Assimilation–some thoughts

It fails…everyone.



“Cultural assimilation is the process in which a minority group or culture comes to resemble a society’s majority group or assume the values, behaviors, and beliefs of another group whether fully or partially.”

Wikipedia

Alchemy of flowers, spices, vegetables and a drop of wine makes an all too wonderful sauce. Melting pots are different because they separate the one from her identity. The things which make her and him unique dissolved into a stew. What advantage is there in homogenizing immigrants–what is lost to them, to us, to the wholeness that loves variety?

What remains is the longing for what you’ve abandoned in yourself–grief, you bet, yes!

Assimilation has also been referred to as Cultural Homogenization–It is an aspect of cultural globalization intending a reduction in cultural diversity.

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What then is the story that wants to be told through anyone’s uniqueness? through me? through you?
Weren’t we all once immigrants?
Weren’t we all once hostile invaders?
Weren’t we invaded?

I was never really ‘white’ never really wanted to be that generic, one-size fits all milk-toast identity grouping on applications. Applications for jobs, apartments, housing, surveys, sundry forms, what have you. Checking ‘Other’ didn’t cover it for me either. Other planet? Other Galaxy? Other sexual orientation, other dimensional, another type of animal, homo-erectus or feline. Yet, doesn’t someone love to classify, label, name and segregate disorienting one from their origins/ancestry and the wonder of diversity?

I can agree that I’m female, belonging to the largest and least represented category (along with children), the culture of woman. Doesn’t that culture span the globe? Don’t we have more in common than not? We search for the exotic and foreign through travel and outside of ourselves, when, in fact, the terrain within is vastly foreign, exotic. Carl Jung was one of our navigators through this landscape but he died and we were left stranded in a sea of distractions and technological advances. All of these diversions from what is going on inside and in the larger world over which we feel helpless to make a difference.

I would have felt more shame had my ancestors been the first to arrive on the Mayflower. I wouldn’t have wanted to claim that perceived glory. It was too close to the extermination of a race of people with whom I feel empathy. The indigenous ones only wanted to protect their lands, their people and the pristine quality of their lives–their connection to the earth–indigenously wise.

Nov.16, 2015
My ancestors came over from Italy and Ireland a few generations ago.
I am third generation here not so long–
Immigrated, assimilated–
but the dreams persist and
I resist the memories they convey.
I am here–America–
born in America.
Why then this strange chanting
in a language that makes me tingle
yet I don’t understand?

Nov.17, 2015
Because when she let go of her heritage, she let go of her birthright and the inherent magic.

Skin–shades of various tones. Beneath it, ah, bones, blood, organs–skin, what perceptions do we have based on shades of skin?

What perceptions do we have based on how much money? Having more money, or with less money, or without money?

Years–accumulation of years–what perceptions do we have based on how many or how few years one has lived on planet earth?

What perceptions do we have based on sexual orientation?

What perceptions do we have based on physical appearance? Height, weight…

On and on it goes, our limiting perceptions.

Once upon a time, I married a young Hispanic man. I gave birth to two daughters. They resemble their Mexican heritage physically. They are also Irish, Italian, French and German. Their father did not grow up speaking Spanish although both of his parents were fluent native speakers. Was there a shame in bringing the language forward? The dream was to have your children be assimilated, an American, and it was presumed that the native language would link them to something undesirable.

Today, when my daughters are in the company of other Spanish-speaking Hispanics and it is discovered that they don’t speak the language, they are looked down upon by the native speakers. Yet, because of their appearance, they are devalued by the “White” ones. It’s all very peculiar, isn’t it?

Santos Dolls–Sort of Although Not Really

ballerina1.

Santos Dolls take their name from the Spanish word for Saint.  In the 17th century, these dolls became popular.  They were originally carved by priests as a tribute to a saint.  They embodied a virtue or a quality that you wanted to bring into your life.  They were used for in-home altars.  If a small village didn’t have a priest, the in-home altar with the Santos Doll sufficed.  Also, during times of war, especially in the 1700’s and 1800’s when people were unable to travel to church, their development flourished.

Julie Ann Lee taught a class on making Santos Dolls.  Her dolls are more authentic with crackly faces to make them appear antique.  I veered off course to make my own meaningful dolls.  I enjoyed creating these little dolls so much that I decided to make several.  They are not strictly Santos Dolls.  This was where my creative impulse lead me.  A ballerina with red galoshes for instance.  A mermaid queen.  A woman with a purple dress.  And the androgynous figure with a magenta jacket.  What’s it all mean?

