Reviving Ancestral Practices


In order to cure collective wounds, to recover as a people, to dare to return one’s own gaze and that of those beside you, to look into the eyes of your neighbor, who is no more than the next person, trying to penetrate not only their intellect, but also their sentiment…it is necessary to strengthen our Culture. 

Culture is little more than the process by which all peoples, places, and personal encounters manage to satisfy essential human necessities. This is accomplished by reestablishing daily practices through values, personal relationships, conflict mediation and resolution, and the building of one’s capacity to turn over a new leaf. Thus, we avoid the internalization of an alienating and consumerist culture, one which hinders and impedes the possibility for self-fulfillment, both individual and collective. 

We only need listen, watch, or read the news on the various radio, television, press, or social media to remind ourselves of the need for a conscious departure from the social web. We see phenomena such as murders, infant mortality, mistreatment, migration, discrimination, racism, poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, unemployment, corruption, domestic violence, and more. These news reports can condition, limit, and control potential new interpersonal relationships, while provoking social pathologies that distance people, circumscribing every possibility of being, living, and coexisting well, through harmony, collectivity, and solidarity.  

It has been said that we are living through a changing era, rather than an era of change. Such a concept brings with it the choice and obligation to acknowledge history, and to understand the reality of deciding to live by a pedagogy with more questions than pre-formulated answers. To allow oneself to know what it is to dare, to invent, and to gain experience through trial and error. To increase one’s learning abilities, to recognize that the solutions of yesterday differ from the solutions of today. To recognize the necessity to evolve, taking into account that timeless principles endure beyond the actions that must change.

Thus, the need for recovery of cultural values, healthy practices of coexistence, communication, and protection of the chain of life (environment), the allowing oneself to receive ancestral wisdom, the strengthening of understanding (of history and access to scientific and philosophic origins), the rediscovery spirituality, the satisfaction of essential human needs, such as the strengthening of the rights to sustenance and subsistence, to protection, affection, participation, freedom, free time, creation, identity, transcendence, as an example of the recovery of “gentle power” on the part of mothers and fathers of families, of the recognition and honor children should hold towards their forefathers, the capacity of a reencounter with creativity and intuition, among others. Upon all of this depend the new perspectives, the new relationships, the creation of new paths, the identification of alternative processes of organization and communication, of influence and the reconstruction of new profound leadership with the ability to deconstruct patriarchal practices; in search of the generation of matristic culture, one that values relations between men and women, between children and teenage boys and girls, between grandfathers and grandmothers, in harmony and complementarity, with a sense of collectivity and prosperous fulfillment, and a healthier, happier, and fuller life.   

Olga Elizabeth Pérez Rosales is an artist of Mam Maya descent. She also works as a cultural agent, social therapist, and business administrator, and is currently head of the Municipal Cultural Center of Ostuncalco.