Monday, March 2, 2015

Four Essentials

Belonging, mastery, independence and generosity...

Martin Brokenleg, Ed.D.


There are essentially two kinds of learning a person needs to be
successful in life. The first kind is the focus of school systems, and is “knowledge”. Knowledge is important because it develops a person’s mind.

But perhaps even more important is the second kind of learning, the experiences that develop a person’s heart and spirit. These most schools don’t know how to provide. Only families, true
communities, healers, and mentors know how to provide these kinds of experiences.

The Native American cultures believe that once you have taught a person’s heart, they can spend the rest of their lives getting the knowledge they need. But the heart is the foundation and has got to be “right”.  Here’s an example from my life, of the Lakota Traditional Way.

Where ever my parents went, we had to go along. In my life, I was never away from my mother or father until I turned 17 years old. I was about to go into grade 11, but had an opportunity to go to a military high school. I always wanted to do something like that, so
I applied and was accepted.

My parents drove me from South Dakota to Minnesota where the school was. I stayed there until the “Christmas Break” when we were sent home, in our uniforms.

My parents picked me up at the airport and I had a wonderful holiday time with my family. When the break was done, my father drove me to Rapid City and the airport. All the way the radio was forecasting a terrific blizzard with 70 mile an hour winds and 30 below temperatures. As soon as we got there, my dad set me up in a hotel, arranged for a shuttle to take me to the airport in the morning, and left to get home before the storm. He called me later that night to let me know he got there OK. I was relieved.

Over night the blizzard had come in. When I got up the next morning I looked down from my fourth floor window and couldn’t even see the ground. I went down to the lobby and the clerk said the shuttle and the plane were still a “go”. I don’t know how.

I looked out the window again and saw no traffic, but just one shadowy figure as it passed under the street light. In a minute, that form came into the hotel, totally wrapped up in a Pendelton blanket. As she unwrapped, there I saw my dad’s cousin who I know
lived over four miles away and who had no car.

She had walked all that way in that horrible blizzard to see me.

She came up to me and wrapped me in her arms. She said, “Son, I heard you were here for a couple of hours and I wanted to see you. How are you? How’s your mom and dad?” We sat and talked for a while until my shuttle pulled up out front.

When I stood to go, she stood and put her arms around me again and said, “I want you to know I’m proud of you for staying in school. Look at you in your uniform! I’m going to pray for you every day. You learn everything you can.”

Then she put on her blanket again and went back out into that blizzard again.

If somebody does that for you, you know you are significant. It can’t be conveyed in words, it must be experienced. And that’s what will shape your heart.

There are FOUR fundamental experiences which every human being needs:

1. We need to know from experience that we belong, and we need to experience it over and over again throughout our whole life.

2. We need to know that we are the masters of something. If it’s a hula dance, terrific! If it’s a language, wonderful! If it’s academic, beautiful! If it’s not those things, but it’s something else, that’s significant and it’s enough.

3. We need to know that we are responsible for ourselves. Good discipline teaches that to a child, but good discipline never uses punishment. Real discipline allows natural or even logical consequences to teach us to be responsible. That’s why we must never be “protected” from the consequences of our decisions.

4. We will know our own personal goodness if we live a life of generosity. We are not here just for ourselves.

Too many people have not experienced these four things so they have lost sight of themselves, of who they were meant to be. That must be our work. We must see them for who they were meant to be, not who they are right now. We must design and then provide
experiences of the kind that touch their hearts, and then, they will begin again to move in the direction they were meant to go.

The previous is a paraphrase of a presentation by Dr. Martin  Brokenleg, Director of Native Ministries at the Vancouver School of Theology in British Columbia Canada, and Vice President of Reclaiming Youth International, of Lennox South Dakota, USA, The presentation was given at the 6th National Conference of Family & Community Violence Prevention, April 6-9, 2005 in Hawaii.

Ret. 10-8-12

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