Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What are you going to do with them?

Tired. In untold ways... --and woke up with half a tooth gnawing away at my mouth, cutting my cheek....

And me without dental insurance. So I scoped out dental insurance plans offered in South Dakota --and what a bunch of pahooee. Anything that matters is excluded, the cap on benefits is $1,000 per year, and there is up to 16 months waiting period to have a tooth filled. In other words --fugeddaboutit.

But, now I can't. I have an appointment tomorrow at 9... and because they are on central time and we on mountain time, I will have to leave at some ungodly hour in the morning. But, it was the best I could do.

I will have to call and cancel my participation in the suicide walk, however. And tomorrow night we will be showing a video and having a discussion about boarding school abuse --a survivor has made a documentary of his survival and then his liberation from the aftermath. And he wants to share the good news. The movie has played in various places --now coming to Eagle Butte. The evening has been organized by some of the older ladies in the church --survivors, all.

...generational trauma...
The policy of genocide is detailed in congressional documents: "[Indians] are to go upon said reservations .... they are to have no alternative but to chose between this policy of the government and extermination" (U.S. Senate Miscellaneous Document cited in Brave Heart, 1998, p. 288).
Specific features of this historical trauma response include (a) transposition (Kestenberg, 1990) where one lives simultaneously in the past and the present with the ancestral suffering as the main organizing principal in one's life, (b) identification with the dead (Lifton, 1968, 1988) so that one feels psychically (emotionally and psychologically) dead and feels unworthy of living, and (c) maintaining loyalty to and identification with the suffering of deceased ancestors, re-enacting affliction within one's own life (Fogelman, 1988, 1991). Additionally, there is survivor guilt, an ensuing fixation to trauma, reparatory fantasies, and attempts to undo the tragedy of the past.
Traditional Lakota culture encourages maintenance of a connection with the spirit world. Thus, we are predisposed to identification with ancestors from our historical past. Traditional mourning such as cutting the bereaved's hair and body are expressions of a felt loss of part of oneself with the death of a close relative. Grief was impaired due to massive losses across generations and the federal government's prohibition of indigenous practices for mourning resolution. Hence, our impaired grief and our proclivity for connection with the deceased fueled historical unresolved grief, a component of the historical trauma response.

And the path to wholeness and health? Talking about it, the abuse, the inherited abuse and grief. The practice of generosity and other traditional values. Make others aware of the history of trauma and genocide.
If I needed an excuse to die or get drunk, all those things, all I'd have to do is open up that container inside .... Because I believe that feelings never go anywhere, they never die... they are always with us. So we can destroy the people who are around us with them [feel- ings] or we can help them [people] .... I committed to work with [children who are sexual abuse victims] .... All of these things that are in the past don't have to be bad. Our reaction to them makes all the difference in the world. We can make it good or ... bad.

We can make it good or ...bad.

At prayer this morning (Psalm 28)

O LORD, I call to you;
my Rock, do not be deaf to my cry; *
lest, if you do not hear me,
I become like those who go down to the Pit.
Hear the voice of my prayer when I cry out to you, *
when I lift up my hand to your holy of holies.

Do not snatch me away with the wicked or with the evildoers, *
who speak peaceably with their neighbors,
while strife is in their hearts.
Repay them according to their deeds, *
and according to the wickedness of their actions.
According to the work of their hands repay them, *
and give them their just deserts.
They have no understanding of the LORD’s doings,
nor of the works of his hands; *
therefore he will break them down and not build them up.

Blessed is the LORD! *
for he has heard the voice of my prayer.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; *
my heart trusts in him, and I have been helped;
Therefore my heart dances for joy, *
and in my song will I praise him.
The LORD is the strength of his people, *
a safe refuge for his anointed.
Save your people and bless your inheritance; *
shepherd them and carry them for ever.
I have been taught not to make the pain of those I serve in to my own pain. And I am deeply grateful for the co-dependency training I have received and experienced as well --I know most of my own pitfalls of compassion.

But, here, it goes beyond that.... There is the constant nagging of guilt and shame of my own ancestral participation in the present agony.

And then there's Mark Twain....

Shall we? That is, shall we go on conferring our Civilization upon the peoples that sit in darkness, or shall we give those poor things a rest? Shall we bang right ahead in our old-time, loud, pious way, and commit the new century to the game; or shall we sober up and sit down and think it over first? Would it not be prudent to get our Civilization-tools together, and see how much stock is left on hand in the way of Glass Beads and Theology, and Maxim Guns and Hymn Books, and Trade-Gin and Torches of Progress and Enlightenment (patent adjustable ones, good to fire villages with, upon occasion), and balance the books, and arrive at the profit and loss, so that we may intelligently decide whether to continue the business or sell out the property and start a new Civilization Scheme on the proceeds?

Extending the Blessings of Civilization to our Brother who Sits in Darkness has been a good trade and has paid well, on the whole; and there is money in it yet, if carefully worked -- but not enough, in my judgement, to make any considerable risk advisable. The People that Sit in Darkness are getting to be too scarce -- too scarce and too shy. And such darkness as is now left is really of but an indifferent quality, and not dark enough for the game. The most of those People that Sit in Darkness have been furnished with more light than was good for them or profitable for us. We have been injudicious.

