Blog
Page 1 2   Entries 1-5 of 6
April 24, 2017, 2:14 PM

Letter of Support for Black Lives

Letter of Support and Respect for Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism

 

April 20, 2017

 

Dear UUA Board,

 

As the UU minister in closest proximity to Standing Rock during the worldwide DAPL resistance, I was called, along with my passionate congregation, into solidarity and ally-ship beyond my imagining. In the beginning of the water protector movement, I found myself saying, again and again, “Standing Rock is the center of the world right now, and in Bismarck, North Dakota, we have the honor of being perched at the center of the world.”

 

Thanks to the spiritual and embodied support from UUs around world – including the UUA board – we showed up. That matters, and I remain deeply grateful to you for all the ways you have affirmed that it matters, not the least of which is granting our congregation the true honor of the Courageous Love Award.

 

I won’t get into the story of our solidarity with Standing Rock and Oceti Sakowin camp here, since many of you know it well. What you may not know is how significantly our solidarity was influenced by Black Lives of UU and, in particular, Lena Gardner. Lena and I graduated from seminary together in 2015. By the time we set up camp together (along with Nora Rasman) at Oceti Sakowin in the fall of 2016, Lena had become the first executive director of BLUU, and I had accepted my first ministry position with the UU congregation in Bismarck, North Dakota, my home church.

 

According to my families’ oral histories, I am of Dutch, Swiss, German, Scottish, Irish, and “Sioux” origins. I come mostly from people who are of colonizing cultures, while a few of my ancestors also experienced colonization. I am a white, Midwestern woman who understands that white supremacy and colonization are the single greatest causes of injustice on this continent (at least) – and also believes that people and cultures who colonize and brutalize others are themselves in a state of spiritual brokenness.

 

I am keenly aware of the spiritual brokenness of my culture(s) and my people(s). This brokenness presents challenges in any effort to relate across cultures, especially with anyone who comes from cultures that have experienced white brutality over time – which is just about everyone.

 

This challenge has everything to do with why I have drawn from BLUU workshops, BLUU writings, and personal conversations with Lena Gardner for insights into how to be a real ally, rather than a colonist wishing to be an ally. From BLUU and its executive director, I have learned three key things:

 

  1. Follow. Trust people of color whom you trust to know the ways out of white supremacy and colonialism better than you do. Indigenous people have been resisting colonialism for over 500 years and have an accumulated wisdom about doing so. The simple (and not so simple) act of taking the lead from people of color is already an act of decolonization. Thanks to this insight from BLUU, I learned to encourage my congregants who are not Native – and myself – to presume no leadership at camp, volunteer in the kitchen or children’s library, for instance, pray quietly at the sacred fire, participate without ego at camp meetings, and draw minimal attention to ourselves. For these reasons, we had a felt sense of camp life, as well as a basis for genuine relationships, when camp coordinators began to speak of the need for interfaith prayer experiences – and partnerships in bringing these about.

 

  1. Be there. Put ourselves and our bodies in the places where resistance is needed, as guided by people of color. If indigenous people are being arrested for putting up tipis on 1851 treaty land, which the authorities claim is the private property of Energy Transfer Partners – go there. If indigenous people have planned a rally in front of the Army Corps of Engineers building, and you are asked to add a prayer as the only non-Native faith leader in attendance – pray there. If indigenous friends ask you to sponsor a local event of solidarity with the Native Nations March in Washington, DC, so local Native people don’t have to absorb all the front-line racism – be there. Then understand that you will begin to experience a version of the racism and colonialism that white people typically escape. This does not make you a hero, please understand. But it does make you a human being.

