You worldview is flawed, grotesque if not dangerous

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Dear Editor,

I write in response to Ropeti Ale’s article titled “Samoan cultural traditions, the controversy and the God in us…”

Mr. Ale, I am not sure whether to grimace, giggle, guffaw or be profoundly awed by your rhetoric.

Anyhow, in the spirit of sharing and dissemination of knowledge, I write this response.

First of all, I must say that I am somewhat dumbfounded by reading, perusing, analyzing and especially trying to make sense of many of your distorted claims and reasoning. I understand that your “knowledge” is influenced and forged by certain aspects of your background both culturally and academically.

Such is the norm for most people. Your seeming depth of “knowledge”, however, appears to be quite unique if not unconventional, notably in how you use it to apply and incorporate native aspects of the Samoan culture, tradition and cosmology into a sort of a mythical (for a lack of a better word) worldview.

Such worldview, in the contemporary context, is ethnocentric at best and racist, xenophobic and/or bigoted at worst. Your worldview is blatantly flawed and grotesque if not viscerally dangerous. Moreover, it is brazenly ironic (fa’auigalua), contradicting (fete’ena’i) and convoluted (lavelave / gaogaosa).

Your position and beliefs on the origin of the Samoans, again, are based on myths and legends and therefore openly speculative. But even if true, as some other people in your clique believe, the intrinsic exclusivity and biases that result from your extreme interpretations and advocacy of those beliefs naturally lead to ethnocentrism and xenophobia.

You keep accusing the palagi (white man) and other foreigners for their perceptions of Samoans as being “bad [and] morally inadequate” and yet you hold the same malice towards them for atrocities and other evils they have brought upon us Samoans. 

The faultfinding and denigrating are non-stop. And then you continue to portray our ancestors as being autonomously wise as “noble” savages.

The irony is that if they were that perfect, you would not have known and commented on their unique approach towards resolving “injustice[s], particularly murder.” Moreover you seem to believe that Samoans have a monopoly on universal values such as alofa (love) and others. That is absurd to say the least.

Your claim that “as Samoans our sources of wisdom are our proverbs, allegories and stories or myths,” is laughable. I actually gain a lot of insights from such sources too, but to laud them as exclusive and sole sources of wisdom, as you continue to espouse and promote, is cause enough for people to question the veracity and breadth of such wisdom.

I have painfully been trying to see and understand how modern scientific facts, medicines, technologies, theories and other universal truths will have been discovered using our proverbs, allegories and myths.

In other words, such superficial claims negate the role of all the worthy contributions in art, philosophy, science, religion, and literature of the “white man” and others. Speaking of literature - and to illustrate an irony - I’ve noticed how you like to quote Thomas Paine, and not Tagaloa or one of your favorite native “philosophers”.

Therefore, it’s highly unlikely that you have acquired your seeming “fount” of knowledge exclusively from our alaga’upu, tala o le vavau, tala fa’atusa, etc. I’m also convinced that had you not ventured into the “white man’s” world in your pursuit of knowledge, you would not have been able to formulate and articulate your worldview - albeit partisan, subjective and prejudiced.

In other words, you still owe the “white man” some portion of your “personal enlightenment,” at the very least the use of English to articulate your views. So stop biting the hand the feeds/fed you.

Furthermore, you like to base your theories, premises, logic and arguments on things that are fickle, social and, therefore, impermanent. Cultural things like architecture (maota, poutu, etc.) and legends of the sun. Your overreach in your interpretations and symbolic associations is carelessly forced, artificial and contrived.

And so the problem with your version of Truth is that it is relative at best. As a result, you keep dwelling on things that underpin your views on Samoa’s primacy, if not supremacy, at the expense of the more intelligible and universal belief in the family and brotherhood of Man.

You espouse the “us vs. them” mentality and keep referring to Samoa and Samoans as if we’re still in the BC era. Based on your underlying and implied definition of being “Samoan”, you almost had to go back that far to find what you’re after - if at all.

Samoans today, I’m sure, all have intermingled with others of the “family of man” (children of God, not the Sun). For example, I have some German/European blood in my family although I always like to claim my “Samoanness”.

I’m sure your name Ropeti (Robert) also hints on some “white man” connection and so as your avid supporter Roger Brunt.

I therefore hate to burst your bubble (albeit a tiny one) and say that recent studies and advanced research on genetics and DNA have found that race is more a social, as opposed to a biological, construct.

If true, then that supports the notion that all of humankind have a common ancestor. In other words, your Samoan pillar rises from a common and shared base and root with other peoples of the world. According to a favorite maxim of mine, “All truth can be circumscribed into one great whole.”

In that context, relatively speaking, we - white man, black man, brown man, etc. - are all children of God. In the words of one of my favorite poets, William Wordsworth:

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; 

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting

And cometh from afar;

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come 

From God, who is our home:

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!”

Knowledge can be empirical or divine; hence the difference between being learned or knowledgeable and being truly wise.

“O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! 

 

When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not.” - (2 Nephi 9:28)

A favorite scripture of mine from the Book of Mormon, in case you’re curious.

 

LV Letalu

Lalomanu and Utah 

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