Wednesday, January 30, 2019

January 30, 1969: "... It's a love that lasts forever ..."

Thanks to NPR for reminding me how good it felt to be 19 years old and in love.

Early sign of spring, with snow showers predicted

A flock of Canada Geese arrive at Scudder Pond every year around this time.  Some years I hear their loud honking overhead as they arrive from the south.  This year I only heard their honking after they had arrived.  Listen for the sound of a Red-winged blackbird at the end of the video.

Snow showers are predicted for next week.  The temperatures at night have dropped to freezing, and the sky has been so clear that the snow-covered Canadian Cascades have been fully visible in the last few days.  Bellingham is 25 miles from the border that separates Washington State from British Columbia.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Context Meditation / Indigenous Vitality

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer

“An ambitious, gripping, and elegantly written synthesis that is much more than the sum of its excellent parts—which include a rich array of Native lives, Treuer’s own family and tribe among them–The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee brings a recognition of indigenous vitality and futurity to a century of modern Indian history.” 
— Philip J. Deloria, Professor of History, Harvard University 

Above is the Covington Catholic High School Mascot, The Colonel.  As far as I can tell, this mascot gets its name from Leonard Covington who served as a Captain in the Northwest Indian War (1785-1795) and later became a Colonel.  He was a United States Army Brigadier General and a member of the United States House of Representatives. I'm struck by the resemblance to one of the students of Covington Catholic High School:

A few days ago, I listened to Nicholas Sandmann speaking on the Today Show.  He did not look like the same young man the whole world saw in the photo above.  To me, he looked drugged as he stared fixedly and spoke in a monotone voice.  Although he relaxed somewhat as the interview progressed, he appeared to me to be someone in profound shock.

The closest he came to an apology was when he said, "...  I respect him.  I'd like to talk to him.  I mean, in hindsight, I wish we would have walked away and avoided the whole thing ..."

My dream remains that a conversation will take place between Nathan Phillips and Nicholas Sandmann.  If anyone could help Nicholas Sandmann open his heart, it would be Nathan Phillips.

My perception remains that Nathan Phillips lives by principle and has much to teach all who care to listen.  I keep wondering if Pope Francis will have anything to say to Nicholas Sandmann.  Who knows what the long-term results will be of the unexpected meeting of Nathan Phillips and Nicholas Sandmann on January 18, 2019?

"Actions often ripple far beyond the immediate objective and remembering this is a reason to live by principle and act in the hope that what you do matters, even when results are unlikely to be immediate or obvious."  
-- Rebecca Solnit, from the essay, "In Praise of Indirect Consequences," from Call Them by Their True Names, page 173)

When our local library buys a copy of David Treuer's book, I hope to be first in line to read it and learn more about the historical context in which Nathan Phillips and Nicholas Sandmann looked into each other's eyes in a historical moment.

"Until the US accounts for its history at every level of society, this scenario will play out relentlessly, in endless configurations."

Sunday, January 27, 2019

An American Family Meditation / Expanding the Context / Against All Odds

More that has been brought to my attention from a friend who is on Facebook:

Below are Shoshana and Nathan Phillips.  Shoshana died of cancer in 2014.

Below are Nathan Phillips and his daughter, Alethea.  Nathan and Shoshana also have a son named Zakiah.

May something good come of the events of January 18, 2019, in Washington, D.C., during the Indigenous Peoples March.  My hope is that Nicholas Sandmann will someday meet Nathan Phillips in an expanded context and understand what Nicholas couldn't possibly have understood on January 18 -- that Nathan Phillips is a man of peace who is willing to forgive, as Nicholas Sandmann's teacher, Jesus, did.  May common ground be found.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Indigenous Peoples March Meditation

Thank you to Sabine for the link to the Democracy Now! interviews with Nathan Phillips, Chase Iron Eyes, and David Treuer.

An hour in three parts, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries of history.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Nathan Phillips Meditation

(screen shot from AJ+ video on Facebook)

It has occurred to me that if Rosa Parks had taken a seat in the front of a bus during an administration like our current political administration, she could well have experienced what Nathan Phillips experienced and been discounted in the way Nathan Phillips has been by our current president and that dwindling portion of American citizens that stand with him.

