Mahatma Gandhi led an entire nation to independence – Nelson Mandela freed a nation from apartheid – Martin Luther King galvanized the civil rights movement.
What they shared in common were two things above all else – the color of their skin being dark and oppression.
The nations have had great leaders but not a one among them was capable of achieving a comparable independence – that in part was the result of centuries of war, being so out gunned and out manned leading to such a reduction in numbers that by the dawn of the twentieth century we had not only been rounded up and confined to gulags but the combined population of our nations had been reduced to roughly two hundred and fifty thousand men, women, and children in a nation whose population numbered in the tens of millions.
Sixty million people alone had immigrated to the U.S. in the 18th and 19th centuries, to say we were being numerically overwhelmed is an understatement as some of our nations were driven to extinction.
Armies march on their stomachs, they are sustained by resources, cut off the supply by butchering tens of millions of buffalo and the impact is and was predictable.
Introduce biological weapons in the form of smallpox and other diseases and they have the same effect as a modern day drone – an unknown invisible adversary you can neither see nor are equipped to contend with.
Place a bounty on the scalps of men, even women and children adding additional foes to vie with.
Rape and pillage, make tobacco pouches out women’s breast as part of a psychological warfare to instill fear.
Steal our children and send them to schools to beat and sexually abuse as part of the process of “killing the ndn to save the man” as they are being “educated” and told of the undying love of some distant god who will cast you into a lake of burning fire in a New York minute if you don’t believe and surrender all you have ever known, who you are, and who you will ever be in the context of the forced disruption of your upbringing.
There’s a saying that money talks and bullshit walks but an additional saying should be with enough money bullshit not only walks but capable of running and controlling legislation.
It’s no secret money doesn’t flow in and out of the coffers of the poor or working class and I believe on some level there is a conscious design to that in that it insures a dependent work force leading to a competition for available jobs, a competition that will insure low wages and a lack of benefits.
Another example would be farmers who are up to their neck in debt struggling to keep up with corporate owned commercial farms – they are systematically being pushed out in the pursuit of greed and influence just as mom and pop neighborhood grocery or hardware stores are.
Consider this, retail prices are influenced by the cost of distribution – if the cost of distribution goes up as in fuel cost then retail prices follow suite.
Conversely if distribution related to fuel cost goes down then retail prices should as well, but that hasn’t been the case has it?
Additionally we are told a free market economy inspires competition, a competition that results in lower prices so there’s nothing to worry about and the consumer is getting a great deal.
Really? Someone want to provide an example?
How much money is enough? If you ask corporate moguls, Wall Street, and the banking industry the answer is there is never enough because it’s about more than money, it’s about the power and influence that accompany it.
A concept that surely lends itself to the adage that power corrupts.
Should the benefits of productivity and wealth trickle down to elevate the standard of living and overall well being of a nations citizens or should it “trickle up” to further enrich a select few and insure the status quo?
Any economist who isn’t squarely in the pocket of conservatives and the one percenters will tell you that wages have not kept pace with either productivity or profit – in fact if not mistaken I believe the metric is wages are something like thirty years behind.
Instead of wages keeping pace credit became the substitute turning workers into little more than indentured servants trying to keep their head above water in the midst of deciding which bill to pay as opposed to meals, clothing, whether to visit a doctor or not or to fill a prescription as corporations and the wealthy were further enriched and the chasm between the haves and have nots grew steadily more egregious.
Should jobs be exported out to cheap foreign labor markets so the profit margin can be increased – is that what the “Dream” is about or is it a global extension of corporate greed seeking to take advantage of impoverished people?
If the working class is exploited in this country how much more will workers in other countries be?
And to what end, where will the indifference stop?
Will it end with those who stand in line for the latest iPhone, tech gadget, or the fall line of foreign made shoes and fashion from Ivanka, or Trump construction projects using imported steel and materials while railing about creating jobs and making America Great?
Assuming the reader is of the working class is that what you believe it is about?
The working class is the backbone of this or any other nation, nothing takes place without them.
They are the heroes – not Gates, Soros, Buffet, the Kochs, or any other ivory tower residents.
