A dear friend wrote this after the transition of her beloved dog Tucker. Yes. Dogs are unconditional love…and loyalty and so much more. They teach us how to be present to this moment, the only one we have. They teach us about the simple joys of companionship and the pleasures of the natural world.
They are also resilient and forgiving. I admit that I’m a sucker for dog rescue videos and always amazed at how quickly abandoned and abused dogs respond to love. It seems they can easily leave behind those scars while we humans tend to carry that baggage around for the rest of our lives. We can learn a lot from dogs.
Reflecting on our beloved canine companions with their unconditional love, the idea landed about having a dog for president. Yes. It’s an outrageous and totally unrealistic idea. But how much better would that be than the current administration which is the very manifestation of unconditional hate?
Defund the police. From a marketing perspective this was a poor choice of words. It’s never wise to brand an idea with a label that is so provocative and that so immediately demands an explanation that seems to begin with that’s not really what we mean. Because for most people the idea of not having a police force is unacceptable.
However there was a time when having a police force would have been equally as unacceptable. In ancient Ireland there were no police and no jails. They weren’t necessary. The Brehon Laws guided their justice system, a system that was restorative rather than punitive. Under these codes, everyone was honored and everyone had value.
Sure, there were crimes committed. Theft, abuse, and even the occasional murder. They were, after all, human. But when a crime was committed, the objective was to restore what the victim lost according to their honor price. This restoration was not only the responsibility of the person who committed the crime, but also of their family, clan, and tribe. They didn’t need anyone to interpret the Brehon codes and only when there was disagreement over the interpretation did they call in a Brehon judge specifically for the purpose of arbitration. But the Brehons had no enforcement power. That was left to the community. It was community policing at its finest.
And it worked. In fact the Brehon Laws worked so well that both the English and Roman systems of justice were influenced by this ancient code.
Defund the police. There’s another flaw in this label. It speaks to what we don’t want rather than what we do want. It’s not aspirational or generative and it’s not a great place to begin imaging a future justice system. In a time when we need tsunamic change in our policing system, this is narrowly focused. It’s not about funding. It’s about fundamental change. No police may be an outrageous notion but be need to be expansive enough to consider the outrageous. It’s a place to begin.
Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other explosions above or below water all have the potential to generate a tsunami.
COVID 19 didn’t arrive on shores around the world with the slow measure of an incoming tide. It crashed down with the sudden force of a tsunami. We don’t know the cause. But it seems a seismic disruption of the environmental balance could well be a factor.
The global protests against systemic racism and police brutality have also arrived with the force of a tsunami. In this case, the causes are obvious. Like a crashing together of tectonic plates, the pressure has been building up for hundreds of years. Although the warnings have been ignored every bit as much as with the environment, this explosion, this eruption, was predictable.
All along the Washington coast where the possibility of a tsunami is very real, there are signs for evacuation routes. When faced with an approaching force of this magnitude, slow and considered movement doesn’t work. The only viable action is to get out and get out now. And now, in the face of these tsunamis, the only viable action is to abandon everything and get to higher ground. In this case, moral ground.
This is not the time for movement measured in inches. This is not the time to create more commissions to study the issues. We know what the issues are. We know what the solutions are. Studies only avoid action. This is not the time for making incremental adjustments in our current systems, whether systems of thought or policy, for those systems are broken beyond repair.
This is not the time for inches and increments. In the face of these tsunamis, it is the time for bold action. We need tsunamic change.
False flag. A flag flown to disguise true identity.
Heritage. It’s a word I use a lot. In writing and pilgrimages and gatherings and the titles of my books. As they would say in Ireland, I do rather bang on about it. And I don’t see that changing. But let me be clear. When I speak and write about heritage, I am focused on a heritage of being in right relationship with the Earth, the sacred, and in community. A heritage that is shared in so many cultures around the world, especially those cultures that are still woven with their indigenous roots.
These are heritages to honor and celebrate. There are those that do not deserve to be honored or celebrated. These are the heritages of exploitation and greed and subjugation which are also present in world cultures. Including ours. Although people tend to wave the concepts of heritage and history as some kind of sacred banner, these are false flags that disguise the truth.
Currently many in our nation are embracing the confederate flag as a symbol of our history and heritage. But let’s be clear. This is not about some lofty ideal of heritage. It’s about racism. And while the history of the confederacy that birthed the flag only lasted five years, the heritage of racism embedded in that flag is still with us.
When the confederate flag was being designed, there were those who didn’t think it went far enough in clearly communicating the truth behind the symbol. William Thompson, editor of the Savannah Daily Morning News, published these words on April 23, 1863.
As a people, we are fighting to maintain the Heaven ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause. Our idea is simply to combine the present battle flag with a pure white sheet.
Because Thompson’s idea did not become the official flag, some suggest the pure white sheet became the garments of the KKK.
Today, those who wave and wrap themselves in the confederate flag would have us believe it stands for some higher sense of historical heritage. They may believe it’s some kind of clever disguise. But it’s not. There is no false flag here. We see it for exactly what it is. And we see them for exactly who they are.
I recently spent four days with some of the grandmothers of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. During this Summit of the Rose, we listened to grandmothers from Tibet, Africa, and tribes here in the States. It was a stunning and filling piece of time. Dennis asked whether their messages were different from those shared in the past. No. The messages were still focused on our relationship with the Earth, the Sacred, and each other. There was perhaps more urgency.
