Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Acquiescence and Complicity
The question is: when does the former become the latter? Should silence on an issue ever be interpreted as acceptance or, worse yet, approval? Well, whether it should be matters little; it is. By definition "to acquiesce" is to consent or concur quietly or passively. To acquiesce is to comply. If silence on an issue, especially issues of grave concern to a community, is not to be regarded as broad acceptance of societal ills in our territories, how do we change the message of silence or stop the passive approval?
In the video poem by the 1491's, "To The Indigenous Women", Ryan Red Corn prays for enough light to show what we truly are, regarding violence against our women; Complicit! When we make excuses for rape or blame the victim, when we coddle bad behavior in our men; young or old, or when we simply remain silent or fail to ever even acknowledge it, we don't just let those performing these criminal acts off the hook, we condone them.
Ryan's words raised the whole issue of silence for me, not just on the issue of violence against women but on drugs, alcohol, parenting, fidelity, respect. How complicit have we been in bad government, corruption, loss of our lands and the selling out of our birthright? Perhaps silence is our enemy. Perhaps, like all these other things, silence too can no longer be tolerated.
Let's not confuse speaking out and speaking up with bitching. Blogs and social networks are not the places to hold people accountable. It starts with holding ourselves accountable. Are we prepared to take an uncomfortable stand against our friends and relatives when we know they are hurting others with their actions? Are we prepared to no longer welcome the abuser, the dealer, the thief into our homes? Are we prepared to give ultimatums to to those around us who violate the rights of others and genuinely make those that lose our respect, earn it back? And earn it back from all of us.
How is it we let the man on his third family sit in a position of respect? How do we let drunks and deviants sit on councils; Handsome Lake was still a full fledged drunk when he signed the precious Treaty of Canandaigua, years before his "visions". And that "tradition" continues today. We elect, select, appoint and even condole those we know we should have spoken up about when they committed unacceptable acts.
We remain silent as the State and feds attempt to assimilate us; Thomas Indian School operated for over 100 years. The US Senate "Declared" us all US citizens in 1924 while we declared nothing, we said nothing and we still say nothing. How many will stand and say, "I reject the imposition of US citizenship"? Or do we quietly try to have it both ways?
There comes a time for all of us when silence is all we'll have. We will join generations of our ancestors in silence. Too many of them acquiesced to injustices as well. While we still have our fires and our voices, it is not just the right thing to do, it is our obligation to speak out and speak up. We don't need a code of conduct or some set of puritan standards to guide us. Our birthright grants us freedom and liberty; we only need to be vigilant to ensure that the right to good and safe lives for our children, our women, our families and our communities are not infringed upon from within or from anyone.
Speak up! Don't be complicit!