One of the most striking differences between the Yequana and any other children I have seen is that the former neither fight nor argue among themselves. There is no competitiveness, and leadership is established on the initiative of the followers. In the years I spent with them, I never saw a child argue with another, much less fight. The only angry words I did hear were very rare bursts of impatience from an adult with a child who had done something undesirable. There was then a little tirade of complaint hurled at them as s/he stood looking concerned or hurried to mend the error, and no grudge kept when the matter was put right, by the child or by the adult.
Although I have seen many a party at which every Yequana, man, woman, and child, was drunk, I have never seen even the beginnings of an altercation, which makes one think that they really are as they look-in harmony with one another and happily at home in their own skins.(1)
Dear Abby: I have a sister I'll call Lisa, who refuses to contact any of the family. Granted, for years she was physically bused by our father, our mother was cold and emotionally abusive, and I guess the family in general was unsupportive. Everyone in the family thinks Lisa is being selfish, bitter and unforgiving, myselfincluded. I stood by my family. Lisa turned her back.
The last time I talked to Lisa, she said she had suffered greatly due to the family and wants a life of her own. How can she do this? She claims she doesn't feel "safe" with us.
I know our family isn't perfect by any means, and I Know I haven?t been the greatest sister, but she can?t just leave! Right? She has a responsibility to this family. Isn?t she being neglectful to simply turn her back on us?
Abby, you know how important family is. How can I get Lisa to admit she is wrong and return to the family?
FRUSTRATED SISTERIN CANADA
Lisa isn't being selfish, bitter or unforgiving. After a lifetime of abuse, she has somehow become healthy and refuses to tolerate being mistreated any longer. The best advice I can offer is to accept her decision and wish her well. She has served her time and has gone on to better things. Console yourself with the fact that you and the family still have each other.(2)
Since Yequana women usually live with their mothers as long as the latter are alive, and the husbands must leave their mothers and take a place in the wife's family, it is fairly common to find the wife taking the maternal position toward her husband in his crises.
The wife has her own mother to draw upon, but instinctively gives maternal support to her man when he needs it.
For orphaned adults, too, there is a custom that provides for adoption into another family. The strain on that family's resources is minimal, as the adult Yequana contributes more than s/he consumes in his or her family and receives from them a tacit guarantee of support if and when it is needed.
That assurance alone, even if it is never called upon, is a stabilizing factor.
The requirement for emotional insurance is an accepted part of human nature among the Yequana, one that it is in the interest of society to honor. It is another safeguard against any of its members becoming antisocialized by the pressure that circumstance might bring to bear upon theirnatural sociality.(1)
Children, longing for being close to another human are the subject of jokes in patriarchal societies (On the newspapers comics page in September, 2002).
Isn?t that kid right? So, where is the fun?
?The man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures and acknowledging unity with the universe of things, was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization.?
- Chief Luther Standing Bear Oglala (Teton)
Sioux American Indian
How many of us believe that to be civilized means to possess "things" and technology, to espouse Western theology and belief systems, and to be educated in abstract thinking?
Doesn't "civilization" mean, as Chief Luther Standing Bear has said, to accept our place in "the kinship of all creatures" and the "unity with the universe"?
When we realize that we are, indeed, one with others, we become less willing to destroy them, because we understand that we are, in essence, destroying ourselves.(3)
(2) "Dear Abby? is a nationwide column on advice in US newspapers; this one is from October 2002, Orlando Sentinel