May 2004

How Do You Change the World
…when it doesn’t want to be changed?
by Jennifer N. Ayers, BA LPN ICCE

 

Last night, I watched a show on the National Geographic channel which featured a tribe of the native people from the Amazon jungle.  They did not wear any clothing, hunted and fished for their food, made their own huts and utensils from the land; they wore what appeared to be bamboo tubes which protruded through their chins.  At first, I had to wonder, “How can they live like that?”  It is easy for us to stand back in judgment and proclaim that these people are “backwards.”  But this is the only life they’ve ever known.  And they appear to be happy and healthy.  While this lifestyle totally baffles me because I don’t understand it, it is perfectly fine for them.  I can’t say there is anything wrong with it.  It is just vastly different from what I know and have experienced in life.

 

It would be easy for us Westerners to come to these people and offer them clothing, shelter, medicine, furniture, and try and convince them to conform to our standards of living.  But, what incentive is there for them?  Without the necessity nor the incentive, there is nothing to motivate these people to change what they already see as a very functional and efficient way of living.  And what benefit would it have for them?  It would do nothing more than remove them from the culture they’ve become so deeply immersed in and it would rob future generations from knowing this culture as well.  We have nothing to offer them that they need or want, but perhaps if we allow ourselves to understand their lifestyle, we may learn a great deal from them.

 

The desire of our Western culture is to master and conquer all things, making events predictable, measurable and orderly.  Our scientification of immeasurable processes—emotional, spiritual, psychological, ethereal – takes awe-inspiring sacred events and quantizes them into mechanized processes.  When we rationalize those things which lie beyond our understanding or immediate grasp, we reduce their significance; we dehumanize, despiritualize, and devalue the original intent.  However, for us “modern” members of society, it is important, if not imperative, that we have control over our environment.  Our unnatural desire for control is fueled by our culturally-ingrained fear of the unknown.

 

One of my particular passions is childbirth.  I love to read about, learn from, experience, share about, and teach about birth.  Like death, it is a momentous milestone which serves as one of the bookends of life.  The human construct of medicine was intended to restore health and homeostasis to people.  Its intent is to treat pathology; to recognize and cure diseases.  But, medicine also serves to control life.  It attempts to manipulate birth and prolong death.  It is one of the foremost Western ideals that demonstrates an intense desire for control versus having faith and trust in the superiority of nature.

 

Our first mistake is in believing in the fallacy that nature is imperfect and needs to be improved upon.  Our second mistake is attempting to “fix” it. 

 

When it comes to childbirth, the vast majority of women are perfectly (physically) capable of conceiving, growing, nurturing, and birthing a baby through their bodies with no medical intervention.  But, psychologically-spiritually-emotionally, these same women have been conditioned to believe that birth somehow requires assistance; that their bodies are imperfect and need help; that it is unsafe, dangerous, and even foolish to give birth outside of the scope of managed medical care.  However, what these same women fail to realize is that any attempt to manage the birth process is in fact mismanagement of an already-perfect process which requires no interference.

 

I have come into contact with so many women who subscribe to the precept that their OB knows all; the “doctor-as-God” complex.  They have little to no faith in their own bodies, instead, trusting blindly in test results, opinions and prescriptions.  They are thoroughly convinced that without that c-section, their baby would have never survived.  They firmly profess that the epidural was the best thing that ever happened to birth; that no woman should needlessly suffer and that no medals of heroism are given out for suffering the pain of childbirth.  However, their pain was mostly self-imposed when they sacrificed their autonomy and abandoned their faith in themselves and in birth.

 

I feel called and compelled to somehow re-instill the notion that birth is normal, natural, spiritual and perfect.  I want to convince women to trust in their bodies to give birth, as this is what it was physically designed to do.  I want women to experience the empowerment of having an unmedicated, unmanaged labor and birth where they take ownership of their bodies and responsibility for their babies.  I want to find the words—the way—to enlighten childbearing women with the innate knowledge that has been replaced with the culturally-ingrained ideas about pregnancy and childbirth.  So far, when I approach women with my ideas, challenge them about their elective inductions, cesareans, and epidurals, I am met with disdain and fierce opposition.  They react as though they must vehemently defend their medicalized views in order to continue to convince themselves that they are doing what is best.  Breaking down the walls which have been built in Westernized women since their own medically mismanaged births is a monumental task.  I am continually trying to find the cracks in those walls where I can gain entrance and begin to topple them.  But, in the meantime, it has become a noble and tiring task for me, fired by passion, to change a world that doesn’t want to be changed.

 

 

©2004 Starr-Rhapsody Creations.  All Rights Reserved.

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