We Make the House

Cluster of arrows: A symbol of unity for the Haudenosaunee, representing the strength conferred by the nations joining together.

There is a lot of talk about action right now. I marched in the Women’s March in Seneca Falls, NY last weekend: the birthplace of women’s rights. Though there were native men and women there who offered an alternative history of women’s rights (not to mention democracy) in North America. That was inspiring; the story of the “great Peacemaker” of the Haudenosaunee (meaning “they made the house,” referring to the many nations coming together as one) traveling throughout the massive territory stretching from just west of the Hudson River to the Great Lakes and into Canada. The Peacemaker went from village to village, nation to nation, explaining his vision of democracy. A unified community in which all members could have access to clean water for drinking and cooking, fertile land for farming and hunting, and the support of the entire community in their lives—from birth to death. Regardless of status, ability, birth name, location. And they “wrote” these conditions into a constitution, a statement of agreed upon and shared values. But not everyone was convinced.

We stood on the street in Seneca Falls, next to the original Wesleyan Chapel where 200 brave women and men of America set down their list of “Sentiments and Grievances” in 1848. The native woman speaking was standing outside the chapel. The sun was out and it was getting hot; it was almost 60 degrees on January 21st in central New York.

The woman said that there were plenty of people who didn’t like what the Peacemaker proposed. If we agree to provide for all, what about me? What about mine? She explained that among those villages, Clan Mothers of the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga and other nations took up the Peacemaker’s proposal. These women spread the ideas to Chiefs in other villages; they talked with other women and men. They listened deeply to their fears. And in the end, these women’s intense presence and support of the Peacemaker’s vision changed the world. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy was born. If you visit the website link, you’ll read this description of the Confederacy.

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy has been in place since time immemorial. The Peacemaker was sent by the Creator to spread the Kariwiio or good mind…Travelling from community to community they both succeeded in persuading the Chiefs of each nation to join in the Great League of Peace and founded the only government with a direct connection to the Creator.

I’m not doing this story justice. I was listening—to an Oneida  Clan Mother, a Mohawk-Iroquois author and speaker, and a women’s rights historian and author. A lot of people, I’ll be honest, were texting. Or they were taking photos with their phones, scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, maybe posting a picture or tweeting about being at the march. They were connecting with people who weren’t at the march and with people who were. I won’t cast stones; I texted a picture of the crowd to a friend who was marching in D.C., to my mom, and to my best friend.

But did you read that description? “…founded the only government with a direct connection to the Creator.” I was listening to the Clan Mother and then she said something that was out of the normal cadence of her speech. It kind of broke through.

“Can you imagine if protecting the Earth for all people was written into YOUR constitution?”

Because this was part of the Peacemaker’s vision of government, along with systems guaranteeing representation, protection of rights, and accountability. The foundation of that accountability was honoring the One, Universal energy that manifests in everything on our planet, in the universe.

Can you imagine if our governments were founded on this, and not our fragile, frightened human egos? Our deluded minds?

Holy shit. Talk about a revolution.

I’m worried that right now, people are more concerned with doing something about the political climate than they are about being. We can get involved in all kinds of movements. Unlike some people, I do believe that marching can accomplish something. But it doesn’t accomplish change: we didn’t get a new president, cleaner water, introduce any bills, make anyone happier or healthier. We only did one thing; we marched. That’s it. And next time I am offered the opportunity to march, I’ll make another choice to act or not.

It’s important to act. But how? Do we call congressmen, write letters, protest, make signs, knit pussy hats. What do we do? I hear people asking this. I ask myself this. “I” ask myself this, as if I’m two people. I am two people.

If you aren’t two people, you don’t have to ask yourself what action to take next. There is only one You. It’s the same You that’s your dog, your cat, your son, your co-worker, and your garbage collector. It’s the You that voted for Donald Trump, the You that likes sushi, the You that owns a truck the boasts two Confederate rebel flags on the back. It’s the You that is divorced, drunk, homeless and pregnant. It’s the You who’s none of those things. It’s the You on an inflatable raft in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s the You that your mind is convinced is NOT you.

If you can feel your breath in your belly just once, You will start to emerge. And when You emerge, You will not have to ask “yourself” what action to take next. You will naturally pick up the trash on the side of the road when you see it. You will listen deeply when you want to turn away. You will insist on staying present when you are facing: death, corruption, loss, illness, hate, anger, pain, happiness, boredom. Stay with boredom. Why am I bored? I’m resisting what’s happening now, right here. I get bored a lot.

Another thing the Clan Mother said that rang into my chest and made me tear up. She again stepped out of her speech a little, making this exclamation to the crowd in Seneca Falls (paraphrased as best I can remember):

“We [the Haudenosaunee, the native people and their culture] are not a myth! … And if you are not satisfied with your leaders and have no way to redress your grievances, consider renouncing your citizenship and becoming a citizen of our nation.”

Unlike the war cry of “Two things are certain: We’ll get out asses kicked and We will win!,” made by another speaker, this line got little applause. There was a smattering and some murmurs. Renounce our citizenship? My friend leaned over to ask, “Do they really have their own nation?”

Apparently, this idea was too radical for the group assembled. Too out there.

But I thought about it hard. Did she really want Americans to leave their country in protest? It seemed like she was asking us to give up. Then I read The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. This book popped into my life in the last year or so; a friend here and there recommending it, an article or other book referencing it. It showed up and I finally read it; somehow it was time. Whatever you think about Eckhart Tolle—is he enlightened, insane, or both?—well, don’t think about it. So I read the book, kind of absorbing it instead. Softening my mind because I didn’t like the title. It rubbed “me” the wrong way.

I finished the book this week, a mere 240 pages, and it hit me that the Clan Mother was saying something even more fundamental when she suggested we “renounce” our citizenship. She was calling on us, collectively, to reject the corrupted and unconscious ego-based world we have created and full on create a new fucking oneCreate one, that like the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, is directly connected to the Creator. The Universal. From whence we came and whither we’ll return. You don’t have to believe me. In fact, don’t believe in anything.

And the only way to create that new world is for each human on this planet to realize their connection to the Universal. From connection comes right action. From connection comes compassion. Not “I wish you well” compassion, or “I know what it’s like to be in your shoes compassion,” but an essential, deep recognition of the fact that we are not just a collection of individual minds wandering around competing to survive: we are just the One.

So if you march, march. If you stay home and cook dinner. Cook dinner.

If you write a postcard to your representative, do that because now, this moment, it is the right action for you.

If you find yourself worrying about “the movement,” or being depressed about the news, or obsessively checking to see what new evil Trump has dreamed up—stop and close your eyes for three seconds.

And when you open them, look around. Do you have a problem right now?

No, there are no problems right now. Now is as it is. And from that clear, open space you can choose. And there is immense strength in choice.

You can choose to do nothing. If so, do nothing 100%.

Or you can choose to act.

Whatever you do, Being has to precede it.

It’s fucking revolutionary. And frankly, it blows my fragile little limited mind. Exactly as it should.