UN Secretary General, Javier Perez de Cuellar and the World Commission on Culture and Development
UN Headquarters, New York City, April 1995
Very Respected Friends and Relatives,
As always, it is my hope and prayer that you and the many loved ones who surround you are in the very best of health and happiness.
With the heartfelt understanding that each one of us is the spiritual representative of all those beloved relatives who have gone before us, I have complete faith that, together, we will be able to build a new world civilization. Drawing on the collective consciousness of countless previous generations, we have the divine capacity to resolve and heal all past grief, fear, hatred and broken trust, while building a just, sustainable and harmonious world that will fully realize the unlimited potential of the human family, both individually and collectively.
We are living in the days of the fulfillment of sacred prophecies. An Elder once told me, “Grandson, the longest road you will ever have to walk in your life is the sacred journey from your head to your heart.” Another wise Elder said, “We will never solve the many critical and life threatening issues before us solely through the intellect, for every problem the intellect solves, it creates ten more.” Unto itself the intellect is a sacred gift of the Creator, but equally, without an open, visionary and creative heart there is no wisdom. Both the mind and heart are sacred. Both are inseparably connected.
Countless centuries before the birth of our generations, the Ancient Ones gave us prophecies that clearly foretold these very days that we are living. This new Divine Springtime, that is unfolding with ever-increasing clarity. It is toward actualizing this long held vision of a new world civilization, founded in spiritual principles and values that I wish to share with you the innermost feelings and thoughts of my heart and mind.
In December 1982, on the high plains of Alberta, forty wise, respected and dedicated elders, spiritual leaders and community members from different tribal societies across North America came together for four days and nights of in-depth purposeful consultation. Our common purpose was to develop a wholistic model of human and community development, inspired and guided by organizing principles, values, strategies and processes of sustainable change, healing and development rooted deep in the Natural Laws that are at the inmost heart and core of tribal cultures throughout Mother Earth.
Through this prayerful, elder-guided, consultation process emerged the spiritual guidance, understanding, wisdom, strength, vision and faith that the Indigenous peoples of North America that were committed and dedicated to do so, had the potential to develop sustainable, healthy, creative and spiritually balanced communities free of alcoholism and drug abuse ..From this humble beginning, perfectly synchronized with a full eclipse of the moon, and empowered, guided and sustained by an ever-deepening understanding of the natural laws, prophecies, spiritual values, wisdom and prayers formally shared with us over the past twelve years by the many tribal elders, spiritual leaders and communities who have so patiently and faithfully assisted our humble efforts, we have steadfastly continued our healing journey into the long awaited future.
With the unfailing guidance and assistance from those beloved elders that are walking the path before us, it has become very clear that the long spiritual wintertime of our tribal peoples is over and the long-awaited springtime is unfolding, slowly, but steadily, with every-increasing beauty and healing in every direction. It is, also, very clear that as we heal ourselves and our communities that Indigenous peoples everywhere will have a greater and greater role to play in the positive unfolding of this dynamic change throughout Mother Earth.
Before outlining the key guiding principles that have emerged from the ongoing consultative process of the past twelve years, it is important that we reflect briefly about those most critical and pressing challenges that must be addressed, if we are to survive as noble, just, compassionate, truthful and forgiving human beings and societies.
(1) Environmental destruction is increasing throughout our planet. Along with this increasing destruction, Indigenous peoples and their way of life are rapidly disappearing. Unless there is a dramatic change in our actions towards our sacred Mother Earth, humanity’s ultimate survival is more than doubtful.
During the early years of North American’s “new” ecological consciousness, my grandfather had a conversation with an old friend, while visiting the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. He asked my grandfather to explain to him what ecology was all about. “Well” my grandfather said, “you know, Tahansi, we have these educational institutions now where you can go to study books, and talk and learn about life. Some people attend these institutions for many, many years. After they have read enough books, written about what they have read and talked about what they have written about, they become doctors of life. These doctors then get jobs where they earn a lot of money, so they can talk and study more. They have machines that look at things that are very small and make them look big. There are other machines that look at things far away and make them look close. They even put different materials in containers and pour them back and forth so they can find out more about Mother Earth. Anyway, they have spent great amounts of money and studied Mother Earth for many, many years and they have recently made a new discovery. They found out that everything is interrelated. They found out that when you pollute the air which all living things breathe and pollute the water which all living things drink, you pollute all living things. What do you think about that?”
The old man smiled knowingly and shook his head. “I was wondering when they would get around to that! Just look at what we do to our Mother Earth. We cut her hair where it should not be cut up and rip up her skin where it should not be ripped up, then we drill holes inside her and suck all of her blood out and put things inside of her and blow her bones up.” He then looked deeply into the eyes of my grandfather, shook his finger and said, “And what would happen if you did that to your mother? She would die! And this is exactly what is going to happen to all of us if we do not learn to respect and understand the spirit and teachings of our Mother.”
