They Also Dream

2

January 20, 2020-

In marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Prescott-an essentially conservative and largely White community, has permitted and conducted a march for social justice, from Prescott College, on the Near West Side, to and around Yavapai County Courthouse and  thence to Prescott United Methodist Church, about midway between the two sites.

Today was the fifth time I participated in this march, and attended its subsequent non-denominational service, hosted jointly by the Methodists, the Unitarian-Universalist congregation, the Ebony Christian Church and Prescott Peace-builders.  The message is that of building harmony and co-operation, among the people of Prescott and Yavapai County.

There is also grave concern, especially among the young people present, for seeing that justice is served to those who are apprehended, whilst crossing our nation’s southern border.  There is a sense among many of the college-, and high school, age people, as well as the more actively liberal senior citizens, around the county, that there needs to be a greater effort towards humanitarian treatment of the undocumented.

I have a lot of empathy for anyone who is suffering.  Some, I can help; others, I defer to those who are better-suited for doing what is needed.  There is also the need, as I see it, to NOT HATE those whose viewpoints on this, and other subjects, is different.  Some people who were present today did not seem to hear the words  spoken by a reader of Dr. King’s words:  “Darkness cannot drive out darkness.  Only light can  do that.  Hatred cannot drive out hatred.  Only love can do that.”

I have spoken with several people who fear the young, the liberals, and above all, those who hail from Mexico and points further south.  Theirs, whether the plaints of long-term residents, who see their way of life eroding, or those of  first-generation immigrants, who came here for the benefits of an orderly society-or to escape authoritarian regimes, is the cry for moving cautiously.  I know of only a few, among them, whose underpinning is that of White Supremacy.

That last is something I vehemently oppose.  There is no such thing as a superior race, or any race at all, for that matter, save the Human Race.  There is a key place in the world, for a sane and intelligent patriotism-which will acknowledge the legitimate rights of people in other nations to love their countries, without pitching for a jingoistic worldview, or for any nation’s hegemony over others.

With all that, I recognize that the vast majority of the world’s people have dreams-of a meaningful life, of being loved and appreciated and of finding a path to peace.  There are serious breakdowns in communication, in the distribution of resources and, for far too many-from the mentally ill to the chronically destitute- in the attainment of self-esteem. These issues will prove to have a variety of solutions, for which the prerequisite is the taking down of the walls of ideology-both on the Right and on the Left.

Those one fears, also have their legitimate dreams.

Anarchy

0

January 17, 2020-

This weekend is a respite from the urgent task I’ve accepted, albeit for probably not much more than the coming week, after all.  I spent the morning catching up on what’s happened here and further afield, over the past  several days.  I also spent an hour at Prescott College, reflecting the engaging presence of people who are on the cusp of adulthood.  I was there to offer a view of ordered life, that departs from the draconian and the decrepit.

When the small group of young women had left, I perused some of the literature which they had brought to the table.  Among the tracts was one on anarchy.  I was raised to think of anarchy as synonymous with chaos, and it can indeed be accompanied by such a state of affairs. Then again, chaos can also accompany too strict a social order, much as over-tightening the threads on a screw, or a fitted pipe, can strip the equipment.

Anarchy, as defined in this tract, eschews chaos.  It is, instead, defined as a state of complete internalization of responsibility for one’s actions. The advocates of such a community, while seemingly naive and idealistic, see a place where there is a total absence of egoism.  This is, of course, straight out of Thomas More’s “Utopia”, and would presage a complete transformation of the human spirit.

Baha’u’llah points out that there is no system, in the phenomenal world, where a need for order is obviated.  Order may be internally imposed, or be the result of external codes.  The goal, in any case, must be justice.

The anarchist will, of course, retort that externally-imposed codes fail to secure justice because, in the end, they serve one group of people over others.  Initially, that is difficult to avoid, with a truly equitable society coming only after a process of inclusivity, that requires a level of fairness to self and others, not seen on a wide social basis, as yet.

I’ve seen a few families, where child-rearing practices and relationships between adults are based on the true equitability and high level of personal responsibility advocated by the authors of this tract on anarchy.  These qualities are goals on which, I believe, anarchists of this school of thought and Baha’is can agree.  It will be a process that will take far longer to establish, however, than the time any of us now alive have left.  The initial steps, though, are well worth taking.  Internal codes of fairness, also known as conscientious mindsets, can be established.

“Be fair to yourself, and others”-Baha’u’llah

Different Home Fronts

0

January 16, 2020-

It was a productive day, for me and my charges, at Peach Springs School.  I will go back, on Tuesday, for at least next week’s instructional days.  Whatever happens, I feel a strong bond with a few students, right out the gate.  The Hualapai remind me, strongly, of the Hopi and Dineh- and there are people in Peach Springs who have, and always will have, my heart.

