Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Dorothy, I'm Afraid That We are In Kansas, Again!

But it is the Kansas of the 1850's. 

The Civil War officially began with the firing on Fort Sumpter. In reality, it began with the years of bloody civil war in Kansas as agents of what Lincoln referred to as "The Slave Power" fought abolitionists over whether slavery was to be allowed in the state. 

Nearly two years ago it occurred to me that the incredible divisiveness that I saw in the nation could lead to massive violence. I set the the thought aside as being merely one of thousands of scary thoughts that  that take brief possession of my thoughts. 

Two weeks from today an election will occur and it is impossible to imagine that we will be closer as a people after that day than we are now.

But healing is what we must do and in order to heal we will need to change hearts more than minds. We will need to strengthen institutions that draw us together, not merely as Americans, but as human beings. 

Only the handful of people who have seen such programs in action will understand what I suggest, but one of the most important steps that we can take for long term healing is to create more programs that draw young people from every race and economic back ground back to the soil. 

Descartes was correct on the individual level when he declared, "I think, therefore I am", but on a collective level it is equally important that we understand as humans, "We farm, therefore we are." 

When we reach back into the finest traditions of the past and apply the African concept of sankofa (bringing forward the very best of the old ways and placing them in our present and our future) we create common ground. We create healing. We create understanding. We create empathy.

We will need to build a nation in which every youth program becomes a diverse youth program. Never separate but equal, always unified and equal. and always seeking to bring about learning experiences that draw us back to our shared human experience of being one with the soil--the soil  from which we all  came and from which we will all return. 

When I was younger I practiced and promoted natural horsemanship to benefit horses. Ashley Edwards taught  me that people benefit more from the practice of natural horsemanship than do horses. The PTSD patients that I have worked with in the round pen for years taught me that the benefits of natural horsemanship can heal the deepest pain that humans experience. 

Sankofa, understanding the best of who we were in order to become better than we are, can be a vital tool of healing. And I fear that this nation  we will need every tool possible to heal. Readers might not understand how teaching vermiculture, heritage livestock preservation, roots music, soil and water conservation, history, folk skills, and animal husbandry can be part of bringing a nation back together. I do not blame those readers. It is a difficult point for people, especially those who are generations from the soil, to understand. 

Over the next few years it will be our job to demonstrate how it does so and to network with other programs to achieve sankofa.  

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