After hearing so much on the news about people flipping houses again and watching one neighbor buy an RV, two vans, a motorcycle, an old race car and a trailer to put it in, I just had to ask him why. His response was, “Because I can.”
I asked him how his granddaughter was doing in college. He told me she had to quit BECAUSE she could not continue paying for it!
All this reminded me of a story in Circles. I left out much of the story that had nothing to do with simply tell the story so it would be less to read. I feel it is an important lesson for us all.
“I have a story to tell now. I remember it best as the cold season with little food. I was but a girl then, maybe nine or ten winters old. There was such promise of a good hunt that year.
“All the adults agreed to meet in the tall grasslands after hunters spotted countless humpbacks, with their now grown calves enjoying the rich offering of grass. As with every gathering, many came to see friends and relatives, and to trade. The hunt, a bonus, would feed many for the entire season. People came pulling empty drags, made of wood and grasses woven into ropes, to carry the anticipated bounty back home.
“Children scattered everywhere, and all the adults, even ones of other bands, made sure they were looked after and fed. Elders who had a hard time walking came on their own special traveling mats, covered on the bottom with thick leather, which people happily took turns pulling. Entire camps just pulled up and moved, knowing no one would disturb their chosen snow camps.
“A new band never before seen came with all their finery. Beautiful necklaces adorned every person, even the children. Some wore so many that no one could see them all, unless they walked up close. They wore fine tanned clothing of many colors of brown. Their quillwork, even from a distance, competed with Nature’s own colors. Heavy packs on the men’s backs meant they had much to trade—or so we thought.
“We did not know these new people, but we welcomed them and gave them food. Their hair, adorned with many shells, hung loose over their backs. They wore footwear so decorated it seemed a shame to walk in them for as long as they did. Not a single person looked like they were in traveling clothes, but dressed as if for a special occasion. Our bands always traveled simple, saving their good clothes until the gathering.
“Our elders noticed one thing that bothered them greatly. There was not a single elder among those people. An elder woman from our band walked up to a woman with a child, and asked why the grandmother was not caring for her child. The woman’s reply was not a kind one.
“‘Why would she be doing that? She is too old to travel this far. It is a six-day walk. She is in our camp, where all the elders belong who cannot walk this far.’”
“Our elder replied, ‘Ahh, then some of your band stayed behind to care for them. Too bad, all would have had a good time.’
“The young woman said, ‘We left no one behind who could not care for themselves. They would have made the walk take longer. One of our runners came into camp and told of this great gathering he saw from afar, so we came to see. The elders can hunt—at least some of them can—until we come back.’
“Her words were sharp to our elder, who stood and watched as the younger woman dragged her child by the hand. The little girl had to run to keep up.
“The elder woman did not know what to do. Never had anyone spoken such harsh words to her. She started to walk after the woman, but her daughter gently guided her back and told her to let it go, that they were not of their band. The daughter comforted her mother and told her that maybe they were just tired. They would be friendlier after a night’s rest.
“The next day was devoted to the hunt, and many men and women gathered their weapons and formed into groups. Each one had a special thing to do, and everyone waited for the men of the new band to join. None came. Not one person looked their way. Even after several of our own motioned them to join, they did not come. Instead, the new band, quickly gaining the name People With No Respect, sat in the shade eating food they did not bring. Our hunters left without them.
“After a successful hunt, all our bands joined in making meat, tanning hides, and carrying many loads to the place of the gathering. The People With No Respect offered no help.
“Their selfish manner, by the fifth sunrise, caused us concern. Many tried to trade for their beautiful necklaces, and offered their own, as well as much meat. The People With No Respect took everything offered to them, but gave nothing back. Some of them even spoke about wanting more meat to take back with them, saying we should give it to them just because they came so far.
“Many of our gathered bands did not want them around our children. After they took their playthings to share, the People With No Respect’s children took and kept them. Their parents started to brag about all the land they said belonged to them, and everyone knows no one can own the land any more than they can own the air Wind brings.
“They showed off by changing their clothes every day, so everyone could see they had much in vanity, but nothing in humility. The heavy burdens they brought with them were not to trade with, but to prove how special they thought they were.”
Feather Floating In Water stood up to be seen. “Grandmother, why would such a People be so mean? How could they even survive if they did not care for their elders and children? How could they have so much, but have so little? They were rich in things, but they were poor as a People. Without sharing and being respectful and… and being so lazy! Where did they get so much when they gave nothing? Grandmother, I do not understand how this could be so.”
White Paws jumped up and licked Feather’s face, whining and wagging his tail.
The boy hugged the wolf and smiled at his constant shadow. “I am so happy to have such a caring family, and a caring band. How sad those children must have been.”
He sat down and with one arm hugged White Paws, and with the other his grandfather. Hawk Soaring leaned over and hugged him back.
Everyone sat silent. Several children crawled into a parent’s lap.
She watched as everyone hugged their children. “We are gifted to have had elders who taught us, Grandson.”
She started the story again. “Our own people began to argue about how to make them leave. This was not our way, but we had to do something soon. The elders decided, and told the strangers to carry as much meat as they could, instead of our just chasing them off.
“We did not want to do this. Many felt it was more than a bribe, but rewarding them for being disrespectful. Some said to give them the meat anyway, to get them to leave us. Seeing no other way, we gave them the meat and told them the gathering was over. Without a word, they gathered all they came with, plus all the meat. They had no way to haul everything, so our elders gave up their traveling mats to them.
“After they were gone, everyone packed up in silence. The gathering ended long before it was meant to, because everyone had to go home quickly in order to hunt for enough meat to get them through the harsh cold season.”