20/20 Hindsight

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December 23, 2021- There is much hand-waving and fake cringing going on tonight, about the remarks being made about COVID home tests and the sudden emergence of Omicron. The comments coming out of the White House are, truth be known, no different from any number of hindsight-based remarks that any one of us have made, at various points in our lives.

Not every awkward remark, made in response to an unforeseen event, is evidence of dementia, or even of fatigue. We all wish things had happened differently, at various times in our lives, and say so after the fact. I can look back on whole chapters of my life and see how I might have made different choices, and experienced different outcomes, than what I actually did.

What I do know, as well, is that it is far better and more reassuring over time, for a person to be upfront about their thinking and their concerns, especially about public health, than to pretend there is no issue or that the concerns raised by others are much ado about nothing.

We will always have one public challenge or another. How we deal with them as a society, and as a species, will have lots to do with our trust of one another-or even of ourselves. Feigning shock, or pretending to be unnerved, by another person’s forthrightness, does no public good.

Ten Gratitudes

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November 25, 2021, Grapevine- One of the inherent goodnesses of this day, that is so strangely placed one month after the last harvests have been completed in most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, is that so many people nonetheless stop to count their blessings. There will always be those who say they have none, but that is a topic for another time. The Universe will see such people along, in its way.

I spoke with my mother and each of my siblings, earlier today, and being comforted by the overall spirit of optimism that was conveyed. My little family and I had a lovely Thanksgiving Dinner, which they put together nicely, within the framework of the usual lunch hour. The meal set me to thinking of those aspects of my life that generate gratefulness. These are what come to mind, in this time of ongoing crisis and victory, and in no particular order of importance:

  1. I am more accepted and honoured, by more people, than at any time in my life. Those who once found me strange have expanded their own viewpoints, either by dint of enlightenment or by virtue of going through life’s inevitable grind. I also find it easier to understand their pain.
  2. My judgment is clearer, more focused than it has been in times past. A good part of that comes from moving away from overthinking.
  3. Every person dear to me is in generally good health. Some are getting over mild cases of COVID, but that is more incidental than chronic. They are recovering and will be back in good stead, very shortly.
  4. Humanity is moving in an essentially positive direction. Problems of living will always be with us, and there will ever be the challenges posed by the wayward, the disgruntled and the egocentric. By and large, though, we have as a species made great strides in facing the gauntlet of a harsh world.
  5. I find much to admire, in a broad cross-section of humanity. The groundedness and tradition of conservatives meshes far more easily, in my mind, with the inclusiveness and innovation of progressives than either group sometimes can countenance.
  6. The youngest generations, even in the one-step forward, two-steps back matter of overcoming prejudice, are showing more maturity, at a younger age, by and large.
  7. It is easier to ignore the wirepullers and shrill voices of negativism than it once was for me. Keeping eyes on the prize of a better world is the only true path.
  8. People at the grassroots are taking back their communities, and not in an exclusionary or hierarchical manner. The elites will find that they must meld with the vast majority of humanity, not the other way around-despite the temporary trends in some areas towards control by artificial intelligence and autocratic structures. As people get over their collective fears, they are banding together in a united front.
  9. The growing awareness that the human body has what it needs to heal itself, and that all that is supplemental to this healing may be found in nature, is a corollary to this grassroots renaissance.
  10. The great Spiritual Teachers, speaking with one Voice, are showing us the way towards an even brighter future for this abundant planet.

The Bridge Lady

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March 14, 2021- Throughout history, change for the better has been orchestrated by both people adopting a progressive stance and by those taking a prudent, conservative view, whilst remaining open to new ways of doing things.

Annie Dodge was born in 1910, to a traditional Navajo family. Her father, Chee Dodge, was the last man to hold the position of Chief of the Navajo Tribe. He became the first Chairman of the Navajo Tribe-first of the Navajo Business Council (1922-28) and later, of the Navajo Tribal Council (1942-46). Chee was a shrewd businessman, amassing a fair amount of wealth, whilst maintaining a strong sense of Navajo tradition. As such, he lived in a hogan-based camp and had three wives, the third of whom was Annie’s mother, Mary Begaye.

Annie, and her five siblings were raised in the traditional Dineh manner-learning to herd sheep, practice Dineh medicine and honour their maternal and paternal clan structures. At the same time, Chee saw to it that all of his children learned the ways of the wider world. Annie took a conservative view of politics, becoming a lifelong member of the Republican Party. The event that shaped the course of her life, however, was the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19. Because of her having suffered a mild case of the disease, from which she developed immunity, Annie became interested in Public Health. She earned a doctorate in that discipline, and worked diligently to improve the lives of the Dineh people, over a span of fifty years. She served three terms on the Navajo Tribal Council, at one point running against, and defeating, George Wauneka, the man she married.

George and Annie remained a strong couple, regardless. Annie always regarded the men around her as her partners, never as her overlords. The strong Dineh matrilineal system helped in that regard, as did her parents’ commitment to their daughter’s education and well-being-and Mary’s fierce independence from her husband.

Annie’s greatest legacy was the improvement in the overall public health of the Navajo Nation. She broadcast a weekly radio program, in the Navajo language, carefully explaining modern medical practices and techniques to her fellow Dineh. She pushed for better well-woman and well-baby practices, regular ear and eye examinations; a strong campaign against tuberculosis and alcoholism; for vaccinations against polio, chicken pox, smallpox and measles/mumps/rubella, as well as improvements in sanitation and housing.

Annie continued her father’s work of bridging the gap between traditional Navajo life and the wider American society. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Lyndon Johnson, in December, 1963, becoming the first Native American to receive this honour. In 1984, the Navajo Tribal Council designated Dr. Annie Dodge Wauneka “The Legendary Mother of the Navajo Nation”. Upon her death, in 1997, she was enshrined in the National Women’s Hall of Fame, in Seneca Falls, NY.

Annie Dodge Wauneka’s life work is a shining example that one can hold traditional, conservative views and make a strong contribution to the improvement of the surrounding community. The key is always keeping an open mind and heart.