-by Bill Watkins 4/13/2018
Learn to Labor and to Wait
The last shall be chosen first.
—Jesus of Nazareth
Many are okay with the basic premise and founding of the current American government. Even strong activists for change often come short of asking for full-scale revolution in order to create something pleasing to God between the oceans we call Atlantic and Pacific.
God’s will could be determined in the old spiritual maxim: It’s what happens. God’s will is “that which is,” is all things, includes all the bad things that happen, for without bad things there would be no good things. The Tao Te Ching from China, “yin and yang” corroborate the obvious: the world and universe abound with opposites and contradictions, and as Ecclesiastes sings: “To every thing there is a season.”
This land we now call “America” against protests from north, central and south American nations was created by an unknown process some call God, others evolution. People populated it after time, most say from Asian migration, and soon “nations” were developed by what we now call Native Americans, or American Indians. They were care-takers of the land, lived off the land, protected and fought for life, with and against the elements, rival tribes—all the components you see in modern world politics without the concrete, asphalt and helicopters.
Animals prospered in a near-noiseless paradise. There was no bible, no white man, just the native people, their Great Spirit and beliefs, customs, occasional wars for territory and honor—no guns, no widespread disease, short life-spans but in an eternally accepted cycle of eternal life and dance with the ancestors, a story not written in books but on the wind, on rocks, and passed down to generations through spoken narrative.
Then the white people came. Brought their bible, armor, guns, forts, and a desire to either escape their old world across the sea, to make a mark on a new world, to bring riches back to their king or queen, even to become famous. The white person’s love of land was limited and had seemingly reached its end, so a jaunt across a grand ocean to discover and inhabit new land was attractive.
The United States was and is an immigrant haven, a human hodge-podge begun in false starts and failures from Roanoke, Virginia to Jamestown—a colony saved by a Native American tribe’s hospitality and trade. Native people knew how to live here, had the keys buried in love of land. That was the real gold missed by white people: Native American wisdom and love for land. White people sought the yellow rock instead of ideas that would have allowed them to better appreciate a rock called England, rocks in Europe that marked the burials of their fathers.
The native chiefs struggled to understand why white people would leave their ancestors’ burial grounds to come across an ocean and steal theirs.
We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy—and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his father’ graves, and his children’s birthrights are forgotten. —Chief Seattle
I think that wherever the Great Spirit places his people, they ought to be satisfied to remain, and thankful for what He has given them, and not drive others from the country He has given them because it happens to be better than theirs! —Black Hawk
A man who would not love his father’s grave is worse than a wild animal.
Disease of More
Oswald’s 6th and CIA Omerta
seem lesser concepts when compared
to native plight, the
White man coming, conquering
and killing in the night.
The mob our government has locked
inside, from Ivy League schools
or wherever nice but lonely
rich kids can be recruited to be
in a family of brotherhood and togetherness.
To gather around crime is tempting
and even easy.
We group together, then justify wrong
acts because our brothers are doing them too.
The mob speaks of omerta, taking
secrets to the grave, and the CIA
is of the same mold.
God bless us all to proud truth of
who and what we are;
No matter how sick, perverse or wrong—
There is always a way out and back
to love and goodness.
The gospels are there for us when
we ask, we receive.
Or the Tao Te Ching.
Or the native river, writings of thanks
written on the wind, the leaves
changing so why not us?
Give them their land back, and let’s go
back to ours.
Gold, Riches. Indian Wisdom?
We sought many things.
The thing we should have taken back to England
was Indian Wisdom:
To love your land,
stay loyal to it, give to it,
and thank God for it every day.
“Have No gods Before Me,” God hollered
down to Moses and the people.
“Not even alcohol?” was proposed back
by a wide path called ignorance.
On “Ownership” of Land:
Some of our chiefs make the claim that the land
belongs to us. It is not what the Great Spirit told me.
He told me that the lands belong to Him, that no
people owns the land.
Why Should Indians be First, Not Last?
This is their country, not ours.
“Aspire for Less”
More and more, every day.
“Be As Children”
More and more, every day.
Become more as a child,
and prepare for heaven.
White People Must Leave.
