Recently I had to do a research paper on cultural appropriation. In case you do not know what that means (often called cultural misappropriation) it is a concept in sociology when the elements of a minority culture is adopted or presented by the majority of a dominant culture. One of the most egregious forms of cultural appropriation came by way of the Swastika. Many will find it hard to believe, but the Swastika is dated all the way back to the Stone Age. It was seen as a talisman for religion and good fortune. In fact the word Swastika is actual translated to conducive to well being. In Buddhism the swastika takes on the representation of Buddha’s foot prints. In Mesopotamia it was used on coins and Navajo’s wove into blankets. For centuries it was seen as a symbol of something good or cherished. It only took on the negative connotation when Hitler decided he needed to find a way to connect the German’s with the Aryan’s. Turning the swastika on its axis in a white circle with a red background did it begin to become something…else. Just like that. Poof. One man decides that this symbol now represents his white Aryan nation and wammo, a symbol of all that is pure becomes all that is tainted. Can you imagine how those that honored that symbol would have felt in that time? I can’t imagine the horror. Or now. Those that a Buddhists may find it difficult to use a symbol of Buddha’s footprints as a decoration in their home, or a background screen on their phone because that is not how it is not how it is recognized world wide. And who would believe that? Hey- this isn’t an Aryan nation support symbol, I am representing the conduction of well being…. good luck with that.
The bigger picture here is that one person’s opinion can change everything. Hitler, to the first person, to the next becomes an army becomes a nation becomes an epidemic that nearly wiped out an entire religion. That is sad. And disturbing. And monumentally unfair. But, I hate to add in the but, aren’t we all guilty of it? Don’t we all have some cultural misstep we commit regularly? Have you ever said I have a girl crush on so and so when you are a girl but are not in fact gay? Have you thrown a Cinco de Mayo party at your typical suburban house with the 2.5 kids, a mini van, and sombrero’s? Raise your hand if you have said that something was your spirit animal even though you are not native American. Doing those things does not make you a bad person. It doesn’t make me a bad person. Hitler appropriating the Swastika didn’t make him a bad person, the way he used it, and the endless acts of violence, hatred, torture and mayhem make him a bad person. So why am I telling you all this? Honestly, that is a question I find myself saying on the regular. Why am I doing or saying anything? The truth is I feel unfaired. I feel as though life has been unfair, and as a result I am the victim of unfairness. I am the unfairee. I recognize that those are not actual words, or actual things being done to me, but I am whining and pouting and generally don’t give a damn.
We just had another holiday that JoDee wasn’t home. I can’t even remember the last good holiday we spent with her. I can’t understand why this continues to happen and go on. I hear that she is not using, and she is trying to right her ship that has gone so far wrong that I can’t even see her horizon but is that enough? How do I know? How do I know when the time to help again has arrived? Have I gone so far into the realm of skepticism and distrust that I can’t trust my own judgment now? I behave as though I am the mother of a child that was lost. I feel as though I am a parent that has suffered the loss of her child. Isn’t that appropriating another mother’s pain? The mother of child that really was lost? My child is not lost to life, she is only lost to me. To us. To our family. Aren’t I being Hitler-like in the way of using something that isn’t to make something appear as though it is? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that this shit is really unfair.