TRAVEL THERE: ARE WE ANY DIFFERENT?
Looking back on Mayan society, we might be quick to blame priests or kings, perhaps even warriors or ambassadors. Study history and you will know their sins are legion, but we allow the same sort of characters to control us today, as surely as the Mayans were controlled then.
Parallels I See
Mayans bound the foreheads of infants to achieve a fashionable look and we may wonder why anyone would do that, but don’t we rush out to rearrange anything on our bodies we don’t like? We may not file our teeth and set jewels in them, but we will pierce the skin under our lip and keep expanding the hole until those around us can see our gum line. We are perhaps even more greatly ruled by fashion than the Mayans.
Here in the United States we argue about our government, yet we allow the same politicians with their same solutions to dominate our legislating bodies year after year, forcing more and more regulations down our throat. Some of these bureaucrats are hired and appointed by our government, but too many are re-elected and re-elected long after they’ve proven how they fail to keep any promise that they make.
I’m guessing the average Mayan on the street wasn’t so different from me. My sacrificial pyramid is delivered to my house daily on my TV and computer screen and in case that’s not enough, I carry a phone, so I can check in on the mounting atrocities at any time. I listen to what the media tells me, just like the Mayans listened to their priests and royalty. I hate so much of what I see around me and yet, I feel so powerless to do anything about it.
The Mayans didn’t wake up one morning and say, “Hey, let’s have a society where the rich get richer, the powerful get more powerful and the rest of the population is ground under foot like ashes. And let’s create a religion where thousands upon thousands are murdered in gruesome ceremonies and we can pretend it makes the sun come back.” Their situation grew out of a series of circumstances. At some point, the tide could have been turned, but they let the opportunity slip away. Their great intellectual capacity and their amazing creativity could have been the foundation of a beautiful utopia, but instead it created a sort of hell.
I pray fervently that we Americans are not making the same sort of mistakes. I hope it is not too late to gain some control over our “priests and royalty.” I hope our religion of self-gratification does not one day demand the egregious sacrifice of our fellow citizens.
Forgive me my doom-saying. Travel is fun and filled with exposure to beautiful things. That’s what I usually focus on. But travel should also expose us to things that make us look at our own lives and think about the way the world is going around us. We should question whether we are doing the right things and promoting the right ideas.
Chichen Itza made me stop and think about my world. I promise to get back to the fun and the beautiful, but I will always try to see something more when I travel than mere entertainment. One more post about Chichen Itza and I am done.