 

  1. Expect mistakes. When we, as white people, come from a culture that confuses might with strength, individualism with freedom, and brokenness with wholeness, we are likely to get befuddled when faced with people who know brokenness for what it is. I don’t mean that people of color are cursed with perfection, never make mistakes, and never face brokenness – or that white people are devoid of wholeness. I do mean that people of color generally have more to teach us about decolonizing our own minds and actions than the other way around. This means we are learning, and we can’t yet know what we haven’t yet learned. Just as we were once convinced the sun revolved around the earth, we sometimes catch ourselves – or more painfully get caught by others – acting out of colonizing paradigms we didn’t even know had laid claim to our minds. I recently had a difficult exchange with an indigenous friend who made it clear that I don’t share as much about my UU tradition with him as he shares about his Lakota tradition with me. I could call this humility, but I’ve come to see it as a colonized/colonizing humility, in which I presume what I have to offer isn’t as interesting – because it’s just so normal to Western thought. In fact, I have no doubt made any number of mistakes in crafting this letter, and I only hope that I will have learned more by the time I write again.

 

I recognize that not all cultures are alike, that BLUU doesn’t presume to represent the particular cultural practices of Native people, for instance, and that there are lessons to learn from Oceti Sakowin camp which make it unique from the Black Lives Matter movement. At the same time, I will say unequivocally that the quality of leadership of BLUU has everything to do with the quality of showing up that UUs have done at Standing Rock.

 

I would like to thank you again for your support of BLUU and of UUs, including Native UUs, who are in solidarity with Native people here. I was in the audience at the 2016 General Assembly when we raised more funds than we ever could have imagined for BLUU. It’s no wonder to me that the UUA board did not need to deliberate long on the decision to raise additional millions for BLUU. The momentum from UUs across the continent was palpable. The moment had arrived.

 

We responded to that moment. We responded to the Standing Rock moment.

 

May we continue to respond – wherever the center of the world may be.

 

Sincerely,

 

Rev. Karen Van Fossan

Minister

Bismarck-Mandan UU Fellowship & Church

 

#faithoverfear




October 17, 2016, 12:00 AM

Oceti Sakowin Camp & Sacred Stone Camp Update Archive - January 1

AFL-CIO Consitituency Groups Stand with Standing Rock

http://www.apalanet.org/press-releases/afl-cio-constituency-groups-stand-with-native-americans-to-stop-the-dakota-access-pipeline

 

Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault speaks in Geneva, Switzerland to UN Human Rights Comission

https://dakotadispatch.com/tag/david-archambault-ii/

 

How can you support Standing Rock? Read this!

http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/how-you-can-support-standing-rock-20160921

 

Task Force to investigate clash between Water Protectors and Dakota Access private security September 3, in which dogs were used against Water Protectors

http://bismarcktribune.com/news/national/task-force-looking-into-security-pipeline-protesters-clash/article_35e5523f-fd44-5fc0-bf5a-2846f9ed5077.html

 

Clay Jenkinson on Native American Sovereignty

http://www.clayjenkinson.com/indian-sovereignty-as-monopoly-money/

 

Museum Officials and Archaeologists Against Dakota Access Pipeline

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/22/arts/design/north-dakota-oil-pipeline-museum-officials-and-archaeologists-sign-letter.html?_r=1

 

Tribes unite against Dakota Access

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/showdown-over-oil-pipeline-becomes-a-national-movement-for-native-americans/2016/09/06/ea0cb042-7167-11e6-8533-6b0b0ded0253_story.html

 

Dakota Access Land Purchase of Cannonball Ranch may violate ND's anti-corporate farming law

http://www.inforum.com/news/4124339-stenehjem-gives-dakota-access-30-days-explain-land-purchase

 

Camps' Plans for a Dakota winter

http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/a-subzero-winter-is-coming-to-standing-rock-heres-their-plan-20160923

 

Twenty-one water protectors arrested Wednesday

http://inhabitat.com/21-unarmed-dakota-access-pipeline-protestors-arrested-during-prayer-ceremony/

 

Technology to detect pipeline leaks often fails

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-pipelines-colonial-analysis-idUSKCN1200FQ

 

Five things every non-native needs to consider before visiting Standing Rock

http://matadornetwork.com/change/5-things-every-non-native-needs-consider-visiting-standing-rock/

 

How you can support Standing Rock

http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/how-you-can-support-standing-rock-20160921

 

The Power of the Standing Rock Water Protectors

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/9/30/bill_mckibben_dakota_access_pipeline_resistance

 

Rediscovering Native American Roots at Water Protector Camps

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-37171280

 

Direct actions by Water Protestors continues, despite militarization of law enforcement. 

