Archive for June, 2007

The tribe truly is widespread

Lately I’ve been astonished and warmed to observe how many people, from widely different walks of life, and even in divergent times, “get it” about the insanity and brutality of those in power.

Some interesting reading I’ve been doing lately – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Why We Can’t Wait, for one – has provided morale boosting of an unexpected and fascinating type. Dr. King writes powerfully, as you’d expect, about the viciousness he and the civil rights movement faced for years. One quote out of many I’ve marked for inspiration:

Nonviolent resistance paralyzed and confused the power structures against which it was directed. The brutality with which officials would have quelled the black individual became impotent when it could not be pursued with stealth and remain unobserved. It was caught – as a fugitive from a penitentiary is often caught – in gigantic circling spotlights. It was imprisoned in a luminous glare revealing the naked truth to the whole world.

It is true that some demonstrators suffered violence, and that a few paid the extreme penalty of death. They were the martyrs of last summer [1963] who laid down their lives to put an end to the brutalizing of thousands who had been beaten and bruised and killed in dark streets and back rooms of sheriffs’ offices, day in and day out, in hundreds of summers past.

But the world easily and quickly forgets, and the brutality can go on. And Dr. King’s legions had the advantage of a physically evident bond among them, which helped to develop and sustain a feeling of togetherness, an esprit de corps. What we freedom lovers face today is very different, partly because there is no obvious link we share.

Then again, that fact can be turned to advantage if we so choose. And it relates back to my opening paragraph. Freedom lovers are everywhere, among all kinds of people, and always have been. Another book I’ve found intriguing recently is The Hopi Survival Kit by Thomas E. Mails. I picked it up initially because it contained some suggestions on farming successfully in a drought or dry climate, potentially useful for gulching purposes – but found much more than I bargained for.

The book is an in-depth history of the Hopi people’s traditions, and the invasions made upon them by the Bahannas [white powermongers, also called two-hearteds]. As the temptations offered by the whites grew more attractive, more and more Hopi were co-opted to the side of “progress,” and even became oppressors of other Hopi through the tribal council and tribal police. The author speaks on behalf of Chief Dan Evehema, the last Elderly Elder of the Hopi tradition, a man of great courage and simplicity. Doing some further inquiry, I found the Chief’s “Message to Mankind,” in which he says,

Where is the freedom which you all fight for and sacrifice your children for? Is it only the Indian people who have lost or are all Americans losing the very thing which you original[ly] came here to find? We don’t share the freedom of the press because what gets into the papers is what the government wants people to believe, not what is really happening. We have no freedom of speech, because we are persecuted by our own people for speaking our beliefs.

We are at the final stages now and there is a last force that is about to take away our remaining homeland. We are still being denied many things including the [right] to be Hopis and to make our living in accordance with our religious teachings. The Hopi leaders have warned leaders in the White House and the leaders in the Glass House [the United Nations headquarters in New York] but they do not listen. So as our prophecy says then it must be up to the people with good pure hearts that will not be afraid to help us to fulfill our destiny in peace for this world. We now stand at a cross road whether to lead ourselves in everlasting life or total destruction.

My heart aches for these Hopi, whose very name means “people of peace,” as it does for those black Americans who suffered the scourges of slavery and cruelty for centuries. More importantly, though, I honor them for the choice they made to look their enemies in the face and in the heart to see just what lies within, and to learn from it, and to resist it with all their might of spirit and of righteousness.

I’d like to think that one day I might be worthy to be accepted into the freedom tribe with such courageous men and women as these.

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June 7, 2007 at 1:57 pm 4 comments


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