By Bonnie Whitlow
First off, thanks to Jonathan for asking me to write a little opinion piece about what is happening in our community with regard to the recent Men’s Fire/HDI incident.
Even for those of us who are not directly involved, it weighs very heavy on our hearts and minds. Infighting affects us all deeply and watching this play out over social media has been difficult. For me, it causes unease and confusion, restless nights and daytime distraction.
The biggest question that these skirmishes raise for me is always the same. How it is, that several different factions, all claiming to be following the Great Law (GL) cannot come to One Mind. Bringing people together on an issue so that progress can be made is literally THE entire intent and grand design of the GL. That is the reason it was given to the people in the first place.
The answer is — we aren’t. We may be trying, but quite obviously not trying hard enough.
First off, I think we have to look at ourselves honestly and carefully. Right now I see people on every side of this argument pointing fingers and laying blame anywhere but with themselves. We need to ask what did I do (or not do) to contribute to the problem. There’s plenty of blame to hand around. We can all have some. No one’s clean.
Back to the GL, I have been chasing down our traditional teachings and language since my 20s (a whole nine years < wink >). I don’t care which version or partial version you espouse to believe in, every version at least agrees to the three basic principles; Skennen, Ka’shatstenhsera and Ka’nikonhri:yo. Together these form the foundational pillars on which the Kayanere’kowa is set.
Let’s come back to this in a minute. Over a decade ago (OK — so I lied about my age), I had a long conversation with a wise friend who, like me, was a student of our teachings. He mentioned to me that we could use these three core principles to evaluate our thinking, our decisions and our actions. No how was discussed, just a fresh new avenue of thought. I have been mulling it over this off-hand comment ever since. I loved it but how could I use it? The most commonly accepted translations of the core principles are Peace, Power and Righteousness/Good Mind. (Let’s set Peace [a feeling] aside for the moment. That translation actually works for the purposes of this exercise).
The first and biggest problem I encountered was I couldn’t use them. What the hell was Righteousness or a Good Mind anyway? These ideas were too dang murky and confusing in and of themselves. Years pass. It wasn’t until I learned to speak my language that I could actually explain why English was the problem. Early on we studied stative verbs and I noted that the word for being content was Wake’nikonhri:yo and that it could also be translated as “I have a Good Mind”.
Lightbulb! So how about Peace, Power and Contentment? I was on to something. I could use contentment and evaluate a decision by it’s presence or absence. If it was absent I could note, discontentment. A similar change was needed to change from the concept of Power to a verb.
It becomes empowerment and its antithesis — disempowerment. So peace was the natural by-product of groups of people who felt empowered and content. Conflict was the product of groups of people feeling disempowered and discontent. Ringing any bells? Now look at our community. Anyone content? No? How about empowered? No? And we’re fighting, how odd?! We all have friends in each and every one of the groups.
We have to live together on this tiny little postage stamp of land. Right now, we are trying to follow the GL but there are gaps and imperfections.
If we fill these gaps and do our part we can resurrect our natural Power, restore each other’s Contentment and rediscover our Peace. I’ll start the conversation but you’ll each have to take it from here; – Men’s Fire: Can you tell me one thing you can do to empower the HCCC? – HDI: Can you tell me one thing you could do to empower Men’s Fire? – HCCC: Can you tell me one thing you could do to empower the workers? – Workers: Tell me one thing you could do to empower the Band? – Band: Can you tell me one thing you could do to empower HCCC? – TIN, TRT? How about y’all?
To all, Skennenhak! Remember our kids are watching us and need us to get it right.
They need us to role model healthy relationships and healthy conversations. And If there is one last sentiment I would like to leave you with it is this. All this fighting (minus the gossip and name-calling) is good. It is good because it means we care.
Think about that. The Men’s Fire cares so damn much that they are willing to stand up and shake us awake. Despite their questionable choice of action, they are saying listen, ask questions, find answers. I’d be more worried if they didn’t.
If they were apathetic and didn’t give a rat’s behind about potential corruption in our leadership they wouldn’t be making a stand at all. So in a way, nya:wen for showing us you care.