There is always a price to be paid. In economics, this notion is called an opportunity cost, where either action or inaction has a monetary value. Well this theory can also be applied to life and the very meaning of justice. When a society addresses an injustice, the benefit is felt by all as equality and fairness reverberates throughout the populace. The return on investment that is realized is the greatest when the investment is made on the local level and when attention is paid the most to building up communities. Forget the blabbering of Trump and the equally bankrupt Democrats in DC; the only way to make America great again is to build and sustain communities.
Native Americans, actually let me call them original citizens, knew this the most. For centuries before an alien intrusion, they lived within nature and as one with nature. Cherokees, Sioux, Apache, Lakota, Akrika, Dahkota and endless tribes that dotted this great land took from the land as they needed and gave back to the land by being caretakers of their habitat. Trade was vibrant but trade was sustainable; they bartered based on commodities and in this paradigm the health of the community was more important than the wealth of any one individual. I don’t mean to infer that this land was heaven before colonization; as elsewhere, war broke out between tribes but conflicts were lessened because the people placed primary import on honoring the land and the people that lived on it.
Homeostasis was broken and in time what sustained native tribes was abrogated by a system that places profits above people. Money interrupted harmony as accruing capital became more important than sustaining communities. The reason that so many injustices were committed against native tribes is because the principles behind federalism saw the communal lifestyle of native Americans as a viable alternative and a threat that had to be eliminated to perpetuate a system that stresses pointless consumerism. This is why the horrors of the Trails of Tears took place; a system that depends on abject greed and individual pursuits required those who lived and died through the notion of inclusion and togetherness to be ghettoized behind reservations and away from the conscience of the public.
The Trail of Tears never ended; generation after generation of native Americans have been effectively treated as political prisoners in their own land. Sure they have a choice to leave their people and integrate into the consumption laden society that we all live in. But if they choose to honor their heritage and stay with their time honored tradition of communal living, well then they have to stay on reservations where opportunities are minimal and hope is minuscule. The level of poverty and suffering that is found in some reservations is mind boggling considering that we live in the wealthiest country in the world. As the offspring of immigrants implement immoral policies of building walls to keep immigrants out, the system concurrently keep the original citizens of this nation behind the ghettos (walls) of destitution and tribulations.
But a thousand cuts are not enough, our corporate beholden government keeps stabbing at Native Americans intent on taking whole body parts after spending ages taking pounds and pounds of flesh. What is going on at Standing Rock in North Dakota is no different than the immoralities committed against the Jews in the run up to the brown shirts in Nazi Germany. Injustice is injustice, a tear shed by 6 million is no different than tears shed by thousands. I don’t write this to minimize the horrors Jews went through in concentration camps; if anything I hope I am amplifying the very message the Jewish community echoes about the plights they once endured. We don’t wait until bodies start dropping to stand against thugs in boots who take lands in the name of xenophobia and profits.
Injustice is injustice. In this globalized system of profit fascism, the pains felt by tribes on reservations are the same as the pains felt by people in Haifa, Hebron, Harlem, Hanoi and beyond. Injustice is interconnected, at the core of universal suffering is a system of corporate greed and gluttony that views all of us as disposable assets. If we were not so blinded by the outrage of the day and chasing material conquests, we would realize that we too suffer as financial uncertainty is inducing depression and anxiety throughout our society. Why do you think the level of overdoses, depression meds, and alcoholism is through the roof? It’s the same reason why alcohol robs the lives of countless tribes from Arizona to Maine and all points in between. America, and really the whole globe, has become one big reservation for all of us as the wealthy roam from coast to coast walking on our collective backs.
Be careful of injustices we ignore; eventually iniquity metastasizes from gnashing at the sides of a few to mauling the masses. Sad thing is, we are already being mauled and gnawed at—this is why so many of us are up in arms and protesting. Except we let our emotions be misdirected by cunning con artists on all sides of the political spectrum who have mastered the art of duplicity and grievance peddling in order to distract us from the wider picture. People think they are fighting for justice as they mock others who struggle too putting loyalty to party and partisan ideology above fealty to our common humanity. Politics is the mortal enemy of the people but the powerful figured out a long time ago that the best way to pillage the masses is to pit them against each other by way of factionalism and labels. So we march and protest, one half blaming liberals and communists; the other side blaming conservatives and fascists. Otherwise logical adults morph into juveniles using hateful language to scorch each other as inequality roasts all without regard to labels.
Meanwhile injustices continue. At this present moment, oil companies—who are already polluting this earth and elevating the temperature on humanity—are doing their best to yet once again lead Native Americans on another trail of tears. As double-speaking politicians in DC take to Twitter to feign outrage about the Dakota Access Pipeline, none of them are willing to put money where their slithering lips yap and do something concrete to stop this atrocious land grab. It is up to us, all the byproducts of immigrants, to stand up and stand with the Dahkota tribe. Put aside political differences and the inane constructs of labels and stand up for our fellow humans. Or else the injustice that is being done by our plutocrat backed government will blow back to mug all of us.
Present Germans look back to their grandparents’ generation and wonder how the immorality of goose stepping goons grew to consume an entire nation into the inferno of mind-numbing malevolence. The answer is simple, injustice overlooked and stoked resentment can in time engulf a society. Before you shake your head in agreement, just pause and reflect and ask yourself if you too are not contributing to the fire of animus and antagonism that is being stacked at our collective feet. If that fire ever starts, all without regard to the endless ways we keep letting others slice and dice us, will suffer the flames of enmity. Before that fire starts, put aside our differences and stand up for Standing Rock and speak against injustice anywhere before it grows to become injustice everywhere.
There was a time not too long ago when I used to dismiss the plight of “white people” and where I used to poke fun of farmers in Boise or ranchers in Las Vegas simply because their politics and their skin color was different than mine. It took the strife of life and mini-trails of tears of my own for me to realize that injustice robs all without regard to race, religion, sex, orientation, or ideology. The revelation thus came to me, those on the “right” and the “left”—from Black Lives Matter to the Tea Party and all in between—are yelling right past each other even though their anger is rooted at the very source of injustice that is robbing all of us blind. If we want to solve inequity and bend the arc of history towards justice, I propose we become more like the original citizens of this land and realize that our lives and fates are intertwined. Fight for universal justice or we end up contributing towards injustice. Let us start by standing up for the honorable Dahkotans at Standing Rock and then commit to standing up for each other without regard to the differences that divide us. #InSolidarityDahkota
“I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself.” ~ Lone Man (Isna-la-wica), Teton Sioux
Below is the edited and finished version of the earlier broadcast of Ghion Cast that dealt with the topic of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Please stand up and stand with the people of Dahkota, speaking for them is speaking for all of us:: #InSolidarityDahkota
Check out the Ustream video below owhich was filmed at scene at the 25th annual Spring Contest Powwow in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.