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美国缘何抗拒苗族文化

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International index of literature on Miao/Hmong studies
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美国缘何抗拒苗族文化
American Culture Against the Hmong
巴特勒大学 安妮卡·康诺利(Annekah Connolly)
译者语:这是 2019 年巴特勒大学一名叫安妮卡·康诺利的大学生发表的
FYS 研讨作品,文章简洁而又准确地阐述了妮·法德曼的《神灵抓住,你就倒
了》著作的要义——西方文化与苗族信仰之间的差异,并探明它们之间如此之
深的文化鸿沟,导致了一类人不尊重地将另一类人视为异类。尽管这些不同文
化中的人们,可能有“不寻常”的行为或信仰,但他们都是应受到尊重的人。
美国人僵化地以西方思维方式思考,却错过了一些人性所提供的东西。这篇优
秀的小论文说明,法德曼的《神灵抓住,你就倒了》以及民族心理学仍然美国
学界的热门话题。
世界各地每天都有不同的视角、
意见和观点发生碰撞。这些不同背景
文化的相会,可以成为发展各种理念
的有力工具,尤其是当它创造共享知
识的时候。然而,两种文化被迫在一
起,并不总是导致更高的共同理解。
在安妮·法德曼的《神灵抓住,你就
倒了》中,当美国文化和苗族文化相
遇时,有一个反复出现的主题——西
方的冷漠。安妮·法德曼利用这个反
复出现的主题——冷漠,来表达这样
一种观点:无知是如此具有分裂性,
以至于对他人潜在的尊重被忽视了。
据说,人类害怕他们不理解的东
西,这就是为什么美国文化与苗族和
他们的信仰之间互动如此之少的部分
原因。当苗族人第一次搬到默塞德
时,他们被视为“外来客人”(法德
曼 232 页),一个独特的和受敬重的
群体。然而,一旦苗族开始举办他们
的文化祭祀、萨满教仪式和通常的非
美国行为,这种观点很快就改变了。
当地的美国人很快就排斥这种新的文
化,因为它与他们所习惯的西方思想
不同。当美国人拒绝把苗族人融入他
们的社区时,西方的漠不关心就发生
了,因为该地区的大多数美国人拒绝
接受这种新文化。美国诞生的目的是
让所有不同背景的人,在一个安全的
空间里自由地实践自己的信仰,而这
些西方医生忽视了这个价值,对苗族
人的行为是不加考虑的。在一个其他
文化和信仰理应受到欢迎的国家,这
些很不起眼的、“不寻常”的异族文
化应当不可忽视。
当李莉娅(Lia Lee)被送入医
院时,西方的冷漠又一次出现。当李
家与医院工作人员交流时,通常(特
别是在晚上)没有官方的苗语翻译可
用,而且医生几乎不可能与苗语患者
交流(法迪曼 25 页)。任何人在一天
中的任何时候,都可能发生医疗问
题,然而在院方的西方文化冷漠,忽
视了需要翻译的可能性。这是特别有
问题的,因为在默塞德市六个人中就
有一个是苗族人(225 页),这意味着
苗族翻译应当是一个有用的和合乎逻
辑的医院工作人员的补充。由于缺乏
沟通,一些医生把苗族病人当作动
物,说他们必须“行使兽医疗
法”(25),因为没有共同的语言来理
解病人的感受。西方医生对苗族文化
的漠视是显而易见的,因为由于缺乏
通用语言,医生将苗族从人种贬低为
动物,而在默塞德社区,尽管苗族与
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International index of literature on Miao/Hmong studies
美国人的比例很高,但他们拒绝找翻
译。
西方人关于聪明和受过教育的观
点仅仅是关于学习和理解。实则上,
支持这些事实以及为何这些事实是正
确的原因,完全以西方教育及其思想
为基础。在《神灵抓住,你就倒了》
中,美国医生最为不满的是,莉娅的
父母 Foua 和 Nao Kao 没有给她服用
所需的癫痫药(Fadiman 53 页)。那
种情况下,医生认为作为受教育程度
最高的人,他们应该拥有最大的权
威。由于他们是专家,经过多年的医
学院学习,投入了大量的时间、精力
和金钱,他们知道如何最好地帮助病
人(276 页)。这种占主导地位的心
态是西方医生如此麻木不仁的部分原
因。医生们认为苗族人很愚蠢,他们
的行为既无用又低级,因为其不符合
西方传统规范。他们不理解,苗族人
可能不会说英语,也没有接受过美国
的教育体系,但他们仍然是聪明的
人,依靠自给自足已经生存了几千
年。
在医学领域,国家主义和西方医
学关于身体而不是灵魂信仰的占据优
先地位,这一理念改变了两种文化之
间的动态。对于美国医生来说,医学
目标是拯救一个人的生命,不管这个
人长什么样,说什么语言,或者相信
什么。这一西方观点与苗族的主要信
仰——保存灵魂是最重要的——发生
了很大的冲突。在《神灵抓住,你就
倒了》中,一个美国医生毫无歉意地
说,“生命是第一位的”(法德曼 277
页)。即使父母不愿意为他们的孩子
做手术,因为他们认为孩子的灵魂可
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能会永久受损,这个拯救生命的手术
应该继续下去。这种对他人文化信仰
的漠视,正是西方文化如此无知的原
因,因为它完全忽略了生活的所有部
分——苗族人如此珍视的情感和家庭
生活。
可能有些人会争辩说,事实上也
有美国医生真的关心苗族文化,了解
他们的信仰。虽然这可能是对的,但
大多数美国医生在与其他文化和信仰
进行交流时,仍然深受西方理念的影
