Believe What You Like But Know What You Must

People are free to be consumed with contemplating their existence, their origins, the origins of the universe, supreme beings, controllers of destiny or anything else. But solving "the Great Mystery" is neither a requirement of being Ohnkwe Ohnwe nor does it provide a path to righteousness. I maintain that spirituality does not require faith or the leaps that faith requires but rather awareness. If it helps to believe that "God has a plan" and we just must have faith that "He" knows what "He" is doing, then walk that path. My interest is in taking the mystery out of life by pointing to the obvious that is ignored everyday in the midst of fanatical ideology and the sometimes not too subtle influences of promoting beliefs over knowledge. I have said it before: “beliefs are what you are told, knowledge is what you experience”. I support a culture that prepares us to receive knowledge and to live a life with purpose. I am certainly not suggesting there is only one way to do that.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Seven Generations

I responded to a request for an explanation of the "seven generations" moral guide on the Seneca Voice blog. This is a repost of that explanation.

The seventh generation is the one we will never see. We have a responsibility to those unborn faces that will show themselves after we are gone. If I claim to accept that responsibility and then expect the Nation to solve my problems, fight my battles, defend my sovereignty and, of course, cut me a check, then I am a fraud.
We say we are the Nation, yet still always refer to the Nation in third person. How often do we say what the Nation should do rather than what we should do? Our ancestors invented the concept of "a servant of the people" for those elected or selected to be our representatives. When winning an election is like winning the lottery, it begs the question; who is serving who?
We historically are referred to as a People with an oral tradition as if that is something primative. The key to an oral society is having and exercising your voice. Our ancestors recognized that our power of communication made us distinct from all of creation. Our ceremonies are intended to remind us that we are neither the lords or masters of nature nor separated from it.
A man becomes an unnatural being when he becomes solely interested in the power and position of man. When we give up our voice for a vote, when we fail to be responsible for ourselves, let alone those unborn faces, by passing the buck to some man-made institution (the Nation, courts, police, CPS, NYS), we forget who we are.
The key to the Longhouse is the fire. The fire represents the place to have your voice heard. The right to a fire is our right of assembly. Men, women, the youth, clans, medicine societies, councils, communities; we all have the right to the warmth, the light and the protection that a fire provides so that we can talk and be heard.

One commentor added that at the center of it all was love and in particular a love for a higher power. This was my response.

I beg to differ with the love comment. At the center was personal responsibility. Many will challenge another's assessment of their love for those around us. Being responsible to the elements and people around us may be a demonstration of love, but it is more. In our culture it says that we will never know the face or the place that the power of creation dwells, only the evidence of that power. This is to remind us that our first compact or covenant is with nature. There is nothing supernatural about our belief systems. I am very cautious when people attempt to inject religion into our beliefs. We don't need faith that the creator will take care of us. We need to acknowledge creation and our place in it. Creation has provided all we need to "carry ourselves" the rest is choice.

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