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Indigenous Wisdom Provides Path For Positive Change

Sherri Mitchell, Penobscot, an Indigenous lawyer, writer and activist, has a new book, "Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit-Based Change," which explains her personal journey to activism and both how our societies have arrived at this time of grave threats and what we can do to create change. Some of our tasks are to recognize that colonization has not ended, the ways it manifests itself and how to begin the process of decolonization. We can do that, in part, by working to protect water sovereignty. Sherri talks about the mobilization at Standing Rock and the rise of Water Protectors. Then we speak with RaeLynn Cazelot, United Houmi and Pointe-au-Chien, who is a Water Protector working to stop the Bayou Bridge Pipeline (BBP).

Terry Tempest Williams: “Survival Becomes a Spiritual Practice”

By Sarah van Gelder for YES! Magazine - About the time were are living in: I was reading Ed Hirsch’s book A Poet’s Glossary. I think we’re in a “poetic crossing.” He says a poetic crossing is: “The movement within a poem from one plane of reality to another, as when Dante crosses over from the earthly realm to the infernal regions in The Inferno. A poetic crossing, which follows the arc from physical motion to spiritual action, requires the blacking out of the quotidian world and the entrance into another type of consciousness, a more heightened reality. It is a move beyond the temporal, a visionary passage.” I feel like that’s where we are. I think there are so many of us, certainly yourself at the helm, who are recognizing this as a transitional moment. But to think about it as a poetic crossing, that speaks to my soul. We’re moving from one plane of reality to another, and what is required of us is spiritual.

Chris Hedges: The Power of Imagination

Those in the premodern world who hoarded possessions and refused to redistribute supplies and food, who turned their backs on the weak and the sick, who lived exclusively for hedonism and their own power, were despised. Those in modern society who are shunned as odd, neurotic or eccentric, who are disconnected from the prosaic world of objective phenomena and fact, would have been valued in premodern cultures for their ability to see what others could not see. Dreams and visions—considered ways to connect with the wisdom of ancestors—were integral to existence in distant times. Property was communal then. Status was conferred by personal heroism and providing for the weak and the indigent. And economic exchanges carried the potential for malice, hatred and evil: When wampum was exchanged by Native Americans the transaction had to include “medicine” that protected each party against “spiritual infection.” Only this premodern ethic can save us as we enter a future of economic uncertainty and endure the catastrophe of climate change. Social and economic life will again have to be communal. The lusts of capitalism will have to be tamed or destroyed. And there will have to be a recovery of reverence for the sacred, the bedrock of premodern society, so we can see each other and the earth not as objects to exploit but as living beings to be revered and protected. This means inculcating a very different vision of human society.

Activism As A Spiritual Pursuit

Viewing activism as sacred has broadened my perspective, making compassion and a respect for differences central in my thinking. In this respect I’ve been influenced by liberation theology as advanced by Matthew Fox, a defrocked Jesuit Priest and co-author with Adam Bucko of “Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation”–a book which calls for spirituality-infused activism. Fox cautions activists, “If we’re only acting out of anger, we reproduce the energy and momentum of destruction.” (I don’t think Fox is negating righteous indignation, which is a wake-up call for many causes, but warning against a calcified angry stance.) Fox regards community building as a soulful enterprise:
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