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Honest and Kind

Sara General

Today is the blog’s one year birthday! Summer Solstice. Solidarity Day. It is also my sister’s anniversary, the last day of school for my wonderful and amazing niece and the start of what is being called Sovereignty Summer. This makes it feel like a day that has many layers and many different ways of being experienced.

I think this is true of many things and over the last year I've noticed that building understanding and being open about these layers often deepens and enriches the experience. So now that a full year has passed, and though none the wiser, I find that I am more in awe of our teachings and the Treaties than ever. I am also more committed to peace and healing than any time prior to now and every day I feel filled with gratitude to be of this universe, moving within it, a part of it. A few weeks ago, I started to write a blog that for various reasons, I didn’t post. But I want to now, because though for the past year I have seen such wonderful things in my community, I also know that there are some painful things that happen here. And I would like to be open about how they make me feel.

Connecting with people is a scary business. This is how I’m feeling today. Tomorrow, I might remember only the good things about connecting and collaborating with others. But right now, in this moment, the only feeling I have is fear and a kind of sadness that comes when you feel like perhaps you’ve lost your way. What is our way? What is my way? What will bring me back from this moment? Talking about my feelings maybe. Knowing that I’m healthy and doing or living in a way that makes sure I am at least trying to find peace in myself. Being honest. Being true to my spirit. Honouring the Treaties.

A lot of people are in various kinds of pain.The kind of pain I am feeling right now comes from deep in my heart and it manifests itself in different ways, in my back, in my stomach. It’s a kind of pain that is released through tears and dancing, through writing and through watching others create beautiful things. Healing. Healing is hard work. I’ve heard myself say this to other people and I know that I’ve meant it when I said it, but I honestly think I forget how hard it actually is. Especially because I sometimes like to pretend that I am strong and invincible.

But right now, I need to not pretend that I’m all right or that everything is fine - when I’m actually not and it isn’t. As much as I love it here, I’m conflicted by some of the things that happen in this community. I’m conflicted by the fact that I want there to be so much good and there are some bad things that are happening.

I’m conflicted by the fact that I know there are people hurting deeply and  who are often unable to talk freely about what is hurting them or don't feel that they can be their true selves without being shunned. I am conflicted by the cigarette industry. I’m conflicted by the thought of bringing a casino or more gaming here. I’m conflicted by the fact that together we throw out more than we recycle, and we waste more that we repurpose. I’m conflicted because I can read all of these things, both academic and political, that say it is true - we are sovereign.

And we are. And yet, there are things that are not well in our community. All year, as occasionally expressed on this blog I have been heartened by those spirits who have awoken to their purpose and shared their gifts in our community. It makes me more hopeful than ever that we will try to resolve these things for the future. That we won’t let hummers and cigarettes seem more important than clean water, food security, being compassionate for our kids and encouraging our teachers. That we won’t judge each other and that we will be open to hearing other peoples’ points of view. I’ve heard some amazing points of view in my time, short though it’s been. I get that there’s a pot and the kettle. I get that taking a stance sometimes means that it seems like you think you are different, better, and who are you to bring these things up anyways?

But here’s the thing. I know with every fibre of my being that I’m not any better than any other human being on this planet. I’m sometimes the pot and often the kettle. I’ll be them both if it means we can talk about what safety and good ought to mean in our community. It doesn’t terrify me that bad things are happening in our community (okay – it does), but it terrifies me more that we don’t talk about them. And I don't know about anyone else, but when I am tired, overwhelmed and isolated - these are the times when it seems I like to punish myself the most. These are the times when the only answer seems to be to run, run, run away.

But as I’ve been learning about Treaties, some of the things that I’ve heard have been to not judge, to be open and to be patient. Learning things, really learning them takes time. It takes staying. And in time, staying becomes easier and more fulfilling. I’m ready and willing to talk with anyone and I will do my utmost to take care and to try not to hurt.

That was the writing I was doing in the middle of May.  I was grateful to be reminded that you can be positive and still get tired.  And I remembered that when you get tired, there is still so much strength in friends, in family, in people, in communities, in our ways.  It can seem like change is difficult to achieve, but transformation - transformation is possible.  We see it every year with the seasons and kids - kids are amazing at it.  

My favourite picture of the year, bar none :)  

I was writing those thoughts in May and then a little bit of dialogue between characters from my graphic novel came to me and I decided to leave it in here even though it's out of context, but in the moment I had felt the characters were trying to teach me something, about maintaining peace in times of trouble.  

She turned to look at him and he saw what was written on her face.

Walls, everywhere.

These are what I build, she told him.

I am building them high and you won’t be able to get at me.

I am building them so high that you will never be able to find me.

He moved through them and took her in his arms.

“I’m here now,” he whispered to her.

“You can leave them up if you want but I’m already inside and if you need me to, if you want me to - I’ll help you take them down.”

She held on, loved him and tried with all her might to stop being afraid that he didn’t love her back.

So there are a few of my thoughts, none particularly conclusive.  Perhaps they don't need to be anything but honest and kind.  Perhaps it's enough that a commitment is renewed - to strive to share happiness, truth, goodness, creativity and art.  And to hope.  

Pouring your heart out to strangers. Baring your soul to friends. Love. Accept. Forgive. Heal. This is how peace is made. Happy June 21st.   

Gonohkwa,

S