This Home Base of mine is similar, in that I have bonds with people here, too.  Like me, though, most of them come from somewhere else.  That is the difference between Native American communities and larger, more recently-settled towns and cities.  The friends here are no less precious, but they know the reality of  moving.

I have been scolded, in the past, for being too often on the move.  None of that irritability, strangely, has come from my Native American friends.  They sense that what occurs naturally, organically, is for the best.  Indeed, several of the students spoke fondly, of their own family trips- to Las Vegas, primarily.  It’s the nearest large city, so they do their Mall visits in the area south of the Strip.

This weekend, prior to  my landing the present assignment, I had planned on going up to Valley of Fire, east of the entertainment mecca.  I have an inclination to put that excursion on hold, and head over to a closer hiking destination, on Sunday and Monday.  Some home fires just tend to burn more evenly, when left smoldering for a few days.

Selling Oneself Short

8

January 15, 2020, Peach Springs-

This day’s assignment is one which is not uncommon, in an understaffed, rural school:  I covered for a teacher who fell ill, of a sudden.  The class has bonded with this person, who is their second teacher in this academic year.  I was able to get the key activities of the day accomplished, and forged a fairly strong bond of my own with the kids, by day’s end.

What concerns me about this group of children is what has concerned me about so many similar groups, both urban and rural, over the years.  So many young people cast aspersions on themselves,  by extension,  on their peers-and to some extent, on older family and community members.

A few of the more aware students, who are also the most meticulous and engaging members of the class, had mainly negative things to say about themselves.  I only saw quality work coming from those students-and I saw a very thick coating of self-doubt: The imposter syndrome, writ large.  Ten years of age is way too soon for such a mindset, so I see these, the best hope of the Hualapai Nation, being dragged down by the deep malaise-that infests Peach Springs- along with so many parts of Indian Country-and so much of the American Fabric.

I was told, later this afternoon, that it is likely that I will only actually be needed here for another week, that another round of permanent hires is expected, by the last week in January.  Permanent is better, so I can only feel more confident in the short term future at this school.  In any case, here is another group of children, another community, that has deeply embedded itself in my heart.

Fleeting Power

6

January 14, 2020, Peach Springs-

The Colorado River flows, past a point about ten miles from where I sit.  If I were to follow Diamond Springs Road to its terminus, I would be able to stand and witness the power of this still mighty flow.  The Colorado’s power helped to carve out the massive series of gorges that envelop it.  The Grand Canyon itself has an intense set of powers, all its own.

So, it is ironic, to the nth degree, that the people living in its midst have come to feel powerless, for much of their existence within the framework of the most powerful country of the past 1 1/4 centuries.  The Hualapai and their near neighbours, the Havasupai, know the Canyon more intimately than anyone, with the possible exception of the Dineh (Navajo).  Until about ten years ago, though, the Hualapai enjoyed very little of the economic benefits of the Grand Canyon’s drawing power.  The tribe has established a set of West Rim attractions-a Sky Walk, Eagle Point, and a rafting enterprise, as the Colorado can be accessed from a point on the Reservation.  There is also the comfortable Hualapai Lodge and a fairly well-stocked, if somewhat pricey Walapai Market.

I can tell people who feel powerless, from their language- an inordinate reliance on profanity and pejoratives as their means of projecting force.  The louder and more frequently a person curses; the more often someone is dismissive of people who are different from self, the more there is compensation for one’s own perceived irrelevance.

I’ve seen that, in many places-and I see it with several of the children with whom I’m working here.   That, alone, makes the 1 1/2 months I am likely to spend here, extremely urgent.  Not only building them up, but helping to establish a framework for long-term success, have to be primary goals.

Power derived from deception and intimidation is fleeting.  The Hualapai can no longer afford to rely on this means to power.

Coercion

6

January 12, 2020-

It’s easy to imagine

that one is on the right track,

and that everyone ought

follow suit.

The Jesuits and Dominicans

thought the use of force

would make the world Catholic.

The Umayyads felt the same

would work for Islam.

Conquerors of legend,

and of infamy,

swore they would

either rule the Earth

or scorch it.

Where are they now?

Remember,

when an idea of yours,

of ours,

sounds like an absolute must,

for all to follow:

What if it strikes some as

inappropriate,

irrelevant,

or just beyond their understanding?

Coercion,

pressure,

shaming

belong in the past.

 

 

Salubrity

2

January 11, 2020-

There was snow on the ground, yesterday.

Now, it is only in the shadows,

with next Friday bringing a chance of more.

The air is fresh today.

Shortly,

free, fair and healthy

will be on the agenda,

as several of us consider

ways to better grow one’s own.

Soup is in the crockpot,

and will be ready

by this evening.

Yesterday evening,

two wildly divergent

forms of music

brought solace to our ears.

This evening,

we may  hear

even more sweet sounds.

