Tag Archives: politics

Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation

Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation is the title of a book I just read, a book I felt compelled to read in light of the current situation in Washington, D.C.

Radical Hope is about the Crow Indian Tribe

Radical Hope may help.

Like many people, I am dumbfounded that our government could be taken over and co-opted so quickly and so thoroughly by people who do NOT, in any way or shape, represent what I believe in, what I love about this country, what I love about the people who live here.

I am also afraid — for myself in the short-term — but for my child, my grandchildren, my nieces and nephews — and what their lives will be like in a country where you only count if you are white, male and rich.

So, I found and read this small but powerful book. Written by Jonathan Lear, it is an exploration of how the Crow Indian tribe managed to survive in the face of total cultural collapse.

So, what does this slim volume have to say to me, to you, to any of us that could help us out in a country where Donald Trump is President?

Plenty.

Chief Plenty Coups vision saved his tribe

Chief Plenty Coups radical vision saved his tribe

The Crow were the only indigenous people who kept their land. They were the only tribe not defeated by the US Army. Their entire strategy for surviving a total and utter cultural collapse was driven by the vision of a 9-year-old child named Plenty Coups.

In his vision, the child who was to become one of the last great Chiefs of this Indian tribe, witnessed the loss of the buffalo, the end of the warrior as the center of the tribe’s life, and the destruction of hundreds of years of nomadic life.

Plenty Coups saw the Four Winds begin a war against the forest, witnessing the loss of all but one tree, the tree housing the lodge of the Chickadee.

The Man-person in Plenty Coups’ dream tells him that the Chickadee is least in strength but has the strongest mind of its kind. It listens. Nothing escapes its ears. The Chickadee never intrudes, never speaks in strange company but also, never misses a chance to learn from others – to gain success and avoid failure. Plenty Coups is to model himself on the Chickadee, to develop his body but not neglect his mind. “It is the mind that leads a man to power…”

From these two visions, the elders of the tribe recognized that the white man would take and hold the plains, their land, but if the Crow listened, as the Chickadee listened, the tribe might escape the fate of all other tribes, defeat, loss of life, loss of land.

The Crow joined forces with the white man, waged war against its own mortal enemies, the Sioux, the Blackfeet and the Cheyenne. This was a radical strategy but it was true to the vision. To survive when you are living your life at the very horizon of your understanding, when you can see no future, nothing of your way of life surviving, nothing of your culture as it has been known to you and your ancestors since the beginning of time, this was the only way.

Crow Indian Chief Plenty Coups

Chief Plenty Coups

What Plenty Coups did in the face of cultural destruction was to look to, “…future goodness that transcends the current ability to understand what it is.” Some might call it blind faith but it was anything but that. It was radical; it was hopeful. It was informed. It was courageous.

Our country, our culture, founded on inclusion, freedom of religion, free speech, is under attack. What can we hope, legitimately, when the very sense of purpose and meaning given to us by our culture is collapsing?

I turn to what I learned when I read Radical Hope.

Working together at Women's March in DC

Crescent Dragonwagon marching in DC

We must join together. We must work together even if, in the past, we were on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

We must convert our anger and angst into action as millions of people did in January of 2017 – marching in Washington, DC, across the United States and around the world to protest the Republican President’s campaign of hatred, bigotry and bullying.

We must have hope, like Plenty Coups, like the Crow, but it must be informed hope – not hope that permits self-deception, not hope that waits for someone else to step in and fix the devastation.

It must be hope that looks the monster square in the eye and does not back down or equivocate. It sees precisely what it is looking at but holds on to the hope that we can find a new path that works for all of us.

We must have courage. We cannot avert our gaze from the reality standing right in front of us – the wholesale destruction of our Constitution, our laws and our country.

We cannot balk at the risk of speaking out or of acting. We must collaborate. We must fight back. But we must start by listening to the enemy, observing how he works, what he does, learning his methods, not to employ them but to turn them to our uses.