Not Wall Street hedge fund operators, the banking industry, the Trump’s, Kushners, or big pharma.
When people wake up to that simple fact and accept the reality forgoing cults of personality and blind party allegiance then maybe a Gandhi, King, Mandela, or someone from within this country whether black, red, yellow, white, or brown will emerge and the bullshit of money controlling every aspect of government will become a thing of the past.
Bottom line is Trump ain’t that person, he is the very antithesis, and for his supporters I suggest they look inside that make America great hat or shirt they bought and so proudly wear thinking it makes them a patriot, take note of the label where it was made, and then either get real or shut the hell up about jobs, the economy, and making the country great again.
What the industrialized nations should be doing is helping other countries to elevate themselves and become capable of providing good decent jobs to their people rather than exploiting the poverty and need – they should do so without profit or influence being the motivation.
When a people, any people, have the ability to earn a decent living it can in many ways change attitudes and lead to a broader acceptance of diversity – it can in fact lead to a societal awakening where intolerance becomes more the exception than the norm.
All people everywhere deserve physical, spiritual, and economic freedom.
And so another rant sandwiched inbetween posts of photos some may agree with and some may not, but I have never predicated my beliefs or willingness to speak them based upon a premise that life is one big popularity contest, nor do I believe anyone should.
If I believe it I’m going to speak it, if shown to be wrong I’ll say so with the same level of conviction.
I’m really not into this style of photo imagery though it has it’s place just as other styles do and can render well at times.
A friends daughter with a single mother who was coming out of an abusive relationship doing the best she could with limited resources for her child had a much loved poster of butterflies to brighten up her then otherwise gloomy room, one day when seeing this photo she became enamored of it and asked if I could make it into a poster like her butterfly one?
I thought of this child born to poverty and disenfranchisement and it broke it my heart imaging her gazing wistfully at a poster of butterflies on the wall and where her thoughts and dreams carried her.
It breaks my heart that there are millions of children born to poverty and I consider it a global indictment that such things exist.
It is a wound inflicted upon the collective spirit of humankind – an unnecessary purposeless wound.
I told her I could but wasn’t able to print it to match the same dimensions but assured this wide eyed child excited about the prospect I would make an effort to do so and I would have moved heaven and earth to follow through.
Fortunately I had a friend in town who does a lot of computer work that knew someone who could – took a couple of weeks of scouting around but the look on her face when presented with her new poster was worth it.
Since I do carpentry work I had made a frame for it as well and it only seemed fitting to make another for her other poster.
So a new poster and a freshly painted room to bring a smile to a child’s face, how good is that? How worthwhile is it to invest in a child’s life in some way?
Do you believe the welfare of children everywhere should be a universal concern, a driving force?
If you do then mount up and do what you can to make a difference, don’t be content to leave it to others, don’t ignore what is all around you – you can make a difference.
I was a little hesitant to blog this as I didn’t want any to think I’m praising myself, I emphatically am not – the intent is hopefully to raise awareness, an awareness that would compel people to action whether a child is their own or not.
I feel as though inspite of everything there existed certain advantages in my childhood, among them the nation I was born into and the ability to be something of a feral child whose favorite haunts were the forests, mountains, and rivers.
I was loved and wanted where other children have not been.
A child isn’t aware of poverty or disenfranchisement unless there is something to compare it to.
They are capable of understanding the lack of enough food to go around, shoes and jeans with more holes than fabric or leather, or the lack of adequate heat in the winter, yet in this lack of comparison believe it to be the norm.
My first real glimpse of the land of plenty towns were thought to be came when I was about five.
My grandmother and I had gone to town for a reason long since forgotten, an experience difficult to process as we passed window after window laden with all manner of wonders.
Loaves of bread, stacks of canned goods, bowls of candy, clothing, shoes, hardware, all kinds of appliances, and even toys.
The purpose of a theater requiring an explanation of stories being told in pictures that moved and talked, the art work of posters awash in color and words I could neither read or understand featuring heroes and villains, damsels in distress, scantily clad women, and monsters to be wary of.