Well, we didn’t leave, but have stayed. Did we improve this land? When I walk our littered streets and sidewalks, hear our helicopters roar in metal and burned earth, plug my ears against sirens, and watch wildlife hide and die, I say “Not Yet.”
Was this merging good?
Was it a good thing, to cross the sea,
invade a land inhabited by nations
of darker peoples, and take their land?
What makes it good and right?
Welcome native people back to the table, look back on broken treaties, amend our relations, do right by them, God and nature, reduce pollution, reconsider our decisions, pray about our origins and the graves we left behind, repent, and…
Make available immediately spots on city councils, state legislatures and Congress for Native people to serve, spots not voted on by the greater population but by the pre-white people themselves.
Humanity. We find it within ourselves to respect our place in this world, honor our parents, walk a fine path without stepping on our fellows’ toes.
Humanity. Something Martin Luther King marched to secure, something that recently brought folks together in Atlanta, Georgia as we remembered the preacher’s legacy fifty years after his tragic murder. Martin would have said, as he did when JFK was killed, that it was not as important “who” killed him than “what” killed him.
Racism. Evil. War and those who had sold their souls to wage it. Greed, and those who felt they needed war to feed their families. Deception and “covert action,” dishonesty and ruses perpetrated and manifest in back rooms, lonely cults and clubs of collusion called “Central Intelligence” and “National Security.”
The pious fraud that ends justify means, that “Martin must die to assure our war on communism wins.” The racism that pervaded FBI and J. Edgar Hoover’s cold heart.
Can you march all that away?
Slaves brought against their will, packed worse than sardines against themselves, reduced to lower animals, whipped like miscreant cattle, their souls neglected by soulless, sad white people, who had lost humanity the moment they believed the lie that a darker person was not as human as a lighter-skinned one.
National poverty racial breakdown: (federalsafetynet.com)
A lie that still walks over trash-littered communities, homeless people and hard times—inner cities full of people, a high percentage black and descendant from the sin of slavery. And our community, city, state and national leaders keep wearing their suits, driving nice cars, making six figure salaries, perpetuating a second great American evil after the native expulsion.
40 Acres and a Mule
They keep moving the goalposts
when the promise is inconvenient.
General Sherman in 1865 promised
a lie, just as U.S. presidents and generals
would go back on every treaty with
Native Americans from the beginning.
Just like Samuel asking for a king,
kicking God out of the post—
We all lose!!!!!
And so I’m waiting for my mule. My
forty acres of land to work, its cash
Perhaps I’d like to be able to apply
for a grant to study my background;
how I got to America.
My guess is through my forefathers
whipped in chains, forced here against
I’d like to know that story better, visit
West Africa, grieve a few things.
Perhaps after the government of the
United States pays off its twenty trillion
dollars in debt, its land debt to natives—
Perhaps it can pay some of us African
Americans for our suffering from the
sin of Slavery.
We promised 40 Acres and a Mule after the Civil War. Black people made physically free, but when promises were forgotten, Jim Crow rising, there was a funny race being run around a large oval of life here, one in which white people had a 200 yard head start in a 400 yard dash. Could a black person in America make up that stagger without help? Do white people owe black people for the sin of slavery? Have we paid enough?
I took a Greyhound bus from Los Angeles to Atlanta last week, a fifty-five hour trip into the dark and light of this country’s southern section, along Interstate 10, for the lofty purpose of joining the Martin Luther King family in mourning their father fifty years after his death, and Marching for Humanity.
I was a Phi Beta Kappa high honors drunk from UC Santa Barbara, always a fan of learning, not always so bright in life but a great manipulator of a faulty education system that does not seek to know and help its students on an individualized basis. I was graduated from two high-rated educational institutions a full-blown alcoholic, the educators without a clue as to who I was, or worse yet: they knew and did nothing to help me.
It was not until I went to a recovery center in Palm Springs, California to support a loved one who had checked herself in for treatment, that a black man named Lee Harris, PhD, squared me up, talked with me, and spurred on truth from me that led to my spiritual awakening. That was on February 7th, 1995.
February 7th, 1995
The scales lifted, the eyes clear.
