Carol A. Hand
This morning as I watched parents walking their small children to the elementary school close to my house, I was reminded of something I wrote a few days ago. I drew a simple picture to illustrate the trusting innocence and vulnerability of my granddaughter as she fell asleep early during her last visit.
When I think about my study of Ojibwe child welfare from the distance of time, I realize something both simple and profound – the purpose of life. To preserve the health of our earth home and all of her children. My heart glows with the realization.
It’s so simple in theory but so difficult to accomplish. There are so many habits and social structures that get in the way.
I’m reminded of simpler, perhaps mythic days in the past. I imagine a traditional Ojibwe culture that knew this purpose and tried to live it. A culture that didn’t rely on large “domesticated” animals and machines to do their work, but instead, built their communities on a sophisticated technology of people working together. Everyone was encouraged to find his or her path and contribute their skills to the tasks of environmental stewardship and community survival. They knew that the earth and her children were sacred gifts.
Whether it’s merely an imaginary view of the past or not, it suggests to me the best that could be. In my heart and mind it feels true. The question remains. How do we get there when our habits and structures have made us lose the way there?
I think of my granddaughter. She was staying with me last night. She has her own space, a little office that’s rather cluttered with a cot, small table, book cases and file cabinets. But it’s her private space when she’s here. And she plays, draws, sings, and makes up stories.
Last evening, her room grew quiet so early. When I peeked in, I saw her curled up with my shawl as her only cover. I covered her with all the extra blankets I could find – it was a frigid night. I was touched by her trust and fragility. I realized as one person, there is only so much I can do to keep her safe and comfortable. It requires a community and culture that cares. The social structures in the world today aren’t built for that purpose.
It’s worth remembering that other options are possible…
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