Kuna children enjoy great freedom, and are allowed to run about everywhere, to touch everything, to shriek or cry to their heart's content, and to develop according to their own capabilities. No consideration is required of them. They, however, get almost unlimited consideration. Being so strongly affirmed of their self-value, Kuna children, already in their first years of life, take on responsibility for themselves and for their brothers and sisters. They mature early and often at only four years of age do adult tasks out of their own motivation. For example, they join in collecting food, fishing, fetching water, grating coconuts, or doing the laundry. In a natural way, children contribute out of their own volition, for the welfare of the family, without ever being forced to do so. 


The mothers have in this respect a vital role, too, because from them, the children learn more than walking, speaking the mother tongue, and treating others with love. Thus, traditional women's professions as we know them - housewife, educator, teacher, nurse - do not necessarily have to be a means or instrument of oppressing women. On the contrary, as long as these roles are valued as important achievements in the society in which they live, the women who perform these roles are highly esteemed in their community. 




In the creation story of the Kuna, the Anmar Danikid Igala, there is an impressive admonition that the aggressive, belligerent principle should form an outer wall of protection around the community and that in its centre the life-giving principle has its place and is protected. What happens when the principles are interchanged and the aggressive nature is taken into the centre (see patrilocality, male heads of families, etc.) is also described: they change into monsters inimical to life because their aggressive qualities are then channelled wrongly and directed against the members of their own community. Mother Earth and humans will experience unspeakable suffering as a consequence, as the story goes, from the formerly beloved mother who embodied beauty only the bones remain, and the originally gentle movements of the earth change into natural catastrophes-that this already happens in large parts of the world is beyond doubt. 


A worldview that centres around the mother is, therefore, not a philosophy of women but a philosophy of life. With the Kuna, this is propagated by men. It is a mystery of life that views a fertile nature and motherhood as the basis of our lives and wishes to live in harmony with both. Neither gender is seen as better or stronger. Women and men form a social, economic, cultural, and spiritual equilibrium. 




The author's shamanic foster father, Olokinwinapi, asked her, "Did you know that nature is female? Therefore, she has to be protected just a women have to be protected. Nature and women are the same. Without them, we would not survive one day. Therefore, you an see that a people who honors nature also honors its women and protects then."

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