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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • A response to Lincoln letter

  • I love Waz’s mind. There is such a clarity and precision in her writing, I can’t help but feel humbled, intimidated and inspired by it. But that said, I disagree with her understanding of my column, “Lincoln the Jerk” and some of that which she asserted.In regard to the statement that I suggested t...
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  • I love Waz’s mind. There is such a clarity and precision in her writing, I can’t help but feel humbled, intimidated and inspired by it. But that said, I disagree with her understanding of my column, “Lincoln the Jerk” and some of that which she asserted.In regard to the statement that I suggested the Indigenous dislike of Lincoln was due to only one act––that was not my point. What I was saying is that in all of us there is the potential for much good and much bad. You could point to anybody on earth and make them out to be awful if you focus on the worst of them. In the same token, you can make people look like a hero by only looking at their successes. Just as she responded by citing a variety of additional sins of Lincoln and/or his administration made against the Dakota, so too could I respond to her response with a bunch of historical accounts where he made good. In the end, her perspective probably won’t change. And given her shoes, I don’t blame her. For me, I want to take an unbiased view of the whole picture and then make a conscious choice of focusing on the positive––because it is here that we may move forward, when done so with respect of the past.The first time I encountered Waz was at a CURE Annual Meeting about six years ago. She was the keynote speaker and provided a historical narrative about the injustices perpetrated against the Indigenous people in Minnesota and then provided at least one potential action that the State could make in recognition of its mistreatment of Native Americans. The main suggestion I recall was to have Minnesota turn over state owned land to the Indigenous people and in particular the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. I remember feeling a smile creep across my lips as I processed this statement because it was so challenging to me. Others were more prone to anger, and I feel as if I recall six or seven people spontaneously combusting over just the idea of what was said. CURE had no idea about the contents of the speech that evening and yet a number of people either did, or threatened to, back away from the organization because of these remarks. And all it was was an idea. It would be six years later, or just recently, that I came to recognize the beauty of that moment. Because I realized what she did, whether those in attendance realized it or not, was to make people––if just for a second––experience how it would feel to have a pristine environment, for which they have great love, taken away from them.How did it feel? Judging by the responses, awful. And, again, this was just an “idea” ––one that doesn’t include the terrible realities that the Indigenous people have been subjected to and faced with overcoming for generations. As far as her comments about there being no scientific basis for the Dalai Lama’s chosen perception toward the Chinese as being an effective way to bring about justice, again I disagree. In some respects it seems common sense to me. If you act toward someone feeling that they are an aggressor, then your acts are likely to stoke aggression.Something atune to this idea is included in the teachings of all major religions, and more recently science is recognizing this through the field of Quantum Physics. Simply put, not just your actions, but your very thoughts––how you perceive something to be––has the potential to directly affect the state that it exists in and thus expresses itself.There are a number of studies that prove this and it doesn’t take a great leap in logic to extrapolate it to the larger picture. “What does justice look like,” is a title of one of Waz’s books and seems to be a question that she continually asks herself and presses other people to consider, too. It’s a tough question. I would say that some degree of justice was on display at that CURE meeting six years ago. And otherwise, it’s bound to occur when people are able to hold compassion for one another’s viewpoints and act in a way that is respectful of it and the past that has shaped it.That can be tough in a world where people are so prone to demonize one another. But at some point we have to decide whether we want to speak, think and act in a way that holds one another down. Or to, instead, focus on the things each of us are doing right so that the way may aid on another in garnering the strength required to overcome. For that, all perceptions must be considered compassionately. One would think actions that we can all appreciate as just in nature might follow.
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