Below is what I transcribed from captions of the video by AJ+, "Nathan Phillips on Racism," that was posted on January 23, 2019, and seems to only be available for viewing on Facebook.  I am not on Facebook but am grateful that this video was brought to my attention.  I hope that you can view the video and witness the integrity with which Nathan Phillips speaks.  I have watched the complete YouTube video footage that gives the context in which Nathan Phillips stepped forward, and I continue to respect him and meditate on what occurred. 

Nathan Phillips:  This is America. The dream of freedom, of pursuit of happiness, hurts me. The history we have as America, the genocide against the Indigenous people, the enslavement of the Black people.

AJ+ Narrator:  Nathan Phillips has been fighting for the rights of Indigenous people for decades.  The 64-year-old attended the Indigenous People's March, thinking he would highlight injustices that Indigenous people face. Instead, he was in the media spotlight for intervening in a standoff between anti-abortion students and Hebrew Israelite activists and for Nathan, the experience has left him scarred for life.

Nathan Phillips:  That was what I was seeing.  I was seeing this clear as black and white ... racism, bigotry, hatred etched in my mind.

AJ+ Narrator:  The Indigenous war vet (am's note:  This is a misunderstanding that has been cleared up.  Nathan Phillips is a Vietnam-era veteran, not a war vet) has witnessed injustices against his people for decades.  

Nathan Phillips:  I was taken away from my family and put in a foster home.  It was a time, in this country, they called assimilation.  It was a period of time that they, America, [in] terms of their Indian policy -- Indian problem.  During that time of assimilation, they took away hundreds of thousands of children away from their parents, separated us, put us in foster cares, put us in boarding schools.  A lot of those children that were taken away, never got home.

AJ+ Narrator:  Indigenous people are more likely to be killed in police encounters, 83% of Indigenous women have experienced violence in their lifetime and most perpetrators are non-Indigenous.  So what happened at the recent march is nothing new to Nathan.

Nathan Phillips:  I seen that, so I got scared.  Not so much for myself but for my future generations yet to come.  What kind of country are we going to leave that next generation? Just talking about Indigenous youth or Black or all our next generation.  Indigenous people don't believe we have time to be squabbling and bickering over race, religion.

AJ+ Narrator:  But he thinks things are only getting worse for Indigenous people.

Nathan Phillips:  We're seeing it daily in the news.  We're seeing this rhetoric that's being spilled by our leaders. Our lawmakers are saying horrible things.  As they were ripping at each other, it was ripping at my heart.  My country here in my land, my home, my America.

AJ+ Narrator:  Despite the standoff, Nathan still has hope.

Nathan Phillips:  I see a better future. I do see a better future here.  Not only here in America, but throughout the world.  There are a lot of people who are just realizing that if we don't do something now, it's going to be too late. I guess what I say to a lot of people: peace and love.  Put that in your heart and love for all humans.

"I am not afraid ..." (from lyrics by the Peace Poets)

A friend of mine who is 31 years old sent me the link to the above video on Martin Luther King Day.  As I understand, the Poor People's Campaign has been organized to continue the work that started during the years of the American Civil Rights Movement, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., with updated language to include those who weren't specifically mentioned, except perhaps as Gentiles, in the "I Have A Dream" speech in Washington, D.C., in 1963.  In 1963, when I was 13 years old, I understood that when Martin Luther King, Jr., said "black men and white men," he was not excluding women or young girls like me:

"... Let freedom ring ...
And when this happens, when we allow 
freedom to ring, when we let it ring
from every village and every hamlet, 
from every state and every city, 
we will be able to speed up that day
when all of God's children, 
black men and white men, 
Jews and Gentiles, 
Protestants and Catholics, 
will be able to join hands and sing
in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 
"Free at last! free at last! 
Thank God Almighty, 
we are free at last!"
If I were a person who joined organizations, I would join the Poor People's Campaign.  Those of us who do not participate in organized religion or even praiseworthy organizations like this one can still do our part to carry on the work begun by Martin Luther King, Jr., and the American Civil Rights Movement.  Even the smallest anonymous personal action can make a difference.

We are not alone.  We never were.  Some of us are organized, others unorganized.  Together, we do what we can.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Early Morning Meditation on Martin Luther King Day 2019: Nathan Phillips And The Significance Of His Drumming

Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles of racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its Indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it.” 


