Indians. Current Events. NO, REALLY. PAY ATTENTION.
Breaking news –
The moment I posted the last blog*, the news came through of acquittal of the white, male, armed and militant protestors who occupied the federal lands of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last winter.
That same moment, the news emerged of another round of arrests of Dokata Access Pipeline protestors, most of them Native Americans, and most of them peaceful.
Coincidence? Yes, likely. Hipocritical and racist? Well, you judge for yourself. Read up on these situations. Both are about our shared history since European explorers were followed to this hemisphere by immigrant settlers. Both are relevant right now to ALL of us.
The Bundy supporters see the federal jury’s decision as vindication for rural Americans.
The Pipeline protestors see the corporate initiatives of oil interests as violation of the interests all people have in clean water and land. Alongside that concern, they note the inescapable disrespect not only of Native people and lands, but of all people – rural and urban, and of the environment upon which we all depend.
Perhaps the Bundy crew has similar interests. I can’t say.
The facts of occupation and federal involvement are similar. The reactions of the federal forces, different. For example, the Bundy protestors received handshakes from federal officials; the Pipeline protestors have now been met with tanks and riot gear. Still, the whole truth in any case can never be rendered completely in a news report, and certainly not in a blog post.
In fact, it best serves us all to find out for ourselves – to talk with people directly involved – to take action.
Here’s a radical option. For most of us, it requires a next level of maturity. A confidence in ourselves alongside a humility in the face of never being able to know it all. It requires listening. Not just hearing, but listening – being willing to be persuaded – to have my story change as it accomodates new information.
Yep, confusion is a real possibility – even likelihood – so I have to be willing to hang out in the discomfort and keep listening. The other likelihood: Rejection. The people with whom I differ may refuse to listen in return. No matter my intention, this happens.
And, lots of you reading, like me, have the option of attending to these issues – or not. Our immediate ancestral homelands are not being threatened. No one is firing at or physically intimidating us (e.g., with tanks and riot gear).
We have the privilege – and yes. it is privilege – to take this great fortune of not being under siege, combine it with our access to communities and governments of people like us, and make sure breeches of human rights and dignity are not just recognized, but eliminated.
We do this by listening and talking with people who see the world the same way we do – and people who don’t. By supporting public leaders who listen and support dignity, and civic and environmental health over all else. In direct and indirect action, we show up in support people on the front lines – basing any version of what’s going down on listening first.
Going back to the last blog — the depth of our country’s acceptance of racism (aka, aggressively NOT listening) really is astonishing. Do consider Cleveland’s Chief Wahoo. Then check this from a football game last night in Ohio.
Then talk. Listen. Listen more. We’re all in this together, and we, the one’s not directly in harm’s way, have real power to help shift the whole thing. It really isn’t unimaginable – a prevailing ethic of human kindness – of civility.
*It seems worth noting that my blog from day before yesterday has received the fewest hits of any in the past months.