There is salubrity,

in the air,

and in my heart.

A Gallery of Slivers

6

January 10, 2020- 

It is more common than some like to admit, to regard oneself as “well-rounded”, worldly, “Renaissance person”, or some other descriptor that accents a wide variety of experiences.
I’ve had many of those types of moments. Yet, in thinking about any given experience, how deep was any of it?  How broad?  Let me consider one example.

About five years ago, I visited Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  The size of that fine institution necessitated choosing one or two galleries.  I selected a Frida Kahlo exhibit, learning a fair amount about that astonishing artist and taking in a few of the adjoining works by Mexican and Central American painters, as well.  The other exhibit I chose featured Japanese and Korean silk calligraphy.  This was a refresher on what I had learned of the medium, whilst visiting Seoul, twenty years earlier.

Neither of these visits was in any way encyclopedic or exhaustive.  Indeed, in a two-hour stay, one is getting only a sliver of knowledge, about any given subject. That’s not a bad thing, in the least.  I would rather have a preliminary experience with a particular subject, or place, than none at all.

The fact, though, that there is vastly more to any particular person, place or thing, than we can fully appreciate, leaves me in awe.  That’s not even getting close to the topic of The Universe, which will always escape our attempts to contain it, in the realm of human consciousness.  Just considering one painting, by any given artist, can take several hours of focused contemplation.  The writer William Least Heat Moon, in “Prairy Erth” (Houghton Mifflin,Boston, 1991), took the sparsely-populated Chase County, Kansas, and delved into every aspect of the modest section of Flint Hills, until it “looms as large as the Universe”.

This is one of the true wonders of this life: No matter how many times one experiences even the most ordinary of things, it is, as another astute observer recently remarked, proof that you can’t have the same experience twice.  Life is a gallery of slivers.

On They Go

8

January 9, 2020-

My son, Aram, and daughter-in-law, Yunhee, have arrived, by now, in Boston.  They left here, early this morning, on the second leg of their family visits, after three days at Home Base.  We visited long-time family friends.  I was able to introduce Aram to several friends, whom Yunhee had met over the Christmas season:  The owner-proprietor at Ms. Natural’s; the cacao products maker, and her tea-crafter associate, at Synergy (Sedona natural coffee and tea shop); a local cosmetics distributor, and her sister, my dearest friend, of whom I can truthfully say that I am as close or as distant, as she wants  me to be.

We enjoyed fine dining and casual meals- and improvised meals at home.  We hiked a bit, in Sedona.  Mostly though, they had the safe space they needed, to process their respective paperwork and to make their calls, in a warm and comfortable house.  They left in good position, for the life that awaits them, when the family visits are over and establishing a household takes center stage.

The rising generations are doing just fine, from where I sit.   Their world view is measured, their choices informed and their dreams are grounded.  I have watched my little family work together, to solve serious matters and routine tasks which would be vexing for one person to do alone.  I see others who are struggling,  and keep them in prayer, daily, that they may get past their anger and resentment.  Learning to trust is probably one of the strongest skills I was able to impart to my son-especially learning to trust himself.

I know “the kids” will serve the world, and humanity, just fine.  They go on, with the vision and drive that will not ignore, or sweep aside, the major concerns which some currently in power find too complex for resolution.

The Queue

4

January 6, 2020-

I have long been tagged as “an individual”, mostly in an admiring way.  The practice of setting one’s own course is often seen with adoring eyes, from a distance.  It is at the same time true, of many of those who look favourably upon the people who chart their own course, that there is a compelling need to follow the herd.

I have actually, in these later years, especially, found a fair amount of satisfaction in fitting in with society’s reasonable expectations.  I derive pleasure from honouring the queue, the sense that everyone else is just as entitled to respect, kindness and regard for their time, their hopes and dreams as I am.  Being a Bull in The China Shop stopped working for me, even before I met Penny.  Patience, indeed, has provided me with a keen sense of observing what is going on around me-things I’d have missed, in my late teens and twenties.

These thoughts came to mind, as I read Jordan Peterson’s notions on conformity.   It is true that the majority of things that society at large does, in a day, and the way in which these are done, is composed of what works.

Generations, though, will have their own take on matters, and the practice of the quotidian will change, with time.  I have found some of the methods put forth by the rising generations, in facing our day -to- day problems, actually make perfect sense-and so, I have adapted some of these in my own daily life.  I do so, knowing that I am not a Baby Boomer trying to be a copy cat, but a sentient being, gratefully adapting to a rather promising time.  My use of paper and plastics is down, for example, and I am maintaining a keen interest in the more organic foods and medicines that have emerged, over the past decade.

I do not sense the queue will disappear, nor will its underlying sense of order- but it will be accompanied by a stronger sense of inclusivity-not willy-nilly, but sensible, as we recognize a more unified order.