Blessings from Standing Rock
By Pir Elias Amidon
header photo ® John Duffy
Notes for a speech delivered at the Interfaith Gathering, Nevei Kodesh, 11/13/16
Reprinted with permission from the author; see more of his writing here: http://sufiway.org/teaching/notes-from-the-open-path
The rallying cry at Standing Rock — half prayer, half shout — is mni wiconi! — Water is Life! It’s a prayer of positive resistance, and goes beyond the immediate issue of that particular pipeline crossing the Missouri River in that particular place.
Mni wiconi is a prayer to protect life, and that’s the heart of the prayer that brings us together here, in response to the ominous promises of a Trump presidency.
In the coming months and years, we will need to take our stands—like at Standing Rock—against policies that will threaten the Healthy Flowing of Life—Mni Wiconi.
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I don’t think I’m exaggerating this. We must have the courage and fierceness to say no! To take a stand. There will be hundreds of ways — nationally, locally, and in our hearts. The stand at Standing Rock offers us a symbol of that necessary resistance — it is its teaching to us, and its blessing.
But the blessing Standing Rock gives us is not just about resistance. It’s also about vision. It calls us to envision together a new way of living on the earth, a way of equity, justice, compassion, and beauty.
As a poet said, “After the final no there comes a yes, and on that yes the future world depends.” Our job is to come together to resist the destruction of the land and the degradation of the people, and to come together to discover new ways to say yes, to live so that we, and the generations to come, may live in beauty.
Perhaps what is most extraordinary about the encampment at Standing Rock is that it’s the first time there has been such a gathering of so many diverse Native American tribes — at last count there are 283 flags of Indian nations flying over Standing Rock. It is a great, messy, heartfelt community of people taking a stand together.
And that’s what’s happening here, for all of us as we come together in gatherings like this, in response to what the Trump administration promises to do. I imagine there are thousands and thousands of gatherings like this happening right now in churches and temples and living rooms across the country. The tribes are coming together!
I went to a meeting yesterday where an East Asian Indian woman cried out, “I pray we don’t forget how we feel right now.” She’s right. The pain we feel at this moment is precious. It tells us we must be vigilant. It tells us we must come together. It tells us we must protect each other, and the earth. It tells us to stand for what matters to us.