Heritage, Traditions and Beliefs
Heritage, Traditions and Beliefs
All around us, there are different cultures, races, and ways of life that we interact with. Even with all of the differences, we still somehow manage to live in harmony with each other. If we think about it, we all live in one place; Earth. There are different perspectives and stories as to how it came about. These stories about the earth’s origin also reflect the different heritages, traditions, and beliefs that we see around us. The stories from the Native Americans, Africans, Mayan civilization, scientific origins of life and the book of genesis from the bible will be discussed in this essay.
The Native Americans, called Navajo believe in the power of the Wind. They believed that life came from the wind. The breath that comes from our mouths gives us life. When the wind stops to blow, our life ends and we die. The Navajo also believes that their ancestors are always with them. The presence of wind trail on their fingertips shows them their ancestors. They believe that every living and non-living things are connected with the power of the wind.
The Africans, specifically from the tribe of Yoruba, the people of Nigeria, Togo, and Benin, believe in the supreme being, Olorun and his assistants, Orishas, heavenly entities. David A. Anderson wrote this story. The story started with Oluron with orishas living in the sky in a baobab tree. Oluron being a great being allows the orishas to roam around. Obatala, a curious orisha, left the baobab tree and found a vast empty ocean below the mist. Obatala asked Olorun for permission to go down to the vast ocean and make something solid in the waters below. Olorun allowed Obatala’s request. Before starting his journey, Obatala asked for the help of Orunmila, the orisha seer. She advised Obatala to prepare the following things for his journey; a chain of gold, sand, palm nuts, maize, and a sacred egg, which carries the personalities of all the orishas. So Obatala hooked the chain of gold to the sky and climbed down to the vast empty ocean.
He went down for seven days and when he reached the end, he waited for the advice of Orunmila to pour the sand into the water. A vast land was formed from the water. Obatala was still unsure of what to do. The sacred egg, which he hid inside his clothes near his heart hatched as Obatala’s heart pounded stronger. The Sankofa, a bird bearing the spirits of all the orishas, came out. As it flew around the solidified land, it formed dunes, hills, and lowlands. Eventually, Obatala released the chain and walked in the land that he named “Ife”. As Obatala explored the land, he scattered the seeds that he brought with him and so plants started to grow. Obatala made images of him out of clay and he was pleased. Olorun, being pleased with what Obatala did, made a fireball for the clay to be cooked and Olorun’s breath brought life to the figures.
The Mayan civilization’s story of creation is called the Popol Vuh. The story started with Heart-of-sky, also called Maker, Modeler, Kukulkan, and Hurricane, whom they regarded as the almighty. It was only him who existed and he realized he needed someone to talk about his name and praise him. By mere speaking, earth emerged followed by mountains, trees and land. When Heart-of-sky sees that everything is going well, he created the animals to roam the land.
He ordered the animals to praise him, but all they did was make animal sounds, thus he ordered that animals shall serve the people, whom he made to praise him. It took Heart-of-sky two attempts to make people, the first was made of mud and was loop-sided and spoke nonsense, and so he decided to let it dissolve away. The second was made from wood. Doll woods were mad, but did not have blood, sweat or minds. They did not respect their creator so flood was casted to the land, it destroyed the homes of the dolls and later on they are called monkeys. Thus, this explains the similar features of monkeys to humans.
The scientific origin of life focuses in two main people, namely Pasteur and Darwin. With Pasteur’s experiments, he supported that God created the earth. He believed that life couldn’t arise from inanimate matter. In connection to this, Pasteur believed in the aid of the divine creator. Darwin’s theory, on the other hand, states that the first life on earth came from inanimate matter. Another theory was that the earth was an eternal entity according to Iris Fry, a historian of biology. Earth and life being eternal means that it did not come from anything, but it just existed before everything else. Lastly, the term “Panspermia”, from the Latin word “pan” meaning all states that sperms of life wanders the universe and takes root at any planet that meets its living condition. Svante Arrhenius in Sweden promoted this idea. The early idea that life and earth are eternal is outdated. People started to wonder where we came from and thus the idea was lost. Panspermia or Transpermia describes the transfer of life from planet to planet.
The story of creation from the book of genesis of the holy bible depicts the seven-day creation of earth by God. Each day was described with the building of different things like, the separation of land and water, animals and humankind creation. On the seventh day, seeing that everything was perfect, God was pleased and so he had a rest that day. It was believed that God made everything on earth; He named all creatures in His power and ordered them to follow Adam. It ended when God was pleased with men and eventually gave the Garden of Eden for them to take care of. In comparison of these beliefs, the Native Americans belief with the origin of life is somehow similar with Darwin’s theory on life. Both stories pointed out that life came from non-living objects.
Through the wind, everything came to life and through it people are connected with the environment. Similar with Darwin, he believed that inanimate objects are responsible for our existence. Compared to the points discussed earlier, the stories of the Africans, Mayans and the book of genesis all believe in a supreme being, who made everything. Olorun, Heart-of-sky and God, these are the names of each creator. Even with such different titles, they are the same. Their only differences are on the details on how they made life. Each stories started with the divine existence followed by their prime need to create something or someone to worship them. Their stories ended with the creation of their subordinates, people. In addition scientist Pasteur, who made one of the major contributions scientifically, supports the story of creation from the book of genesis.
In conclusion, these five stories about life’s origin are somehow interconnected. Each is presented differently. The elements of the stories reflect their culture. After comparing each story with others, it only shows the importance of our beginning. By knowing the differences and similarities of each, I have come to understand that everyone deserves respect regardless of their origin. The comparison I have made will help me interact better with my future patients because of the culture reflected in each stories.
We live in one place, one atmosphere, and one sky and yet each of us has our own belief in life. We came about evolution differently based on the area we live in. To preserve each race, tribe and community, we made stories of it, which reflects our culture and traditions. These stories were made so others may understand and respect our way of living.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 1 November 2016
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