Sept. 11




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Greg Moses

Nonviolence USA Special Feature

Seven Covenants for America

Sharing a glimpse of what we affirm

Posted in commemoration of Thanksgiving Day 2002

Back to Meeting of the Minds

Commitment to democracy is not something new. In fact, America's commitment to democracy did not start in 1776, it started back in the Ice Age as part of an original covenant with the Creator to "honor the earth and its peoples." One can easily identify seven parts of that one great covenant, each with attending rights and duties, which are well known to most, if not all aboriginal people of the Americas. The citizens of today's United States have inherited these rights and duties not only from European theorists, but through a complex chain of agreements, treaties, and by intermarriage between Native Americans and Europeans, and a blending of world cultures. The commitment to democracy and the other six covenants has been strained, but unbroken for over 10,000 years. These self-evident "truths" were incorporated into the constitutional laws of the land, and have become not only the heart of the modern legal and governmental processes in the United States, but the spirit of the nation itself, that of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." These seven covenants, or commitments, with their corresponding rights and duties, are:

1. To protect and keep the land sacred and to keep mother earth free from devastation and exploitation. To use the plant world respectfully. To keep the "blood of the mother," the rivers, clean so that life will continue in good health. To honor the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, and to keep the air clean. We have inherited from all of our global aboriginal ancestors the right to clean water, air, and soil, and genetically unaltered food. With this comes the duty to be "Land Keepers," guardians of the earth to the best of our ability.

2. To honor and respect animals and their rights, (whether we choose to be vegetarian or not). This means we have an ancient duty to prevent the needless suffering of any animal if it is within our power to do so. We also have the ancient, God-given right to bio-diversity which helps insure the vitality of the planet and our own lives. We therefore have a duty to help prevent the needless extinction of wide varieties of animals, plants, etc.

3. To respect the dignity and free will of each person, to the extent that it does not infringe on the free will of others. This means we have the right to privacy, and the duty to uphold the privacy of every person. We have the ancient right to resist interference, or harmful manipulation and the duty not to harm any person or community except in immediate self-defense. We have the right to follow our own path in life, and a duty to ourselves as spirit to make the most of that opportunity to fulfill our spiritual mission.

4. To respect the diversity of human peoples, beliefs, and traditions. We have inherited the ancient right to maintain our own religion or spiritual practice, our own customs and beliefs, and to some extent, our own values. With this comes the ancient duty to make sure our practice does not inflict on the rights of others, and to jointly work together with people of all faiths and paths to insure our mutual safety from bigotry. The rights we have inherited are not changed because of the color of our skin, our language, our beliefs, and customs, and the duties are not changed either. Peoples may have differences, but none is unequal with others.

5. To uphold every human's right to negotiate as equals and to have their voices heard. The American Democratic process as passed down to us from Jefferson and Franklin is, in part, an adaptation from the Native American democratic process. Therefore, we have the ancient right to negotiate and vote in a democratic process to elect our own spokespersons to represent us as our equals in service to the greater good of our community. That community also has the inherent right to negotiate with that leader without fear. With that, we have inherited the ancient duty to make sure these principles of democratic negotiation are never forgotten, distorted or abused. In addition, the loftier principles of U.S. contract law are directly akin to Native American trade and barter customs over 10,000 years old, insuring the right to negotiate as equals with other legal entities no matter how large or powerful. We have the right to justice and the obligation to be just. Our word is still our bond.

6. To respect everyone's thoughts and decisions including our own. We have inherited the ancient right to come to a meeting of the minds concerning all decisions that affect our life. This right extends to children within reason. This can best happen in an environment that is essentially free from fear, as all fear-based negotiations are not true "meetings of the minds," but are in fact under duress. This is essential to what our founding fathers meant by stating their mission was to "insure domestic tranquility;" not first through war but first through maintaining an atmosphere of reason and open communication. The right to a meeting of the minds is perhaps the most important; essential to both democracy and fair exchange of goods, as well as domestic tranquility.

7. To strive for non-violent solutions to every problem through the Way of the Peacemakers, which involves "meeting of the minds" conflict resolution and other techniques that promote long-term understanding between diverse parties. This allows us to show respect to all human beings, even if we don't understand or agree with them. We and our children have a right to physical safety and the duty to insure the safety of others without placing ourselves in danger, and to appoint others to help us in this regard. By the same token we have the right to expect our leaders to be peacemakers, until every avenue of good statesmanship has been exhausted, and for them to appoint peacemakers to defend us on our behalf. To the extent these state-appointed guardians are also true peacemakers, we should show them respect and cooperation.

These covenants have been broken many times by individuals, but over ten thousand years, they have never been abandoned by the people of North America, no matter how dangerous the circumstances. Let us not forsake them now.

Sept. 11
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