There are many people out there we admire. Those who speak up against tyranny (see Prime Minister Harper) and other bad stuff. We applaud the public figure who is fighting the good fight (whatever the good fight is). The good words, the moment of media exposure. We "like" their status on Facebook and offer some good words like: you go girl, you are the one, keep it up, ______ for Prime Minister, and so forth. It's quite interesting how a few media sound bites and we are so enamoured with a new hero. We are so quick with our praise and then we go our separate ways.
I do hope our memories are longer than a media sound bite in the news. There are some out there that live that life; putting others first. Me I am not sure I can be that way honestly. I am a selfish person in many ways, and in many ways very generous. I think many of us are.
I am thinking about his lately as I look at the circle of people in Winnipeg and Manitoba. I have this friend that I normally think has been out there for the people. As I take a closer look I wonder if that is truly the case? I know these Traditional folk back home and I judge them. I see that they are the ones that never go outside of their little circle; only to help their immediate friends and family. I guess that is good but really are they putting others first or just themselves? I mean they never have anything good to say about anyone but their own. They don't support anything or anyone in the community. You will never ever see them when others are struggling: Wakes, hard times, community events, protests. If it doesn't have them in the circle well I guess its not on their agenda. I see this one Teacher I know, who has seemly devoted a life to helping others. As I look closely I see that the life of helping others is confined to a very small circle which includes their place of employment and not much more. Lot of folks out there like that. We only care if it has something to do with us. So if we are living with the Teachings of the Bible, The Traditional Teachings, The Thirteen Moons, The Seven Teachings, The Four Direction on the Medicine Wheel, The Quran, Tanakh, Theravada and Mahayana, so why do we engage in such selfish behaviour? In each of these Spiritual tools they speak of others, putting others first. Are we truly putting others first?
When my Dad had his Wake and his Service I noticed. I noticed those Traditional folk, Teachers and Elders that did not come to see him off. I am not a fan or believe in that sentiment: "I want to remember as they were before, when they were alive". That is such a bunch of fresh excrement, you know the kind. The service is not all about the deceased. It is also about the family and you're own conduct. Our community (speaking of the larger community as well as ours) is so filled with selfishness. For example, the local gambling hall in our Reserve goes full tilt while just down the road people are grieving. Its funny how we cheerish our own wants, not needs, wants. I want to gamble so much that I won't let it be for an hour. I know this man that had worked with my Dad for years and another guy whos Dad worked with my Dad for years, did they bother to acknowledge? Maybe they were busy. I don't know. I hope that's it and not that they thought so little of him that they couldn't be bothered to tell his family - condolences. My brother him, he doesn't give a "rats ass" of what others think. He is like that, not there to please others or kiss ass. Just works for the best of what is best. There are many cliches out there that sound more elequant but mean the same thing as to what my brother saying of who gives a rats ass; "we can't change people only do what we can".
I try hard to be kind. Of course I fail. Its just the way it is. I will keep trying as long as I can, not sure I will ever reach that place but will work at it. It is a job to put others before ourselves.
So I was having a hard struggle with not being my cheeky self. My wife calls me by my Dad's name when I am being cheeky (not fun cheeky but rude cheeky). I have to really keep in check my behaviour and attitudes. I will mock people and give shots or backhanded compliments. My Dad was funny like that. I remember him saying something to this sanctimonious arse. The guy didn't even realize he was being taken down a few notches. So its you have to bite the inside of your cheek so as to not shoot at the high and mighty.
I see people putting themselves on podiums and saying all the good stuff. I wonder if at night as they are being tucked into bed by their spouse and kissed on their cheek, do they say "fooled em' all again"? I mean really? Who are we fooling with our talk of benevolence and caring? Are we trying to fool ourselves? Do we mean it when we say to strangers "I love you"? "I care for Mother Earth?" "The Women are our Life givers?" "The children, who will care for the children (one of my favorite quotes from the Simpsons)?"
I was talking to this one girl (she grew up on farm) about farms the other day. She said you won't see plastic bags rolling through the fields on most family farms. You know why? They care for the Land. They don't want their live animals eating garbage and making them sick. They cheerish the land. How many of us can really say that? If you go to your community what is it like there, are we looking after our Mother? Are our yards clear of floating garbage and stuff? If you are a smoker you are guilty of making the Earth sick. You throw your butts out of car windows, on the ground, and contiuously foul the air with your second hand smoke. Christ sake many of us smoke in the car or home with our babies? How is that putting others first? Don't get me started on drinking, smoking or taking pills/drugs while pregnant. That is not putting someone first. Go to a powwow, how many people stay after and help clean up? Or even bother to throw the trash in a bin? Or go to Ceremony grounds and see if people take care of their litter. Do we?
Many of us like the good quote. The empty phrase. Because that is what it is, just a meaningless group of words. Really where are those Indians that are putting others first? "We are one with the land. It takes a village to raise a child. We are keepers of Mother Earth. I live by the Seven Teachings. Do on to others as you would want them to do to you. You are your brothers keeper. Be kind. Share food with people. Be honest."
Do you really listen to the Elders? Not just the Elders able to get to Ceremonies or to political rallies, but the ones that are up there in age? The Old Ones? How about Women? Do we treat them with respect? Or are we so selfish that we will fight our wives because we think they loved someone before we came along in their lives? Do we listen to the needs or our children before we go and get our smokes or beer? Do we make sure they have everything for school - lunch -breakfast - clean clothes - enough sleep, before our own needs?
Do we really think ahead of the next seven generations? Are we thinking of the Earth? Do we even like our people? Do we put others first before our own wants?
Where are those Indians?
I don't know if we will find them on Twitter or Facebook. But who knows?