Carl Jung would certainly have something to say about these figures who emerged from my own subconscious.  None of these dolls was planned.  For me, they were a very intuitively guided process.  Entering into that place of being guided, is somewhat like being in a shared dream…you and your creation in communion.

 

 

Mechanisms of Whole and the Mandala

Mechanisms of Whole
© by Christine O’Brien

We each have a felt sense
of whole
but we aren’t sure
how to engage it.
Yearning for whole
which we try to fill
with things of the appetites–mandala1
food, sex, drugs, alcohol,
ambition, activities, relationships.

Instincts towards whole, unity
community—families, clubs,
religions, towns, states, countries.
Efforts towards whole which have been
thwarted within ourselves
since birth–
fragmentation, disassociation–
rejected aspects of self;
traumatic experiences
resulting in separation within.

Yet, we are surrounded by
daily examples of whole:
from an apple to the sun
to the night sky—in harmony,
congruence.
It’s a real struggle to retain
our lack of integrity
in the presence of such
expressions of whole.

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Carl Jung was one of the proponents of accessing the deep psyche and one’s integrative wholeness through the use of the mandala.

Writing Prompt:
Find a picture of a mandala (or better yet, draw and color one).  Place the mandala where you will see it throughout the day.  At the end of the day or the next morning, sit and study the mandala for five to ten minutes.  Write for twenty minutes (or more).  Is there anything  surprising in your writing?

Living a Writer’s Life

You have an idea of something you want to write.  You feel inspired, even passionate.
You begin writing.  You are in the “zone.”  Your writing seems to flow and take on a life of its own.  The words pour out of you onto the page.  At times, it feels like the words are coming from somewhere outside of you.  That they aren’t even your words but are coming from a supra-conscious source.  Sort of spooky when you think about it.  How can you possibly even know some of the things you are writing about?

You have tapped into the greater subconscious.  The famed Swiss psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, termed this phenomena, supra-conscious or the greater unconscious mind or the universal mind.  This mind contains all the wisdom of the human race throughout time.

Your muse has given you the initial inspiration and you have fearlessly followed her lead.  Congratulations. Because you have been the willing scribe, showing up with pen and paper, this is your reward.  To arrive at this flow and ease with your writing takes COMMITMENT, showing up to your personally designed writing practice regularly.

Anyone who has a dedicated pursuit, creative or otherwise, has made a COMMITMENT. For some this is a dreaded word.  For others, it is a way of life and a path to deepening connection to oneself and to one’s writing practice.  Practice leads to improvement and growth in whatever area you seek to excel in.

WRITING PROMPT

Let’s take a brief look at the role that writing has played in  your life so far.  Give yourself a good amount of time with this writing prompt–at least thirty minutes to an hour.  In your journal, write your responses to the following questions:

  1.  Over the course of your life, what types of writing have you done?  This could include letter writing, email writing, journal writing, writing for newspapers or periodicals, poetry, essays, technical writing, fiction, non-fiction, anything.  Texting–does that count?
  2. Do you presently have a writing practice?  If so, do you write daily, weekly, less than weekly?
  3. Have you set aside a specific time of the day to write?  If so, what time of the day   and how long do you typically write?
  4. Do you have a writing goal?  Be specific and detailed in describing this goal.
  5. How do you feel when you hear the word commitment?
  6. Have you or are you prepared to make this commitment to your writing?
  7. Describe what this commitment to your writing would look like.  Give details.  You could begin with a description of your writing space.

Take time to consider each of these questions and any others that might arise during this process.  This is about you, for you and therefore  you get to speak the truth in your journal without consequence.

WRITING TIP

Giving yourself a compassionate and doable writing practice is based upon your other life commitments at this time.  If you have a life outside of writing, a “regular” job, others depending upon you, it isn’t practical to lock yourself away for any great length of time to write.  To be successful, it is important to design your writing practice within the context of your daily life.  A few things that are essential to establishing your writing practice are:

  • A designated writing space
  • A dedicated practice, whether it be daily, three times a week or more…you decide
  • A designated time of day to write
  • A designated length of time to write
  • Informing everyone you live with that this is your time to write and it has to be respected
  • Letting your circle of people outside your home know that you won’t be answering the telephone, checking emails or texting during this time
  • Note:  You have to respect this time to write if you expect others to respect it.

These are some of the steps necessary to begin to live a Writer’s Life.