From the Facebook page of Standing Rock Rising
This picture was taken this past week when a group of U.S. veterans bowed down while one of them expressed an apology for how our military and government has mistreated and harmed Native people. The Native elder responded by an in-kind apology for the 268 soldiers who were killed during the Battle of Big Horn by Sioux warriors. This apology and forgiveness exchange was followed by a call by both the gathered veterans and the elder for World Peace.
Reading about this event, watching video, looking at pictures - this did much more than warm my heart. It freaking set it on fire. All week, I've felt giddy with optimism and love and hope.
Almost 20 years ago now, I was studying abroad in Australia and saw a flyer for a meeting to discuss Aboriginal Reconciliation; I was intrigued enough to show up. The meeting was related to the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, and I sat and listened as this small group of passionate people talked about their plan to organize some sort-of public recognition of the tragic history of the Indigenous people who were killed and abused in various ways as the Europeans settled Australia.
Being in that meeting opened me up to consider facing the ugliest chapters of our history with something besides debilitating shame or fearful denial. It gave me hope there was another way, and I've reflected back to that often over the years.
Forgiveness feels a bit like magic to me.
When awful things happen, both parties hold a key to deep resolution in their own ability to apologize, to forgive, to be honest about what occurred. In my own life, I've found that these are some of the hardest things to meaningfully do, and yet, these are our greatest opportunities for transformation and healing, both personally and collectively.
I pray that the forgiveness ceremony this week is a catalyst for more in that vein. May we walk the road to deeply forgive ourselves, to deeply forgive each other, to deeply forgive our ancestors, and may some hard earned forgiveness be the fertile ground for a cultural transformation.