And with this a seed of understanding was born, that more than one world existed where comparisons became unavoidable.
I had been taught that I , and as a people, we, were different than others but in a good way, that there were those who agreed we were different but in a bad way.
A difference made manifest by an encounter with a man who we were standing next to telling my grandmother to get that “god damn kid out of the way”.
Realizing I was the god damn kid and thinking I had offered no offense I was stunned, maybe even fearful, but not so grandmother who reacted with a clenched fist and literally put the man squarely on his bigoted ass.
Silence reigned as grandmother stepped in front of me protectively with clinched fists, seconds that seemed like hours passed before someone laughed then another and the tension passed.
I appreciated her response but it wasn’t until later I came to fully understand the risk she had taken, how she had put herself on the line.
It seemed like the return trip home took hours, a time passed in silence with neither of us mentioning the days events.
Shortly after our arrival as I was sitting outside with one of the resident hounds ruminating about what was both an awakening and a personally new experience grandmother came out to join me.
Neither coffee nor sugar were abundant commodities but she handed me a battered tin cup of coffee that was equal parts coffee, sugar, and milk.
Savoring my good fortune I nearly forgot offering to share, but when I did she smiled, thanked me, and said it was for me, she had enough coffee for the day.
Had I of thought about it I would have understood her intent as there was no such thing as too much coffee for grandmother.
Almost as an afterthought she miraculously produced of all things a candy bar, turning it over a time or two in her hand she offered the opinion that I might not actually like candy and if that was so she just might be able to make a trade with someone who did.
A pregnant pause as I searched for the right words and then grandmother asked with a twinkle in her eye did I like candy or not, she couldn’t quite remember?
Candy being more rare than coffee and sugar I said I did and she handed it to me, when she had I asked for a knife she always carried and without questioning she handed it to me.
I then cut the candy bar in equal halves, one for her and one for me.
Being more perceptive as an adult she understood my intent and accepted. I then cut my half into halves and when grandmother asked if I meant to save some for later I told her no it was for my mother.
Gift giving among the nations is seen as an honorable thing with no strings attached, especially when there isn’t much to give, and it’s bad form to question or refuse.
Now some might say grandmother’s declining to share in the coffee violated those tenets – taken in context they didn’t, it was another act of giving.
Or failing to do likewise with her share of the candy, but that could have been interpreted as competitive diminishing my act of gifting – might sound confusing but ultimately it is a sign of respect and culturally easily understood.
So we sat enraptured by the experience of eating our candy engaging in minor conversation about the weather, the hounds, and how the garden would fair that year.
The combination of candy and coffee was a comfort, might have wound me up a little as well as I thanked grandmother saying I was going to take my mother’s share to her.
As I stood up to go grandmother rose, took me by the shoulders staring deep into my eyes as her’s began to moisten and said this is what she meant when saying different in a good way.
We hugged and I headed for the house as grandmother began singing a warrior’s song intended for me – I didn’t make it to the house before tears began flowing from my eyes as I attempted to choke them back.
My mother hearing grandmother’s song stepped out on the porch and as I wiped the tears from my eyes and handed her the candy she began to cry and joined grandmother in singing.
I’ve related this story in the blog before but never to this extent as it is a memory that at times threatens to bring tears to my eyes again and right or wrong there’s that man thing about it isn’t a man’s way to shed tears I’ve adhered to – a sort of vow I made following a beating by my drunken father that there would be no more tears, and if there were to be they would be confined within my heart.
I like all others am the sum total of my experiences and the manner in which we allow them to influence us.
An influence that at one point led to a lot of anger, but an anger set aside to be replaced with passion in the beliefs, opinions I hold, and the things I do – to live not tepidly but as though I mean it.
A passion to do what is right, to be caring and loving in relationships, to work hard and not be dependent, to not lay down in the face of adversity and inequities, to confront wrong and defend what is right.
To forgive when warranted and to hold accountable when it is not, and to be equally accountable if the need arise.
I am born of a woman and a man, but the land is also my mother and I will defend both equally no less than I will my own people, my own family, and make no apologies for doing so.