Living close to the Lummi Nation, I have been fortunate to be able to attend numerous events in which I was moved by the presence of Lummi drummers, including at Martin Luther King Day celebrations.  Although it was clear to me and to anyone familiar with Native drumming, that Nathan Phillips was attempting to stop a charged situation from escalating by stepping in, playing his drum and chanting a healing prayer, that action was not understood by the crowd of Roman Catholic young men and perceived as an act of aggression to which they responded with edgy laughter, defensive body language and blatant disrespect toward a representative of the people who suffered so deeply historically in the Roman Catholic mission schools.  

To add to the complexity of the situation, Deb Haaland is Roman Catholic in the best sense of the word:

"This Veteran put his life on the line for our country," Haaland, one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, wrote on Twitter.  "The students' display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration.  Heartbreaking."

May this Martin Luther King Day shed light on these words:

"Revolution is never easy.  It is hard and messy and painful."
(Nylah Burton)

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final work in reality.  This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."
(Martin Luther King, Jr., from Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Olso, Norway, 1964)

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Nathan Phillips (transcribed by am) / From the perspective of Indian Country

(screen shot of Nathan Phillips from CNN YouTube channel newscast published January 19, 2019)

CNN: We are hearing from a Native American Elder, a Vietnam War veteran, speaking to CNN after a disturbing viral video shows a group of teens harassing and mocking him in the nation's capitol. Here is the video sparking outrage on social media right now.  Nathan Phillips was beating his drum and singing an American Indian protest song and this was on Friday on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, when he saw a clash erupting between a group of teenage students and four African American young men preaching about the Bible and oppression. Well, Phillips says he immediately sensed danger.

Nathan Phillips: When I was there, and I was standing there and I seen that group of people in front of me and I seen the angry faces and all of that, I realized I had put myself in a really dangerous situation. You know, it was like here was a group of people who were angry at somebody else, and I put myself in front of that and all of a sudden, I am the one who all that anger and all that wanting to have the freedom to just rip me apart, you know, that was scary. And I'm a Vietnam-times veteran and I know that mentality of “there's enough of us, we can do this.”

CNN: Then Phillips describes the tense moments now being replayed over and over again online, when a young man got right in his face.

Nathan Phillips: When I started going forward and that mass of groups of people started separating and separating and moving aside to allow me to move out of the way to proceed, this young feller put himself in front of me and wouldn't move and so if I took another step, I would be putting my person into his presence, into his space, and I would have touched him, and that would have been the thing that the group of people would have needed to spring on me.

CNN: CNN's Sara Sidner asked Phillips what bothered him the most about Friday's confrontation. Here are his thoughts.

Nathan Phillips:  Fear. (am's note: there is a pause here before he continues).  Not for myself but fear for the next generation, fear where this country's going, fear for those youths, fear for their future, their souls, their spirits, what they're going to do to this country. What they were doing was not making America great, it was just tearing down the fabric. The whole idea, the spirit of America, that wasn't it, you know.


From the perspective of Indian Country:

Trying to see this situation in its immediate context -- not ignoring the historical context in all its complexity

Hearing Nathan Phillips

From Indian Country Today

More from Indian Country Today:

Nathan Phillips of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska & Iowa

Indigenous Peoples March

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Celebrating Mary Oliver (1935-2019)

"In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.” 

(Mary Oliver)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Strength To Love

Message from Barack Obama:

Today marks what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 90th birthday. 

And although he's not with us today, Dr. King's steadfast commitment to the causes of equality and justice continue to transform the world. I still draw inspiration from his words to an audience in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1957: 

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" 

This message is as important now as it was more than 60 years ago. Dr. King taught us that if we work together—if folks of all backgrounds, experiences, and walks of life find common ground—we can bend the arc of the moral universe and change history. 

As 2018 came to a close, I asked you to make a commitment in 2019—to look at your community and find something you could do to make a difference. There's no better time to take action than by turning Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day into a day of service. 

Let's honor the legacy of one of history's greatest changemakers together—by taking steps to make a positive collective impact on the world. 

What can you do to serve on MLK Day? It can be as simple as volunteering at your local library, bringing canned goods to a food pantry, or checking in on senior citizens in your neighborhood. Even the smallest acts of kindness help spur change in our communities. 

Let's turn next Monday into a day of service. What will you do to make your community stronger? Share your plans with me: 

Share your plans

Just as I'm inspired by Dr. King, I'm inspired by the many people who shared their commitments for 2019 with me. 

Leaders like Sunday from Nigeria who is connecting rural healthcare facilities to solar power after seeing too many newborn babies and new mothers die due to power outages. 

