America – Envisioning Who We Are as a Beacon
In Section I of this book we have taken a good, hard look at where we have gone wrong and where we are as a nation. We have seen that our society is operating just like a dysfunctional addict. It has reached a level of destruction to itself and to others that is critical to all life on this planet.
We need to assume that the only way for us to survive and thrive as a species and a planet is: 1) to admit that we are in trouble, 2) critically and compassionately to look at the ways we are in trouble and admit them and 3) to go about building something that is congruent with our deep spiritual/moral base as a species and a planet.
- We need to admit that we, as a species, have lost our way and use the knowledge that is available to us to find a more grounded/functional way to be 1) with ourselves, 2) with one another and 3) with the planet.
- We need to admit that our dysfunction is personal, institutional, ideological and SYSTEMIC.
- The kind of changes we need to make as a species and as a planet are seismic and exciting.
- We will never know if we can make these changes unless we, the people, try.
As I have Tweeted, “It is difficult to find the solution when we don’t know what the problem is.” So, in Section I, we focused on the problem.
In Section II, we have gone back to revision the founding of this Nation as a nation. We have looked briefly at the wisdom of the people who were already here who welcomed the strangers (in general, until they learned that the new arrivals were not the visitors that they had hoped for). The newcomers tried to incorporate some of the existent wisdom in their planning for a new nation. And, probably because of their arrogance, when the newcomers attempted to operationalize these ideals, they fell back on what they knew.
Those arriving came to a land uncontaminated by some of the very issues they were fleeing and, yet, they tried to impose the same operationalization of these issues when they set up their government.
For example, Mr. Kelly, an Australian Aboriginal Elder said to me early on when I first met him, “You White People! Three hundred years ago you went the way of science and technology and they will destroy the planet. It’s not that science and technology are bad. They’re not! It is just that you did not have a level of spiritual development to develop a science and technology that would not destroy the planet.”
I felt like I had been hit with a ton of bricks when he said these words to me and I knew, in my innermost being, that he was right!
- What would a science and technology look like that is focusing on our living with ourselves, one another, and the planet in harmony and peace?
I remember hearing years ago that most of the “advances” we have made in science and technology were originally developed to help support war.
- It will not be easy to turn this one around.
And we can!
The people who lived here when the newcomers came knew that one of their principle tasks for the privilege of having life here was to be stewards of and care for the land. It was a land uncontaminated by science and technology and bureaucratic ideas.
- We need to find a way to heal the land.
The newcomers also brought bureaucracy with them as a way of organizing themselves. Few of us have stopped to realize that bureaucracy (and romanticism) were invented by Germany and thrust upon the rest of the world.
The Germans are a wonderful, beautiful people. Like the rest of us, who have lost contact with our internal moral compass, they not only have lost their way, they, like most “developed” nations, have helped lead others astray from their deep spiritual connections.
The newcomers also brought with them the concept of Hierarchy (Monarchy, plutocracy, oligarchy and all the ism’s – capitalism, communism, and socialism) – ways of creating hierarchies mostly based on money and heredity not participation and ability.
In Section II we took a good, hard look at the promises this country offered for a new start. These hopes and promises are still there.
- The breath of those promises is still there.
Throughout the world, native people, especially the elders, have known that the new people were coming and they were excited to help create a new way of living on this earth that would be healing, healthy, respectful and fulfilling for the earth, the people, and all creation. Throughout the world, native people have shared this wish/hope with me along with their sad and bitter tears of disappointment and shock with what the newcomers brought with them.
“They wanted something different from what they had left behind. Why would they try to imitate the same old mess?” they would ask me.
“Lack of vision and human limitations,” was the only true answer I had.
“We thought they would work with us,” they would say.
“Lack of vision,” I would respond.
You see those who lived here had some wisdom that was not understood by the newcomers.
Native people told me: “Our legends told us that others would be coming to work with us. We understand that no one person or no one culture or society can have the whole picture. We are human after all.”
They continued to say, “Each of us and each culture has some pieces of the puzzle. We are all climbing the mountain of spiritual awareness and we need all the pieces to be whole. WE NEED ONE ANOTHER.”
They warned, “Without each other we will never have the pieces that we need to see the whole. We welcomed you because we believed that you would have some of the pieces to add to ours so we could become more whole. As we add the pieces together each of us as persons and as cultures become more whole. We need one another. We thought you knew that.”
I have heard these words or versions of these words from native cultures throughout the world.
- We need all the pieces to put together so we can become who we can become as a species and as a planet.
Native people have known this for eons.
Most of the white nations have not remembered this wisdom and this may be true for all the major ruling nations of the world.
- We need the memory and wisdom of our native cultures who have “pieces” we don’t have.
- Arrogance has made us weak.
- We need our immigrants so we can become more whole.
In the Twelve-Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, there is a phrase that is often used. It is “Seeing-Eyed Newcomers.”
It is a human trait to get into a rut and take our lives for granted. We often forget to notice – how green the trees are, how lovely the crickets sound at night, the beauty of a firefly or a birdsong, the pleasure of a good deep breath, the relief of a normal shit, the quietude of a steady heartbeat. We become enured to the miracles of life. We take our freedoms for granted. We forget that some live in countries where they cannot say what they want to say. Even when we disagree, we live in a country that says all are equal and have a right to speak. We get comfortable in our ruts and take what it means to be an American for granted. We lose our vision. We lose touch with our deep moral compass, our honor and our respect.
Our immigrants are our “Seeing-Eyed Newcomers.” They see the wonder of all we have here – in theory and often in practice.
Like in AA sometimes, the Old Timers forget the magic and excitement of recovery. Yet, the newcomer, who is at bottom, rejoices in the possibility of being free, seeing sobriety with new eyes. It is the same for us in America. Our immigrants can help us “see again” what we have and why it is so precious and what we have taken for granted.
“Liberty and justice for All.”
- We need our immigrants from all cultures. AND, we need to listen to them with honor and respect.