(If you are looking for something salacious here, move along!)

Last evening I was unusually wakeful, and I watched "Summer Pasture" on PBS.  It was an intimate look at nomadic yak herders.  Filmed in an unobtrusive way, in their tent and alongside their daily work, it recorded the lives of Yama and Locho (and their baby).

I was captivated by the film because I was reminded that before our modern conveniences, the 'business of life' centered on the performance of an long and sometimes arduous string of necessary tasks that must be performed in order to survive.  With each passing minute of the film, my admiration for this couple and their cherubic daughter grew along with my shame for my own undone chores around my comfy home.  My undone chores result in a messy house--their undone chores results in their not having a meal, fire or a home.

As it was late, and I still had a bed to make, and I did not watch beyond the first hour. I woke up with the same feeling as I had when I went to bed--a strong sense of the courage and grace in which these people faced the hardship of their daily lives.  I also admired the casually spoken, but very deep wisdom of Yama who carried out her exhausting daily routine with a deep sense of devotion and acceptance.

This was not a culture of striving, but of surviving.  To be sure, human DNA is the same everywhere, and given the right environment, striving (status) always has a Maslowesque way of rearing its head.  And somewhere along the way we stratify our societies with those who perform the purest task of all--surviving--or producing goods/services to help the rest survive--on the bottom.

My shame, then, is both personal and collective--and from it I cannot escape.  I'm grateful, though, that I can feel it.  Exploring our humanity and understanding it not only requires us to learn and understand the cultures of others, but also to discover and reflect upon the common intersects and juxtapositions that help us reflect on our own circumstance (warts and all!).


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