Some people call November the Month of the Dead. Hallaween (All Hallows Eve), All Saints Day, All Souls Day and then Remembrance Day.
Grim perhaps but it all depends on our point of view. Then again, it more correctly all depends on our knowledge of how they came to be and whether or not they are seen as being relevant and worthy of attention. In the northern hemisphere where all these things kicked off, its cold and the days are short and somewhat grey and gloomy perhaps.
For us in the south, for the most part, it is anything but bleak and chilly. So why pay much attention to this northern tradition? Well it has universal significance regardless of the climatic conditions. It is the history and connections that make it / them worthy of bringing into focus.
A society that does not reflect on how it got to where it is, falls into what is known as the “parochialism of the present” – so obsessed with its own importance that it overlooks the myriad of human and non-human actions that got us to this point in time.
Roman philosopher Marcus Cicero said that: “To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to live the life of a child forever. For what is a man’s life, unless woven into the life of our ancestors by the memory of past deeds?”
We would not be here if it were not for those who trode this Living Earth for centuries before us. In Some thoughts on the eve of an ancestral pilgrimage, Holly Pruett recalls these words: http://deathtalkproject.com/die-remembering/
“It is one of the responsibilities of village-minded people and human beings everywhere to carry their dead with them as they walk through their days,” writes Stephen Jenkinson in Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul. “How easy it is in our way of life,” says Jenkinson, “to let the dead slip from view and from memory, how easy it is to disappear.”
In the dominant culture of ancestral amnesia, we’re driven to write our own legacy, for fear of being forgotten. Thus the burgeoning wave of write-your-own-obituary, record-your-message-for-the-future, and plan-your-own-memorial vendors.
Jenkinson challenges these efforts as misdirected: “The truth is that we cannot, nor should we be able to, choreograph the way in which we will be remembered, if we will be remembered at all.”
In a similar vein Tom Switzer urges us not to get trapped by the seemingly present situation in which we are living (Are we in an era of unprecedented instability or just ignorant of history? SMH, 30 Oct 2017) http://www.smh.com.au/comment/are-we-in-an-era-of-unprecedented-instability-or-just-ignorant-of-history-20171025-gz7uac.html
“The time has come to lower our voices, to cease imposing our mechanistic patterns on the biological processes of the earth, to resist the impulse to control, to command, to force, to oppress, and to begin quite humbly to follow the guidance of the larger community on which our life depends. Our fulfillment is not in our isolated human grandeur, but in our intimacy with the larger earth community, for this is also the larger dimension of our being. Our human destiny is integral with the destiny of the earth.” (Thomas Berry, Dream of the Earth, 1988)