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.