Solidarity

SOLIDARITY…FOR THE COMMON GOOD - January 25, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

We are like people looking for something they have in their hands all the time; we're looking in all directions except at the thing we want, which is probably why we haven't found it. (Plato, 380 BC).

My wife, Jo, is from Eufaula and my father-in-law tells a story about a family vacation in 1962 to Indian City, USA near Anadarko.  Jo was about 4 and was entranced by the colorful and festive costumes worn by the Native American guides and dancers during their visit.

A few days after they returned home, Jo, still marveling over the pageantry of the traditional Native American ceremonies, visited Mr. McIntosh, a neighbor and family friend.  She excitedly announced to him that she had seen a “real live Indian” during her vacation.

Mr. McIntosh, being the grandson of a Creek Chief, and having a good sense of humor, replied, “Honey, you’ve been living next door to a real live Indian all your life.”

Mr. McIntosh’s full-blood heritage had been overlooked.  Not because he was hiding anything, but because so often, we fail to recognize things that are right under our noses.

This past week, Jo and I with a group of state legislators were honored to be invited to Okmulgee to hear Chief George Tiger present his 2013 State of the Muscogee Creek Nation Address.  That visit also allowed us to view first-hand the remarkable strides that the Muscogee Nation has made in improving the quality of life for its people and providing opportunities for Creek families.

The Nation serves its members not only at the Okmulgee Tribal Complex but also at numerous sites across parts of the ten counties comprising the territory of the Muscogee Creek Nation in East Central Oklahoma.   Those services include health care, nutrition, educational opportunities, vocational training and a variety of social services.  These highly successful programs are designed to challenge the proud Creek people to utilize tribal opportunities to better their lot in life.

The success of Chief Tiger and Second Chief Roger Barnett in leading the Muscogee Creek Nation is through the promotion of unity and solidarity.  Chief Tiger believes that a native people who are focused as one on the singular goal of improving the lives of its people will succeed in that endeavor.

Chief Tiger’s goal of solidarity shows his wisdom and compassion for his people and his passion to return to the values found in the great oral tradition of the Muscogee people.

His leadership is progressive because he has drawn upon a proud heritage and honored historic tribal elders by identifying and promoting lessons taught through oral traditions.  Oral traditions that use characters like Muscogee trickster figure Chufee the Rabbit, Osahwah the Crow, Chola the Fox and Co-wak-co-jee the Wildcat impart social values and concepts that preserve and protect community.

Muscogee oral traditions contain implicit morals such as those involving pride, vanity, and pompous attitude and how those characteristics and traits transgress group solidarity.

Restoring those basic values to promote respect and recognizing the danger of selfish motivation is serving the Muscogee people well.

Those lessons are neglected in western culture.  We often trample on community, lacking respect for the needs of others.  We promote independence and rugged individualism to the detriment of the human condition.  We sometimes become so focused on the protection of individual rights that we show little evidence of compassion or value of others.

We wonder why all sorts of malevolent behavior surfaces in our society.  We marvel at the anger spouted by people who immerse themselves in anger.  From gun violence to bullying to a lack of self-respect, it is apparent, for the COMMON GOOD that our nation needs a healthy dose of leadership like that provided by Chief Tiger.

We must preach, practice and exemplify solidarity to an idea that human beings have worth, that we are here for each other, that it is our duty to bear each other’s burden, that community means respect for our similarities as well as our differences and that our diversity makes us strong.

Likewise, sacrifice is also a part of community.

I was honored to meet Phillip Coon, a noble warrior of the Muscogee people and the last surviving Native American participant in the Bataan Death March in World War II.  Mr. Coon, a treasure of both the Muscogee Creek Nation and the United States of America, told me when I thanked him for his sacrifice, that he was in Japanese captivity for so long that he learned the Japanese language in addition to English and his native Creek.

Plato was right.  The solutions to the problems that our society faces are neither mystical nor impossible.  The solutions are readily available and have been in our hands the whole time.  We must simply focus on community, simultaneously, in unison, setting aside selfishness, sacrificially WITH SOLIDARITY FOR THE COMMON GOOD.

Thanks for reading this installment of the COMMON GOOD and thank you for allowing me to serve as your State Representative.  I want to know what is on your mind and your thoughts on improving the quality of life in District 56.  Please email me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or call at 405-557-7401 or 405-222-3600 or toll free at 1-800-522-8502.