Honour Songs

The number and severity of crises seem particularly onerous this morning. The spectacle of the Republican National Convention, continued Russian influence in our electoral process, the sabotage of the postal system, the relentless killing of unarmed black men, women and children, separating children from their families and putting them in cages, hurricane Laura making landfall, California on fire and the derecho we experienced here in the Midwest, to name a few of the more recent disasters. All are contributing to a failing state.

There are several measures of a failing state that cast light on the American reality:

—functional failures: inability to respond adequately to challenges threatening the security of the society and its population against threats posed by internal and external hostile political actors, as well as by ecological instabilities, by widespread extreme poverty and hunger, and by a deficient health and disaster response system;

—normative failures: refusal to abide by systemic rules internationally as embedded in international law and the UN Charter, claiming impunity and acting on the basis of double standards to carry out its geopolitical encroachments on the wellbeing of others and its disregard of ecological dangers; patterns of normative failures include endorsements of policies and practices giving rise to genocide and ecocide, constituting the most basic violations of international criminal law and the sovereign rights of foreign countries; the wrongs are too numerous to delimit, including severe and systemic denials of human rights in domestic governance; economic and social structures that inevitably generate acute socio-economic inequalities on the basis of class, race, and gender.

Is the United States a Failing State? A Failed State? by Richard Falk, Global Justice in the 21st Century blog, July 22, 2020

What many White people actively avoid thinking about is this “state” has never worked for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC).

As my friend Ronnie James says so well:

I’m of the firm opinion that a system that was built by stolen bodies on stolen land for the benefit of a few is a system that is not repairable. It is operating as designed, and small changes (which are the result of huge efforts) to lessen the blow on those it was not designed for are merely half measures that can’t ever fully succeed.

So the question is now, where do we go from here? Do we continue to make incremental changes while the wealthy hoard more wealth and the climate crisis deepens, or do we do something drastic that has never been done before? Can we envision and create a world where a class war from above isn’t a reality anymore?”

Ronnie James

The many consequences of a failed state are breaking that system. The half measures some of us have employed in an attempt to improve that system have never fully succeeded. What we could not accomplish voluntarily is now being forced upon us by the failure of that very system.

As Ronnie asks, “where to we go from here?” We can and should look for accomplices to build a better world right now. But we must also work on ourselves. On our spiritual life. Tend our spiritual fires.

Bring these words into your life. Feel them. Sit with them. Use them.

Richard Wagamese

The words in this book are embers from the tribal fires that used to burn in our villages. They are embers from the spiritual fires burning in the hearts, minds and souls of great writers on healing and love. They are embers from every story I have ever heard. They are embers from all the relationships that have sustained and defined me. They are heart songs. They are spirit songs. And, shared with you, they become honour songs for the ritual ways that spawned them. Bring these words into your life. Feel them. Sit with them. Use them.

For this is the morning, excellent and fair . . .

Wagamese, Richard. Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations (pp. 6-7). Douglas and McIntyre (2013) Ltd.. Kindle Edition.

I am my silence. I am not the busyness of my thoughts or the daily rhythm of my actions. I am not the stuff that constitutes my world. I am not my talk. I am not my actions. I am my silence. I am the consciousness that perceives all these things. When I go to my consciousness, to that great pool of silence that observes the intricacies of my life, I am aware that I am me. I take a little time each day to sit in silence so that I can move outward in balance into the great clamour of living.

Wagamese, Richard. Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations (pp. 9-10). Douglas and McIntyre (2013) Ltd.. Kindle Edition.

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