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Image from John Silvers

The single biggest thing I learned was from an indigenous elder of Cherokee descent, Stan Rushworth, who reminded me of the difference between a settler mindset of “ I have rights” and an indigenous mindset of “I have obligations.” Instead of thinking that I am born with rights, I choose to think that I am born with obligations to serve past, present and future generations and the planet herself.

*

When the storm passes
and the roads are tamed,
and we are the survivors
of a collective shipwreck.

With a weeping heart
and a blessed destiny
we will feel happy
just for being alive.

And we will hug
the first stranger
and praise the luck
of not having lost a friend.

And then we’ll remember
everything we lost
And all at once we will learn
all we had not learned before

We will no longer be envious
because we have all suffered
We will no longer be lazy
And will be more compassionate

What belongs to all will be worth more
than that never achieved
We will be more generous
and much more committed

We will understand how fragile
it means to be alive.
We will sweat empathy
for who is and who has left.

We will miss the old man
asking for a dollar in the market
we didn’t know his name
although he was next to us

And perhaps the poor old man
was your God in disguise.
You never asked for his name
because you were in a hurry.

And everything will be a miracle
And everything will be legacy.
And life will be respected,
the life we have won.

When the storm passes
I ask God, full of sadness
to return us to be better
as he had dreamed we would be.

— Alexis Valdez

We are in the midst of a storm. We don’t quite know what the world will look like when it’s over. We don’t even know who we will be when it passes. All our bearings have changed. We’ve moved to a different paradigm. Memories of the recently disappeared world are already fading. A lot of us just want what we had, but we can’t help but wonder at its illogical cruelty.

In fact, we projected our own cruelty on the “savages” we displaced on the American continent. Thankfully, kinder cultures are now appearing on the horizon to show us where we went wrong and what we might do to heal.

We didn’t know why we were so unkind, it’s just the way things were. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that we have never been who we thought we were. It was normal but because it was normal we didn’t question it. We were actually blind to it. Now we realize how much we practiced cruelty ourselves.

We can’t help but see the ever expanding suffering we are still creating, not only among our fellow humans but across the whole community of living beings. Our politics is a crime scene. Our work life is fraught. Our family life is barely holding together. Our relation to the earth is toxic. Our religion is childish and impotent.

It’s obviously not a good idea to cling to the mindset that got us to this situation, but a large portion of the human family can’t yet see a reason to change. As businesses close and families are heartlessly rendered homeless, our punitive logic begins to look increasingly outrageous. Our heartless system begins to look psychopathic and yet our leaders can’t seem to entertain a different optic.

This is the kind of situation that invites a revolution. The suffering is too great. We’ll be lucky if our revolution stays on the mental plane. We need a revolution in values, a basic change of heart. America is behind the rest of the first world on this. We seem a little stupid. The pain in our society is a direct result of our belief in a transactional world. We have circled back to the 1920’s. We didn’t learn a thing.

I hope that those who say a kinder world is coming are right. True feminine values are probably the only thing that can save us now. We have given the values of separation a good multi-century try and they have driven us into the swamp. It’s not too late for a fundamental sea-change of values to right our ship but it will have to come soon.

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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