Life, liberty & the pursuit of burning-- and other pathetic causes''

America, ain't it grand! How wonderful it is to live in a country that is vast and beautiful with such diverse culture-- a land where you can pursue your dreams and be free. We have religious freedom, freedom of the press, the right to protest and protest. And protest I will!

The Native Americans, the original caretakers of this great land also believed in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In fact, it is said by some historians that much of our Constitution and The Declaration of Independence was taken from the Native American philosophy of live and let live. Everything, every part of the life of the Native American was governed by a deeper respect for the land and its inhabitants, the animals, the trees, the air, the water. No thing was taken for granted. When an animal was taken, it was blessed and all of its body would be used to support life. Always they lived in harmony, taking what they needed and leaving the rest.

They saw their lives as cyclic, or circular-- no ending and no beginning. Just like the seasons, one into the next. All of life existing here on earth as a microcosm of the macrocosm.

Medicine and healing were viewed in the same way. They believed in a four-element system of healing, earth, fire, water and air. Earth represented our legs, our groundedness or connection to the earth and all its healing qualities brought to us through herbs and minerals, plants and other foods. Fire represented the area of our lower trunk including our adrenal glands and sex organs-- fire for life, or our drive. The upper part of the trunk represented our circulatory system, or water. ''The water of our emotions.'' The head represents the air or our ability to think and create, like the old saying ''l pulled the idea out of thin air.''

When fire and air come together literally in the natural world of the Native American, you've got a forest fire, or in terms of the body, you have a very big idea. But when the water of our emotions separates air and fire, the fire goes out. In modern terms, when we let our emotions get seriously in the way of what we want, we are literally standing in our own way! Anyone over the age of 25 who has been down the road a piece has had this experience. It may be viewed in hindsight but hopefully it's stored as a valuable lesson for further reference. Also, in hindsight, we usually see that when we were overly emotional about an idea, it wasn't a sound one in the first place.

When individuals were polled about why they wanted to be able to burn leaves, the two reasons given, stated sometimes very emotionally, were ''because it's tradition and I like the smell of burning leaves.'' Personally, I hope the water of emotion surrounding the issue of open burning will continue to stand in the way of those who wish to continue to support this pathetic cause. We were not given the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of open burning! Open burning was once a privilege granted by this community. The community has wisely seen fit to do away with this privilege that violates others' right to life-- literally. There is a difference between the two!

The chapter in history written about the bounty of this country with its limitless resources, clean air and water is over! Possibly if we'd had more respect for our earth it wouldn't have come to this.

Seventy-five years from now, when Norms' great-grandson publishes news from Galesburg and the surrounding area, I hope we won't look like Neanderthals over an issue with such an obvious answer as open burning!

Till next time, Rebeccaa.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online October 26, 1999

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