(2) Along with the dramatic increase in, environmental destruction, natural disasters are synergistically and simultaneously increasing everywhere on Mother Earth. These natural disasters include; earth quakes, droughts, hurricanes, weather changes, incurable diseases, air, soil and water pollution, floods, tornadoes, insect infestations, and the destruction of the ozone layer and polar ice caps. The Western medical complex is just beginning to realize that their world-wide war on disease is failing on many fronts. Super drugs have created super diseases that are beginning to break through every line of defense that has been created by Western Science, with little hope that more expensive and powerful drugs will prevent these super diseases from having rapid, deadly, widespread global impact. In their desperation to find new “cures”, the Western medical complex is currently spending millions of dollars to research plants and herbs that were developed and utilized for countless centuries by Indigenous science systems, in an effort to find alternative ways to deal with these new, deadly, human-created strains of disease.
(3) The world’s population is increasing by more than 92,000,000 human beings every year. In fact, if every human being who now lives on Mother Earth were able to experience the average economic status found in middle income homes in Canada and the US, we would need two more entire planets. Until we thoroughly understand the true meaning of respect for all life, the sacred relationship between women and men, and the spiritual purpose of our physical existence, we will continue to move towards worldwide disaster.
(4) Global economic competition is increasing. The current world economic system is spinning out of control despite the best efforts of our nation states to stabilize a system that no longer serves the needs of the human family. Instead of sovereignty, in its truest meaning, financial institutions of this world are attempting to manipulate and control our economic and social destiny for selfish purposes. For instance, global economic markets are increasingly being de-stabilized by financial speculators whose primary motive appears to be the unquenchable thirst for material riches, at whatever the cost to future generations. More economic theories and external controls will not solve this deepening crisis. Only when our hearts experience the divine reality that there is only one race, the human race, and that all Mother Earth is the common spiritual heritage of all beings, will we be able to develop economic systems that are life preserving and life sustaining. As a wise Elder once told me, whenever we make economic gain on the weakness of others or unfairly exploit others for our own selfish purposes, we will pay a very high price. In essence, the hurt of one is the hurt of all, and the honor of one is the honor of all.
(5) The social and cultural disintegration of human beings and their communities is increasing with every passing day. Divorce, child sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, family violence, abuse of women, violent crimes, suicide and other distinct signs of our increasing spiritual sickness are as clear as the midday sun. Only when we are able to understand and embrace one another as members of the same human family will we have an everlasting foundation for rebuilding our communities and the world.
As one of my grandfathers said to me, “You know grandson, the Great Spirit, Wakan Tanka, has given all people wisdom. To every living thing he has given something special. Some people receive their knowledge and understanding through books. In your life grandson, you too must read and study books, but remember to take with you on your journey only those things that bring more unity within yourself and others, that bring goodness and understanding and help us to serve one another in better ways. Wakan Tanka also gave our Indigenous peoples, and all other human beings who live close to Mother Earth, knowledge and wisdom through dreams, visions, fasting, prayer, and the ability to see the lessons the Creator has put in every part of creation. Look at those trees standing over there; the alder does not tell the pine tree to move over; the pine does not tell the fir tree to move over; each tree stands there in unity, with their mouth pressed toward the same Mother Earth, refreshed by the same breeze, warmed by the same sum, with their arms upraised in prayer and thanksgiving, protecting one another. If we are to have peace in the world, we too must learn to live like those trees. Look, grandson, at the beautiful teachings the Creator has put in the little stream. Feel that water and see how gently and lovingly it touches your hands. It travels through deserts and mountains and many places, but it never turns its back on anyone or anything. Even though water gives life to all living things, it is very humble, and always seeks the very lowest spot. But water, also, has great faith, power and patience for even if a mountain stands in its path, it keeps moving and moving until finally that mountain is washed into sea and is no more. These are spiritual gifts and capacities that the Creator has given each one of us. If we are to be happy within ourselves and with one another, we must always do the best we can to develop these sacred gifts and capacities.”
(6) As the old world order becomes more unstable, governments, in an effort to try and control the social and political disintegration process are increasingly violating human rights. As these abuses increase, an ever greater number of people will react to them with greater violence; acts of violence not only against governments but between ethnic and racial groups as well. The spiritual reality is that the old world order is no longer able to meet the needs of the peoples of Mother Earth. Only by providing positive alternatives to the destructive and inharmonious patterns of living will we be able to rebuild our families and communities. Without love and forgiveness for ourselves and others we will be unable to heal the age old fear, mistrust, greed, selfishness and hatred that is destroying the innermost heart of the human family. External control and repression of the human spirit will not end the devastation of our worldwide social order. Only self discipline and penetrating vision in the service of the Creator, others and ourselves, will enable us to be victorious over all the abuse of the human spirit that surround every human being and every human community.
(7) As governments become more rigid, abusive and uncompromising in a last ditch effort to save the disintegrating institutions of the old world order, terrorism and random acts of violence will increase dramatically. This movement of disintegration will continue until the ancient teachings found at the heart of all living cultures and spiritual traditions that teach us how to live in harmony and balance with all life are once again alive. We have a critical decision before us. Will we continue to walk the path of hatred and revenge or will we choose to walk the path of healing? Each has their clear consequences. As the spiritual greatness of our tribal peoples returns with greater and greater strength, it is clear to see that we are choosing the sacred path of healing, the path foretold in our ancient prophecies.