Have I been ranting? Maybe, but not my intention, merely an attempt to flesh out the “about” others have urged me to and having been read by the “gatherers” and encouraged to post I’ve done that, any shortcomings in doing so or the way I express myself are on me.
I neither seek nor desire expressions of sympathy, the conditions we experience either weaken or strengthen us- I believe they have made me stronger and in a way you may not understand I am grateful for whatever measure of strength I have.
No sour grapes intended, just telling it like it was and is.
If walls could speak I wonder what this one would say?
Would it speak of hardship, cold winters, and never enough food on the table – perhaps children in tattered clothes with noses pressed to the window not quite understanding and yet knowing there was something more to life?
It is a house that speaks to me of inequity, poverty, and a lack of opportunity – of sideways glances by those more fortunate and the upturned noses and indifference of those with more than they need and yet desire more.
It speaks of tired worn down desperate men and women who understand more than their children and in that understanding do the best they can while attempting to shield the truth from the innocence of their children.
It speaks not to the past or of the future, but the all too common present of the American reservation system where people often have neither running water or electricity.
It speaks to greed and avarice, to resource wars, wholesale slaughter, and every broken treaty ever entered into.
A monument not to a dream where all are created equal, but what became a nightmare visited upon an entire race of people.
Homan has commented on this blog in the past, comments that I thought were insightful, but at the same time knew little about her or the backstory.
I recently ran across the below linked article and believe it is a tale of survival and the “keep punchin’ ” philosophy I adhere to – don’t quit, if you can’t beat them straight up then outlast them.
Some times it may be easier to throw the towel in, to just give up and accept whatever comes your way – you may or may not like her style but I love a fighter who says in the face of adversity enough is enough and keeps getting up.
Life is for living, not submission, you either stand or bow and crawl – no one owns the world or it’s resources, and no one by birth, position, or ethnicity is better than anyone else.
The wealthiest are no more entitled than the poorest, nor the intellectual as opposed to the illiterate or less learned.
“Civilization” has a long history of being anything but civilized – more wars and deaths have resulted from religious differences than any other reason and I don’t give a damn what religion it is, that is the bare naked truth of it.
Classism and caste systems are a global reality as Homan points out- poverty is seen to be a personal fault and the impoverished members of a lepers colony to perhaps be “pitied” from a distance for fear of contamination, and alternately blamed for being a burden.
Throw just enough money at them to keep the lid on, to maintain the level of poverty and insure a corporate and employers dreams of a cheap easily manipulated work force.
Trillions in national debt, hundreds of billions on defense and foreign wars- free education, free medical, free everything following the invasion of another country under the aegis of “nation building” but not so here as that would be socialism and dramatically alter the landscape.
Trade agreements that destroy jobs, enrich the wealthy, and fortify the gap between the haves and have nots.
Homan speaks of herself at times as being too old, and yet demonstrates that no one is ever too old to raise their voice, never too old to attempt to pay forward what they have be it large or small, never too old to continue striving – I think there’s a lesson in that people should take to heart.
But this blog isn’t just about Jacqueline Homan – it’s about every disenfranchised man, woman, and child in poverty – every woman among our nations or any nation who has been a victim of human trafficking in any form.
The most generous people I have ever know are those with the least – it’s easy to give when you have more than you need, but not so easy when you don’t, or to give in the midst of your own need.
I think Homan would do well to keep kicking ass and taking names, and I’m inclined to believe she will.
Keep punchin’ and be well Jacqueline S. Homan
From the comment section of ANNIE’S DAUGHTERS – 1-26-12
Often in talking of treaty rights the desire is to have them honored as written, that means the restoration of land lost since they were.
I don’t believe anyone really thinks that is a possibility, but it is the longing and legally correct thing to do-that longing has been seized upon by Russell Means to advance
himself in the declaration and formation of the Republic of Lakota.
The very manner in which he has gone about it illustrates that he is well aware it is a faux republic-I say that in consideration of his attempt to play both sides.
