Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanks -- but No Thanks

Some Personal Reflections on Thanksgiving Day 2020
"Oh, Great Spirit whose voice I hear in the winds, 
and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me, I am small and weak,  
I need your strength and wisdom." 
 -- from a prayer
by Lakota Chief Yellow Lark, 1887
(Entire Prayer)

"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, 
it was loaned to you by your children. 
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, 
we borrow it from our Children." 
-- Ancient Native American Proverb

The three day feast that brought together 90 Wampanoags and the 50 surviving Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation in 1621 has become part of our nation's mythology.

Unfortunately, this idyllic tale doesn't portray the stark reality of the European colonization of the Americas.

A holocaust occurred as "our forefathers" descended on this continent. They brought with them white supremacy,  a harshly judgmental Christianity, the European notion of private property, and an emergent capitalism.  (The pilgrims received a land patent from the London Virginia Company and financing from Company of Adventurers. The investors who formed these corporations sought to profit by colonizing lands overseas. )

Although the set of democratic ideals set forth in the Preamble to the US Constitution reflect humanity's quest for a just society, the settler colonists also brought forth on this continent disease, death, domination, and the destruction of the indigenous Way of Life.  Rather than embrace the wisdom of these cultures, with a spirituality that seemed to better understand and honor humanity's relationship to Mother Earth, to the Great Spirit, and to the Circle of All Life, the settler colonists that invaded Massachusetts branded them heathens,  massacred countless human beings, assimilated a few, and drove the others from their homelands.

The worldview of the Indigenous People embraced Connection and Reverence.  Our forefathers brought with them, instead, the Unbridled Greed buried in the belly of Capitalism, and a myopic form of doctrinal Christianity that produces a profound sense of separation from one another, from the natural world, and from our spiritual connection to all that is.  

Through force of arms, including germ warfare and the power of "law," the bad guys won.  Unfortunately for Mother Earth and her myriad beings, they still hold tremendous power today.

Yet, it doesn't have to be that way forever.

It is true that history shows us that those with more guns and less morals have often taken power.  Yet, the opposite is also true.  

In my own lifetime, Mahatma Gandhi, armed with nothing but a spinning wheel, the force of Great Loving Soul, and the Power of the People, sent the mighty British Empire packing.  Martin Luther King and legions of non-violent activists toppled the framework of legal racial segregation that existed here in the "land of the free." Non-violent revolutions toppled the communist governments of eastern Europe. 


My Humble Take on the Real Deal

I believe that the movement for peace, economic democracy and social justice is a Spiritual Quest. No mean feat, what is called for is a True Revolution of the Heart and Mind--and it starts with each of us.

This revolution has to be Peaceful. The Hippies (and Jesus and Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King, et al) had it right. It really is all about Peace and Love. Besides being a total drag, violence just doesn't work. It keeps our wheels spinning in fear, anger and pain. Who needs that?

Besides some hard work, I think the Revolution also calls for dancing, plenty of laughter, and some sitting around just doing nothing. (Some folks call it meditation.)

As Stephen Gaskin, proclaimed years ago:

"We're out to raise Hell--in the Bodhisattvic* sense."

Doesn't that sound like some serious fun?

(*The Bodhisattva Vow is a set of commitments made in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. It basically says I vow to get my act together and figure it out well enough to really help out--and I ain't gonna stop until everybody is covered.

I've found that doesn't necessarily have to happen in that order. It's best to try to help out even before you have it all together! Like right now.)

-----Brother Lefty Smith, Founding S.O.B*