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!

Dimensions, Part 2

2

January 30, 2019-

As I mentioned in the previous post, many people look at themselves, or at others, and see ONLY one, two or three aspects, or dimensions of the person.  If one sees one’s own worth,  solely in terms of work ethic, then the admirable work drive consumes the person, and most likely will leave the soul wanting affirmations, as to all that there is, untapped and atrophying, in its other dimensions.  If a person views members of the opposite gender, primarily in terms of physical attributes, then the beholder will be constantly bored, listless, looking for the next comely person to appear.  The person so objectified may pick up on this, in fairly short order, and understandably move on, feeling basically unappreciated.  The same is true for ANY single attribute:  Athletic prowess, financial acumen, generosity, being light on one’s feet, sense of humour, and so on.

We are far more than the sum of our observable parts, because so much of one’s whole is UNOBSERVABLE, to the naked eye- and to the naked psyche.  I could be dressed to the nines, should I attend a gala event, and perhaps attract a woman’s attention. If, when next she sees me, I am in a message teeshirt and old Dockers and am perhaps a bit unkempt, she will experience cognitive dissonance, to the extent she sees me as a one or two dimensional individual.

If a stand-up comic regales his audience, of a Saturday night, leaving most of those in attendance, in stitches, and a few days later, in a foul mood, encounters one of them and brushes off a request for an autograph, the same sort of dissonance may be the jilted fan’s experience.

Simply put, it takes time- and a fair amount of it, to really “get under the hood” of a human engine.  I experienced my late wife, in all of her moods, and vice versa, BEFORE we were married.  Being prepared to stick together, through whatever storms came our way, made all the difference, including readying me for the caretaker role I was to assume, in her final eight years on this plane.  It was NOT true, as one of my accusers put it, not long ago, that the only way Penny could get my attention was to get sick.  We lived for one another, day and night, for nearly thirty years.

The same is true of every other married couple I know, who have endured, or are enduring, similar storms.  The same is true of work partners, in many enterprises.  The same is true of the most intimate and enduring relationships, of any sort.

NEXT:  What are some of the dimensions, of which little is commonly known?

Dimensions-Part 1

9

January 29, 2019-

As I regarded one of our young helpers this morning, I saw a physically lovely, highly intelligent, athletic and fairly industrious person, quietly reading a quality book on a rather deep subject.  It came to me that THIS is why I have devoted forty-two years of my life to the well-being of young people:  The development of the whole.

In the next few posts, I want to look at the concept of dimensionality.   We all know that there are three dimensions, of any physical object:  Height, length and width.  There are also six dimensions of wellness: “The Six Dimensions of Wellness include physical, social, emotional, intellectual, occupational/financial, and spiritual wellness.” https://www.nwmissourinews.com/opinion/article_aac31352-d4bb-11e0-a3d4-0019bb30f31a.html

My concern here is with dimensions, in how we view ourselves and other people.  Let us consider the idea of  unidimensionality, or seeing oneself, or another, as being one-dimensional.  We do this, all the time.  For example, have you ever looked at a member of the opposite gender, or your own gender, and “seen” only the comeliness, or homeliness, of the person’s face or physique?  Have you ever listened to a person speak, and heard only the cogency, or ignorance, of their remarks?  Have you encountered a person who thinks, behaves or believes differently than you, and experienced only their statements or immediate actions?   Have you viewed anyone as “strictly” or “only” an “jock”, a “nerd”, an “empty suit”, a “hottie”.   Unidimensionality is rife, in today’s world.  If it weren’t, people would not be so quick to judge one another.

Other people see humans as two-dimensional-either one thing or another.  Someone who shows two sides is often called “bipolar” (in the days of my youth, such a person would be called “manic-depressive”).  I have found few, if any, people who can be so easily typecast, in terms of fact.  There are too many mitigating factors that affect people’s behaviours.

The truth is, most of us are three-dimensional beings, and then only when life circumstances suppress the development of the other three dimensions of wellness.  Everyone is, at minimum, a physical, spiritual and emotional being.  Everyone is, potentially, an intellectual, a social or an occupational/financial being.  In fact, in both the physical and spiritual realms, there are many more dimensions- which the discipline of Quantum Mechanics lists, simply, as “infinite”.

