Conflict and Balance

The fog burned off an hour or so ago, although it continues to drift from here to there further from shore. A breeze pushes the waves east  to west.

Recently, I found myself arguing politics with a much loved friend. Somewhere in the middle of the argument I realized I had lost any semblance of balance. As soon as the fog lifted I went for a walk with the intent of gathering herbs for kinnikinnick. I also went with the intention of asking for help in returning to something like balance.

I had been watching for plants as I wondered about the previous few days, so my walk had both direction and purpose. Speaking with, and singing to, the plants was remarkably centering, as was the Appreciation Ceremony I offered when I finished collecting.

As I walked back to the house I thought about the morning’s conflict.  I found myself reminded that, in some ways, my friend and I live in different worlds. He traces his heritage back to the Mayflower, and has considerable wealth. My linage is Native and British Isles farmers. His family history is one of prestige and opportunity. Mine is a history of hard work and genocide. In his mind, treaty violations and acts of genocide stopped a hundred years ago. In my world they continue.

Yet, there are places where our worlds meet. He has a chronic life threatening illness that intrudes at every turn. I am daily influenced by the aftereffects of Polio.  We have both lived through the death of a loved one in the last few years. We are each deeply appreciative of the other.

There is something unnerving about the way our worlds touch and fracture. The compassion and appreciation we each feel for the other allow a narrow bridge over the deep divisions between us. Yet, I imagine it is very difficult for him to understand the rage and sorrow that well up in me. He says he cannot fathom the weight of historical grief carried by Native America.

As I walked, I thought about the politics of our country. The rise of Jacksonian politics is deeply disturbing to many Native people. Yet Andrew Jackson is an iconic cultural hero to many white Americans, who do not understand, nor, often, care to know, Jackson’s effect on Native peoples.

The problem is not one of right versus left. Rather, it is an issue of basic respect for Native peoples, Pachamama, and the deep grief left by many generations of genocide. Such issues mark a profound cultural divide. On one side, every organism and moment in the universe is sacred and infinitely connected. On the other, everything may be sacrificed in the name of progress and the accumulation of wealth.

I do not know how these deep fissures can be bridged, yet foresee terrible suffering if they are not. Today, it is good to breathe the fresh air, sing songs to the healing plants, and enjoy the warmth of Grandfather Sun. A loon calls from offshore. The waves, riding the incoming tide, lap against the shore. These are ancient pleasures, alive in this time and place. The fissures I experience are the stuff of human beings, not intrinsic to this living world. Still, I am a human being and they are real to me.

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4 thoughts on “Conflict and Balance

  1. We have a fog clearing song to disperse confusion in the Native American Church. It was channeled by a woman of Greek and Welch descent, who traveled in time to a fishing village where they taught her the song. A rower of Chief Seattle’s tribal canoe recognized the song as theirs, to clear the fog on the ocean. Mabel McKay had such a song. Her use of it is described in Greg Serris’ book Weaving the Dream. After clearing the fog of unconsciousness, we have to balance the opposites within ourselves. Modeling balance in our daily lives shows others that it can be done. The plant medicines (like peyote and ayahuasca) provide shortcuts to this realization. That is why they are called medicines and guides. The Santo Daime Tradition sings of this balanco, which must occur within each person, if we are to realize the Kingdom of God. Good work. You are modeling the path.

    • When the fog comes in thick, I often think of those who traveled out into the wild before the advent of electronic navigation. Usually one can just wait for the fog to lift. If the weather turns poor, one may not be able to wait. Then one chooses between the wind and storm, and the fog. Either can harm or kill; together they are particularly challenging. The old ones. we are told, could feel their way through the fog. Perhaps they used the eyes of balance in ways most of us no longer know. Maybe the plant medicines, whether peyote or kinnikinnick, teach us to open the eyes of the heart, where we may learn to see, and to find balance, insight, and knowledge.

  2. “The fissures I experience are the stuff of human beings, not intrinsic to this living world. Still, I am a human being and they are real to me.”

    And therein resides the difficulty. Seen from the Universal inclusive, we are all one, and the problems are an illusion. But when viewed from the Universal subjective, opposites appear to exist, and the world becomes a question of “me” and “you”.

    From the veil between these two perspectives, we can do nothing but walk the belance, forgiving and coming to terms with the darkness within ourselves and others (thereby healing the Universal self). If there were no darkness, where would the light shine? A question that, on its surface, might seem so much New Age pablum. Yet upon further consideration, might just hint at the relationship between the two…

    • I love that there is light within the darkness. That is another form of balance. I imagine much that w experience is both and, as well as either or. I also know that being a human self somehow uses the illusions, and the moments of clarity, to weave story, and to play. Such is the stuff of clowning at it’s most sacred. (All That Is is sacred.)

      Sometimes there is truth, even in “New Age pablum!,” says the clown. Then she takes photos of the tourists.

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