Honest Abe and the First Nations

4

February 12, 2019-

It is human nature to approach, and evaluate, other people by the same standards one holds to oneself.  It takes a lot of open-mindedness, and patience, for the average person to view people of different cultures as those of different cultures view themselves.  When  homogenization of cultural viewpoint takes deep root in a nation’s dominant culture, there is the appearance, if not the reality, of racism.

From thence, has risen the persistent assessment of people not of the dominant culture as being somehow inferior to those assimilated to said culture.  President Abraham Lincoln, on several occasions, hosted First Nations delegations, at the White House, during various points during his Presidency.  His purpose was to encourage them to assimilate into “the Christian culture of the majority of American citizens.” , as he regarded traditional ways of the nomadic among the indigenous peoples, and their non-Christian traditional Faith Communities, to be just shy of barbaric.

Not addressing the more than 200 years of atrocities committed by Europeans against both First Nations people and African-Americans, in the contiguous territory of the United States, and the nearly 200 earlier years of brutality against people of colour in other parts of the Americas, Mr. Lincoln, perhaps pre-occupied with the Civil War, found time to carefully evaluate, and dismiss all but 38 of the cases against 302 Lakota fighters, for alleged atrocities against the settlers of European descent, in the newly admitted State of Minnesota, during the six-week Dakota War of 1862.  Those 38 men were executed, in the largest non-combat execution act in U.S. History.

His record is far murkier, and less circumspect, with regard to the Sand Creek Massacre, in Colorado 1864 and the Long Walk, of Dineh and Inde (Navajo and Apache) people, from their traditional lands to Boque Redondo, in eastern New Mexico, beginning in 1863.  The Homestead Act and Pacific Railway Act of 1862 made settlement by European-Americans easier, and movement of goods far more efficient, but made no consideration, at all, of the needs of First Nations residents.

In fairness, Lincoln sincerely believed in the importance of  “civilizing” the First Nations people, which the leaders of those Nations, far from being ignorant or savage, viewed as both ironic and ludicrous, given the “brother against brother” reality of much of the “War Between the States”.  Cochise and, later, Geronimo,  saw the propensity for fighting among all groups in the Southwest as being pandemic:  Whites against whites, whites and Mexicans against each other, both groups against First Nations-and vice versa,

Lincoln espoused forward-looking policies towards southern slaves, primarily to ruin the economy of the Confederacy, whilst viewing people of African descent as being “legally” 3/5 of a free white man and viewing indigenous people as only worth the price of the land from which they might be removed-unless they became Christian. Abraham Lincoln was a man of his times, and can’t really be judged solely by the standards of our own imperfect era, however much more enlightened we might like to view ourselves.  He does not, however, deserve to be regarded as a universal emancipator of all those who were being persecuted during his tenure.

My own view is that people of various groups are more alike than different and that we, of each group, have more to learn from one another than we have to impart on others.  This, I have learned, consistently, from visiting many areas of this country-and some parts of other countries.

Those Shadows Seen and Not Seen

4

February 2, 2019, Phoenix-

So the critters back East, in Punxsutawney and Staten Island, have assured us that it’ll be an early Spring.  No shadows were in view, and after that region went through yet another polar vortex, followed by a modicum of thaw, the comfort is probably just a tad cold.

Sitting here, in a lull, during a timely and productive update session regarding the progress of our Faith in central Arizona, I think of the other unseen shadows, with which many of us deal, on a daily, or long-term, basis.

I took care of the biggest shadow, that of my nest-egg, sometime back, and the proceeds from the sale of a house, back in 2014, are in trust, for when I need them, beginning a few years hence.

The shadow of aging has its match, in daily use of essential oils, CBD and hemp products and, at least for  a month or so, Thrive products- a gift from a grateful friend. Those and regular exercise keep me healthy and moving.

Any potential family shadows are best handled with proactivity:  Research, setting time aside and regular, clear communication.  This is true for all points along the family continuum.

The shadow of intellectual cramping is best countered by free dialogue.  Closing one’s mind to opposing points of view does not make one smarter.  I don’t see how not exposing young minds to either liberal or conservative opinions is going to improve their problem-solving ability.  As a youth, I read “Mein Kampf” and “The Communist Manifesto”, being captivated by neither, but at least understanding how the authors arrived at such illogic.  Closing off college campuses to Ben Shapiro, or Markos Moulitsas, will never save even the most infantilized freshman from following the primrose path of choice.

There are greater shadows-some real and some figments of vivid imaginations:  The Social Security/Medicare fizzle, or lack thereof, in the 2030’s;  the coinciding “end-of-the-world”, right about that same time; the potential change of our nation’s form of government (some have spoken of this, since Orwell published “1984”); the generations dropping the ball of civilized behaviour ( I seem to remember how “slovenly” and “unkempt” the Depression Parents and the  GI Generation regarded us Baby Boomers).

Shadows are dispelled by light.  The lights of  faith, understanding, clear communication, discourse and above, all, consistent, firm action, will work wonders at clearing the darkness which seems to pervade so many lives, at so many levels.

Happy Groundhog Day!