Posted on FB 10/10/16 , by Dallas Goldtooth of Indigenous Environmental Network

"Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the Standing Rock Sioux Tribes's request for a work stoppage order against DAPL to stay in place. 

This order, given a few weeks ago, created a 20-mile no construction buffer zone on either side of the Missouri river. 

What this means: Dakota Access can now dig and build its pipeline all the way up to the river's edge. (They legally cannot dig under the river "yet", but they can build right up to it)

The tribe still has an ongoing lawsuit, filed in July, against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over its permitting of the pipeline to cross the Missouri River just north of the reservation.

Law enforcement has moved closer to the frontline zone, setting up a staging ground a couple miles north. (The "frontline zone" is a critical place where DAPL must cross hwy 1806, about 3 miles north of the Sacred Stone Camps)

There is about a 15-mile swath of land yet undisturbed west of the River. At full speed, no work disruptions Dakota Access can clear this gap in under a week. 

So far we have been able to disrupt work every day or every other day, slowing the process. 

At any point, the US Army Corps and Obama administration can rescind its granted permits to DAPL and order a full Environmental Impact Statement for the entire project. (At any point.)

-----

Our water protectors will continue to use prayer and peaceful civil disobedience to disrupt business-as-usual. We will not be dissuaded.

We WILL not let this pipeline be completed. #NoDAPL #IndigenousRising"

 

US Court of Appeals Rules Against Standing Rock

http://nativenewsonline.net/currents/u-s-court-appeals-rules-standing-rock-tribe-dakota-access-pipeline-case/

 

Members of Congress send letter to President Obama to stop DAPL

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/congress-members-send-letter-president-obama-stop-controversial-pipeline-n657761?cid=sm_fb

 

Gubanatorial Candidates' Positions on DAPL

http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/gubernatorial-candidates-address-dakota-access-education/article_50e58bdd-7310-5c70-a4b6-f249b52e6a22.html

 

Injunction lifted; work continues on private lands

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/weekend-court-decision-restarts-dakota-access-pipeline-construction-private-lands/

 

27 Arrested on Indigenous Peoples Day

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/10/11/headlines/27_arrested_resisting_dakota_access_pipeline_on_indigenous_peoples_day

 

Five senators call on President Obama to halt Dakota Access Pipeline

http://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/five-senators-call-for-halt-of-dakota-access-pipeline-20161013

 

Increased militarization of Law Enforcement

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apYmmPawDlATies between ND Attorney General & Dakota Access

 

Not all law enforcement agencies support this militarization

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/dane-county-sheriff-pulls-deputies-back-from-north-dakota-pipeline/article_9739055c-70e9-55ce-969d-4a76acf5be89.html

 

Ties between ND Attorney General and Dakota Access

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/10/3/what_are_the_ties_between_dakota

 

Rolling Stone piece on arrest of Amy Goodman of Democracy Now

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/taibbi-on-amy-goodman-arrest-for-covering-dakota-pipeline-story-w444754

 

Standing Rock Camps are a city of 4000, with growing infratstructure

http://www.peoplesworld.org/article/pipeline-protest-now-a-city-of-4000-with-a-growing-infrastructure/

 

Amy Goodman broadcasts from Morton County , where she has returned to face charges stemming from live reporting of peaceful protest

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/10/17/amy_goodman_broadcasts_from_north_dakota

 

Standing Rock Tribal Chairman says talks underway about moving Oceti Sakowin camp to tribally owned land

http://www.inforum.com/news/4136206-standing-rock-chairman-says-talks-under-way-about-moving-camp-tribally-owned-land

 

National media takes notice of the gathering of hundreds of tribal nations standing together against DAPL

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/standing-rock-pipeline-fight-draws-hundreds-north-dakota-plains-n665956

 

Water Protectors have International Support

http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/pipeline-protest-makes-ripples-nationally-worldwide/article_05066abc-5522-575d-b808-f698013e5e63.html

 

Judge rejects charges against journalist Amy Goodman

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/10/17/breaking_riot_charges_against_amy_goodman

 

