That’s a phrase I have heard all my life, but never quite understood … until lately.
The Cedar Water Healing Lodge (CWHL) is a place striving to build a healthy, holistic community based on honor, respect, and acceptance … welcoming, nurturing, and empowering all those who find sacredness in Nature, Mother Earth, and all that the Creator has created. It is a place available to all people, regardless of race, creed, or color, seeking healing on all levels and planes. But what does that really mean?
I have been accused of looking at life through ‘rose colored glasses’, especially when it comes to trust, acceptance and befriending someone in need. I wasn’t raised without prejudice … my folks were plenty prejudice … as were so many of my neighbors, family and school friends. Growing up in a fairly rural area, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of different ethnic or religious groups, so I was out of high school before I started recognizing prejudice. Before that, I had no idea about any of the groups or people my neighbors, relatives and peers talked about … only what I had heard.
We all know parents have a tremendous effect on how their children grow up and perceive the world around them. We like to believe our parents are in many ways knowledgeable about ‘life’ and pass along the right ‘tools’ to help us make good decisions and to stay safe in the world at large. But do they? Or do they also pass along prejudice? Prejudices that have been passed along the family lines for generations, based neither on fact or first hand experience.
Prejudice happens when people do not know or examine for themselves the facts. Prejudice that carries from generation to generation is one of the worst because it seems to lodge itself in our very DNA, seeming harder to reconcile in our psyche. Generational prejudice is often rooted in stories from times long past … stories or accounts our grandparents heard when they were youngsters. And while the stories or accounts may be based in fact, they are usually riddled with fear, suspicion, and a strong sense of bias.
The question I keep asking myself is what is the purpose of it? In the past couple of weeks, I have seen emails being passed from person to person describing religious beliefs that were based on pure hearsay. There was no truth to the content whatsoever. It saddened me to see it, so I called the person who sent it to me and talked to them about the fact they were passing along misinformation … lies in fact! So why do we do that? Why do we pass along information about people, places, groups, or events that are hurtful, damaging, or wreaking of judgment? Is it to better position ourselves in our minds … or with others? Is it to make us look better? Smarter? More deserving? More in the know? Or is it to continue the cycles of prejudice? Separation? ‘One up man-ship’? Discord? Violence? Fear and negativity?
In this world today … is it possible to drop the old prejudices and begin to recognize people for who they are … inside? In the Oji-Cree tradition, we recognize and honor the 4 colors and their directions … yellow in the east, red in the south, black in the west, and white in the north. These colors have lots of meaning to us, but one of the most important is they represent the races present here on our first Mother … Mother Earth.
Here, as we all walk upon the face of our Mother, we breathe the same air, drink from the same pools of resources, gaze upon the same stars, moon and sun, and feed from the same bosom. Regardless of where we might live … the desert, plains, mountains, tropics, or somewhere in between … She provides for us. Regardless of our color or creed, She provides for us. Regardless of who we are or what we do, She provides for us … without prejudice or judgment.
I often hear … “I was told I have a little Black Foot in me”, or “My mom said I have a little Indian blood in me”, or “I don’t think I have any Indian blood in me”. And of course during certain holidays, you might hear of other lineage. For those of us at the CWHL, we don’t care what you have in your blood. All we have ever cared about is what is in your heart! Bloodlines, or pedigrees, are interesting … they can help you better understand your background, family roots, heritage, ancestry, etc. Most people I know find them especially interesting when talking about their favorite pet … what breed it is or its descent.
One Nation is our theme this year at CWHL … and may be for many years to come! We care about each and every person who comes to the Lodge … whether it is to participate in a ceremony, attend a workshop, experience a healing session, or just to walk the labyrinth. We care about the world and the chaos, destruction, and violence that seems to be plaguing it these days. And we recognize that to make changes in the world we have to start with ourselves. We have to be the change … we have to be a change agent … we have to affect change within ourselves and our world. Then maybe others will see it, feel it, want it, learn about it, and pursue it for themselves!
In our collective world today … nothing is more important. We need to come together as one. We need to accept others for who they are … their beliefs, practices, color and creed. You can start by setting your judgment and prejudice aside for just one day a week … and see if people don’t begin to respond a little differently to you. See if you don’t begin to see people just a little differently. And take the time to begin to unravel your prejudice … why it exists, how it effects you and those around you, and whether or not it is presently based in fact … or hearsay, and does it truly serve you and your higher good?
And remember … what will change the world … will come from what is in your heart and the hearts of others. The Creator did not create one race or one color, but did create all that there is here in this world … as equal, as one … and as the caretakers of Mother Earth.