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Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained.
Lao Tzu

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A Commitment To Indigenous Morality

“Goodness does not thrive in the absence of evil. Selfishness, small vices, and jealousies dominate the people in those times. True goodness only emerges in the threat and presence of Shadow—nestling in the crook of its arm, whispering in its ear, until the Shadow goes mad and men relinquish their fears to cry once more for compassion and the creative spirit.”
Amoshi

When many people hear the word morality, they immediately think of sexual conduct, or the personal behavior of an individual. Indigenous people often see morality as a communal trait. It involves the global perspective of the people. Western civilization began with the colonial conquests of Rome, with economic and political power as its prime directive. Roman Catholic traditions drove forward the conquest for greed disguised in the cloak of religion. European colonialists, specifically those of England, Holland, Spain, France, and Germany, carried on this tradition of seeking to enrich themselves utilizing the shield and conveyances of religion. In America, the concepts of manifest destiny mirrored these traditions of spiritual deceit, pretending a social, political, and spiritual superiority while conducting its own holy war against millions of Natives.
These blueprints have since been drawn upon by countless despots and dictators looking for methods and rationalizations to openly condone their programs of genocide and pillaging of the earth. Today these models are openly used to bully and coerce resource rich nations into allowing a handful of powerful international criminals access to those resources. We benefit from this horror by continuing to allow our modern gods of comfort and convenience to supersede our spiritual values and morality. By relegating morality to individual standards, it relieves us of any group responsibility for the horrors being perpetrated upon the world. Technological civilization, and its deity, Progress, are in the process of demanding the allegiance of every world citizen and enlisting every malleable mind to their ends. But the fruits of that civilization, which once promised to be so sweet, have soured as of late. The foremost societies in this quest plunge into cycles of inner turmoil and violence. In America, even our children dream of murder. We pretend that we can safely continue this lifestyle indefinitely while 75 percent of the rest of the world is lacking nutritious food, shelter, or a safe place to sleep. It is a myth that there are enough resources for the rest of the world to share our standard of living. Even if the entire world were to model their political and economic systems after ours this could not be accomplished without finding six more earth’s to plunder. This is what the current crisis is really centered around. Those who despoil not only humanity, but the life of the earth will continue to be visited by the plagues of moral bankruptcy. Our families and our children will be the targets of our own transgressions. This was a seed planted at the beginning of this nation in soil soaked with the blood and dreams of indigenous peoples. Even today, across the world new blood soaks the ground. The fabric of civilization must be torn and re-sewed with a new moral perspective.
Morality relates not only to the actions of human beings toward other humans but toward the entire planet. In the Indigenous world, the earth is a living being. Every physical form upon it is comprised of the same elements moving and interacting. Earth, fire, air, water, rocks, trees, animals, and human beings are built from the same blocks. All these forms share this inner life for differing purposes in our global family. The rock does not speak because that is not its purpose. Indigenous people do not ascribe to humanity any superiority or greater value than our environment—because we could not sustain our lives separate from it. If we depend on it, how can we be superior to it? To be very frank, some of our Elders predicted these circumstances a century ago because they recognized the selfish belief that considers humanity to be the preferred species of the earth rather than as an integral equal part of the whole.
We are asked to possess three characteristics: respect for Creation, responsibility to act in the best interests of Creation, and gratitude for that Creation. Indigenous people revere Creation. It is all Sacred. We view death as a natural process. Just as we eat, so we are eaten—and give back our spirits to Creation. We know that the basic elements of creation are everlasting and cannot die. No guilt—no blame. As the volcano pours its lava into the villages below, we are assured that someday flowers will sprout in the enriched soil of that destruction. That is what separates natural violence from the violence of men. Natural violence will always result in new creation. However, the horrors men put upon each other do not guarantee that from those horrors new flowers of great beauty will sprout. There is a difference between the mysterious order and purpose of natural destruction in Creation and the willful and calculated violence of human beings purposely destroying the very relationships that should give their life meaning, purpose, and joy. Amoshi says that it is the fear of death, the fear of judgment, the fear of loss, and the very selfish fear of personal extinction that leads men to evil.
In our family, we think that it is part of man’s purpose to search for a balance between fate and choice. Those who have chosen war and conflict will not be convinced or changed. My Pomo friend, Clayton Duncan, says an Elder once told him that Americans are—“the people of ruin, everything they touch they ruin—that has become their purpose.” In America, one would expect that people would be overwhelmed with gratitude for our many blessings and overflow with compassion. For our leaders to act with attitudes of arrogance, superiority, and a willingness to exercise a violent spirit can only lead to our losing these blessings. We cannot expect to move away from revenge and violence toward morality and gratitude until we acknowledge the absence of the sacred in this modern path—until; once again, we revere Creation. Meaningful change can only be led by people who demand that the moral principles of our spiritual heritages be applied without compromise to the principles of the republic. Lip service and rhetoric only increase the danger.
We don’t have to possess exactly the same perspectives and beliefs, only to agree that our goal is not to loose unnecessary and unjustified evils upon the world merely to preserve a standard of living that will be impossible for the rest of the world ever to share.
The noise we make must be heard above elections, above sound bites, above negotiations—even above the bombs.

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James BlueWolf

1 comment to A Commitment To Indigenous Morality

  • Hi James,

    May I assume that you’re not an admirer of Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy? Ha. 😉 Yes, I see what Peg in her comment was referring to–a good bit of what followed my post on optimism extinguished is a downer. Anyway, some good points made here, but always remember all people since time immemorial, the “indigenous” included, conducted wars, held slaves, considered women servants of men and sacrificed life in various ways. And America, in spite of her faults, has accomplished some amazing things, and saved other nations who were threatened with destruction such as WW II. Life is always a mixed bag, in my view.

    Mark

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