Sunday, December 11, 2016

Standing Rock

Part I

My main intent in heading to Standing Rock two weeks ago was to witness (to see for myself and then tell my community what I saw) and to try to understand and then attempt to support and follow the Lakota/Dakota leaders of this movement in whatever way I felt I could while I was there. I ended up spending a little over a week at Oceti Sakowin -one of several water-protector camps at Standing Rock—and then headed home for family duties and to better prepare myself for my next trip out into the teeth of the North Dakota winter (if in fact the leaders at the camps still want me to come) 
            My intent was to write up a big, long blog/screed/sermon about what I personally witnessed and participated in because my head was just bursting with impressions and ideas, and I still intend to do that. But now that I sit down to write it I see that the form of the intended narrative is shifting. In just in my short week of being there, I saw, experienced, felt, thought out and schemed up far more than I could fit into one single post that would adhere to my personal standard (not always achieved!) of not boring my audience. This is the nature of writing and of true movements, I think. The birth of true movements (which is what is happening at Standing Rock is) overwhelm its witnesses with new thoughts, paradigms and possibilities, and in that excitement the witnesses who write about it tend to go didactic (professorial or whatever) and then your audience gets bored and doesn’t believe you, can’t believe you because what you have seen and experienced and want to share is so far out of their norm. Of course, I don’t think I’m personally in danger of putting too many would-be activists to sleep because I don’t think I have that big of an audience. But I recognize—and want to call out--the dangers of silo-building and single-issue-defending that the “left” has been so infamous for in the past, and although I know I’m just this tiny little thread of narrative, I also know that you are reading this now, that stories are vital to what lies ahead and that words are what our stories are bricked together with. For me to say that what is happening at Standing Rock is huge would be, I think, an understatement. So therefore it’s crucial, I believe, that  stories coming out of  this paradigm-shifting event are not only believable, but true, and I want to treat you with the respect I would hope all journalists and essayists with larger audiences should but don’t. 
            Beware, then, is the first thing I have to tell you, of what you read and hear about Standing Rock and this larger movement that has been catalyzed there in the corporate papers or hear on T.V. The corporate paradigm is dying, or is at least being effectively assaulted and, being corporate, those outlets want to put you back to sleep, which is one of the only real dangers of this moment, I think. False negatives, lies, willful news blackouts, etc. Don’t believe ‘em, in other words. That's your job. Read this blog. Read others. Get on Facebook. Talk to people who have been to Standing Rock. Sponsor awareness-raising events. Don’t silo up around single issues. The danger of “divide and conquer” everyone in this complex country to the “left” of Attila the Hun will be overridden by your vigilance. Get the best information you can get, and keep the narrative on track and true with what you want our world to become. Take a side. It's that simple.
            Well…this is getting to be one of those long-winded explanations that I maybe should have avoided according to my own rules. Oh, well…people are people are people, my mom always said, and I’m just another one of those. I hope you’ll give me the benefit of the doubt that I’m doing the best I can with a very large thing that I just happened to be blessed with being a witness to, and give me your ear as I try to put it down into as many installments to this blog as it takes for me to feel like I got it adequately out, which may be what I’ll end up writing on for the rest of my natural existence, it's that big, I think. 
            That's OK. At least I know my time could be a lot less productive. I could be neurosing on DC politics for the next 4-8 years.
            Evolve, folks. Read on, please.

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