No. What the grandmothers shared is the same core message that is being shared by elders and ancestors and wisdom keepers around the world. It’s time to come home. Malidoma Somé published this in April.
A Message From Elder Malidoma Somé
The world is in an initiatory intensive at this time. As with any initiation, the fear of the unknown is more deadly than what is known. At times like this, we must invoke our medicines, our collective gifts and imaginations to stomp the spread of fear and insecurity, and to read into the crisis that is plaguing the world from the perspective of our human genius and its capacity to respond to our turmoil wisely.
At this time dear ones, we need to distance ourselves from the fear that is spreading and get closer to Nature and our Ancestors. Nature carries the magic we need to ascend to the light of our collective immunity. As the mirror of our true selves, Nature wants us to immerse ourselves into Her so we can remember that we are not the puppets of fear. If we do so, we will see how this pandemic is a call to self-check and an invitation to reclaim a larger power we are entitled to. We are also invited to remember that our healing is with our Ancestors. These forebears are reminding us that the medicine we brought to this planet is yet to be unleashed fully. Let us engage them with the stories of our current journey. Let us show them that as co-creators, we stand together while we walk through this initiation. Let’s not sag into the easy recess of panic. It’s a déjà-vu that makes us predictable to the agents of manipulation and robs us of our the grace of our sacred selves. If we do trust our medicine, if we have faith in our Ancestors and believe in the magic of Mother Nature, now is a good time for all of that to show.
Now, more than ever we must speak loud to the Ancestors, we must feel the Earth beneath our feet and we must capture the smell of Nature as we commit to a larger life and re-subscribe to the medicine of each other. We are that close to a glorious homecoming.
We’ve been here a while. Behind these closed doors. And in the dance of openings and re-closings, it seems we will be here for a while longer.
It’s hard for me to get my mind around the global nature of this. So many sequestered around the world. All experiencing a shift in life rhythms and patterns. And in this shifting, in this slowing down to the speed of wisdom, how many are embracing this opportunity for contemplation and introspection? How many are embracing this opportunity to recalibrate our lives and perhaps our collective moral compass? I wonder.
OK. Probably not as many as I would hope for. But still, there has been a shift in the global collective consciousness. Perhaps we are seeing some of this manifest in the strong and sustained peaceful protests against police brutality. Some might argue this is more the consequence of the perfect storm of people with both free time and outrage. I choose to believe that beyond the distractions of binge watching movies and purging closets and planting gardens – all good and worthwhile activities – people have considered deeply the world we want to step back into when the doors open again. And our role in shaping that world.
Closed for maintenance. When those doors open again, may we indeed be transformed. May that transformation have deep and secure roots. And may we sustain the trajectory of that transformation. For our people. For our planet.
It wasn’t intentional. This mask we wear is a consequence of being born into this culture. We all got one. And while we like to believe we were born into an enlightened set of values and aspirations, many of which are written into the founding documents of this country, in fact we are born into a capitalist system and society. It is those values that have largely and disproportionately shaped our masks through the influences of materialism, abuse of power, egoism, greed, and enemy consciousness. Yes, our core values of equity and social justice and knowing that all life is sacred are still there. It’s just often hard to see them behind the mask.
So many elders, especially indigenous elders, and wisdom keepers around the world are telling us that COVID19 is not an enemy but a messenger. And the message is highly spiritual. We are being called, and called strongly, to consider deeply our relationship with the Earth and with all life. We are being called to reconciliation and we are being called to ask forgiveness for those damaged and abused. We are being called to reclaim our spirituality and our humanity and transform our darkness into light.
We must do this for our survival. This is no longer a question. And, as passionate and creative people, this is absolutely within our power. There is no question we can do this. The question is are we ready, are we willing?
Are we willing to step out from behind our masks? Are we willing create a world based on values of love and compassion, of honoring all life as sacred?
Are we willing to heed the message? If not, how many messengers will it take?
Beannacht, Judith – firstname.lastname@example.org
19th Century kwakwaka’wakw transformation mask. artist unknown.
I call on all Grand Mothers everywhere on the planet to rise and take your place in the leadership of the world
Come out of the kitchen out of the fields out of the beauty parlors out of the television
Step forward & assume the role for which you were created: To lead humanity to health, happiness & sanity.
I call on all the Grand Mothers of Earth & every person who possesses the Grand Mother spirit of respect for life & protection of the young to rise & lead.
The life of our species depends on it.
& I call on all men of Earth to gracefully and gratefully
stand aside & let them (let us) do so.
Summit of the Rose. A four day gathering with grandmothers from the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. Powerful, inspiring messages for this time and all time. This poem was included in the opening of the second day. And yes. It’s time for the sisters, especially the elders, to stand in our power and lead.
Together with people around the world, the Irish have taken to the streets in Dublin to protest the murder of George Floyd and the atrocities of an institutionalized culture of racism.
As the crowd swelled to five thousand protestors, Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Vradkar faced criticism for allowing people to gather in this time of pandemic. He is, after all, a medical doctor and should know better. His response:
Racism is a virus that we have been fighting for millennia. Despite the progress we have made, it is no less virulent today, and no less dangerous. We need to show solidarity as people of all races and backgrounds around the world and come together to stop its spread and defeat it.
In solidarity for social justice.