My father believes in prophecies. He believes that one day western civilization will come to an end...collapse into itself. He believes that the world will be thrown into chaos. Those who live in cities and who survive will look to indigenous cultures to teach them how to live in harmony with the earth. It is said that this will mark the beginning of a new way of living; a way where our knowledge as human beings will survive, but we will have to use it responsibly, and with great care, because we will need to blend the new knowledge with the ancient just to survive what we have done to ourselves and our good earth.
He believes that a great leader will rise up from the Native peoples, and that this leader will help to usher in a new equality between races and nations.
Since talking to him about this a long time ago, I have often wondered if he feels that he might have been that leader if his life had been a little bit different. He speaks very quietly, and with a far look when he talks about these things, so I try to imagine what he sees.
I do not know why anyone would want to lead in such a circumstance...or any other circumstance for that matter. When I think of the poor woman or man who takes up that charge, I feel only a sense of weariness and deep compassion for them. I could not imagine a more tiring and thankless role. If my father's belief in an apocalypse and resurgence of strength in the Native people around the world passed by, then one thing to be grateful for is that he did not ever have to face such a desperate call for strength.
I, for one, do not believe in such prophecies.
I believe that battles can be won with sheer determination, a little at a time. It makes for great stories to talk about insurmountable odds and incredible feats, but true heroism for me lies in doing the right thing day after day.
The smallest things.
A Native father who comes home from work, tired, empty, but proud that his children are warm and fed. No drink, but instead a clear mind and a happy home. The mother who tells the stories of her tribe, and raises her children with a knowledge of the old ways, and makes such knowledge become a living thing! this is heroic to me.
More than that. The addict who smiles even as he begs for change...who despite poverty, reliance on drugs or alcohol, a childhood of abuse and a life of always being a second class citizen, still sees the beauty of life, and whose soul still sings at the sight of a golden sunset.
Every day in this city I see my father's people. Most are poor, broken in one way or another, despised, shouted at, or even worse, ignored. Some are professionals, dressed in suits and nice shoes, having chosen to live with this society, and somehow found a way in.
Because my skin is pale, I am always on the inside track. I am on the receiving end of hearty handshakes. I am privy to the racist jokes, and the sneers and the disgusted pity.
My father's people...my people...are in trouble. It is an emergency, and I haven't got the strength to do anything about it. I haven't got the voice to speak loudly enough, or quietly enough to make a meaningful change.
But I do what I can.
It is not much, but I hope and pray that all the little work I do, and all the little work that others do...that all our efforts are somehow growing together, and while there is no big leader, no strong hero, there is yet a power and momentum in our work that has combined to create the strength to make things better.
If there could be a prophecy that said something like that, then I could become a believer.