Tag Archives: Climate Change

How to Become a Revolutionary Icon, By Lyla June Johnston

Young Diné women prepare for “Nihígaal Bee Iiná: Our Journey for Existence.” To assist with the group’s crowdfunding campaign visit: http://igg.me/p/1055200/x. Photo Courtesy Colleen Cooley

Young Diné women prepare for “Nihígaal Bee Iiná: Our Journey for Existence.” The group will embark on a 200-mile trek through western New Mexico—a tribute to the 150th anniversary of the tragic “Long Walk.” To assist with the group’s crowdfunding campaign visit: http://igg.me/p/1055200/x. Photo Courtesy Colleen Cooley.

How to Become a Revolutionary Icon

By Lyla June Johnston

1. Speak your truth aloud
2. Say it with love and humility
3. Ignore the thousands of people (including yourself) who will tell you that you’re unworthy of bringing this message
4. Repeat
……………………………………
I look at some of these young warriors like Nahko Bear, Ta’kaiya Blaney, Xiutezcatl Martinez, and others who are so sought after for their presence and their words. They are no different from anyone else. They are simply willing to stand up and speak light into the darkness, brazenly, at the risk of seeming overly idealistic or arrogant. This is not idealism, this is the truth that our child-selves saw so clearly but did not have space to express. This is not arrogance, this is the deliverance of nourishment to a world starving for truth. I was blessed to learn that I CAN speak in a society that expects and rewards silence.
……………………………………
I remember once at Stanford I came to my poetry collective with a poem that loudly professed my allegiance to unity and love. My entire team laughed at me and said they would not partake in the group performance I had sketched out. The tagline was, “WE WANT YOU FREE!” I guess it was too corny for them… But when I have the courage to say these things to the crowd something happens in their hearts. The rumbling of my voice, the clarity and conviction of the message, awakens dormant volcanos within them that have been waiting, silently, patiently, for years to erupt. Once I am finished they burst with applause and rise for the standing ovation. I know in my heart they are not cheering for me. They are cheering because, finally, the sleeping wolf has arisen within them. The wolf that sits in its conformist cage. The wolf that begs to howl this truth into the dark night with all its might but is not allowed to by societal norms. They are cheering for the Love that has triumphed, the Truth that has overcome all obstacles set before it. They are cheering for Creator, that Her message has finally been released, that it has finally breeched the walls Iktomi has built all around us. Walls meant to distract us from the ever-present, ever-shining, ever-true reality that we are free, we are love, we are loved and we hold the very breath of the Creator within our lungs and in our veins. This is the beauty our child-selves knew we were born for. This is the beauty we are all able to hold again. If we only have the courage, to step forward and… speak.

About Writing for Peace Young Adviser Lyla June Johnston

Lyla June Johnston, Writing fr Peace Young AdviserLyla June Johnston is a 24 year-old poet, musician, anthropologist and human being, from Taos, New Mexico. Her passion for peace unfolds both outside of herself through community organizing and within herself through continual prayers to forgive and love a wounded world. After studying Human Ecology at Stanford University, Lyla founded Regeneration Festival, an annual celebration and honoring of children and young adults worldwide. She plans on attending Harvard Business School to obtain the platform she needs to disarm the private sector and repurpose the capitalist infrastructure for healing and social change. Her ancestors are Diné and Cheyenne and it is from this ancestral worldview that she derives her visions for helping to create a culture of peace and generosity. Learn more about Lyla’s work here.

 

Small Writing for Peace logoWriting for Peace News

BREAKING NEWS:

Young Navajo Stage 200-Mile Trek for Cultural Survival

Young Diné women prepare for “Nihígaal Bee Iiná: Our Journey for Existence.” To assist with the group’s crowdfunding campaign visit: http://igg.me/p/1055200/x. Photo Courtesy Colleen Cooley

(Photo Courtesy Colleen Cooley.)

By Writing for Peace Adviser, Lyla June Johnston

HUERFANO, New Mex.- At dawn on January 6th 2015 a group of young Diné (Navajo) women and their supporters will gather at a fire department near the base of Dził Na’oodiłii (Huerfano Mountain). From there the group will embark on a 200-mile trek through western New Mexico—a tribute to the 150th anniversary of the tragic “Long Walk.” Throughout this journey they intend to raise awareness about historical and present day challenges faced by Diné people and inspire hopeful solutions to address these issues.