And Alyssa from Maryland who shared her plans to hold a monthly racial dialogue group in her rural community. 

People like Regina from Wisconsin who committed to volunteer for a local nonprofit to ensure kids don't go hungry after school and on the weekends. 

Like Sunday, Alyssa, and Regina, I hope I can count on you to both serve next Monday, and to encourage your neighbors, friends, and family to take action as well—on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and beyond. 

Your efforts—however big or small—to improve our neighborhoods, our communities, and our world, will inspire countless others, just like Dr. King's actions did. 

Let's get going, 


Sunday, January 13, 2019

"... the long light after time."

Neil Gaiman reads Ursula K. Le Guin's ode to timelessness to his 100-year-old cousin from Maria Popova on Vimeo.

by Ursula K. Le Guin
In the vast abyss before time, self
is not, and soul commingles
with mist, and rock, and light. In time,
soul brings the misty self to be.
Then slow time hardens self to stone
while ever lightening the soul,
till soul can loose its hold of self
and both are free and can return
to vastness and dissolve in light,
the long light after time.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Monday, January 7, 2019

If Sadako Sasaki were still alive, she would be 76 years old today / Synchronicity

Last night just before I went to sleep was my first attempt to make an origami crane in many years.  The crane was the 13th and the most difficult in a series of progressively difficult paper foldings that I began by making a yellow boat on Christmas Day, with the idea of attempting one folding each day.

My first attempt at folding the crane wasn't quite right, but it was close.  I was tired.  I photographed it and went to sleep.

Early this morning I learned that today, January 7, would have been the 76th birthday of Sadako Sasaki.

Just now, I made a second attempt and was successful.

Sadako Sasaki

Friday, January 4, 2019

Visions of Hokusai / Breakthrough / Synchronicity

A friend I've had for 51 years sent me a book of origami and haiku from the British Museum.  The package arrived on my doorstep on Christmas Eve after I'd gone to sleep, and I found it when I opened my front door at 4 a.m. on Christmas Day.  My first reaction was delight.  My second reaction on opening the package was a sinking feeling because in all my life I have never had any luck with origami, only annoyance and frustration and that terrible sense of inadequacy I have often experienced when it comes to following written instructions.  In addition, because I had come down with an upper respiratory cold on December 20, I was in the depths of the type of debilitating depression that always arises when I have a cold.

Nevertheless, I found the book to be beautiful.  The origami paper at the back of the book is exquisite.  In the midst of that depression, something urged me to attempt origami once more.  Before I went to sleep at the end of Christmas Day, I succeeded in folding a boat!  I decided to attempt only one origami a day.  To my amazement, I was able to continue to follow the written instructions one day at a time, as the folding increased in difficulty.  Folding the origami became the high point of my day.  Here is what I had folded by the January 1, 2019:

 Yesterday I felt well enough to go  out to look for a journal for 2019 and found this:

This morning when I was looking at the stats for my blog, I noticed that someone had visited this post from August 2009:

"... and what a wave must be."

Last night I folded a grasshopper:

To add to the synchronicity, it was in June 2009 that David Carradine died.

In the next three days, I will fold a horse, a flower, and a crane.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Meditation on New Year's Day 2019 / "... Love this water! ..."

SIDDHARTHA, by Hermann Hesse (1922)

Excerpted from Ch. 9: The Ferryman

By this river I want to stay, thought Siddhartha, it is the same which
I have crossed a long time ago on my way to the childlike people, a
friendly ferryman had guided me then, he is the one I want to go to,
starting out from his hut, my path had led me at that time into a new
life, which had now grown old and is dead--my present path, my present
new life, shall also take its start there!
Tenderly, he looked into the rushing water, into the transparent green,
into the crystal lines of its drawing, so rich in secrets. Bright
pearls he saw rising from the deep, quiet bubbles of air floating on
the reflecting surface, the blue of the sky being depicted in it. With
a thousand eyes, the river looked at him, with green ones, with white
ones, with crystal ones, with sky-blue ones. How did he love this
water, how did it delight him, how grateful was he to it! In his heart
he heard the voice talking, which was newly awaking, and it told him:
Love this water! Stay near it! Learn from it! Oh yes, he wanted to
learn from it, he wanted to listen to it. He who would understand this
water and its secrets, so it seemed to him, would also understand many
other things, many secrets, all secrets.

Twice.  Just because.