Because that is how I roll.
Kidding aside, when I meditate, I am overtaken by ideas and thoughts that percolate out of my soul. Maybe they are random. Maybe not. I often don’t share them with others. They are rough and unrefined, meanderings from a time when I am contemplating what is possible. They appear to be random and inconsequential. Sometimes, though, I wonder what would happen if I were to share them with the world, no matter how random or infantile they may seem to be as intellectually viable thoughts.
Recently, it has occurred to me that I am a seed-planter. One of my purposes in this time and place is to plant seeds of thoughts and ideas, hoping that they land in fertile soil and can grow into their full potential. In that spirit, I offer these thoughts that have recently shown up in my consciousness. One is about education, which is very timely given that we are in graduation season. The other is about how we assign value, especially when we are trading – whether that is goods, ideas, emotions, bodily fluid, whatever. I/m curious about the process of how we assign value and what happens when there is a delta, a difference in value assignment between the trading parties?
Education. I think a lot about education. I love learning. I love seeing people learn. I love observing someone overcome a mental barrier and the proverbial light bulb pops off, and all of a sudden, they are in a completely new world. I love learning but I mostly despise how our education system works. To my mind, we have forsaken the beauty and the art of the learning process. We have sacrificed the subtle for the gross.
When I think of what I know about Indigenous models of education (which is very little, admittedly) I become hopeful for the glimmer of light and immense possibility I see in those processes. Not being a scholar of Indigenous education models, and only armed with bits and pieces of information that I have gleaned from numerous books, articles, etc, here is what I developed during meditation. Presented without editing. This is what I wrote.
An Indigenous model of education – is more continuous – there is a longer amount of time; time is a precious commodity in Indigenous communities of education. When teaching stories to the young, it wasn’t about whether or not a story could be repeated properly – it was about trusting that the energy behind the story could be conveyed properly – allowing for the story-teller to imbue his/her particular spiritual energy on the story. So, stories were told over and over, until the novice could begin to tell the story with the proper authority. Indigenous models of education would be more like a stream than a river. Why do we rush education? Why do we allow people to believe that once they have attained this or that level of education, they don’t need to learn any longer? Why do we look down on people whose learning styles are different and don’t fit the prescribed teaching methods of mainstream education? What is the cost to society when we reward people for stopping their learning process?
To summarize, somewhat, those thoughts: the teaching of a story was not about whether or not the student could properly tell the story in a certain amount of time, although there was some time associated with the process. The important piece was making sure that the student understood fully the story; all the joy, the pain, the wisdom. That the student could hand the wisdom captured in the story down to other generations was the point.
Trading. So, I was thinking about a land ethic. (Duh). And how we got here. We have developed this country to every boundary and consumed with abandon every good thing. If you are a reader, you know where I stand and I’m not going to engage the soapbox right now. I had been thinking about the ‘trades’ that took place with Native Nations. I say ‘had’ just to give you context for the next piece, but you should know that I’m ALWAYS thinking about how we got here, about our history and the actions that were taken by our ancestors. There are many ways to make corrections in this world. Thoughts and actions are both required. As is what comes from the heart. Presented with some editing.
When Native Nations traded their beads for land, it was a trade, in good faith. It was not ‘commerce’ because selling the land was not even a concept. The Europeans refused to see this as a component of the agreement. To their minds, a trade had been done, and they interpreted that their way. European mind-sets did not understand that a shell was not merely a shell, nor was a bead a mere trinket. The Native Nations understood what was involved in the creation of these gifts. The shell came from the Mother; was cared for and nurtured by nbi (the water). The shell was as important to the value of the land as the gold was to the Europeans. The “money” that Native Nations used in their trade was LIFE. You cannot have life without water, or sustenance, or land, or love. When we value gold or oil or paper above all other currencies – we cut off our connection to our relatives….we deplete our ability to value, appreciate, honor, ENJOY our existence as sovereign human beings.
In summary, what I have come away with since these thoughts came to me: to my mind, the value gap between the trading partners was huge. What are the repercussions of that deficit in value systems?
I have been sitting with these thoughts for the last couple of weeks. As I said, I’m always thinking about these things, but these particular lines of thought have persisted. As infantile as they are. Maybe someone out there can use them as a jumping off place to create a new paradigm of thought and interaction. Maybe someone who reads these words might find a way to create healing space and make corrections. Maybe it’s me, and I just don’t see how the seeds might mature. At any rate, may any seeds which lie here take root in fertile ground and grow into something beautiful, nourishing and loving.