Organizers are calling out for community support in the form of walking, hosting or helping to garner basic materials. This first journey will end at Tsoodził (Mount Taylor), their southern sacred mountain. Three more walks are scheduled for spring, summer and fall so that each of their four sacred mountains is visited. The walkers intend to cover over 1000 miles in 2015.

The commemorated event occurred in 1864 when Colonel Christopher “Kit” Carson—under the command of General James Carleton—enforced a merciless, scorched earth policy to bring Diné people into submission. During this time nearly 9,000 Diné and 500 Mescalero Apache men, women, children and elderlies were marched at gunpoint for 300 miles to a small patch of arid land known as Bosque Redondo, New Mexico. Many perished along the way.

During their four-year internment at this reservation “experiment”—known in Diné as Hwééldi or “the place of suffering”—hundreds died due to starvation, illness and physical violence. In 1868, high costs of rations and soldier commissions caused the federal government to disband the experiment and release them back to Diné Tah, the Navajo homeland.

“We are walking to honor the resiliency of our ancestors who 150 years ago were forced to march hundreds of miles in the dead of winter on a genocidal death march,” says Dana Eldridge, one of several female organizers of the walk. “They sacrificed and suffered so much so that we could live within these four sacred mountains. So we’re walking to honor them.”

According to the organizers, the walk is not simply a re-enactment of The Long Walk, but their return to a traditional lifestyle.

“It’s something that people don’t do anymore. We have the convenience of vehicles. But walking an entire journey is something that’s revolutionary in a way,” says young organizer Nick Ashley of Gallup, New Mexico.

“Our ancestors walked so that we could be here on our homeland singing, dancing and praying the songs they did. But now everyone is chasing the American Dream and neglecting our homeland, our language and way of life,” says Kimberly Smith of St. Michaels, Arizona.

Several Diné elders, including Larry W. Emerson, think present day problems might be due to “an abandonment of self.”

“One purpose of the walk might be for us to come back into ourselves via our traditional knowledge—into our homes, families, relations, communities and earth-sky knowing. Ké and k’é hwiindzin—to be conscious of our interdependent relationships based on compassion, love, and nurturing—are vital to our survival and we cannot come home to ourselves without these vital teachings. [We] offered several teachings [to the walkers] that might address the practice of coming home to ourselves, including some prayer songs.”

According to organizers, land-based prayer is an important part of their journey. “Everything we do is a prayer to return to our original selves,” says Laura Red Elk of Pueblo Pintado, New Mexico. “The mountains were our original naat’áanii [leaders] before IRA governments or the tribal council. Since our government is failing to protect us, we are returning to our original leadership by letting the mountains determine how we walk on the land.”

Organizers and their elders have chosen to name their movement as “Nihígaal Bee Iiná” or “Our Journey for Existence.” Due to the widespread presence of uranium, coal and gas extraction throughout Diné Tah,organizers feel that their environmental situation has reached a boiling point.

“One hundred and fifty years ago our ancestors stared their extinction in the face. And today, we young people are staring our extinction in the face. Our home will become an unlivable toxic wasteland if nothing is done,” says Eldridge.

According to the EPA, nearly 4 million tons of uranium have been extracted from Diné Tah since 1944. With over 500 abandoned uranium mines throughout the region, both homes and water sources are contaminated with high levels of radiation.

Additionally, over 20,000 tons of coal are strip-mined from Diné and Hopi lands every day by Peabody Coal Company alone. This coal feeds Navajo Generating Station, rated by the EPA as the highest emitter of toxic nitrous oxide in the country.

Organizers forecast that the next major threat is the onset of a boom in oil and natural gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing—a process now banned in the state of New York.

Erin Konsmo of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network in Alberta, Canada, says that resource extraction is not only a threat to the environment: “Some of the highest rates of missing and murdered women are in the tar-sands extraction areas. This is related to worker’s camps and the lack of jurisdictional protection for women on tribal lands.” Organizers state that the heavy presence of extractive industries is having a similar effect on Diné women.

“We give life and we nurture life just like the land does. Our traditional leadership structure is matrilineal because we are the spinal chord of society, the first teachers of the children. We are journeying back to our original selves including our responsibility as women to protect the land and take care of it,” says Red Elk.