Some felony charges dropped against Water Protectors

http://bismarcktribune.com/felony-charges-against-protesters-put-to-the-test/article_ba86af14-5f31-59ac-9ca6-90a91cbcd843.html

 

Excessive reaction by law enforcement: Water Protectors strip-searched, jailed for days on minor charges

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/10/17/dakota_excess_pipeline_standing_rock_protectors

 

Winona Laduke and Tara Houska on indigenous resistance to DAPL

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/10/17/part_2_winona_laduke_tara_houska

 

The secret strength of Standing Rock

http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/diversity-of-the-standing-rock-movement-is-what-makes-it-strong-20161010

 

Protectors arrested on minor charges strip-searched

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/10/18/north_dakota_jail_faces_criticism_for

 

Daughter of Sacred Stone Camp Founder arrested, strip-searched and left naked in cell overnight

http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2016/10/morton-co-police-strip-search-lakota.html?spref=fb

 

Film Crew claims disputed

http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/pipeline-camp-disputes-film-crew-s-claims/article_e0b8fb1a-e562-5cda-aa53-1b5ed95675dd.html

 

Attorney for Civil Liberties Defense Center interviewed about legal and law enforcement in the noDAPL movement

https://www.facebook.com/TYTpolitics/videos/1761177447463296/?pnref=story

 

More than 80 Water Protectors Arrested

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/more-80-dakota-access-pipeline-protesters-arrested-some-pepper-sprayed-n671281

 

Police beat & pepper spray Water Protectors during prayerful protest

http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2016/10/police-beat-water-protectors-with.html?m=1

 

More than 120 arrested during weekend actions

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/10/24/standing_rock_police_arrest_100_water

 

Standing Rock Tribal Chairman's statement on weekend arrests

http://www.kfyrtv.com/content/news/Standing-Rock-Tribal-Chairman-reacts-to-weekend-arrests-398134991.html

 

Citing 1851 Treaty, Water Protectors Expand Frontline on treaty land

https://lrinspire.com/2016/10/23/citing-1851-treaty-water-protectors-establish-road-blockade-and-expand-frontline-nodapl-camp/

 

The secret strength of Standing Rock

http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/diversity-of-the-standing-rock-movement-is-what-makes-it-strong-20161010

 

What is happening in North Dakota is so fundamentally and so thoroughly un-American (note UU Minister Karen Van Fossan, member Liz Loos & friend Gretchen Bederman in photo at rally)

https://www.thenation.com/article/north-dakotas-war-on-the-first-amendment-threatens-everyones-right-to-know/

 

Militarized Police Cracking Down on Water Protectors

https://www.thenation.com/article/militarized-police-are-cracking-down-on-dakota-access-pipeline-protesters/

 

Video of action on October 22, when 123 Water Protectors were arrested

https://theintercept.com/2016/10/25/video-police-viciously-attacked-peaceful-protestors-at-the-dakota-access-pipeline/

 

More than 140 arrested in miltarized police raid on treaty camp

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/10/28/headlines/north_dakota_militarized_police_raid_anti_pipeline_camp_arrest_141

 

Militarized response of law enforcement to occupation of treaty lands

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/10/28/a_shameful_moment_for_this_country

 

Standing Rock Tribal Chair asks Department of Justice to investigate use of force against water protectors

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/10/28/standing_rock_sioux_tribal_chair_doj

 

Amy Goodman on why the Standing Rock stand-off is only getting worse

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/10/amy-goodman-on-the-north-dakota-pipeline-standoff.html

 

Why Dakota is the new Keystone

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/10/29/opinion/why-dakota-is-the-new-keystone.html?_r=0&referer=

 

Native rights and the noDAPL fight

http://www.yesmagazine.org/how-to-talk-about-standing-rock-20161028/

 

The injustice of DAPL 

https://trahantreports.com/2016/10/28/standingrock-dakota-pipeline-schedule-is-one-more-story-of-injustice/

 

Dakota Access security worker with assault rifle removed from protest area by BIA officers

http://bismarcktribune.com/dakota-access-security-worker-with-assault-rifle-removed/article_d363ec4f-b025-58fa-b733-bffb66c26e7d.html

 

