Dead Men’s Path
This is a story about cultural conflict between modern ideas and traditional belief. Michael Obi has a great intention to enforce a high standard of education and to reform the school into the modern one; however, his misguided zeal made him fail to achieve the goal, and eventually led to the tribal-war situation developing between the school and the village. By connecting this story to the textbook, I would like to pinpoint some issues.
Firstly, as the story started, I noticed that Michael Obi’s wife had become completely infected by her husband’s passion for modern method. She told to Michael Obi, saying “we shall have such beautiful gardens and everything will be just modern and delightful”. This indicated that how a culture and beliefs can be such powerful for affecting someone.
Secondly, as the story goes on, the villagers stated that although the path is hardly used, it connects the village shrine with their place of burial. Here, we can understand the villagers have their own religion, and once someone is trying to do something bad for ancestors or to destroy their beliefs, they would fight without hesitation. On the other hand, the priest also stated how important the path toward this village, by saying that “It is a path for their ancestors to visit and for their children coming in…” Based on the villagers’ statements above, we can assume that their worldview belongs to metaphysical as well as religious worldview. Helve mentioned that “the worldview can be classified into three types—scientific, metaphysical and religious”. Metaphysical worldview is a worldview that predicated on what the believers hold to be sound theoretical and abstract reasoning devoid of an empirical base (p.75, paragraph 1, line 4), and the religious worldview has given people perception of the world. For the villagers, they believed that walking on the path is the way to get closer to their ancestors, which would protect the village and bring luck for them. This corresponds to Mcguire statement, mentioning that “Religion is one of the most powerful, deeply felt, and influential forces in human society. (p.77, paragraph 1, line 13).
Thirdly, from Michael Obi’s response to the priest, saying “the whole purpose of school is to eradicate just such beliefs as that” which immediately reflects that Michael Obi is too arrogant to tolerate the traditional beliefs. [But, here I would like to say that the villagers do not respect the right of property for the school grounds, either]. In addition to his arrogance, I think that he lacks of conception of worldview. “Worldview is a culture’s orientation toward god, humanity, nature, questions of existence, the universe and cosmos, life, moral and ethical reasoning, suffering, death, and other philosophical issues that influence how its members perceive their world.” It is the culture that affects our worldview. We cannot control others’ lives, beliefs and religions. Besides, according to Pennington, stating that if one understands a culture’s worldview and cosmology reasonable accuracy can be attained in predicting behaviors and motivations in other dimensions. (p.73, paragraph 2, line 5). Hence, I wonder Michael Obi has less or no conception of worldview.
The problem with Michael Obi is that he is so focused on reforming the school into the modern world. He completely ignored the traditional tribal’s perception. Even though the traditional beliefs are somehow unacceptable for modern society, but I think that the religions as well as beliefs can co-exist, just like the priest said “let the hawk perch, and let the eagle perch”. Richtere noted that “the chances are that the new neighbor who moves next door may be a Christian, Jew, Hindu, Muslim, or Jain. Thus learning about religions new to us may, in our global society, be simply inevitable.” ( p.77, paragraph 3, line 15). In sum, to create a mutually beneficial future, we should learn how to appreciate and respect the whole beings of those around us.