Bird Droppings August 14, 2014
Teachers, is there much difference in our perceptions?
“The delineation of the difference between modern (secular) society and traditional (Sacred) societies and their competing views of land and nature helps to explain the persistence of severe conflict between such societies. Unlike secular societies – where land signifies property, property signifies capital, and capital signifies wealth, status, and power – land in sacred societies signifies connection to family, tribe, and ancestors. Land is furthermore thought of in connection to sacred sites, burial grounds and medicinal plants.” Sandy Grande, Red Pedagogy
Sometime during each semester I get out the toilet tissue tubes and go about demonstrating how perception changes in how we look at things. I once did a poster and took a picture through a toilet tissue tube and then the same picture with a wide angle lens. It was amazing to see the difference. We each come into the world of our school with previous experiences and understandings. These tend to provide us with the information that we form our perceptions with. Sadly many are very limited in their views. I often wonder how some people walk around seeing so little of the world. Many people simply choose not to open their eyes and repeat what someone else has said.
Having grown up in the secular society and spending most of my life following along the pathway that is so narrow within this point of view it is often hard to step off the trail and to see that even another perspective is out there. It has been many years since I walked along trails in North Georgia alone and listened to nothing but the sounds of nature. Today as I left my home this morning and walked to my car the silence was amazing as most air conditioners and other human contrivances were quiet. We had a rainy, cool night and above my head I could imagine through the clouds looking to the east the constellation Orion just in front of me a smiling moon and silence. I listened for several minutes before driving to school.
This year if there is interest, I will stay after school one day a week for a journalism club which is turning out an electronic school newspaper. I go into my office and room early to get ready for first blocks and then have a second block planning getting ready for third and fourth blocks. By evening after being awake for nearly eighteen hours I am weary. Earlier this morning I released a small ground scorpion that had been captured in the school a few days ago. I took it to a safe place and let the little critter scamper into the rocks.
“Western civilization, unfortunately, does not link knowledge and morality but rather; it connects knowledge and power and makes them equivalent.” Vine Deloria Jr.
I wondered as I first read this statement by author Deloria. Looking back in history it has always been those in the know who held the control or power up unto literally the dawn of the printing press. As more information and understanding became available more people were able to ponder the wonders of reality. In my readings of various indigenous peoples, a man of knowledge is always held in high regard and honor. In our society as we merge knowledge and power men of knowledge are often construed as bad men. Far too often those who unravel the wonders of the world get greedy and use their knowledge to their gain rather than of mankind’s.
“Who will find peace with the lands? The future of humankind lays waiting for those who will come to understand their lives and take up their responsibilities to all living things. Who will listen to the trees, the animals and birds, the voices of the places of the land? As the long forgotten peoples of the respective continents rise and begin to reclaim their ancient heritage, they will discover the meaning of the lands of their ancestors. That is when the invaders of the North American continent will finally discover that for this land, God is red.” Vine Deloria, Jr
So often we get tangled in the day to day and lose track of and perhaps sight of where and how we are in the world. As I sit listening to the sounds of running water and cedar flute music sometimes, it is easy to drift away in thought. For me, it is being tired from being up long before most normal folks even consider getting out of bed to try and get ready for the day. Although today perhaps it was a bit too much to stand and look at the sky above me in the darkness lit with stars. I was listening to the quiet of a cool morning. Crickets and tree frogs I tend to like it a bit warmer although a few secluded sounds could be heard. Each day I wonder have I done what I could to better this world.
“But the old Lakota was wise. He knew that a man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to a lack of respect for humans, too. So he kept his children close to nature’s softening influence.” Chief Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux
I listen to each student as they talk and ask questions. I try to be understanding rather than look down upon often childish questions. I try to hold the words of the young ones as they seek to know. How simple is life if we allow the natural flow to travel through us and with us. A little friend of mine just came by to check on the animals. She goes around my room talking to each of the animals and checking if everybody is ok and right now talking to a rug made from the pelt of a timber wolf my father gave me many years ago. I always am amazed at how close small children are to nature. They have not grown weary of listening and ask questions unhesitatingly one after another until somewhere an adult forces them to stop. Then what was an open zeal for learning becomes in some cases a hatred of school and even reading. Today is a cloudy day, a cooler day than it has been and most of all the first day to walk a new road if I choose. For over fourteen years, I have closed with please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts and recently added please give thanks for all namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)