Holistic

9

February 1, 2019-

It is a true state of ecstasy,

to see each person

as s(he) ideally sees self.

It is most fulfilling,

to be free of baggage,

when looking upon

even the most attractive

of women.

This is how real progress

is made,

in solving the issues

that most need solving,

rather than constantly

rehashing issues

which mankind ought

to have resolved,

ages ago.

Let this month

of celebrating love,

be rooted

in celebrating the

whole person.

 

Primacy

7

January 23, 2019-

I have watched the aftermath of this past weekend’s dustup, involving White, Red and Black activists, talking at, and over, each other- with only a smidgen of understanding, and that coming solely from the Native American elders, who thought drumming and singing a prayer would defuse tension.

The whites started out marching on behalf of banning abortion.  The blacks were mainly stating their beliefs about their being descended from the 12 Tribes of Israel.  The Native Americans were in a sanctioned march for Peace on Earth. The whites and blacks began berating one another, and it is academic as to who started what.  There have been all manner of comments, on all sides and from the sidelines, suggesting that, once again, no one was listening to the others- except the silent, grinning Nick Sandmann who, depending on who was watching, was either standing still out of respect to Nathan Phillips or was grinning in contempt of “an other”.

In reality, it IS disrespectful in Native American culture, to speak to someone who is chanting, praying or dancing in a spiritual manner.  Nick would know this, as, likewise, no  Catholic churchgoer engages a priest in conversation, when the prelate is saying Mass or giving a sermon.

It is also reality for some to stand, often with arms folded, grinning while their eyes flash hatred, as I have often seen when disparate groups of people confront one another.

I saw no hatred in the eyes of Nick Sandmann.  I saw a boy who didn’t want to speak, for whatever reason.  I saw his face momentarily turn serious, and what was going through his mind, at that moment, is known only to him.

Commentators have interpreted the behaviours of various people in the situation, according to what they, the commentators, have witnessed in the past.  I could do the same thing, and note that when I was a teen, my schoolmates and I poked fun at one another, sometimes to the point of invoking anger and tears.  We had one another’s backs when real adversaries attacked us.  Thus, the solidarity, the other day, when the whites, the reds and the  blacks felt threatened by one another.

Gradually, as will likely happen with the Covington kids, many of my contemporaries and I expanded our social circles, to include people of various groups.  Primacy of one group over another does not hold water.  Nick Sandmann, and those of his friends who join in, will start learning this WHEN they sit down with Nathan Phillips, and hear his story.  I hope they listen with both ears-and I hope Mr. Phillips remembers what it was like to be male and sixteen.  In answer to his question: “THIS is our future?”, I can only say:  Yes, sir, and it is also our past.  Intemperance and ignorance give way to open-mindedness and awareness, when the latter are brought to bear, in a loving way.  We are, in the end, one human race.

Certitude Wins, Here

9

January 18, 2019-

Seeing the flash of anger

in his eyes,

I made a mental note,

to not be a “traditionalist,

a disciplinarian”.

Something about standing too firm,

being hard,

triggers the man.

The past several days,

in particular,

have found him in

a bit of a lighter mood.

The flash of anger

still shows, yet,

every so often.

We will get through this,

though,

I know.

Gradually,

the certitude

of self-knowledge,

will help another,

essentially good soul,

recognize that he

has a good team

on his side.

Trust

10

January 17, 2019-

It’s been five years since someone, rightfully, questioned my level of trustworthiness.  He needn’t have worried- I apologized for the appearance of fecklessness.  We moved on and have remained on a friendly basis.

My overall record of trustworthiness is high, very high- so I expect the same from others.  Tomorrow, I will be asking some straight questions, relative to an “urgent” situation-which for some reason doesn’t need to be discussed until the end of next week. I will want to know what, if anything, should be done about this urgent matter, during the ensuing days before the meeting.

I’ve been here before and the scent is very familiar.  I will be asking, and keeping my senses very attuned to the response.    Then, I will do whatever is sincerely recommended, with regard to the urgent matter.

My Balderdash Meter is set very high.

Status

7

January 16, 2019-

I am looking at a photo of a well-known person, who is pregnant for the third time.  It’s said that there are many who are “urgently concerned” about her health, given ” a state of morbid obesity”.  That is good of these people, as it could very well be a health risk-for mother and child.   I regard her very dearly, and pray for the successful births of her child and for those of two other women I know.

A skilled and intelligent woman, of whom I have long had a high opinion, is running for President, in next year’s election.  At this stage of the game, it is hard to see how things will turn out.  Yet, already, those who are fearful that she might meet with success are questioning her intelligence, because “no one that pretty could possibly be smart enough to be leader of the Free World.”  Of course!  Such individuals give away their game, without so much as a shred of evidence in their favour.  Suffice it say, this woman has more leadership ability in her right thumb than a dozen pundits have, in their twelve collective bodies.

Status changes, often on a daily basis, in both real time and on social media.  The key to making that change go in a positive direction is consistency, in both fairness of judgment and steadiness in values. Open-mindedness gets in there, somewhere.  Being wishy-washy, does not.

