Sunday, January 12, 2020

History Lessons: What is it good for?

A chilly, but peaceful, Sunday morning.
Yesterday, I attended (and sang at) the funeral of my Uncle Ned. It was wonderful to see Aunt Betty surrounded by family and friends. Before the funeral, I sat for a bit and watched the slideshow that pictorially depicted Ned's life well lived, most all of the photos with the love of his life right by his side. I enjoyed the stories told, the memories shared...his eulogy and obituary revealed a side of an uncle I never really knew, but I learned that Ned Case was a very intelligent man, and loved the Earth he lived on.

As a child at family events, activities and gatherings (both Starks and Lund), I was simply "aware" of the adults. I kinda looked to them as the core, my "base of operations", so to speak...our safety nets...and then we'd go out and play and well, be kids. Ride snowmobiles around and around the property. Waterski all day out on Ocean Lake until our fingers and toes were all pruny. Hunt for rocks and fossils way out in the middle of a vast praireland. Play on the water slides, then soak in the hot spring pools in Thermopolis. Gather for Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was blessed with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who lived nearby and played very important roles in my raising, if but just to merely be present in my life.

Yet, I also have another family: my Northern Arapaho family. My childhood was never completely void of the Tribe of my birth, as my [adopted] parents respected my Indian heritage and would take me to the Reservation for visits. I remember spending time with my great-grandparents, Samuel and Cecilia Warren. Cecilia was blind, so each time I visited, they would lay her hands on top of my head so she could feel how much I had grown since the last visit. I also remember her only speaking the Arapaho language, so my Great-Grandfather had to interpret for me. I remember visits from my birth mother, Mary namesake, Carol Blanco...and my grandparents, Charles and Loretta Jones. My Grandmother gave me my Indian name: Sweet Singing Woman.

No family is without trials and hardships. No child/teenhood is without trouble and drama. I have no regrets, for these are the people, places and things (the Nouns of Life) that have shaped me into the person I am today. On my journey, I have added so many wonderful Nouns to my own tribe, and have learned to let go of the bad, embrace the good, continue to learn, wonder and the life I was meant to live, and be the person I was meant to be. In doing so, I find that I'm finally reaping the rewards of love, happiness and peace.

Ah, peace. Raising my own children wasn't without trials, hardships, trouble and drama. Whenever they ask me what I want for Mother's Day, my birthday or Christmas, the answer is the same: "I want some peace and quiet!" After a while, it became a joke: "Mom, what do you want for your birthday? And don't say peace and quiet."  But...that's what I want! I want peace on earth, goodwill for all. I want quiet moments to pray and meditate, to think, to breathe, enjoy a sunrise or sunset, listen to the birds, watch the deer, smell the flowers. I want to get a restful night's sleep, without my brain going 100 miles an hour about all the trials, hardships, trouble and drama that's going on in our families, tribes, cities, counties, states, country and the planet.

I love to listen to or read interviews. Perhaps that's why I love to listen to NPR so much, because I love to hear it from the "horse's mouth". I especially like when they interview bands and musicians, but I also get new perspectives by listening to key commentators on current affairs. I also like to do personal research on the issues for the same reason, and recently ran across an article by Penn Today, "A History of U.S.-Iran Relations", a Q & A with John Ghazvinian, interim director of the Middle East Center. A quote in the interview caught my eye, in regards to the historical relationship between the US and Iran:

"...I think too much of a fixation on recent events and times obscures that fact that this has been a long and very positive relationship in many ways..."

The root of any war or conflict begins with a Noun...a person, place or thing. The same can be said for peace. There is a song we'd sing at Trinity as the Peace Song: "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me..."   How can there be peace on earth, if it doesn't begin? And why doesn't it begin?

Because we don't ever let it begin, and we don't give it a chance. We still have a hard time letting go of the hurt, hate and anger stemming from old wounds and arguments. Politics and religion have not helped, for it is in the name of God, Jesus, Allah or the Great Spirit, we go to war. In the name of political partisanship, we divide our very own families and tribes. We are forced to choose sides, pick battles that only tear us apart...when all we really want is some peace and quiet.

But we don't have the Nouns in power to make that happen. Machines fueled by greed and lust for money (and safeguarded by attorneys) keep control by using ignorance, division and fear. In the mean time, we work ourselves into the ground to maintain said Machines. In the mean time, the division weakens us. In the mean time, we sacrifice our own sons and daughters in wars and conflicts we never even started or wanted. Our own US history attests to the fact that there is nothing civil about a "Civil War"...yet, here we are, in a war with words, posts, memes and blogs, adding to the confusion and chaos...which is exactly what the Machine needs.

What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

I recently posted a meme on Coffee Pong's Facebook Page:
"Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

In my own hometown of Riverton, WY, and my tribe, the Northern event further galvanized the divide between Whites and Indians: The shooting of Andy Antelope. While facts and opinions have been skewed, one truth remains clear and the same: After centuries of antagonism and violence, there is still a divide. There are still many problems and issues that remain unsolved and unaddressed. The elephant in the room gets fatter and fatter because we feed it with lies, gossip and discriminate opinions, rather than putting it on a diet of facts and reality.

It breaks my heart when I go to a family gathering - a wedding, a funeral, a holiday - and see some sitting on one side of the room, refusing to engage with others. It pains me when I know about strife that prevents family members from even attending a family gathering. It's very awkward when I [naively] reach out to hug a family member that I haven't seen in a long time, because of the division...and the love I wish to give is not accepted.

I really try not to, but I fully accept that I may have, in my lifetime - knowingly or not - hurt someone...made someone angry. News flash: we're all human. When I've been hurt, I don't always react the way I should. Why? Because I've been hurt! And I don't like the feeling of being hurt. None of us do. My own history lessons have taught me that it's one thing to let things go...but entirely another when it comes to tolerating continued abuse. In my First and Second Lives, I used to ignorantly (maybe naively) retreat, licking my wounds, letting my own hurt and anger fester to a point where, given the opportunity, I might retaliate in an unwise manner...

....but that just feeds the elephant and the Machine. Is it so naive to put aside what divides us, and come together to work on what we share in common? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

There is a Talking Circle "Towards Community Harmony: Healing For Tomorrow" planned for this coming Saturday, January 18 at 10AM at the CWC Intertribal Education Center. I encourage residents of both Riverton and the Wind River Reservation to attend. The first steps towards peace should be an open, civil communication and recognition of the hurt, division, and issue(s). I will be there...not sure of what I will contribute yet, but you can be sure that I will be doing a whole lot of listening.  Hopefully, the event will result in a new beginning of a "long and very positive relationship in many ways."

On Facebook:
Riverton Peace Mission

Let there be peace on earth...and let it begin with me.

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