“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” This statement is an iconic quote made by the American poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. People often look different, talk different and have different viewpoints but almost always have the same end result in mind. Both Tom Whitecloud’s character in the story “Blue Winds Dancing” and I have many differences in almost every conceivable area of measure. We are not the same race, age, or possess the same beliefs or values. It would be easy to draw the conclusion that we are the proverbial “apples and oranges”. But it is only upon closer inspection that there are such striking similarities between the two us that they seem almost nearly identical.
The Author’s character in his story ventures away from the reservation from which he was raised and attends a college far from his home. He is not learning the history and philosophies of his ancestry but the supplant information to override those truths with Eurocentric ideals. This setting has a unique effect on him because the teachings he learns there directly contradict and seemingly belittle the traditions of his people. The protagonist comes to a conclusion that he does not fully relate to his fellow tribesman or the white students. And from this point the character makes a choice to abandon one of these ideals in favor of fully embracing the other so he leaves school and finds his way back to his reservation to be with his family.
Similarly, I have also made choices that have led me far away from my home. I have adopted a whole other cultural mindset in addition to the one I was raised with. I accomplished this means by enlisting into the United States Marine Corps immediately after graduating from high school. This decision had greatly affected my life but did not improve it in the way in which I thought it would. I, like the protagonist, found myself balancing two lifestyles that were not intermixable and causing growing communication problems between my personal relationships as well as my job. I elected to only focus on the choice that had more impact in my life and concluded my service to the Marines after two enlistments.
In contrast to how the actual mechanics of each tale unravel, the end result is quite polarizing. Whitecloud’s character in the end of his story concluded that he wanted to be free and live as his people did without the added adoption of the white American culture. He returned home and was accepted back as a member of his tribal unit once again. He realized that his familial bond was too great and needed to be more prevalent in his life whereas I have not espoused the same fervor for being close to my family. Upon leaving the Marines I did not return to where my family lives but settled down farther away to establish my own identity and endeavor to make my own way. This is an interesting answer to how people approach evolving their ancestry in modern times.
There are many interesting and varied people in the world who have so many different and unique cultural processes. A person can easily forget that the choices we all make as humans nearly always reflect the same sentiment towards some basic values that are inherent to us all: family, love, duty, responsibility are just a few. This knowledge leaves us all with the thought that maybe for all of our striking differences we are more alike than we realize…