Saturday, January 14, 2017

We Certainly Do Not Believe...

Although this post may feel removed from things I usually write about, it shows how my thinking is shifting, growing, and evolving. In an effort to seek alternative (and non-dominant, non-colonial) epistemologies I have been reading work about Aztec philosophy. As teachers, we think very little about the epistemologies we both retain from our education, and use (expect our students to use in the classroom). To simplify (for both readers and myself), epistemology is how we come to know things. In closely examining how we come to know things (how we build knowledge), we can more accurately scrutinize the knowledge we have and pass along. What are its implications? Its assumptions? Its biases? Its truths.

This morning I read a beautiful passage from the Colloquies of the Twelve and it personally spoke to me and the political arena (circus) coalescing around us. For example, see the Arizona effort to limit social justice instruction. In the Colloquies Of The Twelve (1524), Nahuatl wise men publicly defended their religion and culture in dramatic resistance to the Spaniards. I read the following excerpt in a translation used by Leon Portilla (1963):

Calm and amiable,
consider, oh Lords,
whatever is best.
We cannot be tranquil,
and yet we certainly do not believe,
we do not accept your teachings as truth,
even thought this may offend you (p. 66)

Mesmerized by both the beauty of these words and their applicability to present political conditions, I was able to find a complete translation of the surviving dialogue. Here is another translation from Klor de Alva (1980)

Ma oc yvian yocuxca
In the meantime, calmly, peacefully,

xicmottilican totecujyoane
consider it, our lords,

in tlein monequj.
whatever is necessary.

Ca amo vel toiollopachiuj,
Indeed, our heart is not able to be full.

auh ca ~a ayamo tontocaquj
And, indeed, absolutely we do not yet agree to it ourselves,

ayamo titonelchiua:*
we do not yet make it true for ourselves.

We ourselves will cause you injury to the heart.