“It’s all the more reason for this walk to be led by majority women. As traditional caretakers of the land, their physical presence is in and of itself a resistance to resource extraction,” comments Konsmo.

Weekly paychecks for Diné miners and generator operators are a constant reminder of their economic dependence on the fossil fuel industry. Walkers hope to raise awareness about self-sufficiency as an alternative to the extraction economy. They will disperse heirloom corn seeds to communities along the way and speak on the importance of food sovereignty and self-reliance.

“We are being told to invest in our own destruction in the name of the economy,” says Eldridge. “People say we need these jobs, but we don’t. To take care of ourselves it will take a tremendous amount of work, but it is a beautiful dream and it is so possible.”

Organizers are urging others to join them, especially Diné people, for all or part of the walk.

Smith encapsulates the spirit of the walk by saying, “We have to go back to where the wisdom is embedded. We have to reintroduce ourselves to those places. It is our inherent right and responsibility. The uplifting that our people need is there. We want to bring it back for our people, we want to honor our elders, our children and most importantly, we want to honor the earth.”

For more information on “Our Journey for Existence,” contact nihigaalbeeiina@gmail.com. To assist with the group’s crowdfunding campaign visit: http://igg.me/p/1055200/x

Enter the 2015 Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest 

Writing for Peace dreamerThe deadline is March 1st, so time to get serious about polishing your entry! Go to www.writingforpeace.org to meet our previous winners and learn about our prestigious panel of judges: Antonya Nelson, fiction; Stephen Kuusisto, poetry; and Steve Almond, nonfiction. Read the full guidelines here. Teachers who would like to receive a free pdf version of our DoveTales journals to share with their students may request copies at editor@writingforpeace.org.

DoveTales Call for Submissions

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, is currently accepting fiction, essays, poetry and art submissions for our 2015 “Nature” edition. Deadline is January 15th. Read our guidelines and submit here.

Copyright © 2015 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

 

It Is Time, By Lyla June Johnston

Lyla June Johnston Climate change march(2)It Is Time

By Lyla June Johnston

 There is this latent, pervasive notion that it is completely acceptable to abandon our otherwise treasured allegiance to brotherhood and kindness as we step into corporate and business realms because “that’s just the way business is” thereby replacing that allegiance with an exhalation of cutthroat competition and institutionalized greed.

We have reached a point, however, where “the business” permeates every aspect of our lives and therefore humanity is calling into question the sanity of appointing greed and competition as architects of the built environment. What we wear, what we eat, how we communicate, how we move, how we make art, how we are entertained, even down to the insurance that our heart will beat tomorrow–all of this has become absorbed in and regulated by the mechanics of the American business. And it shows. The outward symptoms of depression and dissatisfaction in both the very wealthy and the very poor cohorts of the human race is a reflection of our imbalanced innards. We are beginning to yearn for a world that is not motivated and shaped by the insatiable fear and hunger of profit maximization.

Is this to say that the whole of American and global business is wrong and useless? I think not. How could I when it has driven into existence so many exquisite innovations, fed the families of so many communities and solved so many seemingly insurmountable social problems. While a globalized economy has brought the world together in undeniably problematic ways, it has also brought us together in incredibly beautiful ways! Business has given the incredible potential of the human spirit wings to fully express our unending creativity and ability, lending purpose and fulfillment to many a lifetime.

Indeed it has done great things for great amounts of people. What I am saying is that it is time to address the fly in the ointment: that our wondrous invention of free trade and enterprise does indeed hold within a darker component that has nudged humanity closer and closer to the precipice of complete spiritual, ecological and economic dysfunction. While it is important to acknowledge the beauty of business it is also important to recognize the ways in which it can and must be improved for the sake of all beings. It is also important to acknowledge the ways in which it has caused many a man and woman to compromise their deepest and most fundamental desire to care for others in exchange for a chance at the fortune they describe in mainstream lore.