The Blessings-of-Civilization Trust, wisely and cautiously administered, is a Daisy. There is more money in it, more territory, more sovereignty, and other kinds of emolument, than there is in any other game that is played. But Christendom has been playing it badly of late years, and must certainly suffer by it, in my opinion.

Trouble is, I don't think much has changed in the last 120 years.... There are still plenty who would rather scream and cry and rant and rave and by more guns and create cloud castles about birth certificates rather than give up an inch of presumed supremacy and power and their aftermath....

--and the voice in my head talks quietly alongside my own words, saying to me --are things really any worse than, say, in times past when folks had to pass by heads on stakes on the way to town? And I don't know how to answer myself, except to say it was as unacceptable then as it is now.... and the little voice persists saying, perhaps we all deal with historical trauma....

We can make it good or ...bad.

--and forgiveness really is the only way through... give it to God, otherwise, what are we going to do with it?

There we are. Jesus said, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment...." (John 16:7-8)

Wrong about sin. About righteousness. About judgment.

(John 20:22-23)
Then he [Jesus] took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”

There we are.


Brian Davis said...

Thank you for this Margaret. I needed it badly. Give it to God is what I am trying so hard to do.

Also, prayers for your tooth. I've been living with half a molar that I keep packing temporary filling material into going on a year now. I know that it's the wrong thing to do but I simply can't afford the $800+ bill to repair/extract it, even with the crappy insurance I've been paying for the last 12 years. I'm saving up what little I can as I can. Who is the patron saint of dentistry? : )

This post hit so many notes of the song I've been singing lately. Peace unto you and yours!

it's margaret said...

Brian --blessings on you --and I hope you get your tooth fixed. Soon!

Anonymous said...

Dear Margaret,

A few disconnected thoughts.

1. An old point. How can such a rich, powerful and inventive country and the envy of so many of us not be able to put together a national medical insurance scheme? There are so many around the world from which you can learn/copy/avoid that I don't see how you could get it wrong. Of course, as with most reforms, those who would benefit most are often the last to support it. (But I speak as one who as a small child recovered from TB by the aid of the new British NHS's treatment that my father could never have afforded.) And by the way, I've recently had two old stumps extracted before having a new plate fitted in the new year; its not free on the NHS but overall it'll cost me less than £100 (about $150).

2. "the constant nagging of guilt and shame of my own ancestral participation in the present agony". Beware Margaret; this can really get you down and ITS NOT YOUR FAULT. How can you possibly be responsible for the crimes of your what? Your great-great-grandfathers? And probably you'll find like the vast majority of us that your ancestors were at the most foot soldiers quite unknowing of their masters' aims or ambitions.

3. And finally may I be cheeky and try to bring a wobbly smile to your wizened old chops? If your sins are really so black remember this

Once in a Saintly Passion

ONCE in a saintly passion
I cried with desperate grief,
"O Lord, my heart is black with guile,
Of sinners I am chief."
Then stooped my guardian angel
And whispered from behind,
"Vanity, my little man,
You're nothing of the kind."

James Thomson

Regards, Charley Farns-Barns.

it's margaret said...

Thank you Charley --and I envy your medical system. Very much.

As to living with bearing the sins of the past --reconciliation is a long and difficult road. I do not bear the true guilt and shame, but I certainly feel them --which I consider com-passion. If I didn't feel these things, I would worry about myself, and I worry about those who don't....

Sitting here in the dental office as we speak. Sigh....

Paula said...

Holding you in the Light. Praying for a solution to your dental woes.

Margaret, I am only now, in middle age, reading the Bible (having been raised agnostic by design, I was taught to despise the book and am now rectifying that). One thing that strikes me is how bloody the Hebrew Bible is, how much war, how much enslavement, and how much overall genocide. The message seems to be that you are to suffer the sins of your ancestors, or if your king is really awful, you pay the price with death as well. I believe we can all accept this but not carry guilt into the 21st century. Learn from it without carrying the blame. And not say that God is really bad to be so vengeant.

It is the same with the New Testament--why are Christians still holding the Jews at fault for the death of Jesus, when that was God's will?? How much blame do we carry for his death as well?

My sense is that we learn from the past, accept forgiveness for our ancestors' mistakes, and live as we are commanded to do (to love one another). How much good are we going to do with constant self-flagellation?

Yours, Paula

Anonymous said...

Hope you'll be a condition to drive home!

About worrying for those who don't feel "the true guilt and shame" I'd give you the example of the current generation of the French and Germans. when I was young the fear and hatred of the French for the Germans was palpable (I witnessed it) and after all in the previous 70 years Germany had invaded France 3 times and damned near destroyed it. But that is now very much ancient history and not used to score points or to influence their relations.
In contrast see Northern Ireland where riots continue over the flying of a flag (or not). Here emnities are hugged close and nurtured so they don't fade.

Not much help I know, but you're in our thuoghts, Charley F-B.

crem said...

(brain explosion!) All of the comments today have given me enough food for thought and prayer for months. Thank you all for your comments to Margaret!
And thank you my Love.