Adapting his tactics, countering his moves. we take the high road. Make phone calls to your Senators and Congressmen. Demand that they be accountable for both actions taken and failure to take action. Standing by while our country is torn apart is just as unacceptable as supporting policies that ban a particular religious group or attack people because of their ethnicity, beliefs or gender.

Become an activist. Join a local group that is fighting for our freedom. Wage a battle against the divisive, misogynistic and hate-filled world that the current crop of politicians — people who are supposed to represent us but surely and certainly do not — is creating.

We must have radical hope. We must work together, ethically, raise up a new culture from the bones of the one being destroyed by the Republican party and its monied interests.

NOTE:

The photos of Chief Plenty Coups reproduced with permission from Little Big Horn College, a 1994 Land Grant Institution, is the Crow higher education and cultural center.

The photo of writer and author Crescent Dragonwagon in DC is courtesy of Dida Gazoli and is reproduced with the permission of both women.

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After the Inauguration: Joining the Battle for America

Great sorrow and great joy are doing battle in my heart this morning. It is like being on the edge of a razor blade, trying to decide how to move forward in a world that now has Donald Trump masquerading as president of the United States.

Like millions of other good, hardworking Americans, I am afraid this morning but I am also hopeful thanks to Katrina Kenison’s post inaugural post.

As I read Kenison’s words , my sorrow started to lift. As I read the comments others shared, my fear abated a bit. This is my world. These are my kindred spirits. In my heart, I know we can do this.

Each and every one of us can take the next step out of our comfortable lives and begin to sing the glorious song of love and inclusion and hope that built this country – the song that will become a roar if all of us join in.

I am grateful, this morning, for Kenison’s insight. I am grateful for Kenison’s inclusion of Clarissa Pinkas Estes’ writings. Both are warm blankets on a cold morning. I await her ideas for taking the next steps and will be generating some of my own.

I will not be diminished by the coming battle; I will not be a bystander in the face of hate, injustice and greed.

Come on America, the America I live in and I believe in. Join in. Let’s start, “…mending the world.” We can do this.

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Silence in the Face of Political Aggression & Abuse

I have been silent here, not wishing to talk about the politics of the United States because, for the most part, our political leaders, Congressmen and Senators disgust me.

No more silence.

Thanks to Robert Reich who I loved when he was in Clinton’s cabinet and who I love still as a Professor, political commentator and author, I will begin to bring issues to the table that need airing. Like many of you, I have been silent, too long.

Here, without edit, is the Facebook post from Robert Reich that opened this door for me, again, and made me walk through it and begin to fight for the rights of all those in this, supposedly the most glorious country in the world, who do not have a voice, the power or the money to fight back.

I’ve been thinking about Martin Luther King Jr.’s admonition that we repent not merely for what the bad people say and do but also for the “appalling silence” of the good people.

We are at a point in American history when candidates for president of the United States are telling voters abominable things – justifying and legitimizing hate. Why aren’t the decent Republican members of Congress and Senate, or former members, or former Republican presidents and vice presidents repudiating this? Where are the news anchors and opinion makers – the Edward R. Murrow’s of today’s national conscience? Where are the priests and rabbis and ministers? The editorial boards? The university presidents? The foundation heads? Why do they remain silent in the face of this untrammeled public bigotry?

Where are they when a Republican candidate says Muslims cannot be trusted to be President, another says the current President is a Muslim and wasn’t born in America, and another that Muslims in America and other Western countries are creating “no-go” zones where Sharia law is practiced?

Why do they remain silent when a Republican candidate calls Mexican immigrants “rapists,” several candidates urge that undocumented workers be rounded up and “expelled,” and another asserts that Mexico intends to “merge” with the U.S. and Canada?

Why do they say nothing when several Republican candidates say women – even those who have been victims of rape or incest — should not be allowed to terminate their pregnancies, and one candidate says women who rely on government-assisted contraceptives “cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government?”

