Tuesday, February 17, 2015

would I do the same with my own children?

Sometimes, people ask what we wanted to be while we are/were growing up, and sometimes we answer/ed with the innocence and undimmed hope of childhood. Sometimes, answers are/were filtered through the desperation and fear of a child abandoned, a child mistreated, a child in pain, or of an adult "schooled" in walking in the time and place of assignment, of requirement, of necessity, rather than of a spirit truly free in hope, potential, openness to learning, sharing, making whole the circles of our lives. Sometimes, we make mistakes when we ask, as well as when we answer, and cannot, for whatever decisions and experiences have brought us to this time, have enough perspective to see what might be boundaries of another's expectations, hopes, fears, sorrows.
Why do we share songs with our children, with students, with more adult communities? Why do we tell stories, write poems, paint, and weave, and sculpt, work with the land, work with learned crafts, try to find some skill to sell, some worth to exchange? Is it all for time, for space, for luxuries in life, or to honor, preserve, perpetuate some learning greater than our own story, our individual walk through life?
Life seems intertwined with aspirations and failings, with obstacles, disappointments, grievous sadness, punctuated by the inexorability of age, of the requirements of government, society, employment, by the more constant beauties of sunrise, season, sea-coast, mountain, valley, and long, winding roads... and some roads seem more winding than others.
I have shared, learned, and worked with indigenous students, with indigenous-arts and indigenous-vocations professionals, in several nations. Yes, some knowledge is proprietary to certain settings, some is sacred--and some, the more I learn, is shared, across and between many cultures and peoples across our great planet, in the seemingly endless collections of stories of our time walking upon this earth. We grow more self-aware with age, it seems, and have, with increased capacity to know ourselves, the possibility of increased capacity to share--to fold stories one into the next, with whispers, and shouts, and songs of realization along the way.
I do not always have knowledge and skills adequate for each new setting. My litmus test for coping, for growing within each new challenge is my capacity to learn, to exchange, to grow with as much reciprocity, respect, and resilience as possible... People speak of knowing the "inner child"--not to become so overwhelmed with the pressures of the adult "world" that the clarity and hope, the joy of a child's heart, a child-like heart, become dimmed, or suppressed forever. There is so much commercialization in the world, it becomes difficult to balance the wonderful aspects of technology, of communications, of "advancements" in comfort, health, safety, security, with the ravenous, profit-motivated, winning-is-expansion perspective so common in so many places today. And how can one bring relevance to the sharing and preservation of indigenous knowledge, life-styles, and values to lives which stretch beyond the haven of family, the familiarity of community, the connection of nationality, across the tumult and strife of our diverse pasts, across the promise and precariousness of our increasingly intertwined present, and across the possibilities of a future thankfully still undefined... A future not absolutely determined by the past, but not guaranteed either.
I think the largest successes, and challenges, in implementing aspects of indigenous learning into our lives and the lives of those learning around us, are all tied to relevance, appreciation, respect, and reciprocity. If there is a situation which would break our hearts if our children were part of it, what, then, would be our choices and actions? If there is a possible future which would fill us with joy at the knowledge that our children could be included, contributing, growing to a perspective and potential greater than we have known, what, then, would be our choices and actions? If we ask our children, our children's children, what they want to be when they grow up, will there come a day when the what, the how, the why, when, where, who... become reconciled with equality of respect, promise, fulfillment, regardless of--and respectful of, origin, tradition, culture, language? I cannot walk for others; I cannot want for others; I cannot choose for others. But if I could do anything, I would try, always, to bring the relevance I hope to gift to my children, and their children, to all learning and interactions, to life shared, with the peoples sharing this planet--because, at some level, most people were once indigenous somewhere, and, in an age of increasing connectivity, we are now all indigenous to this earth, and to our shared walk, our shared stories, as humans.

@ 2015, written for https://courses.edx.org/courses/UBCx/IndEdu200x  Reconciliation through Indigenous Education

Learning and Letting

Some people live within 5 miles of their original home their entire lives; other people may relocate every few years, due to employment, studies, or other circumstances. Whether we stay in a zone made comfortable through its familiarity, or test our abilities to encompass the unknown in unfamiliar locations, we can all encounter new experiences, new languages, new fears and new possibilities, if we take the opportunity to explore our neighborhoods, our shared heritage, responsibilities, and potentials. Exploration can proceed in person, in schools or other groups, online, but without recognizing ourselves, and similarities or differences with others, and respecting those, we will have a difficult time progressing to understanding, sharing, to engaging in a sustainable future of mutual respect and hope. Our lives are intertwined with the history and future of the planet we share, regardless of origins or destinations. But recognizing the shoulders on which we stand, the sources of the lights we carry, can inform and enhance our interdependent future.

@ 2015, written for https://courses.edx.org/courses/UBCx/IndEdu200x  Reconciliation through Indigenous Education

Bound and Boundless

Bound and Boundless on our Interdependent Planet
Bound and Boundless; Interdependence Universal; video created for www.sdsnedu.org/ Planetary Boundaries and Human Opportunities course (Fall/Winter 2014).
Text, art, vocals, video by Michele Baron

text of video:
There are seven continents, hundreds of nations, thousands of cultures living on our interdependent Earth. One central concept, upheld by the United Nations and other governing bodies, by nations and individuals, is that there are “universal” human rights. That is, every human being is entitled to safe, secure, and sustainable life.

The issues involved include food, water, energy, environment, even habitable/living space.

Beyond this, are social justice concepts such as equality, freedom, and the much-alluded-to “pursuit of happiness.”

The right not only to survive, but to thrive.

Balanced with these is one central ecological and ethical reality.

We have, as humans, come to a point in our journey where problems seem as myriad and interchangeable as a mountain of grain—chaff mixed with kernels, all needing sorting, sifting, changing. Grains which could be the source of our sustenance, our life here on Earth, or which could accumulate, deteriorate, suffocate, and extinguish the fragile link to life we share.

Ethical priorities must move beyond concepts of safety, security, sustainability and social justice, to concepts of inclusive/ecocentric ethics, which value diversity of ecosystems and cultures, and are grounded in an awareness of the relative position of human kind within the ecosystems of the Earth.

Out of about 25 million or so species, all are Earthlings.

One is human.

When we move forward, what might be our approach to continuing our lives on this planet?

Within our grasp are solutions to problems of pollution, degradation of our precious air, water, soil; the depredation of resources; the extinction of species of plants, animals, even bacteria which contribute to the chain of life.

What may be our choices, our actions—and what, then, will be our position on this planet of interdependent earth-systems, and Earthlings, when the next day of evolution begins to dawn?

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