Week 8 Reflection
I thought that the presentation about shamanism was presented well in regards to the information. Brenda gathered a lot of perspectives. For the interviewers, she collected a sorts of the perspectives such as a young Hmong man who isn’t that traditional, a young Hmong man who is really traditional, an older Hmong man who is raised under the shamanism but also had multiple views of it, an old Hmong womym who is raised strictly under shamanism, and a young Hmong womyn who also believes in shamanism. They all had very convincing arguments and gave a pretty well holistic view of shamanism. If only they had a Hmong Christen to be interviewed.
As for the mainstream videos, they were done terribly. As a someone who’s exposed to the religion my entire life, I still have a lot to learn. I think that the shows and movies did not put enough effort to really develop a competence for my religion. When I watched the “House” video, I thought to myself, “this could never happen. A shaman cannot perform their ritual without their altar and their shaman materials.” These videos are definitely very Hollywood; they only like to show the most dramatic parts of an ethnicity’s culture. This also brings up the epilepsy. Non-Hmong people are the only ones that I know who is fascinated by that. For me personally, I don’t know anyone who has epilepsy and they become a shaman. From what I know, my relatives became shamans because they were sick, but they don’t have seizures, due to a spirit constantly sits on them. This is the most prominent sign of becoming a shaman that I know of.
Do I think the shaman religion is dying? I kind of think so. For the longest time, shamanism could be carried down to many generations because Hmong people lived in homogenously and in isolation. The exposure to different people with different backgrounds can easily influence the religion to change. I see this happening with the young Hmong Americans. There are so many influential factors that are constantly in their lives, they can choose whatever that they like. To be honest, shamanism is not the most practical thing to learn. It takes a lot of time and deep understanding of the language. If the Hmong American children don’t know the language or have the time to learn it with their parents, then it is more than likely that the children won’t learn it. Which brings up my topic about the hierarchal and the clash of individualism.
When I was reading the article, I thought that it didn’t cover enough. I think it deals a lot of the writer. The writer is a white womyn. Although she said that she has a lot of experience, it’s still not enough. She incorporated the concept of “sibling society” as a replacement of the hierarchal system in the Hmong population. Thinking of it, I don’t think I would like the system because I don’t think I would like the new values—it may be even worse. I actually really do like the hierarchal system and also having the freedom to make my own choices. Individualism isn’t bad, it’s only bad if used the wrong way. With the hierarchal system in placed, it actually complements individualism. What is positive about the system is that it’s emphasizes on community. It ties everyone together. My parents don’t know everything, and I don’t think I would want them to make all my decisions. Since I am educated and I usually know what I am doing, it’s better for me to make my own decisions. At the same time, I haven’t forgotten my duties as their daughter, and that’s what I choose as my freewill. Due to the hierarchal system, it ties me back to my family and community.