In the next post, I will look further at the results of seeing self or others as one-, two- or three-dimensional beings and consider some of the possibilities for our species and our planet, of seeing people in a hexidimensional (6-dimensional) model.

 

Starting at Home

8

January 27, 2019- 

One of  my mother’s favourite sayings, “Charity begins at home”, was made a basis for many of my actions, as a child and as a teen.  Nothing was made, or done, that wasn’t shared with family, on some level.

So it is, also, with conservation- as the late John McCain was also fond of saying.  A few weeks ago, during the height of the ill-fated shutdown, I went up to Sunset Crater National Monument, to see if I might help with a clean-up.  It turned out not to be necessary, though there was a mess, on Federal land, some twenty miles west.  Others took care of that clean-up.

With the shutdown over, however temporarily, I decided to take some time, after a study session this afternoon, and check a popular local trail, Lynx Lake, for residual clean-up that might be needed.  I was thanked by a few other hikers, especially accepting three pooper bags in my larger trash bag.  It was rather cute, that a lone duck followed me in the water, as I walked along the north shore, collecting a few plastic bottles.  It was almost as if it knew that the toxic items were being removed.  Long story short, I put a half-filled trash bag in the dumpster of the  south beach.

It was a minor effort, in the scheme of millions of acres of Federal land needing attention, after the lengthy hiatus.  I can only hope that there were thousands of others stepping up and doing their part, with there being way too much to be done, as it is, by those returning to work.  I think of the first National Historic Site I ever visited:  Saugus Ironworks, of the most extensive I’ve ever seen:  Grand Canyon and of the park I visited most recently for the first time:  Valley Forge.  Then, there is Arlington National Cemetery; today would have been the 95th birthday of my father-in-law, who is interred there, along with his wife.

I can only hope there are no more shutdowns of government, but if there are, I know to be ready to help, as a citizen.

Graphics

8

January 24, 2019-

What may be discerned,

from a facial expression?

A smile may be loving,

condescending,

or masking anger.

Flashing eyes may

indicate contempt,

severe concern,

or exasperation.

A stare could

show boredom,

intense interest,

a desire to intimidate,

or confusion.

Only a focused conversation

can provide the clues

to deciphering a look.

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.

Rainy Day Reflections

11

January 15, 2019-

Yesterday, I rushed about, in the morning, to get  an essential oil blend to a young friend suffering from a health ailment not normally associated with the young.  I hope the oil will help.  More potentially problematic was getting to my own appointment, halfway across the Salt River Valley.   I was twenty minutes late, but had been able to message the office, as to my predicament.  No worries and I emerged with a clean bill of dental health, for another four months.

On the way up to the cemetery where Penny is laid to rest, I was obliged to stop, as the funeral procession of another soul passed.  I could hear the proceedings of the person’s ceremony, as I communed with my beloved, some fifteen minutes later.  Each one of us ought to be able to expect a dignified send-off, and someone to keep us in loving memory.  Of course, what one gets in that regard, depends on what one has given.

I went up to Cave Creek, for lunch, with a trio of pleasant eateries on my short list:  Local Jonny’s, my favourite, was suitably packed; Big Earl’s, always offering a warm greeting, also offers food too heavy for my needs at that time; Divine Bakery was thus my choice, with no other customers when I walked in, but five people entering, as I left. In between, was the best quiche south of Rustic Pie Company (Prescott’s best) and a delectable cannoli.

Today the rain came down in buckets, as unusual as the snow that hit the central part of Arizona on Saturday night.  We can expect such moisture in July and August, but not so much in winter.  These are not “conventional” times, though.  Besides, there has been a lot of discussion about the fate of our larger reservoirs, with Lake Mead, which got a fair amount of rain today, also, being Ground Zero in the drought watch chronicles.

It mattered little to us, ensconced in the classroom and taking our post-lunch walk around the main building.  Our life today revolved around getting more familiar with talking electronic pads- giving voice to those without the  ability to speak, themselves.  I recognize the urgency of this, and am giving quick study to mastering the use of these devices.

My knee has been better, of late, with ongoing exercises and essential oil treatments. There are a few exercises in the adaptive P.E. class, to which we take our students, which will require more acclimating, but I am getting there.  Now it’s time to head over to Planet Fitness.