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#46 | THE APOLOGY

“If an apology is followed by an excuse or a reason, it means one is going to commit the same mistake again they just apologized for.”

—Amit Kalantri

The morning light summons silence and awe as I enter Wind Cave National Park. As I drive, I marvel at the natural beauty that surrounds me. In time my mind wanders back to something I heard from the executive director of the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation yesterday, back on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He said that to his knowledge, the US government has never officially apologized for breaking the Treaty of 1868, or for the cultural and economic oppression that followed.

Suddenly an idea comes to me and I pull the car over hastily into a small gravel turnout. Historically, Lakota society was communal; no one spoke for everyone. All voices were important. Government was informal then, and the power went to the people. It is from this spirit that my ideas flow.

“Why can’t I write an apology?” I ask myself.

I turn off the car, grab my journal, take out my pen, and eagerly begin to write. From there the words just flow . . .

THE APOLOGY

To the Lakota people and all the First Nation tribes of the northern plains:

My name is Kevin Hancock, and I would like to apologize.

I have learned the history of your people and I am aware of the devastating impact America’s Western expansion had upon you.

I apologize that we put our needs above yours.

I apologize that we broke our treaties.

I apologize that we took your land under the guise of our own industriousness, and as if we had God’s blessing.

I apologize that we saw your race and culture as inferior and treated you as such.

I have also learned about the neglect and federal mismanagement of your reservations in the twentieth century, and for this, too, I would like to apologize.

I apologize that we restricted your constitutional rights to free speech and religion.

I apologize that we restricted your rights to gather and to bear arms.

I apologize that we sold off your property without your consent or just compensation.

I apologize that we sent your children off to unforgiving boarding schools to be remade.

I have seen modern-day life at Pine Ridge, and I would like to apologize for the conditions a century of oppression and mistreatment helped create.

I wish we could go back and rewrite history. I wish we could start over and do it differently. I wish we could have seen that there was room for everyone. I wish we had not overreached.

I hope you will accept this apology and that we can now join together in the Lakota tradition that says all people are one people. An apology from one person may seem small. It changes nothing in many ways. At the same time, this is how I feel, and I do not believe I am alone. I believe there are hundreds of millions of people across America who are also sorry.

I hope this apology contributes to the process of healing, forgiving yet remembering, and moving on.

Having met your people, I believe in your future.

Sincerely,

Kevin Hancock

(This passage is an excerpt from Kevin’s first book, NOT FOR SALE: FINDING CENTER IN THE LAND OF CRAZY HORSE.)

* * *

I quietly put my pen away in the silver binder rings of my journal and get out of the car. The crisp Black Hills air engulfs me as I walk reflectively in a slow circle.

People who have been marginalized need understanding and respect in order to heal. Perhaps an apology from the people can be even more powerful than an institutional apology from a bureaucratic government.

I stop circling and take a deep breath. The air flows in through my nose and descends into my body. The power of that air spreads through me. I close my eyes and extend my arms in prayer to the Great Spirit.

“I apologize,” I say out loud. “I apologize.”

* * *

Apologies aren’t meant to change the past. They are meant to change the future.

Please join me by clicking this link and adding your name to this apology. Please feel free to share the link, inviting others you know (and some you don’t) to do the same.

http://www.seventhpower.org/the-apology/

“The United States agrees that commencing on the east bank of the Missouri river where the 46th parallel crosses, thence down said east bank to a point where the northern line of the State of Nebraska strikes the river, thence west along said river to the 104th degree longitude, thence north to a point where the 46th parallel intercepts the same, then due east along said parallel to the place of the beginning shall be set apart for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Indians herein named.”

—The Second Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868

Pine Ridge today, while magical and inspiring in many ways, is statistically the poorest place in America. This is not a coincidence. It’s the direct result of those with the most power overreaching and never fully acknowledging or apologizing for that misconduct. Apologies aren’t meant to change the past. They are meant to change the future.

 

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Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

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This is the forty-sixth post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!

 




#8 | THE GOOSE AND THE APPLE

2021 IDEA-SHARING ADVENTURE SERIES BY KEVIN HANCOCK

“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.”