响,因此对学习其他文化的知识不感
兴趣。因为这些人太专注于自己的文
化,他们缺乏其他文化的知识和意
识。
安妮·法迪曼(Anne Fadiman)
在《神灵抓住,你就倒了》中,强调
了西方文化与苗族信仰之间的差异,
并探明它们之间如此之深的文化鸿
沟,导致了一类人不尊重地将另一类
人视为异类。尽管这些不同文化中的
人们,可能有“不寻常”的行为或信
仰,但他们都是应受到尊重的人。美
国人僵化地以西方思维方式思考,却
错过了一些人性所提供的东西。家
庭,传统和社区是使生活变得独特和
有意义的关键因素。只关注事物的表
面价值和现实,人的情感部分就丢失
了。
参考文献:
安妮·法迪曼《神灵抓住,你就
倒了》,Farrar Straus&Giroux
Inc,2007 年。
翻译:余岛
([email protected])
2020.5.10
原文链接:
https://digitalcommons.butler.edu/fys_ww_f2019/32
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International index of literature on Miao/Hmong studies
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American Culture Against the Hmong
By Annekah Connolly
Every day throughout the
world, different perspectives,
opinions, and viewpoints collide. The
meeting of these different
backgrounds can be a powerful tool
in developing various ideas,
especially when it creates a shared
knowledge. However, two cultures
forced together does not always
result in a higher shared
understanding. In Anne Fadiman’s
The Spirit Catches You and You
Fall Down, there is a recurring
theme of Western insensitivity as
the American and Hmong cultures
meet. Anne Fadiman utilizes this
recurring theme of insensitivity in
order to present the idea that
ignorance is so divisive that the
underlying respect for other
humans is overlooked.
It is said that humans fear
what they do not understand,
which is part of why American
culture so poorly interacts with
the Hmong and their beliefs. When
the Hmong first move to Merced,
they are greeted as an “exotic
guest” (Fadiman 232), one that is
unique and highly revered.
However, this perspective quickly
changes once the Hmong start
practicing their cultural animal
sacrifices, shamanic ceremonies,
and generally un-American
behavior. Local Americans quickly
reject this new culture simply
because it is different from the
Western ideas they are used to.
Western insensitivity occurs as the
Americans reject the mixing of
Hmong people into their community,
as the majority of Americans in the
area refuse to be accepting of this
new culture. The United States
was created with the intent that
people from all different
backgrounds are free to practice
their own beliefs in a safe space,
and these Western doctors are
acting inconsiderately towards the
Hmong by ignoring this value. In a
country where other cultures and
beliefs are supposed to be
welcome, it is not evident and
“unusual” cultures are
disrespected.
