Standing Rock: After Demoralization, Love

Rev. Karen Brammer, Standing Rock, part 3

I have not gotten to the training to be part of the group of volunteers providing emotional support to those who have been demoralized or traumatized. I intended to get to the scheduled training a couple days ago but woke up feeling my own despair which was leading me to a sense of panic. So I stayed put, called a sister to cry (thank you), took a bit of time off to relax and pray. Then requests for transport and purchasing and all that started coming and I was on my way. I hope to get to that training soon to provide a shoulder for others.

Because there are many things to demoralize. In addition to the obvious violence, some of which has made headlines, there are the smaller acts of violence.
  • More than a few people being refused service at restaurants and stores when they are visibly identified as Standing Rock supporters. 
  • A jailed Water Protector feeling sick because every other inmate in the jail was a native person who did not have a team of support people waiting to bail them out, legally advise and transport them to safety. 
  • unintentional, "small" incidents of racist interactions that happen all the time at camp. Those of us raised with white orientation cannot anticipate all the ways we do not know what we don't know! And it is painful to cross the line and be told we are off. And so good to deal with it as white people together.
  • When we cook food taken from many 8 foot tall isles of donated food, it is impossible not to remember that just up the hill there is a small community, peopled by native families, most of whom are living in poverty. 
  • And the infiltration of camp by undercover detectives and agents who are able to "pass". This instills a sense of anxiety about who has authority, who is trustworthy, who is agitating non-violent responses in a tumultuous moment. 
So, after demoralization is love. Even during demoralization is love. One young man said to me that he is finally for the first time in his life letting himself let go of control, along with the expectations that he has to fix everything, or can. He can only do that because his cohorts and fellow Water Protectors are calling him out when he tries to control, and they still love him through it.

Everything that people need to live at camp is given freely, without cost. There is an abiding sense of belonging, caring, kindness. Love. The expectations are that we will all be as generous as possible and that we will take no more than is needed. Sometimes locks are needed, but rarely. Everyone at camp is expected to get training in how things work, in basic racism awareness, and beyond training, to work. Chopping wood, digging trenches, cooking, doing art for the camp, cleaning outhouses, hauling, providing security, teaching the children, caring for the sick, building and winterizing structures, standing in resistance, on and on. And all day, every day there is a central fire at which, I think most of the time, a chief presides who is chatting, telling jokes, chanting, making announcements, delivering decisions. Including.

Last night's concert with Native Chiefs, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, John Trudell's Bad Dog, Joel Rafael and Jason Mraz was as powerful a healing service as I have ever attended. The music included invocation of all that is sacred. The musicians evoked our highest intentions of protecting the people and land. They boldly helped us express anger, grief, triumph and peace. Love was all pervasive and healing.

Oh, there are so many many ways to love.

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