We simply cannot continue to promote good will toward men by night to our children in our homes while simultaneously promoting dog-eat-dog mentalities and behavior in our business schools and behind our store fronts by day. For the business world no longer comprises a small fraction of our time and life like a weekend getaway in Las Vegas where we can temporarily suspend our morality. No, in fact the corporate endeavor has successfully woven itself into every molecule of our being, literally, and become the stuff with which we clothe our children and house our lives. Therefore, it deserves a deeper dedication to morality than ever before, lest the house we live in become a creation built by bolts of avarice and planks of ruthless ambition. For how can the very veins of a society be driven by a model based on the fear of a mythological scarcity and the worship of selfishness and dominance?

We have been in the midst of a 240 year experiment with Adam Smith’s well-intended, widely-accepted and gravely misguided proposition that selfishness is a necessary component of a thriving economy. This experimentation, which feels more like denial than anything else, has brought our global life support system to the brink of complete collapse and the human race to a state of abject spiritual, emotional and material impoverishment. We can no longer justify, try as we might, the current economic model we operate by, nor can we justify the business norms engendered by short-sighted boom and bust economies of our forefathers. This much is clear.

What is less clear, however, is with what models and principles we shall replace this Jurassic economic modus operandi and how. If this denatured understanding of the earth and of ourselves no longer works, then what does work? And how will we dare to proceed in the name of not only human generations to come, but the progeny of all life forms on this great, wide face of the Earth?

I know that buried deep in our hearts, or perhaps lying just beneath the surface of our stifled voices, we know the exact answer to this question. Indeed, the answer is woven into our DNA strands. If we can just follow this double helix pathway back in time, back to the days when our communities lived by the principle of “I am you” and the children born each day were ushered into a culture of compassion, synergy and generosity, we will arrive at a greater world to be passed down to our own children.

Find the day! Find the day when our cultural proverbs, such as InLak’ech, Mitakue Oyas’in, Namaste, Love Thy Neighbor, Ashe, and Inshallah were replaced with phrases such as Nice Guys Finish Last, Survival of the Fittest, Life Isn’t Fair and Time is Money. This is the turning point! Where the spirit of darkness pulled a hood over the eyes of humanity and led us down the poisonous slope of otherhood, fear and an illusion of scarcity.

My friends, we need only look to the earthy worlds of our ancestors to find the key to thriving economic thought and true fulfillment of the human heart. Encrypted in the cultural rituals of not only North American indigenous peoples, but European and Asian indigenous peoples as well are the answers we seek to give rise to true wealth and existential meaning. Look to find the truth embedded in the roots of your family tree, however far back it may be. And once you have found it, hold it tight and hold it high for all to see until the weight of truth bends and breaks the walls we have built with our own two hands between us and our Mother. Bring these ceremonies, these ancestral principles, these truths, these bottomless philosophies of interconnectedness, compassion and joy into the hallways of your school, into the cubicles of your office building, into the language of our novels and legislation, into our theaters and headphones. Bring them like a blazing torch into the blackened nights of hopelessness and despair. Bring these offerings like a contagious flame that ignites the lives and eyes of others who in turn bring it to others.

It only took three generations of absolute terror to transform our communities from harmonious collectives to warring and disparaged nations. It will only take three generations of absolute love and a kindness to transform them back again.

And what better place to bring this attitude than into the private sector, where so much creativity and potential remains untapped? What would happen if the game changed from who can make the most profit to who can make the most positive change? And how much more alive and fulfilled would we feel each day as we clock out and make our way home amid the roseate hue of dusk? And what would happen?!?! If all the momentum and energy now placed towards the accumulation of digital and material capital (which we will all ultimately leave behind as our soul journeys home) was redirected towards the rehabilitation and regeneration of our war torn emotional and physical worlds?

It is already happening. For every Lifestraw sold, an African scholar receives free drinking water for a year. For every tray of Project 7 gum sold, ten fruit trees are planted. For every Benevolent Bone sold in a convenience store, an Iraq War veteran is linked with a new pet dog to assist with his PTSD and TBI. And, most famously in the American consciousness, for every pair of Tom’s shoes bought, another human being in need receives a pair of Tom’s shoes.

This is what I call “Honey Bee Business.” The Honey Bee takes pollen and gives life all in the same moment. For as it receives what it needs for survival, it also gives the fields of flowers the cross-pollination they need for their survival. In turn, honey bees give rise to many of the foods to which we owe our existence.

