Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lakȟóta éktųža - to forget and forgive.

Nothing quite points to the problem of "forgiveness" in the Lakȟóta culture like the Lakȟóta word "éktųža".  The Lakȟóta word commonly used for this is based on the root "-ktųža."  It is preceded by the prefix "é-".  This prefix is a combination, and contraction, of two other Lakȟóta prefixes: "a-" + "i-".  In this case, "a-" refers to something being "on or at (a location)" and "i-", which is relative to that point, means "to arrive."  The root "-ktųža" roughly means "forget."  So, forgetting refers to something or somebody in/at a relative location.

"Éktųža" means "forgiving" in but in a way quite similar to the metaphorical allusions which Pinker believes enabled the evolution of abstract thought.  The sense of loss is reasonably inferred from "éktųža"because something (usually an object) that is before us -- a situation or an object -- is incomplete as it is now: Once there was more of it or all of it was here, as opposed to the absence of it or the less of it that is here now.  Because most losses, except those calculated ones, are unintentional and unexpected, they are accidents, at the very least; for, whenever is it beneficial to lose something -- like one's direction?  Unless, maybe, it's the result of a dynamic unconscious psychological process -- like delaying an unavoidable, dreaded confrontation with someone or something.

But I think that the Lakȟóta word for "to forget" is related to the recognition of a loss and that its use as a term for "forgiveness" expresses a sense of becoming intentionally lost upon a terrain, regardless where that region may exist or whomever may have caused it to happen: Whether within a distant land or within the internal dimensions of one's heart; whether by oneself or another.  But the problem of becoming intentionally lost, in this sense, suggests a willful situation that is an impractical one on many levels because it requires a forgetfulness of one's purpose, goal or destination.  The necessity of forgiveness complicates things for practical people who rely on accurate and reliable information in order to survive.

So, for the Lakȟóta, the solution for this predicatment was to avoid creating, at all costs, a situation that required forgiveness because of the demands that this process requires — whether psychologically, spiritually or otherwise.  But when facts of daily living occur, like misunderstanding or pain, one can only hope to spare another of the ordeal of having to undergo the process of solving the problems that these create.

But, avoidable things nevertheless occur  And when a problem occurs, like hurting someone else -- psychologically, physically and etc. -- and creates a crisis that requires an immediate solution, that kind of event becomes an occasion to emphasize a practical dictum: Do not harm another for this will require that person's forgiveness and this process will require effort to produce the changes within that person in order to forgive you.

This requires the injured one to "become lost" by forgiving -- and, thus, forgetting -- what had occurred.  It does not imply acceptance of any kind.  It"s like denying that an actual event had happened, despite all evidence to the contrary.  The one placed in the situation of forgiving had to, intentionally, become lost, to forget oneself: To forget the harm and damage -- psychological and/or physical -- done to one by another and come to terms with the assault upon one's physical and personal integrity and dignity with the facts of the offense committed upon him or her.  In this sense, this process of forgiving another puts one through an ordeal which requires a denial of reality.  Although it is a form of suffering that empowers: It is humility in its truest form that requires a sacrifice from the one who forgives.  But it is a painful obstacle to place in the path of another when that path leads to you.

So, the next time a Lakȟóta intends to harm another in a way that would require forgiveness, it is wise to consider the burden that injury places in the path of another.  For, in order to forgive, that person must intentionally deny his or her reality: They must become intentionally lost to themselves while struggling to rise above the harm in order to forgive the one who harmed.

Only the presence of love can heal the wounded and the one who wounds.