Last week I wrote about several topics that touched or connected with my personal life: anthropology/archaeology, 20th century culture change, and women’s economic practices.
If I were given to superstitious behavior I would say that I have been given the amazing, sometimes difficult, but always informational rich, experiences I have had in life so that I can discuss the interrelationships between experience , awareness, and action. I’m not given to superstitious behavior, but I also understand that some people, like me, need to search for meaning in life because we just do not accept the embedded meaning of ritual and cultural beliefs that is given to us as truth. Without finding personal meaning in the life-given events some of us would be reduced to nihilist despair.
We create our own meaning as a friend wrote about this past week, but that said, most of us out of the necessity of observing time flow in one direction use the shorthand that culture provides to us. That shorthand has gotten quite complex as we moved in one lifetime from the culture limited by the personal distance we could walk in day or village distance we could ride via ground travel in a day to global communication in a day to global travel in a day.
The informational implications of these changes are vast. When I studied anthropology I learned that it takes 6 generations to create a mythical being. This means that you have to have no one living who can say, “Now just hold your horses, Jenny Girl, I met my grandmother’s grandmother and she was no dern goddess.” For example, My Grandmother, Edith Pearl Palmer, was born on Nov 1883 in Indiana. Her grandmother, I am reasonably certain , was Lydia Daniel Brubaker.
Lydia was probably the Lydia Daniel born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on June 1, 1814 to J George Daniel and Saloma Sietz. Lydia did marry Jacob Brubaker and had 10 children. She passed away on 13 Aug 1867 in Collamer, Whitley County, Indiana, USA.
but I have not seen the actual, physical records of her birth, marriage and death and my mother did not report seeing these records either, although Mom, Fay, remembered her grandmother, Amanda, talking about her mother, Lydia, dying when she, Amanda, was still a girl in Whitley County, Indiana. I grew up in Whitley County, Indiana.
Like nearly all the European derived families who populated Indiana in the first half of the 19th Century they traveled through Ohio. The information from this chart derived from the Conner Prairie site that in turn drew upon the print source of: M.J. Rohrbough, The Trans-Appalachian Frontier, p.63.
1800 1810 1820 1830 1840 Ohio 45,000 239,581 581,434 938,903 1.4 mil. Indiana 5,000 24,520 147,178 343,600 600,000
It does not take all that long to create totally bogus people, life stories, and broader mythic narratives. My grandmother’s grandmother was born in 1814. That is 200 years ago. That is 6 generations in 200 years.
Okay, I admit the six generations concept of mythic creation is blown to bits by rapidly reproducing people such as the 6 generations of living women in one family depicted in this 2012 article or in this one with 6 generations of family in this 2013 one (both with images!) I found this reference to another 6 generation moment in 1965. But do remember that the age of antibiotics and advanced medical technology probably contributed to this truly rare and mind-boggling generational overlap.
All this is to put the question “How do you know what you know?” into a female frame of reference.
Why? Because I believe that one of the primary reasons the world is in such a sorry state is that women’s voices, sensibilities, and wisdom has been suppressed, ignored, and ridiculed by men in power. I don’t know how many generations it takes to extinguish a god, but a new one can be created in 200 years or less. And with the entire world in the informational reach of a day’s travel, the information we have to choose from is exponentially greater than that to which our grandmother’s had access.
There have been recent concerts, marches, programs, and international diplomatic gatherings concerned with climate, poverty, and making the world a better place. There is an expanding fundamentalist war within Islam. New plagues are possibly taking hold. And we are realizing that our entertainment is as destructive as gladiatorial games. Everything is in play. With things in flux, we can change things.
I think it is time for serious reevaluation of priorities and re-institutionalize women’s perspectives, values, and ways of knowing into the culture at large. Of course we need women represented at the highest levels of government and business, but more than that we need to simply change things by what we think, write, teach, allow ourselves to say and do. We have to mean and do differently. We can make everything different and better for our granddaughters’ granddaughters.
A couple things struck me in this piece Nancy. First, I never see either of us “reduced to nihilist despair”. I believe are here to not just seek out meaning and purpose but prompt others to do the same. Life without frame of reference is not an acceptable condition – not comfortable, not functional, not going to happen in my mind at least!
I am with you in this belief: we have an obligation to re-frame the conversation and keep at it until we find a way to put change in motion. You are right, we can be instruments of change – we just have to keep speaking up until we find a voice that resonates. I don’t know how we do that but I know we can’t stop trying!
Thanks for the inspiration, the food for the thought, and the remind that time is wasting and I better “do” – now.
I’m glad you found it motivating and not naggy. I so worry about that.
Here! Here! Well said, and I would vote for you anytime, any place! Women’s issues, women’s voices, women’s opinions need to remain front and center. I wholeheartedly agree!
And I would vote for you Cathy!
I think that all people, and women in particular, have come a long way. We must move forward for the good of all but in a positive way. Wow what a history we have had!
Yes we have some history. Unfortunately too many great women have been neglected in the writing and editing of history, so we have to write our own!
Lois Alter Mark
I always love your posts and I’ve actually been thinking a lot about this lately. It seems to me that there is a general feeling that things have to change and that we need more female energy and power, and we need to get off the internet and back to some of the simpler things in life. Of course, it could get worse before it gets better but I always — always — continue to have hope.
I meet with women once a month to teach blogging. I love the personal connection of meeting in person and building up our confidence and power of women’s writing is always a good thing.
There is the unique perspective captured the idea of a “a woman’s way of knowing” which is a different slant on things. I too hope that the female energy can move to a more valued perspective. I love your post and has made me reflect on this
we all know and caretake different segments of our culture during out lifetimes and we need to be proud and out in front with what we know.
I have hope that things will get better. And I try to teach my granddaughter on a daily basis how powerful she can.
Daughers and grand-daughers are wonderful. And if our daughters and granddaughters work together they will be unstoppable.
I am reading “I am Malala” (just started it on the plane a few hours ago). Such similarities. And while it’s true, we have made so much progress, there is still so much more work to do. Thank you Nancy, for the reminder and the gentle push.It’s 11:30 here (1:30 Chicago time), so I can’t write more, but I will think more.
I also agree that women bring a saner perspective and we lack the need to beat each other over the head like cave men.