Stephen Prothero: A look back, a step forward

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the Akan language of West Africa there is a concept called Sankofa. San means return; ko mean go; and fa means take. So Sankofa refers to returning to fetch something you once discarded so you can take it back home. A popular symbol used to represent this concept depicts a mythical bird that flies forward with its head turned back. And those who practice Sankofa in this tradition, by taking the best from the past into the future, are understood to be wise. There isn't much of this ideal in America. New stands at the center of our national mythology: New World, New York, New Deal, New Frontier. When we leave something behind, we are not inclined to go back and fetch it.

There is of course much of 2008 to leave behind, not the least being our greatest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. But there is much to go back and fetch, too, including the collective determination of our voters to open the White House to a man who could not even have voted when Abraham Lincoln was alive.

Read the whole piece.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted December 29, 2008 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]
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