Culture is far more than just a word

Bird Droppings September 9, 2010
Culture is far more than just a word

“Silence was meaningful with the Lakota, and granting a space of silence before talking was done in the practice of true politeness and regardful of the rule that thought comes before speech. In the midst of sorrow, sickness, death or misfortune of any kind, and in the presence of the notable and great, silence was the mark of respect. More powerful than words was silence with the Lakota.” Chief Luther Standing Bear

Culture is those pieces of which we are that others see when we are in their presence. It is how we eat and what we eat. It is how we honor and respect others and or not respect others. Culture is a combination of learned and practiced behaviors all that come together and make us an individual, family, community and nation. In a world as diverse as we live in now it becomes cultures rather rapidly as the melting pot of humanity that is the United States perhaps more so than any where else in the world has attracted peoples from around the world.
My father as we grew up told many stories of the various Indian tribes around the country some of which he heard from Code Talkers that his LSM shuttled back and forth on landings in the South Pacific during World War II. The Code Talkers were Navaho who would use their native tongue send encrypted messages across the Japanese lines and in the years they served in the Pacific the code was never broken. My father became good friends and his stories of Little Strong Arm and Black Eagle have been passed now to his grand children and great grand children.
It has been nearly fifty years since I was first exposed to a hatred I had never seen before. I headed to Texas after flunking out of college my freshmen year. I was trying to not get drafted more so than staying in college, since a student deferment was one of the few ways to avoid getting drafted and I was not interested in getting married. Back in the day Plano Texas was in the sticks about twenty miles from Dallas and really a hole in the wall. We had a pizza place and a Dairy Queen and that was it. So we students who hailed from all over the country would frequent one of the two options on a regular basis. On one particular day I went in and several for real cowboys were sitting there with wads of tobacco in their cheeks and discussing the hated Indians and what they would do if one came in the Dairy Queen. About that time one spit right at my flip flop shod feet. Seems college students were only one step up from Indians in this narrow minded world of Plano Texas in 1968.

“His strict observance of this tenet of good behavior was the reason, no doubt, for his being given the false characterization by the white man of being a stoic. He has been judged to be dumb, stupid, indifferent, and unfeeling. As a matter of truth, he was the most sympathetic of men, but his emotions of depth and sincerity were tempered with control. Silence meant to the Lakota what it meant to Disraeli, when he said “Silence is the mother of truth, for the silent man was ever to be trusted, while the man ever ready with speech was never taken seriously.” Chief Luther Standing Bear

Over the past weeks I have written about illegal immigrants and racists and the entire for me issue of how is it we can not see others as human beings. Standing Bear makes a statement that hits hard it is the silent man who speaks the truth and the man who was always speaking who needs to be not taken seriously. In a school watching students interact there are those who sit quiet and those who never sit still I was joking earlier about a student who is more like ADHD on Steroids bouncing off the roof and never still. It is the pondering and reflects of the silence that allows us to draw wisdom to the surface and can provide more meaningful interaction. Far better than the noise makers on talk shows who spout off just to hear themselves. Sitting in my room at school with R. Carlos Nakai flute music on my stereo and the sounds of running water I am in my sanctuary and comfortable as I write out my days thoughts. Perhaps when I clear my head from this cold I can get on a better track in terms of getting my droppings out earlier in the day. I wish we each could remember to keep all in harms way on our minds and in our hearts.
namaste
bird

Thinking of others

Bird Droppings August 10, 2010
Thinking of Others

“I think that empathy is important not only as a means of enhancing compassion, but I think that generally speaking when dealing with others on any level, if you are having difficulties, its extremely helpful to be able and try and put yourself in the other persons place and see how they would react to the situation.” The Dalai Lama

Sitting here in my class room officially back in school although no students for another week I was thinking about how do some teachers succeed where others have difficulty. I have for some time used the idea that teachers more than t knowing and understanding content must have empathy. As I read this passage from The Art of Happiness by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Culter M.D. the idea of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes hit me hard. That is a premise essentially for starting a school year or teaching a class for that matter. John Dewey refers to staring with the students past experiences and building from there. How many times do we as human beings simply assume all know our experiences and everyone is the same?

“What is important is that we have a superior way of life. We Indians will show this country how to act human. Someday this country will revise its constitution, its laws, in terms of human beings, instead of property. If Red Power is to be a power in this country it is ideological….. What is the ultimate value of a man’s life? That is the question.” Vine Deloria, Jr. 1971

I liked this idea of acting human as if most of the time we do not act human. Going back to The Dalai Lama and looking at the concept of happiness a comment is made about happiness is having all of those things you want. Conversely that approach to happiness never is fulfilled since when you acquire what you want you want more. Watching the mega yacht and mega lifestyle reality shows sometimes makes me wonder how you can really be happy when all you strive for is material. It is looking within that real happiness can be found.

