A statue of Eugenio Maria de Hostos (with children dancing overhead) stands in the Plaza de Beneficencia (Charity Square) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Sculptor Jose Buscaglia Guillermety honored Hostos’ extensive influence in the region by naming the monument, “The Great Citizen of the Americas.” Hostos believed that independence in Puerto Rico and Cuba was a possibility and worked tirelessly to accomplish his goal. He was disappointed when the U.S. rejected his proposals. Not all possibles make it to the finish line.
And yet, Hostos was successful in other possibilities. He traveled extensively and reorganized educational systems in the Dominican Republic (establishing a Teachers College despite local opposition of churches), in Peru (advocating for Chinese people living there) and in Chile. As a professor at the University of Chile he campaigned to allow women into colleges in 1873. Also, Hostos was successful in the development of a railroad system between Chile and Argentina with the first locomotive given his name!
Hostos’ essays covered sociology, psychology, literature, law, and philosophy. He earned acclaim as one of Latin America’s first systematic sociologists. He valued a growth mindset for his culture. Hostos held onto possibles despite great challenges.
In First Nation peoples there is a tradition of a “possibles bag.” Originally, these were leather pouches containing something from the plant world, animal world, mineral world as well as something from human life. For example, one’s possibles bag might hold seeds, herbs, animal teeth or claws, feathers, rocks and bones that were believed to possess some spiritual value. The meaning of a possibles bag includes the fact that plants and animals provide what one needs for life sustenance, while a feather can “smudge” with sweetgrass or sage smoke to invoke spirituality.
Later the possibles bag was adopted by frontiersmen. Their collection also was motivated by “needs”–tobacco and pipe, tin cup, jerky and other edibles, knife, black powder, powder measurer, and flint. A gun slung over the shoulder perhaps was most valued among their day-packing items. What represented their spirituality?
Today we might ask ourselves the same question about spirituality.
On daily TV grinding-down news, I cringe when I see soldier after soldier bearing heavy backpacks to hold onto sustenance. Perhaps they carry pictures of loved ones? One side carries an invisible possibles bag of hopes for independence from an aggressor. The other side must have an invisible possibles bag too. What are their values and hopes?
The war in Ukraine rages on with relentless numbers of families torn asunder–both innocent bystander families and families losing soldiers on both sides.
Surely, we can do better in packing our own invisible possibles bag. Writer Annie Dillard muses, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:
74. What causes, activities, or groups have you joined as an ardent supporter?
75. What part does spirituality and/or religion play in your possibilities?