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Wisdom From Granddad
~ Fox Northstar
Well, the time is here again to speak my mind. Many
elders and the grandfathers have told me that at my
age ego isn’t so much about me so it’s OK to share my
experiences…as teachings if you will. Granted, we
all need a small bit of ego so we have self-esteem, but too much and
feeding one too much can lead to trouble. As such, you will find I use
the pronoun “I” more often than I have in the past. I have been told
repeatedly, that it is OK for my purposes here. WHEW!
As usual, I’m summering up north, spending time with elders and
friends. Sadly, a couple of elders have crossed, so the more time I
can spend with them the better. It is always great to sit with them,
listen to their stories, and hopefully understand the teachings that
can be within them….stores and elders both.
Early in the season, a young couple I know asked me to do ceremony for
them. Of course, I was honored and flattered. But then the rest of
the story came out…there is always a balance. They asked elders of
their own nation to perform it…and NONE would! Shameful. They had
both been in and out of rehab, but it finally stuck, and they are
doing their best to walk theirs paths (quite well, I think). The
elders they spoke with would not do it because of that. Seriously?
It seems those elders either have forgotten or chosen to ignore one of
the most important teachings…that of forgiveness!
We all make mistakes along our paths, and who are the young people to
turn to if not their elders? An old saying I have heard repeatedly is
“Always listen to your elders. Not because they are right, but they
have made more mistakes than you, and have hopefully learned from
them.” Apparently, that has been forgotten as well.
If we ignore our traditions, how can we keep them alive? If we ignore
our lessons, how can we pass the teachings along? THAT is one of the
base roots of our culture and heritage.
I’m going to share an e-mail that was sent anonymously to a paper up
here (used with permission):
“WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE AN ELDER?
“An Elder is thoughtful, strong and also compassionate. An Elder
condemns all kinds of violence and abuse, not just those kinds it is
convenient for them to condemn. And Elder stands up for the weak and
speaks truth to (em)power.
“An Elder is not perfect, but neither is he or she a hypocrite. An
Elder recognizes that his or her strength comes from a long line of
ancestors and their accumulated wisdom. An Elder is always learning.
“An Elder is somebody you can expect a ‘fair go’ from. An Elder will
not attack you when you least expect it. Instead, an Elder will stand
up for you when you most need it.
“An Elder will definitely not take responsibility for you, but will
encourage you to take responsibility for yourself and stand alongside
you when you try.
“An Elder knows that true dignity comes from within, and that nobody
can make you feel inferior without your consent. An Elder is slow to
judge, but fierce in his or her defense of the oppressed.
“An Elder understands that our history of colonization has left many
of us hurting and afraid. An Elder will not manipulate our hurt and
fear, but will help us to see that we can overcome it together.
“An Elder has a vision for a better and more peaceful community. An
Elder lives in such a way to make this community happen.
“Elders do not hit women or children. Elders do not rape men, women or
children. Elders do not tolerate the abuse of any man, woman or child
in their community EVER.
“Are you an Elder? Or are you just old?”
A Koori Woman (aboriginal)
Northern NSW, Australia
I could not have said it better….and will not try. AHO!