Western insensitivity makes
yet another appearance when Lia
Lee is admitted to the hospital.
There is often no official Hmong
translator available when the Lees
are interacting with hospital staff,
especially at night, and it is nearly
impossible for doctors to
communicate with the Hmong
patients (Fadiman 25). Medical
problems can happen to anyone at
all times of the day, yet the
ignorance of the Western culture
in the hospital overlooks the
possibility of needing a translator.
This is especially problematic
because one of six people in
Merced are Hmong, (225) meaning
that a Hmong translator would be
a useful and logical addition to the
hospital staff. Due to this lack of
communication, some doctors treat
Hmong patients as animals, saying
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International index of literature on Miao/Hmong studies
that they must “practice
veterinary medicine” (25) because
there is no common language to
understand how the patient feels.
The inconsideration of the Western
doctors towards the Hmong culture
is evident as the doctors literally
degrade the Hmong from human
beings to animals due to a lack of
common language, and refuse to
find a translator despite the large
ratio of Hmong to Americans in the
Merced community.
The Western perspective of
being smart and educated is solely
about learning and understanding;
facts, support of those facts, and
the reason why those facts are
true is the basis of Western
education and thinking. In The
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they are nevertheless smart people
who have survived for thousands of
years by being self-sufficient.
In the medical field,
nationalism and Western medical
beliefs about the body, rather than
the soul, take precedence, changing
the dynamic between the two
cultures. For American doctors, the
medical objective is to save a
human life, regardless of what the
person looks like, which language
they speak, or what they believe.
This Western viewpoint greatly
clashes with the Hmong’s prime
belief that soul preservation is of
the utmost importance. In The
Spirit Catches You and You Fall
Down, an American doctor
unapologetically states that “the
life comes first” (Fadiman 277).
Even if the parents do not want to
consent to surgery for their child
due to their beliefs that the child’s
soul may be permanently damaged,
the lifesaving surgery should go on.
This ignorance of another’s cultural
beliefs is precisely what makes
Western culture so unaware,
because it completely misses part
of what life is all about - the
emotional, familial aspect of living
that the Hmong so deeply value.
Some may argue that there
are American doctors who really do
care about the Hmong culture and
getting to know what they believe.
Although this may be true, the
majority of American doctors are
still heavily influenced by Western
ideas when interacting with other
cultures and beliefs, therefore
becoming uninterested in learning
about what other cultures have to
Spirit Catches You and You Fall
Down, the American doctors are
upset that Foua and Nao Kao do
not give Lia the epilepsy medicine
she needs (Fadiman 53). As the
most highly educated people in
that situation, the doctors think
that they should have the most
authority. Since they are experts
who have put in large amounts of
time, energy, and money going
through years of medical school,
they know how to best help a
patient (276). This dominant
mindset is part of what makes the
doctors of this Western culture so
insensitive. The doctors believe
that the Hmong are stupid and
that their practices are irrelevant,
simply because they are not the
traditional Western norms. The
Hmong people may not speak
English or have gone through the
American schooling system, but
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International index of literature on Miao/Hmong studies
offer. Because these individuals are
so focused on their own culture,
they lack knowledge and awareness
of other cultures.
In The Spirit Catches You and
You Fall Down, author Anne
Fadiman highlights the difference
between Western culture and
Hmong beliefs in order to
demonstrate that the cultural
division between them can be so
distracting that it causes one to
disrespectfully treat the other as
different. Although the people in
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these different cultures may have
“unusual” practices or beliefs, they
are all human beings who deserve
to be treated respectfully.
Americans rigidly thinking in the
Western mindset miss out on part
of what humanity has to offer.
Family, tradition, and community
are key factors that make life
unique and meaningful; by only
focusing on the face value and
reality of things, the emotional
part of being human is lost.
Works Cited
Fadiman, Anne. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Farrar Straus &
Giroux Inc, 2007.
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