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Most of what I write in my blog stems from actual conversations with real live people. Mostly it's not even what we were discussing but maybe an echo of that discussion. Or a seed generated from that discussion. Or an observance. This post is about a single statement made by a friend, and like all good and worthy statements it prompted me to seriously think about it.
The statement was this: “It’s your personal choice to live where you live.” It was made in reference to another comment another friend said about how harsh it was to live here. They said this statement honestly thinking and understanding that everyone who lives in Alaska, who puts up with $10.00 prices on milk gallons, who hunts for food and deals with -90 degrees weather did it because that was the life they wanted and chose. Because why else would we live here?
And I absolutely love that type of statement because it offers a window into my own thoughts and thought process. At first my initial reaction was ‘it’s not a choice!!!!’ …and then immediately I thought ‘crap I totally sounded like a blind cult member’ …and then a few seconds later…’why do I not see it as a choice?’ And more importantly why does someone else think it is a choice?
Alaska is made up of basically three groups of people; those that are aborigines and have been here since the mastodon roamed, those that came to Alaska to make their fortune and were a little crazy and ‘off’ to do so, and those that are born of those two groups. But one thing you see with those that do stay and revel in the crazy called Alaska, is this almost fanatic denial of living here as a choice.
And in the end I think it all boils down to a question of Culture, though no one at first would first see it that way. After 10,000 plus years of the same people staying and thriving in the same place, as you can imagine the culture itself reinforces the concept of wether or not this option exists. Leading of life of following abundance, wether it be melting ice or migrating caribou, has created a ancient bond, a loyalty. To the land, the animals, the people. To specific invaluable knowledge. People who stuck together and who listened to this ancient knowledge …lived. And this understanding became fundamental to our culture, and has seeped into the modern Alaskan culture.
American Culture is often described and understood as the culture of separateness. Of independence, of making it on your own. It is a cultural understanding, one that is reinforced and rewarded. Individuals are held up on pedestals, and paid the big bucks. And sometimes in this world we forget that other worlds exist. America is a young culture, but big and bright and shiny. And even I have a hard time realizing that there are different ways of thinking. That there is a culture that relies on anchors instead of sails to succeed. And that it has been succeeding for thousands of years.
But I have to ask myself how can this ancient culture is affecting us, can this cultural bond with land and animal and family be detrimental in anyway? has anyone thought to question and contemplate this? There are very good sides to our culture, like having no homeless, no starving in our small villages, but what can be the downsides? I think I see these tiny dark creatures hovering at the edge of my vision…and they have yet to reveal themselves.