Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Black Elk Speaks

I've been working through this book now for a couple of weeks, only getting to read a little at a time. It seems to have three major aspects. The cultural customs of a people, the history of a people, and the spiritual aspects. I have copied many quotes, things that make me think deeply and some that make me wonder at the connections between cultures and between the world's spiritual practices. The history has been fascinating and refreshing to read, to hear the other side of the story; it has also been gruesome and graphic. I am currently about half way through the book and have just finished the story of what most of us have known as Custer's Last Stand and the Battle at Little Big Horn. For this first post, though, I will share a quote from much earlier in the book and some of my reflections on it.

"Once we were happy in our own country and we were seldom hungry, for then the two-leggeds and the four-leggeds lived together like relatives, and there was plenty for them and for us. But the Wasichus came, and they have made little islands for us and other little islands for the four-leggeds, and always these islands are becoming smaller , for around them surges the gnawing flood of the Waishu; and it is dirty with lies and greed."

This quote grabbed me. It was so eloquently put. The before and after. The reality of two cultures clashing. The idea of a flood that is dirty with lies and greed could be applied to so many different events in our world's history. The effect mentioned here is not the first of its kind, nor the last. It continues on today in countries all over the world and in political, cultural and economic systems where one group pushes out another to feed their greed for more. It happens in the cut throat business world everyday; it happens in countries like Sudan; it happens in neighborhoods where big development comes in and tears down all the buildings that poorer people are living in and replaces them with half-million dollar condos and equivalent apartments those people that lived there before will never be able to afford, so they get pushed out over and over again. It is a wonder that the human race has never learned.

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