Sunday, July 16, 2006

Politics and Truth

I read this interesting story about a Mexican epidemiologist who determined that the disease that wiped out the Aztecs was a native hemorrhagic virus called cocolitzli. Read the story it's fascinating on many levels. What struck me is that when confronting untruths that may be the cornerstone of a particular groups cultural heritage you had better be prepared. Prepared to have your motives questioned, your methods questioned and every other thing about you questioned. Why? Because sometimes the truth is not as comfortable as myth.
The Native American populations are not alone in embracing myths that are central to their world view. If you were to ask most Americans to describe what America is all about a lot of them might say something like freedom or liberty because that what we were taught in grade school. I'm not saying that isn't true, there's just so much more to the story. Ask a Black man or a Vietnamese girl in 1870 or 1970 what America is all about and his answer may surprise you one way or another. In the story about cocolitzli all the answers were there all along but most never thought to ask the question because the myth was too cozy.

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