The Copper Woman and her wisdom between Knowing and Doing

Today while waiting at the Migration office to renew my residence for one more year, I could finish reading the book I was holding for quite a long time; Daughters of Copper Woman, by Anne Cameron. The story is quite extraordinary, because it’s a narrative of creation and formation of the world described with an aborigine mythology’s perspective. Such mythology has been wiped out by dominant colonial regime of the past, by its political and religious paradigm. Surely still in Latin America there stand Aztec, Maya and Inca’s mythologies and their gods relating to world’s creation and formation. This book by Cameron has slightly different perspective even, since her story comes from Canada, from the native people of Vancouver Island.

What I liked a lot about her story was that it was more complex and explanatory for the creation of different human sub-races and that it was a female-dominant-discourse, until people from the Europe came with their male-dominant paradigm and turned females into sexual objects. It’d be a mere cliché to say that we are still living in a world where white-European-male-dominant paradigm is spurred.

I came to Migration office for two days in a row; yesterday to inquiry what the web page didn’t allow me to access, and today to finalise the renew process. When I came here yesterday I faced a racist act by a male public servant who works at Migration office. He was talking to his colleague who sat next to him, eye-cutting as to indicate an Asian person, assuming that I wouldn’t understand Spanish and what he was referring (Should I have done a reclaim?). Today I came to the Migration office again, sitting on the same desk but facing a different public servant; this time, a female. She was almost over-helping me, even writing a ministry’s letter so that I can pursue directly my residence renewal process without waiting further online work. Later I went where she indicated me, and I could finalise mine in a day.

I’m not trying to separate male and female as discriminatory and non-discriminatory dichotomy, but it was just interesting to see what was happening while reading a book about female-dominant-aborigine mythology in a western-dominating country. But among all other observation I had, there was one phrase that stuck in my head for a while:

“Copper Woman warned Hai Nai Yu (;her grand-daughter) that the world would change and times might come when Knowing would not be the same as Doing. And she told her that Trying would always be very important.” – p.53, Daughters of Copper Woman.

The relation between those three words -Knowing, Doing and Trying- became quite clear in the wisdom giving. Even to emphasise those words start with a capital letter. This got me to think to different sub-questions:

  1. There is a gap between Knowing and Doing, and we call it Trying?
  2. If so, is Trying not actually Doing?
  3. Knowing the toughness of Doing (which is separated and hard to reach), should I appreciate just with Trying of others or of myself?

In a primitive society it is easy to explain. We knew that we needed to get food to eat, so we did collecting frutes, cultivating energy sources or hunting protein sources. We did, because we knew. Now when doing all these things didn’t satisfy the knowing, we said we tried, at least. Maybe yes, the era of gods and mythology wasn’t really different that that or our current era, and in that sense, we repeat the same structure. In it, even though it is named ‘at least’, Copper Woman claims us to try.

We all know what is good. All things in universe know how to distinguish good and bad. But still we suffer daily, because what we know is not what we do. Maybe ignorance plays a critical role here too. But the fools are the ones who can be easily convinced. We know, but we don’t act. We find reasons and excuses for not trying.

Perhaps she was right about what she said. The more our society gets complicated, the wider the gap is generated between Knowing and Doing, as so we almost struggle to try. Knowing but not Doing becomes more comfortable as with examples of vegetarianism and gender violence, and people of Trying confront questioned every step of their Trying to justify their intent to reach toward Doing.

I don’t want to conclude that Trying is not actually Doing. I don’t want to underestimate the efforts made by people of Trying. I share the perspective of what Copper Woman dictated: The effort that people make for Trying is very important in the era where Knowing and Doing got divorced. And surely, those efforts should be appreciated with a great acknowledge.

So I’m back to the initial comment of what happened in the Migration office the other day. I knew that what he did in front of me, or to say, in front of the representation that I carried to his front desk, was something to be reconsidered. But I didn’t speak out. I just mentioned that I am also Hispanophone that I understood what he said, trying to modify my education and respect in any way. Maybe I should have reclaimed to talk his supervisor to give him a corrective action, since there would be more minority migrants facing the same situation over and over if not be cut. Accordingly, my answers for the mentioned sub-questions were clear:

  1. Yes, the gap between Knowing and Doing is called Trying. Copper Woman was the wise one.
  2. No, Trying is a mere justification of our act to reach to Doing. Those two are not synonyms.
  3. But still, I should value high my own way of Trying and of others’. Sometimes I get harsher of others’ Trying than that of mine, but Trying itself should be validated and appreciated.

After all, I’m really grateful for the lady that helped me the second day. I don’t know her name, but I named her Hope, and she was the reason for others not to give up Trying.

Maybe she also, was one of the daughters of Copper Woman.


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