A World Without Boundaries

As a people who have suffered a long history of oppression, atrocity, and illiteracy, the Hmong have formed narrow mutual-support into multilayers of identity based on geographic and regional clusters, and shared clan names. Linguistic evolution, common cultural practices, and mutual support formation have been the cause of identity development.

Listening to verbal communication about different clans, sub-clans marked by shared ceremonial practices, and regional groups marked by dialects and traditional costumes, we have learned that the diversity within the Hmong community is confusing and complex. We have also learned from life stories that have been passed on from generations to generations about the different circumstantial experiences that served as the root-causes of group identity formation.

While historians and researchers focus on historical events and major characteristic traits pertaining to the Hmong as we continue searching for our root of origin, our interconnections with different people in the world continue to challenge what really represent our identity in today’s modern society. The influence of educational institutions and policies that have far-reaching effects on linguistic and cultural changes within the last 50 years have brought different values and peeled away some layers of group identity in the Hmong community.

Linguistic acquisition, education, and cultural adaptation that serve as powerful change agents have prompted on-going discourses among young Hmong on the issue of what define Hmong and whether or not the different layers of group identity be necessary. Some have questioned and asked to redefine the purpose for which the Hmong need to maintain his/her group identity in modern society in which all the elements of ethnic identity are not distinguishable.

In a broader context of humanity, the increase in racial/ethnic interconnections and educational experiences should have had enough impacts on how we view ourselves as humans in today’s world. Unfortunately, despite destruction, human cruelty and hatred, and wars that have caused human suffering across racial and ethnic boundaries, humans are still divided by racial, ethnic, social, economic, political, and ideological boundaries.

Ironically, in this age of human civilization peak, humans still box themselves in their small world of narrow reasoning. Until humans, who possess languages as the most precious communication tools, realize we cannot escape our own destructions unless we communicate meaningfully, we will continue to cause suffering and death upon ourselves across boundaries and around the globe.

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