Amnesty International & United Nations Sending Observers to Standing Rock Camps

http://www.inquisitr.com/3660089/amnesty-international-and-united-nations-send-human-rights-observers-to-monitor-treatment-of-dakota-access-pipeline-protesters-at-standing-rock/UN Observers 

 

Suspicious fire near Oceti Sakowin Camp

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/10/31/standing_rock_dallas_goldtooth_on_suspicious

 

Understanding the Water Protectors by looking at history

https://www.evernote.com/shard/s149/sh/2401cf1a-d2c0-4ecf-a986-53c6fbffa76d/be922a8047628f652099d35f39b227cc

 

Obama says pipeline could be re-routed

http://fusion.net/story/365107/obama-dapl-standing-rock-rerouting/

 

Clergy gather in support of prayerful movement

http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/blend-of-faiths-inspired-by-standing-rock/article_29a4ba22-2593-5224-bedc-0b1ac2aa9c61.html

 

The Standing Rock victory you didn't hear about

http://www.yesmagazine.org/the-standing-rock-victory-you-didnt-hear-about-20161103

 

New York Times Editorial: Time to Move the Pipeline

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/11/04/opinion/time-to-move-the-standing-rock-pipeline.html?referer=

 

Why do we punish Dakota pipeline protestors but exonerate the Bundys?

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/02/dakota-pipeline-protest-bundy-militia?CMP=share_btn_fb

 

DAPL push to finish the pipeline

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/08/dakota-access-pipeline-project-continues-operator-oil-obama

 

Army Corps of Engineers renews call for DAPL to stop construction

http://bismarcktribune.com/corps-of-engineers-renews-call-for-dakota-access-to-stop/article_a0ab4343-90c6-57cc-8e1a-fb83396f6021.html

 

Rancher that claims livestock killings has history with law enforcement and founder of Sacred Stone Camp

http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/livestock-killings-near-protest-camp-gain-attention/article_075e9011-a13c-54de-b238-5f6d539a99cc.html

 

These maps fill the gaps on DAPL

http://www.hcn.org/articles/these-maps-fill-the-gap-in-information-about-the-dakota-access-pipeline

 

Army Corps wants more review and consultation before issuing final permit

http://www.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/News-Release-Article-View/Article/1003593/statement-regarding-the-dakota-access-pipeline/

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/11/14/breaking-army-corps-puts-dapl-construction-hold-pending-further-review-and-tribal

 

UN Observers Monitoring Human Rights Abuses

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/11/01/un-observers-monitoring-abuses-against-standing-rock-water-protectors

 

Burial grounds at center of confrontations is known historical site

http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/burial-ground-at-center-of-police-confrontations-is-known-historical/article_8a11a527-2119-58c4-a242-a04f3806a251.html

 

Understanding more about 1851 Treaty relevance in DAPL fight

http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/treaty-resonates-in-dapl-discussion/article_e9bd6a47-e14e-507e-bb0a-8ee29eb30c9e.html

 

Police attack unarmed water protectors with rubber bullets, water cannons and pepper spray

http://www.unicornriot.ninja/?p=11191

 

Water cannons fired at water protectors in freezing temperatures

http://sacredstonecamp.org/blog/2016/11/21/water-cannons-fired-at-water-protectors-in-freezing-temperatures-injure-hundreds

 

UN officials denounce "inhuman" treatment of water protecors

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/11/15/u-n-officials-denounce-inhuman-treatment-of-north-dakota-pipeline-protesters/

 

A few weeks old, but a good resource for contacting people responsible for sending militarized police to Standing Rock

http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/dial-a-cop-20161031

 

Army Corps of Engineers issues eviction notice for Oceti Sakowin

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/army-corps-issues-eviction-notice-standing-rock-protest-camp-tribe-chairman-says/

 

Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Archambault's Statement on Army Corps Decision

http://www.myndnow.com/news/bismarck-news/statement-from-chairman-archambault-on-army-corps-decision

 

A Dakota's Pipeline Last Stand

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/a-dakota-pipelines-last-stand/2016/11/25/35a5dd32-b02c-11e6-be1c-8cec35b1ad25_story.html?postshare=921480180028872&tid=ss_fb-bottom