Why are they silent when several Republican candidates assert that public officials don’t have to sign marriage licenses for gay couples if the officials don’t believe gay couples should wed, one says homosexuality is a “choice” because “a lot of people enter prison straight and come out gay,” and another says being gay is like being an alcoholic?

The silence of good people in the face of such brainless intolerance only serves to legitimize it, and ends up debasing our entire society.

Reich asks at the end of this Facebook post, “What do you think?”

I think it’s time that we all get off our buts and start fighting to take back this country from bigots and bullies. I repeat, like many of you, I have been silent too long. No more.

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Thoughts on Winter & Darkness & Politics

I am starting to fear silence again, filling it with sound, running from whatever my head or heart is trying to tell me.  Does this happen to you?

These are the moments when I cannot sit still.  My eyes move from place to place.  My skin itches.  I must jump up and fill the time before….before what?  What could my inner self have to say that so frightens my outer self?

In the past, these moments have led to insight.  In the past, these moments meant personal growth. But what am I supposed to learn this time?

I feel too old to learn, too sure of the knowledge that my time has passed.  I am walking slowly toward death, my own, my loved ones but death nonetheless.

Maybe it’s the coming of winter, the rare October snow we just had.  Maybe it’s the approach of daylight savings — long, dark afternoons into longer, darker nights.   Maybe it’s my feeling that I am no longer the all  powerful wizard of my early days, the one with all the answers.

Maybe it’s because I fear this lesson has much broader implications.

The future keeps crowding into the present – the outside world into my small, sweet corner of it.  Our world, the world I grew up in, the world we hippies and peaceniks changed, the world we loved, was proud of, is disappearing.

Spinning faster and faster away from me, it has moved on its axis to a place of, “I’ve got mine; the rest of you, go away.”  This world is a foreign place for me and I hold no answers on how to fix it.

How I wish I was still that wizard of my younger years and able to make the coming years as rich and warm for my daughter and grandchildren as they were for me.  How I wish the future would not loom on the ever darkening horizon of financial woes, economic downturns.  How I wish our “elected officials” would actually do more to earn their pay and less to get re-elected.

Politicians have lost their way.  Honor no longer goes with the job; passion for what’s right, not what’s personally enriching has disappeared, replaced by greed and guile.

Perhaps this is the lesson I am being forced to learn — there is no easy way out of this huge and frightening mess our country is in, no easy way to close the gap between the ridiculously rich and the grindingly poor.  Perhaps politicians should have to face only one test to run for office.

Do they have a terminal illness?

If only the dying were allowed to run for office, maybe, just maybe it might help them focus on what’s truly important instead of what’s expedient.

 

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School Board Voting for Taxation Without Representation in Upper Oxford Pennsylvania

If we were black or all over the age of 60, we could claim discrimination and body slam the elected — that’s right elected – members of the Oxford School District with a law suit that would stop the redistricting scheme in a heartbeat.

But we’re not all black, not all over 60  We are simply more than 2,500 taxpayers who get hit with a school tax bill  paying in the mid to high $6,000 range every year.  And we are about to lose ANY representation on the school board.

This is America, you say,  Taxation without representation is why we fought the Revolutionary War, you add.  This cannot be happening in this sleepy, ruburb community.

It is.

Oxford School Board Member Joe Scheese presented the resolution saying the current division of the district into 3 regions was, “…very skewed and out of balance.”

Scheese wants board members to be elected at large –  all 9 of them.  And taxpayers in the respective districts would NOT be able to vote for specific representatives who live in their township, know their issues and can represent the people and problems specific to Upper Oxford, effectively.

If Scheese feels that we don’t deserve representation, then perhaps he, and the School Board, can do without the tax dollars of the 2,484 people they propose to disenfranchise.  Conservatively speaking, that’s only $1,242,000.

Cut us out of the process if you must but give us back our hard-earned money if you do.  No one should have to pay for being railroaded by an elected official, no one.

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