—Wayne Dyer

The Charles River Esplanade is a meandering urban green space separating Boston’s Back Bay neighborhoods from the Charles River. Filled with hardwood trees, playing fields, and exercise paths, the Esplanade traverses more than three miles, from the Museum of Science to Boston University. On any given day this scenic byway is filled with walkers, joggers, bikers, bench sitters, and geese—lots of geese.

I was walking on the Esplanade one January morning when I witnessed a short sequence starring the geese that caused me to pause and reflect.

I was crossing an arched stone bridge. Beneath me ran a shallow stream partially covered by patches of thin ice. In a pool of open water twelve geese were casually drifting about when one of them spotted a half-eaten apple on an ice sheet nearby. As that goose moved with intention toward the apple the others began to take notice. Soon a race was on. Wings and feathers were set in motion as a cacophony of honking spontaneously erupted.

The original goose was first to the apple, but he knew time was of the essence. He slid across the ice, neck extended, trying to gather the entire prize in his mouth. But the apple would not cooperate. It slid and bounced its way back into the water where multiple geese fought for control. Moments earlier this flock had been peacefully gathered together for safety in a display of tribal unity. The presence of a single apple had been enough to make them turn on each other.

I reflected upon the implications of what I had witnessed for humanity. The instinctive wiring of life on Earth is grounded in a scarcity mind-set—the fear that there are not enough apples for everyone. Long before white men ventured onto the American plains, Indians fought, killed, and tortured other Indians for control of critical natural resources and hunting grounds. To be sure, like the geese, Indian tribes also came together and cooperated with each other as well. That’s really the point: Humanity, like all life on Earth, has always maintained a delicate balance between competition and cooperation.

How do our primal instincts advance or hinder social harmony and human collaboration in the twenty-first century? Might those instincts at times prevent us from seeing clearly, even keeping us fixated on the wrong problems?

The World Health Organization estimates there is 1.5 times enough food presently available to feed everyone on the planet. This would suggest that distribution, not scarcity, is the problem. Digging deeper in search of root causes, humanity has radically uneven economic productivity. The average household income in the United States is approximately $66,000, compared to $13,000 in Venezuela, $7,500 in Cuba, $3,400 in Ukraine, and $530 in the Congo. That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not optimal.

Why is this so? And what’s the solution?

One remediating strategy would be to take most of the money from places like the United States and send it to places like Cuba. That’s the scarcity mind-set model, and it wouldn’t work. Within a generation the income would be unevenly distributed again back in places like America. There is no net global benefit to lowering income in America. By the same reasoning, there is no net benefit to lowering income levels in Colorado ($77,000) in order to grow them in Mississippi ($46,000). (As an interesting aside, the highest average income levels in America are in the District of Columbia, $92,000.)

An abundance mind-set would recognize that there are massive opportunities for productivity growth around the world. Getting there would require leaping two hurdles. First, we would need to initially over-invest in communities that have historically been exploited. Second, we would need to expand the conditions of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law to all the peoples of the world. Freedom for all is the solution, and that includes economic freedom. Corruption prevails wherever democracy and free markets are restricted. In America, for example, the historic problem has been the exclusion of some from the full rights of our democracy. We don’t need less freedom for some; we need full access to freedom for everyone.

My favorite current example of annual income disparity is that of Hong Kong and China. The annual household income in Hong Kong is $50,800, compared to $10,410 in China. So what is the Chinese Communist government’s strategic response to this discrepancy? It’s to make Hong Kong more like China. How do you think that’s going to work out?

Primal man, like the geese on the pond, fought over the scarcity of apples.

Modern man has the potential to grow more than enough apples for everyone.

A mind-set of abundance, not scarcity, is the path toward more apples for all. We need more freedom and democracy, fully accessible and evenly applied. Rising up does not require a corresponding volume of pulling down.

“The idea that political freedom can be preserved in the absence of economic freedom, and vice versa, is an illusion. Political freedom is the corollary of economic freedom.”

—Ludwig von Mises

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

Sources:

https://foodfirst.org/publication/we-already-grow-enough-food-for-10-billion-people-and-still-cant-end-hunger/#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20Food%20and,world’s%202050%20projected%20population%20peak.

https://www.worlddata.info/average-income.php

https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/median-annual-income/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

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This is the eighth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!