 

North Dakota officials hope to quell protests with fines

http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN13O2FD

 

ND Governor issues evacuation order for Oceti Sakowin

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/28/north-dakota-access-pipeline-evacuation-order-standing-rock

 

Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault speaks at public forum sponsored by Dakota Resource Council

http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/tribal-members-sound-off-at-public-forum/article_b8c1503f-13ac-56b0-b335-92bf12701af5.html

 

Morton County Sheriff sued for excessive force in dealing with Water Protectors

http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/kirchmeier-morton-county-sued-for-excessive-force-in-protests/article_6df6ca11-4e5f-5b03-985c-ce3a8d5cf3a8.html#utm_source=bismarcktribune.com&utm_campaign=%2Femail-updates%2Fbreaking%2F&utm_medium=email&utm_content=A59C0BFD522C8ADAFC5C00A6B1BBEDC835891666

 

The many ways to help Standing Rock

http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/the-many-ways-to-help-standing-rock-20161129

 

Army Corps of Engineers Denies Easement to Dakota Access to Cross Lake Oahe

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/12/04/army-will-deny-easement-halting-work-on-dakota-access-pipeline/?utm_term=.1c17846f694e

 

Decision comes during Interfaith Day of Prayer

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/interfaith-prayer-standing-rock_us_5845c7d0e4b055b31398a38d?5c1e91b36qawkx1or

 

A new way of seeing us, by UU visiting minister Patty WIllis

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-harvest-of-standing-rock-a-new-way-of-seeing_us_58471499e4b05236f1106015?

 

Veterns Beg Forgiveness at Standing Rock

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/12/5/1607591/-Veterans-at-Standing-Rock-shock-tribe-members-beg-forgiveness-for-war-crimes-against-tribal-nations

 

Why the rule of law is a powerful idea for Standing Rock

http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/why-the-rule-of-law-is-a-powerful-idea-for-standing-rock-20161129

 

Feds withheld key documents from Standing Rock Tribe

http://www.hcn.org/articles/feds-admit-they-withheld-key-documents-from-standing-rock-sioux

 

Water Protector who disarmed Dakota Access infiltrator put on Morton County most wanted list

https://www.democracynow.org/2016/12/14/headlines/water_protector_who_disarmed_dakota_access_infiltrator_put_on_morton_county_most_wanted_list

 

Standing Rock: Good tidings of great joy

http://revivingcreation.org/standing-rock-good-tidings-of-great-joy/

 

The conflicts along 1,172 miles of Dakota Access Pipeline

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/23/us/dakota-access-pipeline-protest-map.html?_r=1

 

Indigenous activists at Standing Rock told a deep true story

https://www.thenation.com/article/indigenous-activists-at-standing-rock-told-a-deep-true-story/




March 3, 2014, 12:48 PM

Thinking about injustice

Recently, I happened to listen to a conversation that got me to thinking about injustice. The conversation began with a woman describing how her child was not able to find some birthday gifts that he was given the day before. Understandably, the parent, as well as child, were upset about the missing gifts, and others who were part of the conversation became upset as well.

The conversation soon turned to a particular boy who was accused by the adults as having stolen the gifts. The adults then began to belittle this boy, his siblings, as well as his mother.  From what I heard of the conversation, there was no evidence that the accused child had actually taken anything.  It seemed that he was being accused because of who he was, not what he might have done.  The child was branded as a thief, and the adults speculated that he would therefore be punished by God and may very well end up in prison, implying that he deserved both of those consequences.

All of this was said in front of the child who was missing his gifts, and it appeared that perhaps the adults felt that their accusations would somehow comfort the child whose gifts had gone missing.  I was saddened by their attempt to cheer up one child by impugning and calling for punishment of another.  I could not see how one person could be comforted by the idea of someone else suffering.  

So why do I relate this story?  Because it brought forth for me many feelings about how religion has been used over the ages to justify unjust behavior.  Perhaps in the mind of the adults, the accused boy had sinned somehow (perhaps not by stealing, but because he came from a “bad” family) and therefore should be punished by God.  Therefore, they were justified in condemning a child, because God would condemn the child as well.  Instead, it seems to me that the adults were using religion as a “quick fix.”  They could hide behind the punishment ideology without claiming it as their own.  They wouldn’t have to actually think about their actions or their feelings because how they felt could be justified by their religious beliefs.    