Similarly, within the next decade, I forecast, consumers are not only going to want their product to provide their survival, they will also want and expect their purchase to generate positive change in an area of need somewhere in the world. We are entering a new age of economics whereby the very system that has ravaged and exploited the willing abundance of Nature will be the same infrastructure that works to heal and feed the whole of humanity, both physically and spiritually.

If we can learn to harness this dragon with a deep commitment to generosity and altruism, we can create as much healing as it has historically created destruction. For a ship propelled by fear and selfishness will guide that vessel to the land of pain and dissatisfaction, but that very same ship, propelled by the winds of loving kindness will bring its passengers to the golden shores of true and fulfilling humanhood and the community that the Creator intended for us all.

Are there pitfalls and things to watch out for with this plan? Certainly there are… For we have all seen the deleterious effects of green-washing and half-hearted corporate responsibility… It comes in the form of cheapened marketing ploys such as “Up to 30% Plant Bottle!” or “100% recyclable!”

What I am saying is that we must engage in a new kind of business. A kind of business that sincerely and painstakingly measures and works to increase the PLANETARY return on investment, instead of the individualistic return on investment. Imagine a group of businessmen and women meticulously calculating and devising ways to increase the number of veterans that get a pet dog, per unit of Benevolent Bones sold. Imagine a group of economists working to develop a business strategy whereby the inception, production, distribution and sale of a product nourishes everything it touches (100% Regenerative Business Strategy). What kind of creatures would we become? Perhaps we would begin to resemble more and more the visage of our ancestors who largely spent their time attempting to catch a glimpse into the endless Heart of God by practicing and enjoying a life of kindness, generosity and celebration.

 

About Lyla June Johnston, Writing for Peace Young Adviser

Lyla June Johnston, Writing fr Peace Young AdviserLyla Johnston is a 24 year-old poet, musician, anthropologist and human being, from Taos, New Mexico. Her passion for peace unfolds both outside of herself through community organizing and within herself through continual prayers to forgive and love a wounded world.

After studying Human Ecology at Stanford University, Lyla founded Regeneration Festival, an annual celebration and honoring of children and young adults worldwide. She plans on attending Harvard Business School to obtain the platform she needs to disarm the private sector and repurpose the capitalist infrastructure for healing and social change. Her ancestors are Diné and Cheyenne and it is from this ancestral worldview that she derives her visions for helping to create a culture of peace and generosity.

Small Writing for Peace logoWriting for Peace News

 Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers Recommends:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace AdviserPopular Resistance Newsletter – Congress Flees But We’re Still Fighting

Stay abreast of Climate Change and human rights activism, and learn where we can make a difference.

DoveTales Call for Submissions

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace is now accepting submissions for our 2015 “Nature” edition of DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts. Read our guidelines and submit here.

Young Writers Contest Now Open!

2015 Young Writers Contest Judges

Check out our 2015 Young Writers Cntest! To date, Writing for Peace has received entries from young writers with a passion for peace from 24 countries. Go to www.writingforpeace.org to meet our previous winners and learn about our wonderful panel of judges: Antonya Nelson, fiction; Stephen Kuusisto, poetry; and Steve Almond, nonfiction. Read the full guidelines here.

Support Writing for Peace By Purchasing Our Latest Edition Of DoveTale

2014 DoveTales, "Contrast" EditionThe 2014 DoveTales, “Contrast” Edition is now available for purchase. The issue is themed “contrast” and includes the beautiful black and white photography of Writing for Peace Artist-in-Residence Paula Dawn Lietz, as well as the 2013 Young Writers Contest winners, and the following contributors:

Jordi Alonso, Cassandra Arnold, Maggie Bàra, Henry Braun, Lorraine Caputo, William Cass, Lorraine Currelley, Colin Dodds, John Garmon, Diane Giardi, Mark Goad, Veronica Golos, Sam Hamill, Dawnell Harrison, D. Iasevoli, Ed.D, Allan M. Jalon, Shelley Kahn, Richard Krawiec, Paula Dawn Lietz, Cory Lockhart, Shannon K. Lockhart, Veronica Marshall, Sandra McGarry, Iwona Partyka, Sy Roth, Andrew Sacks, Carol Smallwood, Julia Stein, Samantha Peters Terrell, Bänoo Zan

Copyright © 2014 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.