Remembering the past so we can preserve our future...
July 1, 2008
Aka ufok agwo agwuo uwa ano anyie ufok (A visitor brings the world along to the home owner).
In the third part of the last century, Thomas Khun came up with an idea that rocked the scientific community. Rather than continue to stress the objectivity that was touted as a way to learn about the world, Professor Khun pointed out that the belief that we have about the world determines how we act in the world. What we do is actually a manifestation of how we understand the world and what we think about it. He called this idea a paradigm. The call for a paradigm shift, from the supposed objectivity of the past, presented scientists with an idea that was very radical. Like Khun, the ancient Annang knew that each individual has a view of the world that is different one from another, and so they told each other that a visitor brings his or her view of the world along to the host.
We are confronted everyday with situations that demand us to choose. The problems of choice have allowed us to see that the choices that we make depend on our view of the world. And so we choose our mates, our careers and even where we live based on what our understanding of the world is. The fact remains that we all have different views of the world and so we know just a little part and such part is eventually influenced by our experience. It is difficult, given such understanding, to claim absolute knowledge and certainty and so the Annang believe that knowledge is best when it is contributed. (Ifiok afon utip udi) We stand in danger of making errors when we neglect this for it is impossible for us to know everything and all things about a given idea. Thus a visitor takes along his or her perspective and experience to the host and it is the foolish host that neglects to take advantage of such opportunity and learn. The contribution of various perspectives is what leads to wisdom if, as Plato taught, such array of knowledge is virtuous and is mindful of issues of justice. The individual who acquires such knowledge indeed becomes wise.
We live in a period known as the post-modern era where the very definition of knowledge has been questioned. What the older people knew has been questioned and new information is readily made available as a result of new technology, such that the older people are no longer regarded as the repository of knowledge. Yet we still stand in need of learning from each other and discover that what the ancient taught is still relevant today. We learn from those that we meet in our day to day interaction. We learn from the poor person on the street, ad we learn from the wealthy in palaces. We learn from the child as well as those who are advanced in years. Knowledge is ever changing. What was true yesterday may no longer be true today and it is only when we open our minds and humble ourselves that we learn something new. May you learn the spirit of humility today and by the redeeming power of knowledge learn that everyone is your teacher.
Annang Wisdom is an inspirational letter produced as a service of the Annang Heritage Preservation Project. No part of this publication may be transmitted, forwarded, copied, stored or recorded without the permission of the Annang Heritage Preservation Inc. Please send all comments and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.