Ideas that add up #98

The stories were a treasure of time-proven wisdom. They often provided moral messages that taught the virtues of honorable living, and the unpleasant rewards of poor choices.  When people wandered off the good path, stories reminded them of where this would lead. They helped people to live well…  

Nothing could be more impolite than directly criticizing another person, expressing anger, or providing unrequested advice.  Instead, the elders used stories to “shoot” healing notions.  During a conversation, they would mention the names of places having stories that would be good for the wayward person to remember. Then, hopefully, he or she would reflect on the stories, understand their relevance, and make the changes needed to return to balance.

Richard Reese at What is Sustainable?, review of Wisdom Sits in Places by Keith Basso

This was a feature of Apache culture as related by Basso. It called to mind this recent obituary of Chester Nez, a Navajo and one of America’s “code talkers” during WWII.

He took danger in his stride too: as a Navajo warrior and protector, he wanted to defend his country and make his family proud…

Some things bothered him: looking people in the eye (disrespectful), shouting (even more so) and the careless treatment of cut hair (a dangerous weapon to enemies).

Obituary: Chester Nez, The Economist 21/6/14

That highly evolved assumption of respect for another person’s self-dignity, incompatible with looking them in the eye, or losing one’s temper, or giving unsolicited advice. The delicacy with which advice is tendered, by tangential means and only when absolutely necessary.

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