Pray with Standing Rock: a Global Call to Action
By Jacob Devaney, published on Uplift Connection, on November 21, 2016
Standing Together in Prayer
Many people would agree that prayer alone will not solve all of our problems, but to the water protectors at Standing Rock, direct action is considered sacred. Prayer can be action. To live one’s life as if it were a prayer is a very powerful way to engage in the world around us.
Indigenous spirituality acknowledges that all of life is interconnected through nature, knowing that humans have a responsibility to steward and protect the land. Standing Rock’s resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline has become globally symbolic of the struggle to protect our environment from the heartless exploitation of extraction industries that threaten water, land, air, and life itself. For the first time in history, we are seeing a unified global movement to stand and act in solidarity with our indigenous relatives to protect the sacred. This is your opportunity to participate in something truly inspired and hopeful, to pray with Standing Rock!
Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind. Did you think the Creator would create unnecessary people in a time of such terrible danger? Know that you yourself are essential to this World.” -Chief Arvol Looking Horse
We are all aware of the historical mistreatment of natives by colonial invaders. Though we cannot change history, we have the ability to heal the past by making things right in the present and building a better future. This requires a great deal of humility, cultural sensitivity, and a desire to learn. See our article 12 Ways to be an Effective Ally at Standing Rock to understand the bigger issues at play here in this historical gathering of water protectors. The article is also highly recommended for anyone who is new to the concept of decolonization. We need to heal our relationship with the land, and our relationship with each other, across cultures. Prayer is the intention we set, our lives are an offering to manifest that prayer.
A Globally Synchronized Prayer
UPLIFT and Unify have hosted many globally synchronized meditations over the years. With a giant global network of organizers, and a large social media following, this community continues to grow. Recently many people around the world started messaging us and asking that we do a meditation for Standing Rock. As non-natives, we wanted to be culturally sensitive to the needs of our indigenous friends, so we waited to be invited, we asked for guidance — and most importantly — for permission.
I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place. – H.H. Dalai Lama
Meditation is not traditional for Native Americans, but prayer is. Since prayer can also be an action, we began conversations on developing a campaign that can support the needs of water protectors at Standing Rock. This includes fundraising, educational outreach, a social media campaign, alliance-building, and of course, a globally synchronized prayer. Actually, two globally synchronised prayers, with two weeks of campaigning in between.
The first date is Saturday, November 26 at 3pm Central Standard Time (9pm GMT). This is a time when we synchronize our energies, thoughts, prayers, and intentions around the world. This is the foundation of our actions to follow. Through our Facebook Event Page, and the Unify Facebook Page, we will be posting content from our many media partners. As an online activist, you can share these posts with your networks and be the media. You will be able to connect with local actions, or host your own, on our interactive map at www.praywithstandingrock.com, where you will also find a donate button to help Camp Sacred Stone as they prepare for a long winter.
Reciprocity is central to community and to living a beautiful life. Giving thanks, living with honor for the web of connections that surround us, sharing, and the offering of gifts, are aspects of indigenous wisdom that the whole world can learn from. Wopida is a Lakota word that describes this exchange of energy between humans, but also between humans and other living things, including the land and the water. For example, when you drink water, you offer thanks for the life it gives you. This is living life in a prayerful way, and it is this spirit that has called us together to protect the source of life. This goes for Standing Rock, and other places all over the world, where people are standing together to resist the desecration of what is truly sacred.
It is easy to be grateful when things are going your way. It is a true sign of nobility to be grateful in hard times, when things are not going your way. A spirit of thanksgiving is the consciousness that we always need to be in regardless of what happens at Standing Rock. – Chief Phil Lane Jr.
United Nations Human Rights Day, December 10
The second globally synchronized prayer will be on December 10. The connection between sacred sites, water, cultural preservation, and the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, treaties, and national and international law, must be honored and respected as basic human rights. These concepts mean nothing without action, awareness, and a desire to manifest these ideals in our societies and world. We cannot sit and wait for anyone else to give this to us, we must claim it together and exemplify it through the life that we live.
Start with Compassion
This embodiment of human rights is achieved through self-awareness, mutual respect, and compassion. That is why we are happy to be collaborating with Chief Phil Lane Jr. and the Compassion Games. Each day from November 26 to December 10, we will be sharing educational content about the importance of compassion. Globally recognized voices like Stevie Wonder, Jane Goodall, the Green Sheikh, and others, are contributing to amplify this important message that will culminate with global actions on December 10. According to a vision by Chief Phil Lane, the Wopida global prayer for Standing Rock across the planet will be, “Everywhere all at Once”.
Compassion Games offer fun and creative ways to ignite and catalyze compassionate action in communities around the world. In the five annual Compassion Games, competition becomes coopetition as teams and individuals challenge one another to strive together to make our planet a better place to live through community service, acts of kindness, and raising monies for local causes. – Compassion Games Website
An Interfaith Movement
A big part of the historical wounds that Native Americans endured came from the Papal Bulls, which were edicts from the church to convert or conquer natives during early conquest and colonization. Most notably within this is the Doctrine of Discovery, which gave Christian explorers the right to claim lands they “discovered” and lay claim to those lands for Christian Monarchs in Europe. This set the stage for the expatriation of the land and enslavement of its people, and sadly is still practiced today as we are witnessing in Standing Rock. On November 3, over 500 clergy descended upon Standing Rock to offer apologies, to stand in solidarity, to pray, and commit to working together for justice. This is historic and unprecedented. Sometimes great things happen in the face of tragedy.
The Christian church has an obligation to support tribal nations when they are asserting treaty rights and to call upon governments to fulfill treaty obligations. We can’t let any daylight be between us and people who are victims of racism. Racism has to be challenged in all of its forms. – priest John Floberg, Clergy Repudiate Doctrine of Discovery
A Youth Led Movement
At the Marrakech Climate Summit in Morocco this past month, a sacred torch was lit and handed to the youth. The torch is being passed to symbolize giving and receiving, to acknowledge that we are all interconnected. The torch will be in Standing Rock and also at the Human Rights Day Celebration.
We are seeing youth take to social media and organize actions across the planet and globe. As it should be, because they are fighting for their future. With the support of elders, a broad coalition of interfaith groups, and democratized media, these youth have lit a fire of inspiration and hope around which we all gather for strength.
Earth Guardians, a youth initiated and led nonprofit, are collaborating on Pray with Standing Rock as well. People everywhere are using hashtags like #standwithstandingrock #nodapl, #praywithsatndingrock, #tangiblehope, and #onetribe to share art, ideas, pictures of actions, and fundraisers for various related campaigns. This is our moment to be the media and have our voices heard across the globe.
A Personal Invitation
You are invited to step up and get involved in many ways. Global evolution is not a spectator sport, and we cannot afford to wait for governments to address these important issues.
These questions should help start you on your journey: How can you give? What do you have to share? What are you grateful for? How will you protect and honor what is sacred to you? If you also want to contribute on the ground at Standing Rock, but can’t make it there yourself, the Protectors Alliance is one of the worthy causes to donate to.
You have the blessing of elders, the enthusiasm of the youth, the strength of your ancestors, and the hope of a more beautiful future. What will you do with that? We can’t wait to see! Use the hashtags above to share your stories, your work, your vision, your dreams, and take time to see what others are doing as well.
This campaign is a collaboration and you are a participant if you choose to be. Many details are still being worked out as we are allowing space for input from many individuals and organizations. This is a historic moment and we are grateful to have you with us on this epic journey of healing, collaboration, and co-creation. The torch has been lit and now it is being passed to YOU!