Honesty, finally the truth at
twenty-two given with a tear.
“I’ve never had a girlfriend”
coaxed when the moment was right,
I let down my guards to finally
see the light.
You can’t be helped ‘til you ask
for it. You can’t ask ‘til safe,
I looked left and right before I
truth supplied and saw that it was all
right—I came out!!!
I was unhappy, even though I had
friends after friends coming to my
I was empty even though the trophies
and plaques on walls increased
and filled—attempted to fill, this would
have to be enough!
Spiritual Awakening—LORD, have me!
Done hiding it was safe to bloom,
and now, no more garden parties,
I separate the happy with the gloom
and see the world in poems—
I did not ask for permission and leave
another world behind: self-doubt, beer,
hollering around death, we put up
our hands at fear.
Trapped no more at Betty Ford
the 7th of February a.d. ‘95
ready to turn the boat around…
Trapped no more you want more
and more so ditch tomorrow for today.
They criticize you and analyze you
as you smile and accept today
Greyhound reflects our country as it stands: the pollution, the lack of care, running on fumes, burning fuel and making noise on roads that cut across fine land, wildlife and us trying to breathe and hold onto life despite the temptations and actions to take, buy, use, sell at will. Thank God for thoughts toward preservation, Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, white people with a will to think of tomorrow and saving beauty against Trump-like corruption and greed.
The drivers and Greyhound staff were fifty percent angry, eighty percent surly, the passengers (especially in the back) prone to cursing and filling lungs with cigarette smoke at every little break in travel. Littered butts in cracks unsure and unaware why they were so anxious and addicted to smoke. The native American student in me, the spirit in me manifest in my adopted native name “Naked Horse” knew that this was the wide path to destruction spoken of by that rebellious rabbi Jesus Christ. Many are on it.
All I could do at some point in my trip was to find a makeshift ash tray, promote and help these people to rethink cursing and smoking—certainly littering our mother.
Honor Your Mother
It’s not just the woman who bore
you, folks—it’s the Earth that moves you.
The Mother who spins on axis, swirling
around the sun and stars on time
So we can wake up and live and try at life.
So how on Earth can you litter?
Throw your cigarette butt, already littering
your lungs and heart on her?
What devil inhaled you, when you
decided to inhale smoke, killing yourself
slowly over many years?
God bless us to honor our mother.
To live a long time in this land, we
must honor her, and fight to keep her
Honor your mother, man.
Honor your mother, woman. Honor that
which gave us life, and never
throw trash on her, no matter how low
we go; turn around, it’s better to go
back to pre-civilization, pre-religion,
living naked with the natives than to
roll around in this human-made muck,
helicopters and sirens calling out a warning
shot to the Father god that we don’t care.
Send Samuel back, and ask God to be
Shhh! Listen. Close your eyes.
See yourself caring. Loving. God bless us
to honor our Mother and care.
If I had to grade Greyhound they’d get a “D,” so I guess they passed, despite yelling at passengers, forgetting that customers are first, and that dirty and broken is no way to present a service to any people, let alone this striving young mix trying to find itself still called “American,” anything but united.
Ahh, the many sins and shadows of this America!
Killing Kennedy, Martin, another Kennedy, Lennon—great voices for peace, anti-war all, the CIA lurking, supporting the murderers of Oscar Romero in El Salvador as well, locking up “classified” documents to preserve violent and/or embarrassing secrets in the supposed interest of “national security.” Nearly fifty-five years since they took over our government, the Langley spooks still finding it hard to disclose, admit and tell the truth about our pious, national security securing murders.
I marched against this. I mourned with the King family on April 9th, from the King Center in Atlanta to the front of the Georgia state capitol building, Martin enshrined in statue there, a confederate general named Gordon in back.
I arrived in Atlanta after my fifty-five hour Greyhound sentence a better man made better by good conversations and challenges, one by an Atlanta native named Jarvis, who seemed to dabble in civil rights, philosophy, history, politics and comedy when not working hard in the produce trade.
He warned me that besides the King activities in Atlanta that weekend, there was a Neo-Nazi rally outside of town. Lo and behold, in my second full hour of being in Atlanta, walking down Peachtree Street, I spotted and heard three masked skinheads revving loud dirt motorcycles through downtown, looking around menacingly and angry.