Not only is each one of these seven challenges monumental in themselves, but it is very clear to see that we are approaching a global catastrophe as the crossroads at which they all meet is coming rapidly into view. It will take bold, courageous, unified and selfless action to avert such destruction; the choice to do so is ours, and that decision is ultimately a spiritual one.
These sixteen principles for building a sustainable world community emerged from a twelve year process of reflection, consultation and action within tribal communities across North America. They are rooted in the concerns of hundreds of aboriginal elders and leaders, as well as in the best thinking of many non-aboriginal scholars, researchers, and human and community development practitioners. These principles describe the way we must work together, and what we must protect and cherish. We offer then as a gift to all those who seek to build a sustainable world, and as a foundation for a worldwide consultation process.
We speak as one, guided by Four Worlds’ Principles for Building a Harmonious and Sustainable World the sacred teachings and spiritual traditions of the Four Directions that uplift, guide, protect, warn, inspire and challenge the entire human family to live in ways that sustain and enhance human life and the life of all who dwell on Mother Earth, and hereby dedicate our lives and energies to healing and developing ourselves, the web of relationships that make our world, and the way we live with Mother Earth.
FOUR WORLDS PRINCIPLES FOR BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE WORLD
“Starting from within, working in a circle, in a sacred manner, we heal ourselves, our relationships and our world".
‘STARTING FROM WITHIN”
Development Comes From Within
The process of healing and development unfolds from within each person, relationship, family, community or nation.
A vision of who we can becomes is like a magnet drawing us to our potential. Where there is no vision, there can be no development.
Healing and development must be rooted in the wisdom, knowledge and living processes of our cultures.
Because everything is connected to everything else, any aspect of our healing and development is related to all the others (personal, social, cultural, political, economic, etc.). When we work on any part, the whole circle is affected.
“WORKING IN A CIRCLE”
Personal growth and healing and the healing and development of our families and communities must go hand in hand.
Working at one level of development without attending to the other is not enough. Personal, wholistic, social, and economic development as well as top-down and bottom-up approaches must be balanced.
We need the love, support and caring of others to heal and develop ourselves. Unity is the starting point for development, and as development unfolds, unity deepens.
People have to be actively engaged in the process of their own healing and development. Without participation, there can be no development.
Every person must be treated with respected as a human being and a child of the Creator, regardless of gender, race, culture, religion or any other reason. Everyone should be accorded the opportunity to fully participate in the processes of healing and development, and to receive a share of the benefits.
“IN A SACRED MANNER”
Spirituality is at the heart of healing and development. Connection with the Creator brings life, unity, love and purpose to the process, and is expressed through a heart-centred approach to all that we do.
Harmonizing With Natural Law
Growth is a process of uncovering who we truly are as human beings in harmony with the natural laws of the Universe.
Walking In Balance
Codes or morality, ethics and protocol teach us how to walk the road of life in a good way. Violating moral and ethical boundaries can destroy the process of healing and development.
Working From Principle
Our plans and actions are founded on our deepest understanding of the principles that describe how the universe is ordered and how healing and development unfolds.
“WE HEAL AND DEVELOP OURSELVES,
OUR RELATIONSHIPS AND OUR WORLD”
Learning to live in ways that promote life and health is the essence of our development. Our primary strategy is therefore the promotion of this type of learning.
When we take actions to improve our lives or the lives of others, it is critical to avoid undermining the natural systems upon which all life depends and to work in ways that enhance the capacity of people to continue in the path of their own healing and development.
Move To The Positive
Solving the critical problems in our lives and communities is best approached by visualizing and moving into the positive alternative that we wish to crate, as well as building on the strength we already have, rather than giving away our energy fighting the negative.
Be The Change You Want To See
In all of our actions, we seek to be living examples of the changes we wish to see in the world. By Walking the path, we make the path visible.
With the courage and dedication to utilize the wisdom and guiding spiritual principles of our elders on the path to a peaceful and equitable future, we will find that we have the power and ability to carefully and lovingly remove any barriers that have limited the development of our full potential as human beings and communities. The greater the difficulty in our path, the even greater opportunity for our growth and ultimate victory; we can always become more than we have ever been.
We know from our ancient teachings that the sacred eagle of humanity has two perfectly balanced and harmonious wings; one representing woman, and one representing man. In our relationships as women and men, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, we must join together to eliminate all forms of disrespect, mistreatment, or lack of sharing in the responsibility of raising the world’s children. It is my deepest prayer that with every new sunrise, we can recognize more and more that the most sacred and holy of all the wonderful ceremonies and gifts that the Creator has given us is the birth of child, and that everything we can do to provide our children and communities the best possible future is a sacred gift and responsibility.
The moment is long overdue my beloved relatives, through the unfailing power and love of our good Creator, for us to free ourselves completely from the hurt of both the past and present so we may truly soar like majestic eagles to the promised greatness of our sacred destiny and future!