Where Some Ideas Are Stranger Than Others...
With the unhappy confluence of major human driven global warming, a pandemic, and general social unrest as the people at the top of the capitalist ponzi scheme try to avoid the way such schemes inevitably end, I have been thinking a lot about original instructions. Serious original instructions, not the kind that a quick web search reveals, which from what I can see are mostly about running very old computers and occasionally household appliances. No, I mean original instructions in the sense of the ways of living imparted to each people by the Creator. The first time I heard about these in a serious context that had nothing to do with old machinery was an advanced ethnography class, one of the then small collection of courses scheduled on saturdays at university. Saturday classes then and to an extent now are both lauded and dreaded. They are often what makes the difference between having to spend an additional entire full semester at university to complete a program, which is laudable. They are also by necessity three hours of class once a week, usually starting between nine and ten o'clock in the morning, which for many university students means that they have no full days off for the semester the class falls in, hence dreaded. Still, for this class, I was very lucky because of the remarkable instructor, whose learning objectives included grounding us in a basic understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing. The last class focussed on a video that presented the Hopi prayer for peace and a series of prophecies Thomas Banyacya presented on behalf of his Hopi Elders across north america including to the united nations.
There is quite a lot to what Banyacya presented, and probably the best place to get acquainted with them is the website covering a variety of his speeches and related documents, Thomas Banyacya Traditional Hopi Elder. Although he returned to the spirit world in 1999, friends and family have worked hard to keep this site live. The message he worked hard to carry to the world seems to have passed by all too many of us. I think it is fair to summarize it as, too many of us have left off following our Original Instructions in how to live well on this Earth and with all the other beings with whom we share it. If we do not return to those Original Instructions as quick as we can, we will see the consequences in the form of increasingly dangerous and erratic climate and local weather, natural disasters, and social breakdown. Neither the Elders nor he gave specific dates for all these changes, because the world is too complicated for that, but he was also the first person I learned a practical definition of what prophecy is from. Prophecy is not what will happen, full stop. But it is what will happen, if we continue in the way that we have been going.
Well, evidently this made something of an impression of me at the time. Still, I was a bit unsure what to make of it all, apart from thinking that it would do us no harm to make changes. After all, there is no convincing argument that stopping and cleaning up pollution, better distributing wealth so that everyone has enough, and putting serious energy into real work towards world peace won't have positive results if we do them. There is plenty to indicate even from western science with all its biases that continuing in the way humans have on a net basis will definitely produce more problems, not fewer. Then I got caught up in dealing with my own rather immediate problems with finding a longterm job and related details and the whole thing slipped to the back of my mind. This remained the case even once things had settled down to some extent, and I had happened on the chance to help with a local sweat lodge. Until one day, an Elder referred at a separate event at the local university to our Original Instructions, that each First Nation had received theirs, and at some point somehow the white people lost theirs.
Thinking it over today, I can hardly imagine a more terrifying thing to lose, than our Original Instructions. From what I have learned, listening to the Elders from Indigenous nations around the world who have spoken out and are striving to stop the attempted genocide of their peoples and the world itself for good, the Original Instructions are powerful. When we remember them and stick with them, things generally go well for us, and even when we suffer setbacks or disasters, we are able to cope with them and help one another to recover. Even if we forget them, we can reconstruct them by observing the actions of others who still remember and live by theirs. By which I don't mean trying to flatly mimic what they are doing, because every place is different in terms of the land, what has already happened there, and so on. I mean living by the same principles of honouring all beings, not just humans, including the air, land, and waters. Rejecting actions that will impinge upon the health and wellbeing of our own descendants and those of all the other beings with whose lives we are entwined and on whose contributions we depend. That's not easy for anyone who has been indoctrinated with versions of nonsense claims that humans are in charge of everything. How can this be, when it so obvious that we are pitiful? Seriously. The whole reason we have to use our brains to come up with clothes, tools, and all the rest of such things is not because we are smart. It's because unlike all the other living beings out there, plants, animals, and so on, we lack all the things we need to feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves without making them. The Original Instructions help us avoid a good old fashioned backlash from the fact that we depend so much on other beings to survive at all by helping us maintain positive reciprocal relationships. Otherwise, exploited fellow beings will turn around and kick us very solidly in the ass.