Extreme reactions are not unique to any one group of people. This type of behavior is something we can see throughout all of humanity. Its prevalence, however, does not justify this behavior as appropriate.  We all have our own problems; we are all flawed. Yet if we focus on others in negative ways, we do not have to confront ourselves or our own flaws.  –And it is bad enough when the extreme reactions involve other adults; it is inexcusable when a child is attacked in this manner.  And I cannot help but wonder what “lessons” were learned by the child who was missing his gifts. 




February 20, 2014, 6:28 PM

Valentine's Day

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." ~ Lao Tzu

 

As Valentine's Day comes once again, talk of love is easy to find. Flowers and candy are sped through the streets, deliverers trying to find the intended destinations. Restaurants prepare for an influx of couples, while social networking and other websites prepare for the inevitable posts about how Valentine's Day is just a scam created by corporations to bleed America dry. 

 

It was not until around 1375 that Valentine's Day began to be associated with love, as it is today. Geoffrey Chaucer, the famed English poet who was known to take liberties when it came to history, may have been the one to create the holiday, as we know it today. In his work, "Parliament of Foules," Chaucer wrote, "For this was sent on Saint Valentine's day/ when every foul comes there to choose his mate." With those words, he linked a tradition of courtly love with the celebration of St. Valentine, and we have been following suit ever since.

 

While the holiday may feel corrupted in some ways, the meaning behind it is universal. It is a day to focus on love, regardless of one's relationship status. It is a day to step out, and take a stand. Whether that be simply voicing the love one has for their significant other, or coming out in support of the marginalized. Maybe it is just something in between.

 

Lao Tzu is right though. Deeply loving another gives one courage. Valentine's Day then can serve as a day to also examine who we love deeply, and what we can do for them to make this a better world; how we can take a stand along side them. It serves as a day to focus that courage one has, and move forward with justice. Because regardless of who we love, if there is injustice in this world, it effects us all. 




October 30, 2013, 12:44 PM

Thoughts on Leith, ND and white supremacy


Recently, members of the Bismarck-Mandan UU Fellowship joined other North Dakotans to protest the attempted takeover of the village of Leith, ND by white supremacists.

What an important time to stand on the side of love!

 

THOUGHTS OF ONE UU ATTENDING THE RALLY:

Where in the the world is Leith, North Dakota? I've traveled considerably in the

state and I could not have said - until the tiny community became a household

word in ND as a result of a newer resident who was buying up lots in town and,

as we sadly learned, planning to invite others who believe as he does to come and

live there also. He is identified as a 'white supremacist' in most of the stories.

So then we knew where Leith was, and we were more than unhappy, appalled, at

what could happen there. But not much seemed to happen for some months.

Then a interesting confluence of events occurred.

On the eve of a history conference in Bismarck focused on civil rights and

featuring a speaker who was one of the nine black students who integrated Little

Rock Central High School in 1957, it was announced that the national leader of a

white supremacist organization would visit Leith to support the man who had

moved there previously.

A protest was planned. Residents of Leith asked for support. Two young men,

former North Dakotans, I understand, began an online organizing project to bring

people to Leith on the day of the visit.

The Friday before, I attended the presentation of the documentary film The Road

to Little Rock. It focuses on Judge Ronald Davies of Fargo and the role he played

in ruling to enforce the Supreme Court order to integrate the school. And while

Davies was a key figure, the story is really about the beyond belief courage of the

nine young black people who made it all real.

In his remarks that evening, Dr. Terence Roberts spoke calmly yet passionately

about the experience. One phrase that stayed with me was his reference to

'putting fear in your pocket.' I decided then that we had to go to Leith.

Interestingly, Sunday morning's Parade magazine included an interview with Tom

Hanks and the captain of a freighter who was held hostage by pirates for 5 days

before being rescued by Navy SEALS. Tom Hanks is playing the role in a movie. In

the interview, Captain Phillips also talked about fear and commented that in such

a situation you have to let your fear sit with you. It is there, and it has to be

acknowledged, but one can't let it be paralyzing.

