Nanaandawi’iwe-nagamo vai maygwayyawk zhewitaganibi
Very poorly constructed sentence “she sings a healing song <to> forests <and> salt water”
My Ojibwe is sooo bad, but practice makes perfect, and the elders say that speaking Ojibwe, even poorly, helps keep the spirit of the language alive. And that’s what is important for me to remember: that the spirit of the language is where the power lies.
The first photo on the left is a shot of zhewitaganibi at Alki. Nibi and zhewitaganibi are under constant attack due to the irresponsible actions of humans. The second photo on the right is a shot of an urban forest which is slated for destruction, probably by the end of the summer.
There are at least three places near where I live where I can see ‘progress’ destroying our natural environment. So I have started singing ho’oponopono to them. Ho’oponopono is a huna traditional healing and reconciliation song. It translates to “I’m sorry, please forgive me, I thank you and I love you”. I encourage you to research this healing methodology.
When I finished my walk the other day, I stopped and watched as an osprey maintained a stationary position in flight. Beautiful! Such control and grace! I wondered why s/he would be in that position, then very shortly I understood why, as three young osprey came flying into my view. It had already been an amazing time on the water, but to have the opportunity to view this moment, was an additional blessing. The dedication that our more-than-human relatives have to the preservation and nurturing of youth gave me so much to think on.
I am reviewing my values and beliefs. This is something that I like to do every couple of years. It helps keep me honest in my words, thoughts and deeds. Sometimes, reviewing and realigning is an easy task. At other times, it can be very soul-wrenching. Either way, it’s an integral component of helping to keep on my path and to burn out any hypocrisy. That’s the idea anyway.
I am thinking about what I love. About what is on the line if what I love is lost.
So when I talk about my value of loving my more-than-human relatives and the environment in which they live, I question how my actions align with that value. There are so many ways that I can acknowledge where my actions are out of alignment. From driving a fossil-fuel vehicle to sometimes using chemicals for cleaning all the way to not showing up for gatherings where activists make their voices heard.
I don’t consider myself to be an activist, although there are some people who do. I think a lot about Hazel Wolf and Eddie Vedder when I contemplate what it means to be an activist.
Hazel Wolf showed up. She wrote flyers. She organized and built communities. She spoke to everyone who would listen about matters for which she cared. She was well respected, very organized, highly motivated and very successful in many ways. She cared about the relationship. Not just with the people who were on her ‘side’ but also with people on the opposite ‘side’ of the issue. This lame summary of mine doesn’t really do her any justice. I encourage you to read Susan Starbuck’s book “Hazel Wolf: Fighting the Establishment”.
I don’t presume to know a lot about Eddie Vedder’s activism. I know that he does quite a bit behind the scenes. But he also writes songs and raises awareness. He uses his talent not only to entertain but also to inform. It seems to me that he has been interestingly quiet lately, but you know, it’s not like I have the inside track. As an activist, Eddie puts his money and his voice into action when it matters. As a person who lives with the phenomenon of fame, he seems to be very judicious in what he puts his hands on.
There are many other examples of activism I consider when I look for ways to further align my values and beliefs to the way I live my life. Each one has a lesson to teach me. I have learned what forms of activism appeal to me and what forms don’t. I’m not a fan of call-and-response activism and I’m not a fan of adversarial activism.
I define “call-and-response’ activism as a form of activism where people are called to a cause but the ‘leaders’ don’t open the organization up to the ideas and suggestions of those they call into the fold. They control the narrative, the goals, the actions and the response. Going so far as to even call out a manifesto, sentence by sentence, to which the convened crowd responds in a parroted fashion. I don’t like call-and-response activism because I believe that it devolves into group-think. Just so we are clear, it’s not the call and response itself I have concerns about. It’s the organizational methodology which shuts out the voices of others in the movement.
I define ‘adversarial activism’ as that form of activism where people are more committed to the fight than they are the mission. They spoil for the fight. They become so consumed with it that they forget the mission and create more adversaries than are necessary. The fight is an important part of the process. It just can’t be the only part of the process. At the end of the day, we still have to live in community and on the planet with those who we would consider our adversary.
So what kind of ‘activism’ would I engage in that would align with my values and beliefs? What would Hazel do? What would Eddie do? I’m still driving a fossil-fueled vehicle. I still use more plastic than I should. I still use chemicals to do some of cleaning.
Thank goodness for the teachers who show up for me in very unconventional ways. I sometimes forget that we. live in a world of duality and polarity. Where darkness and light are oppositional, but collaborative partners. Without darkness, how would we appreciate the light? We need the darkness, too. In darkness we rest and revive. Perhaps my lesson for now is to learn how to better understand the lesson of this duality and how I might perform some alchemy to brighten the contrast.
I have a lot of work to do still. Like learning to speak Ojibwe.
There is power in the spirit.