From The Asian Reporter, V29, #23 (December 2, 2019), pages 6 & 10.
Revising American exceptionalism
In brown and black and blue
Part 3 of 3: How we share our pretty little planet
This is a three-part try at addressing America’s sudden
uncertainty about our exceptionalism
in a world of hurt. Does a Great America, make you and me good people?
Part 1 acknowledges our enormous material productivity. Also
the scale of our ferociously competing streams of knowledge ("news"). As great
as so much productivity is, we clearly don’t make enough love.
I mean kindness. What’s made by intimacy with each other, with our precious
planet, with God — however we individually or communally experience what’s
sacred. And essential to greatness.
Part 2 took me to River Columbia’s Old People who suggested
some simple propositions on where and how we might alleviate this kind of
American poverty. Our mainstream’s emotional and spiritual woundedness. The
disability that’s surely killing us all — brown, black, and white people,
beautiful blue seas, and precious green planet, alike.
Still I had to go. Though I could not say where. Or why. I slipped outside
our circle and slunk around to where our four grandpas swayed with N’chi-Wana’s
rumble. To their most bent, to our nenek with thinnest, whitest, and wettest
braids, I said, "Nenek manis kami (Ancestor dear ours) I gotta go-go-go."
He locked his gray-blue eyes into me and softly said something soothing.
Something I somehow heard over so much fury. Maybe he spoke in Sahaptin or
Chinook jargon, certainly not in Malayu or Indo patois. No se. I cannot say.
Pero, these missing coordinates of place and time aside, he told me to go home.
To go knowing that we know how — in a code as old as bones — how to alleviate
frightened families’ sorrow. How to elevate everyone’s joy. How to build a
healthy northwest corner of our shared continent.
I went home. Not to our northern-most tip of Sulawesi’s Manado peninsula,
mind you. That takes an Airbus A350 jumbo. Pero to Portland. Patient Apsara
hummed me through N’chi-Wana’s sacred gorge.
She and me arrived ahead of sunrise. I parked my sodden Rockports just inside
our apartment door. I resettled onto my comfy couch still not knowing what to
do for familia without homes, for our kualarga fleeing kampong
(neighborhoods) without work for parents, without law or order for anyone.
Though I rested there, knowing how. How we fix this.
Now flash forward — to use a screen-savvy, web-homie slang — to the Sunday
morning that started this three-part essay. Alternatively, scan back to this
story opening, back to our August morning sun making an astounding blue out of
Saturday’s thick black night. Whichever, I’m still struggling over what
to do for settled America’s corporate and government leaders. What public
policies or programs might ease mainstream fears of neighboring communities, of
neighboring nations. Fears rising faster than enormous banks of institutional
capital can allay. What to do, is killing us. But you know, how to
live and love together is simpler. Jah tentu. Sure it is. And this we surely
know. We always have.
Every Sunday morning’s mountains, every fireside elder along any of our river
matriarchs has always told and told us how to better share this little
green planet, spinning through all that dark, cold, silent, timeless mystery.
Any Monday morning, please pick one, we can be humbler before a deeper vein
of human knowing than what’s daily compellingly streamed by institutions
managing our economics, politics, education, justice. Institutions unable to
access our achy earth’s cultural and spiritual wealth. Not for lack of trying to
appropriate the look and sound of our ancestors and elders, mind you. But
because understanding this, living and loving with us — in contrast to owning
this or us — takes capital of another kind.
Before lunch Monday, calendar quiet Sunday trips to our two matriarchs, then
to those three Cascade sultans. Ask our water and earth and fire. Next list
Native or settled or New American community elders to ask. River City’s 70 or so
ethnic minority streams’ elder aunties and knowing uncles are dying to share.
Don’t ask what to do, that’s a complex partnership we must enter formally,
respectfully. This has been asked of our elders and subsequently ignored about
100 times. Pero ask how. How do we share this precious place and time.
If by Wednesday lunch neither you, your family, or friends, can name any
Native or ethnic minority or immigrant American aunties or uncles, tel or text
or e-mail me. Pero please be committed. We are. Our capital’s invested in
To read parts 1 & 2 of "Revising
American exceptionalism," visit <www.asianreporter.com>.
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