This week, I have been questioning my resolve and my commitment to my friends and relatives in Indian Country. Every day I badged into work, knowing that Standing Rock was getting more and more intense by the hour. Last week, while I was traveling abroad, I especially doubted that commitment. Honestly, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to put my feet on those soils. But, a question has come up for me – how am I to ‘be’ in this world ?
The first version of this blog post was wracked with sentiments complaining about the ignorance and willful silence/blindness/deafness of others to what is going on at Standing Rock. Standing Rock needs to be discussed, in wider forums, and Kelly Hays has written one of the most profound articles on the topic.
What is happening in Standing Rock is not new to Indian Country. It is more overt than what we are used to seeing, thanks to a lot of brave people. What is happening in Standing Rock is not new to the world.
What I began to realize while writing this morning was the extent of my own hypocrisy. I’m crying, literally and figuratively, about how so many people are willingly blind, deaf and silent about the human rights violations and ecological destruction taking place. But then I ask myself: how can I bemoan the pain of having to badge into work while my friends and relatives in Indian Country are facing militaristic and oppressive forces, when I don’t bemoan that same act when my twitter feed is populated with pictures of the mass genocide taking place in Syria?
The level of hypocrisy I need to look at in myself should be enough to keep me busy and off judging other people for quite some time.
It would be so easy to not hold myself accountable for not being gutted about the tragedies in Syria or Palestine the way I am gutted over what is happening in Standing Rock. My psyche throws me all kinds of life rings when I take that closer look. I’m not looking for life rings anymore. I can save myself, but it means learning to do the hard work to get safely from the tempest of the storm to something more solid and secure.
The excessive force of police and security agents, the violation of human rights, the genocidal actions all have the same consequences no matter what continent or community. We kill our own, and some of us (me included) take no stand. We allow history to repeat itself over and over again. We badge in to work as if nothing is wrong. As if there is nothing to be done or said that will end the casualties of human greed and power improperly used. But is that true?
I pray every day that this nation begins to understand Native American history as it pertains to this country more concisely, in the hopes that we won’t repeat those actions. As I walked through the streets of Edinburgh and through her castles, I was keenly aware of the human consequences of political intrigue, territorial disputes and power plays.
So, the question for me is how am I supposed to ‘be’ in this world, in an authentic and helpful way, when I am not willing or able to acknowledge what happens in communities other than mine? I don’t have an answer. I honestly don’t even really know how to begin. A crack in the wall has been made, and now I’m accountable for these questions I have posed. No matter that Syria and Palestine are far away, and there are people in my community who could use my help. If I’m going to make a difference, I have to acknowledge and realize the part I play in genocide when I am silent when it happens in communities that are far away.
How am I to be a member in good standing in this human family? How am I to be in this world of repeated acts of genocide? I have been shedding tears off and on today. I’m certain that there are more tears to be shed. My hope is that they don’t fall in vain, and that they lead me to a better way to ‘be’ in the world. And hopefully a better relative.