01/09/2013 07:55 EST | Updated 03/11/2013 05:12 EDT

Theresa Spence Has Stirred our Sense of Participation


My goodness, what a brave thing for Theresa Spence to take on a distracted and disinterested world with only the perseverance to simply restrain from eating food. It's the same braveness the Idle No More movement has shown, to be taking on a disconnected world with only togetherness.

Now that the discrediting machine has apparently begun its work on Chief Spence (see the news of the Attawapiskat audit), we are reminded again to take all little matters brought to our attention and turn them over for examination of actual value. We are reminded also that as we become more aware, becoming more respectful is also helpful.

We were prepared for this discrediting when Spence-bashing began hitting the news cycle as a replacement for other forms of journalism. It is of little use countering the big opinion spin machine with facts (even though Spence was Chief of Attawapiskat for only the last year of the six years audited, and headlines are creating thoughts of misspending, while the audit only notes spending being poorly documented, etc.) because opinion is an emotional thing only. You must remain in charge of your own emotions. This is a new form of danger: While looking for truths, many of us risk the damage of becoming cynical. We all share in this problem, as blame in general is one of the commonest of human failings.

Speaking plainly, let's analyze how we got here. Governments speak their intention in a language of bills, laws, sound bites and budgets. This second Omnibus Bill is the federal government embarrassingly admitting that it is no longer in control: it is no longer capable of protecting our Canadian waterways from the big industrial interests, nor is it capable of continuing to protect Reservation lands from the same threat.

As the case often is, the things that are taken away from us remind us of what we have willingly given up. We the people have been the protectors and stewards of our rivers all along! It makes perfect sense in hindsight that a large and lumbering institution like government could never paddle an ageless river -- and if it could, it wouldn't be able to feel the presence of beauty. And without knowing that beauty, or needing rivers for sustenance, an institution like this isn't going to be able to link arms and join a blockade to protect what is important to us all from what is unnecessarily profitable to a few. We the people have been the protectors all along; the federal government is simply reminding us of our responsibility. Bill C-45 is an open invitation for you to protect your own values and our environments as you see fit.

Now this is where the bravery of Chief Spence comes in as an inspiration. Being provoked in this manner by your own government there are certain anticipated reactions you may have that they are well prepared to deal with. If they can fray your patience and tolerance into outward frustration there are systems in place waiting to deal with you. Calm engagements of legislative activism are met with eons of bureaucracy that far exceed the short attention span of media.

Chief Spence's hunger strike is the perfect unexpected act; it is asymmetrical action in the face of controllable expectations. She is laying everything on the line in attempts to reclaim the sacredness of her community and she is succeeding. Use this as inspiration for your own acts.

It is indeed frustrating to have your passions met with absent effect, so start with something small. Use whatever golden melancholy you may have been given to create the positive changes you can see. Chief Spence chose a difficult tactic but you can break loose with simple actions. Heck you are even living treason today to get by and be happy without much "stuff."

We've seen growth of spontaneous community with Idle No More. While other causes over the generations have eventually fizzled, Idle No More will succeed because it has an already connected people at its core. History and hardships have brought them together. So go and be part of the group, yes, but be clever on your own too -- using the gifts of your own personality. Dress your actions in your own dreams. Maybe you will march, but also periodically march away from the banners. The sense of participation has been stirred.

We live in the presence of this long past and what has it taught us? If something shows itself as not worthy of our trust, then maybe it's worthy of our forgiveness. Give forgiveness if you see failings, and then take up the reins.

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