“Great Spirit, help me never to judge another until I have walked in his moccasins.” Native American proverb
Years ago, my friend Carol stopped at a gas station while driving through Oklahoma. Just as her car was approaching the pump, she was cut off by a big RV that pulled in ahead of her.
Carol was pissed and found another pump. When she went inside to pay, the woman who had cut her off was standing in front of her in line. Carol resolved to give her a dirty look when she turned around.
But her world was turned upside down when she heard the woman say to the cashier,
A young Native American man was talking to his grandfather about how he felt.
He said, “I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart.
“One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one.
“The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one.”
The grandson asked him, “Which wolf will win the fight in my heart?”
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Gandhi
I’m a big fan of peaceful social activism. Having marched in the 1970s in opposition to the Vietnam War, I’m proud that my generation helped end it.
We have even more opportunity today, with the advent of online petitions that are getting lots of results, fast.
UGLY SOCIAL ACTIVISM
But there is also un-social activism that causes me concern. I’m thinking specifically of Spike Lee’s ill-advised re-tweet of the supposed address of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
Traditionally, April 1 is “April Fool’s Day,” an opportunity to play harmless and fun jokes and tricks on others. Frankly, I’ve never been a fan.
Not much is known about the origin of this holiday. One popular origin tale is that when the Gregorian Calendar moved the first day of the year from April 1 to January 1, not everyone got the message, or simply chose to ignore it.
After all, there was no internet then to spread the word. Those who continued to view April 1 as the first day of the year were called “Fools”.
But this story doesn’t hold water because the history of pranking on April 1 started long before the Gregorian Calendar came along in 1582, and it also has traditions around the world.
Another theory is that the timing of a day of pranks is tied to the arrival of spring, when nature “fools” humankind with fickle weather. That explanation makes sense to me, particularly this year.
The desiderata is a much loved poem written by American writer Max Ehrmann in 1927. Largly unknown during Ehrmann’s lifetime, It became well-known after being found at Adlai Stevenson’s deathbed in 1965.
In response to losing the majority in the Canadian Federal election in 1872, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau quoted the Desiderata in reassuring the nation that “the universe is unfolding as it should.”
While the writing may seem stilted by today’s standards, the sentiments expressed are profound. And our lives will be better if we embrace them.
This is the first of four posts leading up to St. Patrick’s Day in celebration of all things Irish.
One of the ways Christianity wove its way into the hearts and minds of the original peoples was by adopting their ancient gods, goddesses and festivals in order to more easily convert them without bloodshed.
For example, the evidence is that Jesus Christ was born in the spring, but our pre-Christian ancestors were already celebrating the birth of a wondrous male child, born of a virgin, around the time of the Winter Solstice, so it made sense to decree this as the time of birth of Christ. It made for easy conversion.
Christianity also incorporated most of the significant aspects of Mithra, son of the Persian sun God, who died at the spring equinox, heralding the time of Easter.
So many Christian holidays parallel those of our ancestors that it can be hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. The same can be said of the saints.
[quote]“In gentleness there is great strength. Power most of the time is a very quiet thing.” Sun Bear[/quote]
It’s President’s Day, and this is an election year, so my thoughts have gone to considering what makes a good leader. And I wonder if we really know in this country what a good leader is. Or, more importantly, do our own leaders know.
Here are some Native American teachings about leadership:
[quote]“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” Mahatma Gandhi[/quote]
Any life coach will tell you not to watch the news because it will just bring you down. Salesmen know not to watch it in the morning; it gets your day off to a bad start. So I don’t follow the news closely, although I do scan headlines to have a general idea of what’s going on in the world.
But in the past 24 hours some things came to my attention I couldn’t ignore. I watched Eve Ensler’s riveting talk on TED.com in which she spoke of the atrocities against women in warring third world countries. Then I saw George Clooney’s film, “Three Kings” which, under the guise of entertainment, made a powerful statement about atrocities against the people of Iraq by Saddam’s Royal Guard.
There’s so much more, but I don’t need to list it all; we all are aware of the inhumanity going on around the world. The question is: what’s to be done about it?
“Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.” John Muir
We had a lot of thunderstorms in Michigan this year. A lot. It’s particularly memorable to me because each storm, as it gets close, necessitates unplugging all my computer equipment. [Losing a printer in a storm last year was all it took for me to learn that lesson!]
So the drill at my home during a storm is:
“Too often we define success as financial achievement. I view success as doing your very best at all costs.” — Bear Heart in The Wind Is My Mother
Here in the U.S., “success” is often attributed to the richest, thinnest, youngest and most famous. Is that backward? I think it is.
I recently came upon another meaningful definition of success. I invite you to ponder it. As a reader of this blog, I feel it’s certain to apply to you.
“The thing that is wrong in the world today is that people have forgotten their instructions.” Onondaga Chief Leon Shenandoa in “To Become a Human Being”
And what instructions might those be, you ask? Every indigenous person would know: the instructions passed down from the Creator, the elders, the ancestors, on how to live a life in harmony and balance with the world around them.Continue reading