Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Can the culture be saved?

A recent post of mine from my message board in response to yet another question of whether or not Chamorro culture can be saved.

Deskansanaihon Chamoruborn, relax. Me and Kopbla can be pretty harsh sometimes, but I don't mean it to keep you from expressing yourself. I have a professor in my program who does that enough to us students, so I don't want to reproduce that here.

For me saving any culture means alot more than doing whatever is already doing. If you don't speak Chamorro, it means learning it and learning it good. If you don't know the history, then you learn it, right now. If you don't know shit about your elders, you go and bow before them know begging to be told about their lives, their experiences before the war, during the war, after the war. Their thoughts on Guam today. It also means being very very critical of the United States whenever you can. Which is why I have problems with Guamanifornia's posts, because they are so so so so so patriotic, I can't even see a Chamorro in them. The Chamorro is the loose and strange thread hanging from the corner of this giant ass American flag. Survival means breaking out of that small token place which we have been given in the United States family and therefore the world.

And of course, none of these things can be done half-ass. They require full daggan's working at them. Which means, asking your grandma once what happened to her during the war isn't enough. It means understanding that the gaps between generations aren't supposed to exist the way we understand them. It means that you must be a part of your elders lives and they part of yours. Their spirits must always reside in you, their knowledge, their voices, their presence. The problem is however that most of the things we come up with to save our culture just doesn't even begin to touch this, because American ways of thinking, seeing and understanding cultures are just too embedded in our heads.

And it is not enough to just say, "the spirits of my ancestors live within me." What does it mean to you? How do you know it? How can you, not prove it, because such can't be proven, but how can you express it to someone so they can feel it?

I get asked this question all of the time, is the culture dying, can it be saved. Depends on what we all do I guess. But from what I see nowadays looking at the youth of Guam, I don't see very good odds of our culture being preserved or saved in any meaningful way, except as the simple artifacts which can be reduced to tourist items or imagery.

You shouldn't interpret this to mean that our culture cannot be saved, but only that it is alot more difficult as Chetnotmaipi and Chamoruborn have both said, then most people think. Now, Chamoruborn, was that so scary? Kao na'ma'a'nao este na fino'-hu?

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