Modernity, Identity

Exactly one week ago, I was preparing for my final exam for my bachelor's degree at the university. Somehow, my body could not relax at night, I couldn´t sleep, and I depended on coffee and did my best to answer. My computer was not working well, so I had to wait for a technician to come and fix the problem, which added so much stress just one minute before the exam started. As I read the questions, one was about how postcolonial authors from the syllabus have challenged the ideals of modernity. Still, I had so many thoughts in my mind that I had to contain myself and be very objective about the answer. They were not asking my opinion per se. This question ignited something within me. It brought tears to my eyes. What does modernity truly mean? How do we define civilization? Can minorities truly have a voice? Does the West bear a responsibility towards the rest of the world? These are the questions that have been swirling in my mind, as I grapple with the concept of modernity. The modern world, as we know it, is progressive, technological, vanguardist, open to ideas, innovative, and transitioning from feudalism to capitalism, industrialization, secularization, and rationality. Modern writers, artists, and society at large have grown weary of the old-fashioned ways and rejected all forms of conventionalism—a rejection of those things that represented the past or traditions. 

I have lived in Mexico for the majority of my life. When I visit an Indigenous community where they have deep respect for nature and all living things, it awakens my spirit. If they need to cut a branch from a tree to build their house, they ask the tree for permission, hug it, and leave an offer to take some branches from it. The key is respect. They use the natural resources around them, grow their food, use the water, and take care of their environment consciously. The Indigenous civilizations hold women as important as men, and they are priests and healers capable of creating life and enhancing it with their intuition and spiritual awareness. Back in the day the colonizers came, they encountered, as Christopher Columbus expressed, a group of very empathic, kind, and accepting people who welcomed them with peace. The situation is that they later changed their mind because they saw the sacrifices of people as a gift for the Gods, so they saw them as savages and barbaric. They had the moral duty to make them civilized. Make them forget about their values and embrace new ones. 

Let´s fast forward to today. What is the value of the tree? Is it the commercial value of it? The market value? This tree is only valuable because we can cut them all out to make beautiful things with them and forget about asking permission. There is a need, a demand, so a supply of wood products shall be made. The real value of this tree is determined by our capacity to make good use of every single shred of it. Then, if we have fewer trees, we will have fewer lungs for our world. This image now multiplies by “n.” The laws of supply and demand determine the value of everything. The economic world and transaction values have always played an important role, and as we know from Darwin, the survival of the fittest will be able to adapt. Now, we must be more conscious about the environment because we have severe effects on our earth. So, who was barbaric? Who was disrespectful to our nature? All our planet deserves respect and not just being itemized for practical value. How, as a society, can we redeem ourselves for all the damage done? 

Since I was young, I have felt this need to protect our environment and have a peaceful place to live. I remember how they called me at school the “ecological” and “world peace believer” who was always trying to do something about it. Everyone thought I would end up in the UN or something like that. Now, I believe in the power of words, like a great Italian philosopher called Antonio Gramsci, who disagreed with Karl Marx and his idea that words and education could not make changes. Gramsci saw the power in the ideas. Visualizing what I want for my world and expressing it, working towards it with interactions with what surrounds me, can create a multiplied impact. It's a butterfly effect.

In the same way, the song “Give Peace a Chance/ Remember Love,” produced by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, impacted me. Still, my colleagues at school make fun of me and another friend for being so passionate and joking now about it. This joke is a sign of how powerful this memory can be embedded in more than 100 friends from my generation and all the students from the school who heard us sing this song. We had an effect, I am sure. They say that there are points of life that bring us to consciousness and start taking responsibility. My divorce was my initiation. Sometimes, things that hurt, a loss, an addiction, or touching the bottom can be a gift. And together with a tribe, a village,  that supports and encourages us, anything is possible. We are spirits living a human experience. If each individual respects the earth and finds satisfaction in simple things, then our communities can be restored. Show humility and respect to other cultures, pray, meditate, come to inner peace, and know yourself because this can benefit everyone surrounding you. 

Create the Wi-fi that you are transmitting around you. If you have love within you, then the signal coming out of you will be love. Love transforms and is a powerful tool that can create. It is part of the economic base. I urge you to stop trying to fight the paradigms that already exist. To shift these paradigms, we must pay attention to other things we want to see in our reality and embody that change in our daily acts. Our mind is powerful, with no limitations, as we could see with rebellious minds like Albert Einstein, as he was inspired to believe differently and just had to cope with the critics or rational minds. Let us come together again to understand, connect, and be in the present moment. As Malidoma Somé would say, we must clean the garbage by raising consciousness in the youth by providing wisdom and knowledge, bringing back our Indigenous respect of the earth, and being a “sacred entity engaged in a priestly activity for the redemption of humanity and this earth. A real human being.” In my vision, modernity needs a new identity—a new suit that can be made with our minds, words, and each individual act. We are the change. We are the visionaries—all of us. 

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