August 18: Flag Day in Bolivia. School children parade through the streets, each school dressed up in a different costume. Some march, some dance. One grade school had all the children dress up according to gender. The boys wore U.S. Army-style camouflage uniforms and carried toy rifles. The girls wore all white with Florence Nightingale-style nurse caps and capes, each carrying in her tiny hand a toy first-aid kit.
After the parade thousands of parents and schoolchildren ate a snack while sitting on the curb, or tried to find a bus with an empty seat to take them home, or walked down the sidewalk in a river of humanity returning to their individual dwellings with their unique joys and sufferings.
As I walked upstream through this river of humanity I noticed the little boys in their army uniforms pretending to kill people with their toy rifles. Many little girls in nurses' uniforms were crying as their mothers dressed in First World styles hurried them along, more intent on getting to where they were going than soothing the distraught children.
This got me reflecting on the aggressive nationalism that is celebrated in the globalized media that originates in the USA and is broadcast around the world. GI Joe literally and figuratively is promoted as a good guy killing bad guys. War is promoted as an ideal. The role of women is to nurse the wounded and mourn the dead.
As I continued walking I came upon a different group of schoolchildren. They were dressed in traditional textiles of indigenous Andean culture. It was a dance costume. The roots of autochthonous Andean textiles and dances go back thousands of years. These arts can be looked at as the "media" of the ancestors, transmitting the values and beliefs of the culture. What message are this media broadcasting?
Ayni and Pachamama are two of the ancestors' main concepts that still live on today. Ayni is often translated as "reciprocity, interconnection, cause and effect." Pachamama can be translated as "Mother Earth and space/time continuum." These concepts also are expressed in Nichiren Buddhism, which more than 10,000,000 people practice around the world with the lay group SGI. These messages of unity and oneness are, of course, very different from the antagonistic duality of "good guy/bad guy" that First World media promotes.