Bird Droppings September 10, 2015
So much difference in people’s perceptions
For some people Friday the thirteenth is a day of foreboding and others it is simply another sunrise and sunset. European culture brought the foreboding element of this day to the Americas. Some argue it has metaphysical properties and is not just the day a Pope issued a plunder and kill order against the Templar Knights. I have looked in other traditions and eventually all goes back to the church turning on its own for money and land. In the middles ages and into our early history it was the European concept of land that caused many lasting issues. Tomorrow is another day this year on a Friday that always for me brings foreboding, September 11th. It was on this day in 2001 I started back teaching after being away for twenty plus years. The political twists and turns and wars and craziness that have ensued still shadow the actual day. It is just another day but our perception and our response is what makes the day.
“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 actually 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 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.
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 cool night and above my head looking to the east was the constellation Orion. I listened for several minutes before running a few errands and driving to school. Crickets and tree frogs and an occasional coyote howl kept me company.
Commuting from home earlier this semester essentially has me planning twice. I go into my room at school early to get ready for students arriving and then have a planning period after my first block class 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 Vine Deloria Jr. Looking back in history it has always been those in the know who held the control literally till 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 own gain rather than of mankind’s.
“Who will find peace with the lands? The future of humankind lies 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. 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 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 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 and am civil 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 of all 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 unhesitating 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 wet and cloudy day a cooler day than it has been and most of all a first day to walk a new road if I choose. For over fifteen years I have closed with please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)