" progress :) Who to listen to? And in the meantime, these communities continue to be ignored, one way or another.

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  3. Interesting question!! Excellent choice for a re-post, thank you for sharing it with us again. :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, DL! Glad you enjoyed it :)

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  4. Great food for thought. I don't think modern "amenities" should be forced down the throat of any culture, even if society deems it to be for their "own good." Who are we to say what's best for that culture? Only they should be given the right to decide that for themselves.

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    1. You're absolutely right, Susan. Thanks for visiting and sharing your views!

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  5. I think it's all about finding balance, which is so hard to do these days. Thanks for the interesting post!

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    1. Glad you liked it, Jenny, and thank *you* for the visit. You're right, balance is the key--finding it is the problem :)

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  6. I definitely don't think the government should be interfering unless they've been asked for help. If these people are happy with the way they live, who are any of us to tell them they're wrong?

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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    1. Good point, Shannon. Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. Very good post, a lot to think about, and I'd have to agree with Shannon. I don't think the government shouldn't force their standards on any group of people in the name of "progress."

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    1. You're right, Elise. "Progress" is not so easily definable. Progress towards what? Away from what? For who? Thanks for the visit!

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