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Cultural Diversity

The Mystery of Humankind’s Common Traditions and Cosmologies
By: Dr. Vivian Darroch-Lozowski

About ten years ago, fossilized footprints of a physically modern human were discovered on the shore of a South African lagoon in sandstone that is 117,000 years old. A few decades ago, ancient footprints of two adults and a child left on a plain in Tanzania 3.5 million years ago were discovered. Pre-human footsteps that were left 1.5 million years ago in Kenya are also known. These and other findings by paleoanthropologists and geneticists lead many to think that all living humans have one common ancestor, an “African Eve” whose life and motherhood marked the transition between hominids and humans some long ago time between 100,000 and 200,000 years past.

Can we imagine the experiences of these creature beings that are in the front of us, who walked ahead of us and left trails of footprints? Can we imagine the lived experience of the woman called African Eve? Tens of thousands of years of silence separate us from her. Today, we have limited knowledge of the histories of so many of the different human civilizations that have existed as humans evolved and no knowledge of the civilizations that have disappeared. The existential reasons why human civilizations exist at all remain a mystery.

Other species share with humans the development of language and the learning of emotional responses such as joy (play), compassion, aggression, and grief. Other species also share with us an awareness of the death of being. Yet, so far as we understand today, because of our accelerated capacity for making symbols only humans living in different societies all over the world have evolved complex structures of cosmology, theories and stories about the origin of the universe and the meaning of life.  Within these different understandings and traditions countless symbols and signs and even words have similar origins and meanings, enough so to point to a common origin. What is this “cosmological” origin that we share? Why does it persist in our consciousness? How is it that through it, it does not save us from the harm we do to ourselves and other species through our continuous and dangerous attention to our differences? The histories of human negligence and war and other brutalities are known, as are stories of the bravery and kindness of humans imprinted upon us. Of what we are not so aware is that today we humans hold millions of years of history in our collective consciousness. Simultaneously, we are holding the probable knowledge that because of how we have treated each other and the earth the human race may become extinct within three or four centuries. Thus, we live now in a globally decisive time.

The vision of Universe Africa is to enable our capacities of sharing and mercy through bringing to our attention what is held in common by the traditions of different world nations, especially indigenous nations. This will be accomplished through sharing connections between us that shed light on our human spirit and our human spirituality. If we want a more humane and sane world we must understand and act upon how we are united. We are joined through common values, through the lives of each of us that extend beyond the self to include Nature, other species, each other, and Spirit and Divinity. We are joined through these, even though our reflections upon these aspects depend on different cultural perceptions and interpretations.

Our shared human origin out of Africa has always been accompanied by an ever-present cosmological origin. We must understand how we are influenced by this ever-present and creative spiritual cosmology. In this era when earth and all species (including humans) upon her are at risk, it is necessary to recognize and to participate in what transcends our personal and cultural identities.




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