After decades of talk about lakota land he then “allows” that all those who presently live within the area are more than welcome to stay-that’s a real break from the past when encroachment led to conflict.
But Russell understands neither he nor the Lakota have the ability to evict anyone, and any attempt to would be disasterous, so he struts about with the latest title he has bestowed upon himself of Chief Facilitator, issues declarations of states of emergency, and has yet another vehicle to solicit donations and get a little air time with.
I am in total agreement that no Congressional remedy will be forthcoming, as great an injustice as that is it is a reality to be dealt with-and the lions share of that burden falls to us.
To ever be taken seriously we must achieve some level of self reliance, as in sustainable agriculture, alternative sources of energy under our direction, and the development of tribal business and infrastructure.
In those, pride, the elevation of the standard of living, and social change can begin within our communities. It is a thing we must do and in all likelihood will require equitable partnerships with business and the government.
These partnerships cannot be a continuation of the status quo where they glaringly favor a side other than our own.
The world is a resource hog, if you have them it wants them and will do what it takes to secure them. As evidenced that means no respect for sovereignty, treaties, or land rights.
In times of economic crisis the true nature of trickle down economics is revealed-the misery and the impact are greatest among minorities and those who have the least, while wealth continues to flow upward-and you are absolutely correct that no one is riding in to save us.
Much is owed to the nations, and I’ve often hear it said that checks and commodities are our due, our right, for the debt owed.
Maybe that is true but the greater debt is the one we owe ourselves, the greater right is to become non dependent.
It is more than a right, it is a duty. At some point the governmental teat is going to dry up-we need to be prepared for that.
Recently I saw where George Soros stated the potential for a complete financial global collapse is a very real possibility. He offers the opinion that in such a circumstance chaos would reign supreme, riots would ensue, and a “brutal crackdown” would follow in which constitutional rights would be suspended.
Such a possible scenario may or may not be true, but it doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that changes are coming, and that should serve to energize the nations to move toward self reliance.
Viable leadership is sorely lacking, our communities are in decay-but the truth is there are numerous influences that contribute to that, and not all of them generated by us.
There are a lot of figures thrown about regarding rape, child abuse, and alcoholism-a recent government study stated that the incidence of rape among indigenous women is roughly three and half times the national average, and said eighty five percent of the perpetrators are non indigenous.
I’ve seen other statistics offered by native health care providers and rape counselors that say it is fifty fifty.
However it breaks down one is too many and the incidence of rape, abuse in all it’s manifestations,and substance abuse existing within indigenous communities and perpetrated by our own whatever the percentage is undeniable.
If we are to discuss these things we cannot fail to address factors that contribute to crime-things like unemployment running at seventy or eighty percent, abject poverty, an ingrained sense of hopeless that has been birthed by the reservation system and the acute awareness that we are not even viewed as second class citizens, more like third class-we are “the Indian Problem” government never cared to address in any equitable
These problems aren’t singular to us-they exist wherever poverty exists, in ghettos, barrios, homelessness, and human warehousing known as the projects.
We have been victims-but we cannot embrace it as a lifestyle or our defining characteristic-we are, and must be much more than that.
It has never served us to do so-only the poverty pimps and wannabe chiefs among us have benefited from it.
We need to see to it that are children are provided worthy examples, enjoy the benefits of good parenting, are nourished and equally asimportant, have a good education, those things will go a long way towards leveling the playing field and communal stability.
There are no easy solutions. How could there be after five hundred years?
There is ample blame to go around, and as long as any side is in denial about that not much will change.
I don’t believe in a generational guilt, no one is guilty merely due to ethnicity-guilt is earned and individualized. The exception to that I believe is governmental in the perpetuation of attitudes and failed policies.
Economic hardships always breed a form of isolationism, fuel class and ethnic distinctions. A person in the throes of having lost their job, falling behind in bills, facing foreclosure are focused on their situation and it becomes like those Walmart videos on the net where crowds of people would show up and trample each other just to lay their hands on something in short supply they wanted.That doesn’t bode well for anyone.
As to barking at the moon-that would be waste of time-no doubt as much as our howls of misery we have directed at it.