A young black teen, who I later learned was an actor on a Showtime series about Chicago, was taping the confused racists with his cellphone. I promptly approached him, and put my arm around him in solidarity. We talked about Martin Luther King’s approach of loving our lost, sick white brothers—an approach born from Christian and Gandhian study and application. I waved as the loud, hating white bigots motored by, I hope not with sarcasm but with invitation to openness and love, and they were gone.
A glimmer of hate returned before we Marched on that Monday, as a dreadlocked black man called all who spoke at Ebenezer Baptist church that morning to re-enact and commemorate the MLK funeral procession of April 9, 1968… “crackers.” He called every speaker “corny,” looked me off when I looked at him, called me a “cracker” too, as I stood watching a live-stream of the Ebenezer events, holding flowers for Dr. Bernice King (Martin’s youngest), and an American flag bearing Martin’s face with a quote I had purchased online months ago in preparation for the march.
Was he there for himself? Was he paid to hate? Did he just feel jealous?
Whatever the motive, I believe a show of hate at a memorial or funeral is empirically off-base, insensitive, inhumane, and frankly: insane. God bless that man wherever he is, and God bless the skinhead revvers, who do not want to be unhappy, but have bound together with a gang of hate to feel loved, protected and a part of a community—albeit a bigoted, violent one.
I myself almost jumped in with a gang in Pasadena, California once, tempted by an end to loneliness. By an illusion of family and friendship…
So there I was, after the bus test, a tough journey but without bricks thrown or fires set, murders committed—as happened during the Freedom Rides of the 1960’s, Freedom Summer in Mississippi, a time of war to seek the fulfillment of Jefferson’s ironic promise of equality for all American citizens. Native people were not included in “All men are created equal.” Women not in the statement, children, nor of course Black people. Jefferson, in his Declaration of Independence, would have been more honest to write: All white men are created equal, but that he did not perhaps was a clever road map that future activists could follow.
Native people still live, breathe and fight. African Americans still march, as evidenced last Monday, for Humanity, justice and equality—caring white people like me locking arms in the struggle not just for one people, but one to recognize all God’s children as worthy—a universal good that makes my own peace of mind rise, every Christian needing others to thrive for him or her to make a path to heaven.
Success is a peace of mind, knowing you did the best you could to be the best you were capable of becoming. —John Wooden
Could the word “success” in John Wooden’s quote be replaced with the word “heaven?” Where is this all going? Another march? The beginning of a program to distribute needed blankets to Atlanta’s homeless? The end of private campaign spending, which corrupts this land? The beginning of a new welcome mat to native Americans into our political process? Guaranteed seats for natives at our decision-making tables? Restitution for the sins of slavery? For murdering our own president in 1963 and covering up the evidence, failing to admit our sins? For continuing to support a CIA, who’s secondary mission of secret-keeping and covert action is undemocratic and unaccountable to the People? Their Twitter bio blurb talking about “going where others cannot go, accomplishing what other cannot accomplish?” I’m American. Are the CIA? Can I not have the same rights as they? “A right to murder?” No thanks. “A right to keep secrets?” No thanks.
God bless us to a truthful America. To one that looks back when necessary and makes amends for past sins. To one that pays all its debts, financial and moral. As an alcoholic with sixteen years of sobriety I know the value of glancing back to amend, the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous actually written in the past tense:
12 Steps of A.A.
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood God.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Is America alcoholic? Is it a place with people on it, prone to doing good an evil like any other place, perhaps a wide path going bad, a narrow path heading in a focused way toward peace of mind?
All we can do sometimes is just to march. And pray. Put in good work and hope for the best. Saint Paul’s work and faith; Longfellow’s laboring and waiting. Lao Tzu telling us we “cannot change the world,” while Wyatt Earp reminds us it’s okay to try, that rebellious rabbi saying “stay the course” in that staggered race, because if in the back for whatever reason:
You are spiritually winning, heading toward God and heaven, the path of the rich a much harder one unless you know where to find a very small camel and/or a very large needle!