Thus, the two women mentioned above could easily return to society’s good graces, and leave pariah status in the dust, just by remaining who they are, in their innermost hearts.  I find it sad that, in this day and age, social fickleness still seems to reign, if not supreme, then at a rather meagerly-challenged level.

Facing Negative Energy

7

January 9, 2019-

The young boy reacted to a task that was beyond his scope of understanding,  in the only way he knew:  He threw a fit of self-harm and flailing rage.  Two women were able to guide him through the anger and calm him down, without any appreciable damage to himself or anyone else.  He spent the rest of the day in peace, and participated in afternoon activities.

The past forty-eight hours have seen a fair amount of negativity, in situations far and near:

A dear friend has seen the person closest to her have to be brought to hospital, in a life-threatening emergency.  My prayers, and those of dozens of others, have gone up, that he may survive the night and recover.  The spouse, or significant other, of a friend is as dear to my heart as the friend.

There was, yesterday, what turned out to be a minor hiccup, in my son’s and daughter-in-law’s planned ceremony to sanctify their civil wedding vows. We maintained patience and the right thing happened-hiccup cured.  Ceremony will proceed as planned, in two months’ time.

I had planned, with a group of co-workers and their friends/family, to conduct a clean-up of one of the National Park properties that is not far from here.  This morning, an alert, banning the public from said property during the current shutdown, was hastily posted on the park’s website.  While  I can see any number of concerns that would bring such a response to the offers of a clean-up, (Ours was not the only such offer.), the shutdown as a whole is extremely negative and counterproductive.  Our group could clean up any of the National Forest sites in this area, though the U.S. Forest Service is fully operational.  We could, as one person elsewhere told me, focus on local neighbourhoods and not worry about Federal land.   These two scenarios can, and should, be a regular part of civic life-above and beyond the present impasse. (More on “local vs. global”, in another post.)  Our point, though, in THIS situation, is that the National Park System is suffering, mightily, from  ongoing neglect during the present shutdown.  It needs its citizens to step up, more than ever.

Negative energy is always around, and as darkness is dispelled by light, it can be countered and neutralized by a stronger positive energy.  Fighting fire with fire, or mud with more mud, is a short-term strategy, which usually results in the perpetuation of the very iniquity that one seeks to remove.  I have found that either maintaining a stronger stance of love, in the face of hate, or cutting off the flow of negativity altogether, has brought the darkness to naught.

 

 

Interruptions

15

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESDecember 29. 2018, Prescott-

I see my number of followers has declined, just a bit.

Ebb and flow don’t bother me.

I can’t please everyone, anyhow.

I had an urge to head up north,

to Dineh and Hopi country,

for a few days.

That will wait,

until snow and bitter cold

abate.

I found the trailhead

for the Great Western,

off to the side of

the marvelous Cherry Road.

The road itself leads to,

and through,

a small residential village,

with but a Bed & Breakfast,

to interrupt the flow

of privacy and quietude.

I will return to Great Western,

a few weeks hence,

once the cold abates a bit.

In the meantime,

milder climes will offer

their trails,

and we will see what

the Maricopa Trail

or Saguaro National Monument,

entails.

 

Samson

4

December 27, 2018, Prescott-

The evening dinner and discourse, at a good friend’s house, went very well, actually- as I am just not attached to those aspects of my personality that someone finds disconcerting.  The run-up to, and expectations of, a conversation about what people expect from one another, can be uncomfortable and filled with trepidation.  Thankfully, I felt no such angst, once I recited a strong prayer, this afternoon.  My friend was not sure how I would react to her comments, but you know, what she asked is so totally reasonable and fair, that my answer was “Absolutely!” That is how I was raised- with Mom telling us not to hold back with our upsets and distresses, so long as they were stated with dignity and a bit of forbearance.  So, the evening went, a nice meal, a respectful concord and the viewing of the film, “Samson”.

Therein, the story of the Hebrew leader and freedom fighter is depicted, with an earnest but troubled Samson, opposed by both some of his more militant Danite villagers and by the Phillistines, ruled by Balek and his ambitious, conniving son, Rallah, and daughter-in-law, Delilah.  It is Delilah who tricks Samson, three times, into giving the royals the information and strength they need to oppress the Danites and Nazarites.  Rallah, though, is portrayed as a sociopath, killing Samson’s wife and father-in-law, two turncoat Hebrews and Samson’s father, before killing his own father, so as to take the crown.  The tale ends, much as it does in the Old Testament.

Samson’s main point is about integrity and humility, with the superhuman giving all credit for his strength to God, not disputing with his Hebrew opponents, and facing the Phillistine’s challenges without batting an eye.  He experiences angst about not following the letter of the law, whilst removing tunics from dead soldiers, thereby breaking a vow to never touch the dead.  The angst follows Samson, for other actions, throughout the story.

I am likewise committed to integrity and self-purification.  Not being a superhuman, or a member of an oppressed community, my own actions have to be about maintaining both my own dignity and worth, and honouring those of my friends.  It’ll never be a matter of “self-defense”, when questioned or corrected, especially by those who have consistently had my best interests in mind.