Monday, April 20, 2015

Change Log : Spirit Upgrade

CIA Spy Plane on Pantelleria Island April 2015 @2015

When I listen to TV parents talk to their children; I find it intensely suspicious. I would have been so amazed if my parents told me anything useful at all that I could remember. I listen to these written dialogues about what a family could talk about. It is often very compelling. It evokes a strong emotion at times. Particularly when the writing is very good. I have been following the people in the drama “The Americans”. The leading characters are spies, killers, professional liars and skilled at disruption. Yet for their cover, they have  two teenage children. They really love them and have these honest and open and sometimes brilliant conversations. My father seemed to detest talking to his family…his wife and his children. And she picked up his habits as a thumbed down wife would. As she not doubt should. That left my brother and I out. I did not come from a family where the family talked together, shared stories, expressed aspirations or stood up for their independence.

Maybe for the writers, people who live so closely to life and death are more honest and more direct…more willing to just engage. So the writers search their memories or what do they do? These conversations can be great conversations.

Reality for many people, for me, is more quiet. With longer spaces between the silences. I do at this point in my life have a companion with whom I can and do discuss, explore, argue, examine, question and share every possible thought I have. Perhaps some of the things we talk about are just as good as the things great writers write down. It is hard to know for sure.

Perhaps one needs a mission. For The Americans it is the Motherland of The Soviet Union and their missions in America. But I do in fact have a mission, several in fact, or like the spies, or like the Fellowship of the Ring or even the man in the Gods Must Be Crazy…or a good boy going to the market for eggs for my mother when I was a child…a mission…today my mission is .taking care of the fully loaded tribal sacred pipes and bundle of mystery life objects from the Old Indians. I wander through periods of life where art is everything, a carving or a painting. Working on a great carving or painting is very transportive, a journey of sorts.. Even so, I realise, or accept, or impose upon the great Silence that surrounds the sacred pipe, even the art. There is more content in the silence than in the conversations that one might have about these things. In my view. My mission has been to stay alive, put one foot in front of the other, and somehow find my way around the world with a small, seemingly sacred ceremony, sanctioned by tribal elders from all across North America.

Lately, it has become more and more clear to me that the American Indian is invisible. The latest exhibit in this situation involves the rather new “Pope” of the Roman Catholic Church, in Rome, Italy. While speaking straight up about the genocide of 168,000 Armenia Christians in the WW 1, the Pope excited the political protests of the creepy, possibly insane President of Turkey, who has taken strong exception to the use of the term “genocide”. While His Holiness was speaking “truth to power” and calling genocide by its first and proper name in Turkey, he continues, unblinking, in the canonisation of a catholic Bishop who murdered and disappeared American Indians, by the tens of thousands, in North California in the early 1800s. Even though every American Indian tribe in North America opposes the elevation to saint of this proudly self-admitted killer, and sent official delegations to the Vatican, no one from His Holiness’s office will even meet with these delegates. The hypocrisy and contradiction between this international speech and this elevation of a murderer is astonishing…and produced not a single word of question or outrage outside of the (invisible) American Indian community. This is just the most recent example of many.

After more than 30 years of working every day to move this sacred pipe around in the world, I am no further along today than I was 30 years ago. I have never, ever, lost for even a moment, my belief that this world ceremony is a great idea; an idea that has real potential to change many things. I can count on one hand the number of people who believe, along with me, in the value of this work. I am not complaining so much as expressing astonishment. Everywhere I go, if the subject of “American Indian” comes up, there is a lot of sympathetic agreement. A positive response. Everyone I meet treats me very well precisely because of my work. Yet not one of the sympathetic listeners has ever stepped up to provide help in the real world effort. Not even once.

Invisible. An invisible man with an invisible mission. Constantly in motion. Some days, lives are changed. The imagination of strangers all over the world is activated. We can all wonder, “what are we doing to help the world”…and the answer is not easy to come by. I have found, over and over, situations where a simple act, like making the morning fire, can change almost any life. It is easy and straight forward. Yet give it to most people and they won’t do it. There are answers, but they are to much trouble, to stand up and walk outside and do something sacred for ten minutes. That is to hard. Trouble boils in a pot with an open flame…all you need to do is turn off the heat. Yet people do not.

I live about 20 miles from the top of Africa. Recently our little airport has been hosting a high tech scanning and monitoring aircraft. Along with an undetermined cast of Americans on the island. We have this little part of the “war on terror”. No one feels any safer. These guys have a mission as well…well funded, sophisticated. War Missions are popular. Sacred Missions, not so much.

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