Monday, June 03, 2013

Dogs Barking at the Light : Shadows of Hate and Rage

TewaShadows ©2013, Turtle Heart

  (Editorial Opinion)  

Every life leaves a shadow behind it, as it moves forward in time. This shadow emerges in unexpected ways, as people and the world stumble blindly and repeatedly over unfinished, unresolved and unhappy business from the past…usually relationships

Bitterness, rage, and the unrelenting passion to never forgive are toxic forces, moving in slow motion, and equal to all other violent forces which bring destruction blindly and without distinction. Repressed feelings are the source of almost all the trouble in the world. They are the root causes of war, of murder, of lying, of making things up, of confusion. History is crowded with such lessons, choking off progress, redemption and renewal.

If you stand still, look behind you, in time, at the long path of your life, what can you see? What will you do about the shadow stretching behind you?

The best thing I ever did was embrace those distant and precious American Indian ancestors whom I could see in the shadow of my ancestors. When I journeyed into the history and lives of my tribal ancestors, my life was changed powerfully, forever. A new understanding of how a human being should live and die on this earth impressed me deeply. I chose to take seven tobacco bundles to seven American Indian elders, living in seven different tribal communities, and ask for knowledge. An eighty year old American Indian put those bundles in my hand and gave me those seven names, and asked me to pay attention. That journey was the beginning of the long life that has brought me to this point in time, at this place in my life. Art is the light I have used to silence the shadows and keep them not forgotten, but inside the circle of my work. It has been and remains a remarkable, solid and treasured experience, this journey with the spirit, sacred bundles, prayers, songs and hearts of my old tribal teachers. That was more forty years ago.

The world is now a very different place. Voices of hostility, hysterical racism, accusation and fabricated condemnation by a loud minority have elevated accusation to an art form that has pervaded the halls of our national and local governments, and diverted once reasonable people into a state of nearly continuous intolerance and obstruction. 

The political right, fueled by predatory extremists, have created billions of dollars in rage oriented commerce based upon lies and fabricated problems in search of extreme solutions. On the internet self-appointed hate groups gather signatures and certifications of outrage, throwing stones and bullets and hate at everyone who is different from them. In many Christian churches, the message is about how mass murder and natural disasters are just punishments from a God who hates humanity for protecting homosexuals or allowing a black American to vote early for a candidate for public office….where women are told, again and again, by men, that they have no control over what happens to their own body...female soldiers are raped by their own comrades, in their own chain of command, and pardoned by their commanders...and on and on it goes.

American Indian issues and programs have long been seen as weak and largely ineffective. Much of the reason for this is the howling rage and racist hatred brought upon any American Indian person or group whom dares to go out into the world and try to get a seat at the table of the world’s issues. It is now very easy, in the internet age, to damage a person’s reputation. You can fabricate and create well-funded campaigns on any crazy idea. If you do your work well, people will believe whatever some wing nut says. Too many Americans seem to love violence, rage and scandal more than they love peace and reason. This strange fact deserves more attention than it gets.

It is now true that one of the easiest ways to get attention and feel important is to make the loudest noise possible about the most outrageous lie imaginable. If it is done loudly enough and often enough, they will come. If you build a house of dreams, they will come. Sadly, if you build a house of racist rage and hysterical condemnation, they will come. The temples of rage are many. They are flourishing.

In America, the grand illusion created by homage to something Americans call “free speech”, has become the firing pin in the new weapons of character assassination  available to extremists. Words have become bullets, and the internet has become the extended magazines of those armed with hate and rage. Haters desperate for attention have used lies and false alarms throughout history. Today the arsenal of tools available for people desperate for attention and desperate to have their lies believed are nearly limitless.

American Indians; full bloods, mixed bloods, orphans without a tribe to claim them, tribal women who push back against the epidemic of violence on tribal reservations, and many others, are often attacked by self-appointed haters who try to take down every voice from the old Indians. Most of the American Indians who are speaking out in the world today are alone. They are individuals with no one to protect their back. ...targets for hate groups and finger-pointers of the new internet trolling, predatory type. Trolls looking for targets. American Indians standing up one by one are isolated and punished. A shrinking number of free American Indians continue to stand up and speak out; they believe in the important work of participating in dialogues and ceremonies with the people of the world. It is right now uncertain how well or how long such efforts can continue combined with the toxic threat of extremist behavior and the general indifference government and media give to any and all issues related to American Indian.

Haters usually have a deep fear and loathing of their own shadows; they experience terror at the idea of self-knowledge; they despise diversity and ridicule complexity. It is easier, for them, to search for others to blame or just condemn outright anything they disagree with. An argument could be made that such behavior is obsessive, paranoid and sociopathic in nature, even while it seems to be protected free speech.

Dogs, without names, barking at strangers standing in the light. Some observers call them hate groups. Every race and culture, political party, religious belief or public person may experience organized hate group behavior. It is one of the liabilities of public service, as old as society itself. The message here may be in how little our shadows have changed, even after such a long shadow of suffering, conquest, reform and enlightenment follows us with every step we take.

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