So, I have to be clear and completely transparent here. Nothing in my life has

been even remotely as fear inducing as what these men have experienced. And my

imagination is not equal to thinking of any situation I could ever face that might

reach the level of those faced by either of these brave men.

I did not feel fearful or even worried as we set off for Leith on Sunday. Stephen

and me, Don, Lisa, Molly. I was not worried as we arrived, in spite of the

significant law enforcement presence and the information as we came to the turn

off to the town that all other roads were blocked. There was one way in and one

way out. I was not worried as we parked and passed through the gate that had

been installed at the south end of the street. I was not worried as we walked past

the dilapidated buildings, down the rutted dirt road that passes for the main

street of Leith to join the growing group of protestors. Official estimates said

there were 350 people in Leith that day. The atmosphere seemed strained, but

restrained.

The sight of colorful flags along a side lane and more along the west side of the

street struck at my senses and made me very sad, as they included the swastika

symbol known mostly as the emblem of the Nazi party in World War II Germany.

The other prominent sign / message was 'Anti-racism is code for anti-white.'

Highway Patrol and other law enforcement lined the west side of the street.

Those of us 'protesting' were kept to the east side of the street. The man's home

was on the west side. There were many more of us than of them.

I had moments of uncertainty - probably the greatest when I saw the group of

black clad men with face covering helmets marching in military fashion from a

side lane into the main street only to stand there. And stand there. And stand

there. After a bit, Molly walked off that way and ascertained that they were,

indeed, law enforcement. We learned later they were HP riot squad - I was

relieved to know they were not part of the hate group. That would have worried

me.

Which brings me to the conflict I had with the way the day played out. While it

was peaceful, there were at times, very non-peaceful names and comments being

hurled at the white supremacist people. It seemed clear there were a few in the

crowd who were ready - perhaps eager - for engagement and physical

confrontation. Wearing, as we were, our Standing on the side of Love shirts, it was

hard for me to reconcile the anger and vitriol with why I had come. It seems to

me, if we meet hate and discrimination with more of the same, we are brought

down; we do not maintain our integrity and our purpose; we lose sight of our

first principle - the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Because even

though I may abhor everything they stand for and believe, I must acknowledge

their humanity, their inherent worth and dignity as human beings. Even in the the

face of their denying it to others. Especially in the face of their denying it to

others?

And so, the afternoon passed. In many ways a typical late summer day on the

northern prairie. Some sun, some clouds, a steady breeze. People hoping to

change the world...

Leaving felt quite anti-climactic. Not because I wanted something to happen and it

didn't but because what did happen didn't feel done right or complete. It was

good to demonstrate that we are not in favor of racism, hatred, or discrimination.

I would have wished for some sort of a more positive message to the day,

however. For those of us on the east side of the street to have connected with

each other, to share stories about why we came, to honor each other's inherent

worth and dignity, to discover a deeper, richer understanding of our common

interests, and to actively engage in the quest for peace, with justice, equity and

compassion.

Epilogue: Two additional observations...

First - In one or another or the news reports about the discussion at the town

hall meeting (which I did not attend), I noted the group's statement that they are

not 'white supremacists' but rather, 'white civil rights activists' - advancing and

protecting the rights of white people as other organizations do for people of

color. This worries me. We live in a sound bite society where research and

thoughtful reflection are increasingly rare, and where people may have limited

understanding of history and, being assaulted by loud voices proclaiming

something often enough that it begins to sound true, could start to believe that

by raising up those who have been oppressed, others must be oppressed in their

stead. In my view, we must recognize that if one among us is not doing well, none

of us can do well.

Second - I note in his own words, the comment of the new Leith resident in

response to the crowd of protesters, "They’re loud, so what? They’re literally not

human to me,” he said. “I feel good.”


Page 1 2   Entries 1-5 of 6
Contents © 2017 Unitarian Universalist Fellowship & Church of Bismarck-Mandan | Church Website Provided by mychurchwebsite.net | Privacy Policy