Grounding in hope for 2017 • Editorial • Two Row Times
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Grounding in hope for 2017

It’s hard to keep positive when surrounded with indigenous news. Especially if you fancy yourself an empath — which several First Nations, Metis and Inuit people do. Some days...
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It’s hard to keep positive when surrounded with indigenous news. Especially if you fancy yourself an empath — which several First Nations, Metis and Inuit people do. Some days the stories you walk through are enough to affect you psychologically, emotionally and physically. Such has been 2016.

From the battle against corporatization of our traditional territories, to defending water, to begging federal governments for basic things like making sure indigenous children receive equal funding to the rest of children in Canada and one can see how the daily walk of indigenous life is exhausting.

Couple those things with the traumatic instances of our collective indigenous circumstances leading to the loss of life — for example in house fires as in Oneida Nation of the Thames last week — and you see that it can be hard to lift your head with the dignity you know you deserve as an indigenous person of this, our homeland.

Dr. Judith Orloff is a New York Times Bestselling author who writes about being an empath. Orloff says empaths are “highly sensitive, finely tuned instruments when it comes to emotions. They feel everything, sometimes to an extreme, and are less apt to intellectualize feelings. Intuition is the filter through which they experience the world.”

Empaths are nurturing, spiritually attuned and naturally giving. Empaths also have an ability to absorb love and make it grow. Interestingly enough, these gifts are the same ‘indian in the child’ qualities residential schools targeted to kill.

But put an empath in a situation where everything feels like you’re on the losing team and they will feel drained, empty and worthless.

Our society highly praises a form of self-stimulated spirituality quite contrary to empathic giftings— the psychology of positivity.

This is the Pinterest laden birthplace of a million sunset memes with encouraging-yet-impossible-to-achieve statements on them. Asinine things like, “Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out” fall flat in the face of empaths surrounded by bad news.

In fact these positivity memes can be damaging and sometimes serve to make you feel like a terrible person.

What kind of trouble can a constant ‘chin-up pal’ punch to the shoulder do to someone who feels like they are drowning in the world that is crumbling around them?

When the circumstances around you are terrible and all indications point to the deck being literally stacked against you — what is the value in pretending it’s not for the sake of remaining positive? Not much. In fact in general terms positivity alone can be lethal without grounding.

Sometimes we dangerously replace the concept of ‘keeping positive’ where traditionally ‘holding on to hope’ used to dwell.

Whatever happened to hope? Did we cast it off because it was uncool? Were we buried in so much circumstance and surrounded by so many energy vampires that hope vanished entirely?

Because it still exists. As long as the night ends and the sun rises in the morning – hope exists. Every year when the cold of winter enters our territory there is a promise that spring will come. The green retreats only for a season and then — by the hand of the Creator — it returns.

Hold on to hope.

Uphold things like loving one another, respecting the autonomy of the earth and the autonomy of our brothers and sisters here on this earth. Giving thanks for all the blessings the Creator constantly provides for us. Continue to value the earth and her dignity above the value of the dollar.

Ground yourselves in truth, hold out hope and trust that the sun will rise in the morning.

Nahnda Garlow, Onondaga under the wing of the Beaver Clan of Six Nations, is Outreach Editor for the Two Row Times. Her popular column, Scone Dogs and Seed Beads brings weekly thoughts on current day indigenous identity. Nahnda has been a journalist with the Two Row Times since it's founding in 2013. She studied Journalism, Human Rights and Indigenous Studies at Laurier University. She is a self-proclaimed "rez girl" who also brings to the Two Row Times years of experience as a Haudenosaunee cultural interpreter, traditional dancer and beadwork aficionado. Nahnda is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association.
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