“The man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures and acknowledging unity with the universe of things was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization. And when native man left off this form of development, his humanization was retarded in growth.” Chief Luther Standing Bear

I am sitting in my class room listening to the running water of various tanks and aquariums working on putting up some new photos on my wall and trying to get some cleaning done. The building is quiet save for the running water and hum of my computer. The air conditioning has been cut back and sweat is rolling off my brow. I Just finished a conversation with a friend about this last quote. Sometimes we forget that all about us interconnects and we are simple a piece in the puzzle. We like to believe we are more than the sum of the whole rather than an integral piece. I still have a good bit of paperwork I need to address and sort through this evening so maybe for this dropping I will leave with this. I end each of my wandering in the same way and have now for nearly eleven years. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Ognorance versus the journey

Bird Droppings August 9, 2010
Ignorance versus the journey

“If I want to justify my existence, and continue to be obsessed with the notion that I’ve got to do something for humanity — well, teaching ought to quell that obsession — and if I can ever get around to an intelligent view of matters, intelligent criticism of contemporary values ought to be useful to the world. This gets back again to ……The best way to help mankind is through the perfection of yourself.” Joseph Campbell

It has been so many years ago, at first I thought my goal was to do something for mankind as in some great event or task. As I sit and wonder this evening I find in Campbell’s thought so often it is searching for and bettering your self that we truly help mankind. Earlier I wrote today to a friend about trying to understand and reduce ignorance. I seriously think it is funny how during political campaigns ignorance seems to be rampant.

“Unintelligent people always look for a scapegoat.” Ernest Bevin

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Derek Bok

Working with children it becomes interesting as each day you see pieces of ignorance fall away only to be there again in the morning as parents and all those outside of school can rebuild during the night.

“Ignorance is never out of style. It was in fashion yesterday, it is the rage today and it will set the pace tomorrow.” Frank Dane

“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

I live in a place which borders on ignorance and wants so terribly to cross over to the side of wisdom. It seems those in power always want to keep those ignorant folks in the dark hence for example the Dark Ages back in the day. During that period most could not even read or write and those that could were in power.

“Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.” Benjamin Franklin

“Naiveté in grownups is often charming; but when coupled with vanity it is indistinguishable from stupidity.” Eric Hoffer

Looking at politics Hoffer may be very right. It does seem that in every election we watch politicians play with words against rhetoric that sounds good to that group that is being addressed. I recall when the legislation to prevent the sale of assault weapons was up for renewal and how ironic that in the midst of anti terrorism it would fall by the wayside.
“The opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is ignorance.” Brian Hwang

“When I was fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have him around. When I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” Mark Twain

In a search for knowledge and for understanding so many roads can be walked. We can search in books, in schools, in our families, and in life in general, but it must entail a search. For to assume you are there is to cease the journey and to cease is to assume you have reached the destination. We are born with a starting point, point A and when we die we have reached point B it is that which connects A and B that is crucial.

“Life is about the journey not the destination” Steven Tyler, Aerosmith

Funny thing in as I am sitting here in my writing spot I was talking with my son and Aerosmith’s greatest hits was playing in the background, coincidence maybe who knows but the journey continues.

“Myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human manifestation…” Joseph Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces

I listen to the words and read the gibberish of the politicians and wonder if a hundred years ago or so would these same men and women be pushing for an Indian Territory and reservations. Today instead it is illegal immigration and Gay marriage that strike nerves in so many people. I was reading a National Geographic account of the salvaging of a slave ship. In 1698 humans were bought and sold for trinkets. Eleven thirteen inch bars of iron would buy a black man and forty pounds of glass beads a black women. On this particular ship the historians believe they were from the Ibo tribe in Western Africa. These people believed no one was greater than any other. It was their life philosophy that made them susceptible to being taken as slaves. This tribe was a peaceful people they were human beings bought and sold as things. Not until a war was fought were black men legally human beings and it was not until the trial of Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca tribe that Indians received the legal term of human.

‎ “Only to the white man was nature a wilderness and only to him was the land ‘infested’ with ‘wild’ animals and ‘savage’ people. To us it was tame, Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery.” Luther Standing Bear

I have become spoiled sleeping late and forgetting to see the sunrise. This morning I went out and sat for thirty minutes in the stillness of morning. Morning Doves were cooing around me and various other birds just waking up. A woodpecker started on the old black walnut trunk nearby our house and I felt at ease. So many thoughts passed through my mind sitting listening in the barely lit morning. Soon I will be back in my normal rising early and writing reading getting back into the groove so to say. So it is evening now and I must end my day may peace be with you all my friends and please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart.
namaste
bird