American Pie – A Dream for the USA
Good government should be like religion. The core purpose of all religions is to protect and improve the life of their practitioners. The leaders of government should be motivated like bodhisattvas to work for the enlightenment, or in political terms, the betterment of all citizens. Unfortunately, current politics in America, despite constant references to religion, is currently not engaged in efforts to create good government.
Thus, this year’s elections from the local to the federal, offer the opportunity for this country to move forward by electing people motivated to protect American values of equality, justice, and providing means for advancement for all citizens. True, every group of people in this country has literally had to fight to receive these protections, from the original property owning white men rebelling against England to the continuing struggles of women, people of color, and gay people.
While I continue to sign petitions and send e-mails for causes and issues I support, as a storyteller, I knew I had a story to tell and this is it. The story came to me from my collection of dolls, drawn by me above. After I had written my story I received the League of Women Voters e-mail newsletter and discovered they have a website in operation very close to the one in my story. Below are a few links to organizations that are engaged in efforts to create the perfect American Pie.
To listen to my story click here: (Some browsers may take several minutes to download)
To read my story scroll below the links for you to check out.
Make sure you are registered and VOTE!
Links to Organizations to Help you Register and To Vote Wisely
Some say life never changes. Some say life always changes. Some say time does not exist. Some say the past, present, and future are just a floating tide. Once, it is said, in a time when change arose unexpectedly like a rainbow on a sunny day, a storyteller named Windsong Walker made her Grandmama’s dream come true. This is her story.
I washed and peeled the fruit while Grandmama’s strong hands kneaded the dough. Every spring break I came home and we baked. Since I was little I loved helping Grandmama Emma make pies.
She often said “Life is like a pie. You have to take time to gather all of the right ingredients. The people you choose to be with, the actions you choose to pursue must be mixed with love and care to bake a good life.”
Now she was talking about her class of eighth graders and the stories I should tell them to help them understand why civil rights and voting were important, as important for us Hopi people as for the rest of Americans.
“I’ll approach it like you always say Grandmama, like I’m making a pie. I’ll show them that ensuring the American dream lives is like baking a good pie.”
Using that approach, I succeeded in holding the students’ attention, moderating a lively discussion, and ending while I still held their interest. Thirty pair of young trusting eyes listened to my conclusion.
“The U.S. is a work in progress like every country. What is important to remember is that ideals and visions only succeed if people continue the hard work that keeps those ideal visions alive. We must always remember that our ancient traditions teach that all life is sacred, and only through the daily practice of kindness, patience, generosity, humility, and courage can any government or people flourish.” Their applause made me smile.
The next morning I woke up and Grandmama was sitting at her desk writing rapidly. When she finished she turned to me and said.
“I had a very strange dream last night. Jesus sat at a table with the 12 disciples, except most were women. It changed to a round table with a sword in the middle and the knights around the table were mostly women. The sword changed into a pen and paper. Then I was standing at the head of a long table on top of First Mesa beating a drum, chanting, ‘Valiant ones transform events, valiant ones transform events, valiant ones transform events.’ You appeared and stood next to me and began chanting with me. Then one at a time other people appeared, stood around the table, and joined in the chant. The first woman was an Asian-American, then a couple that looked Arab-American, then a Latino couple, two white women, two black women, a Hawaiian woman, an east Indian-American woman, a blonde man without arms or legs, and a young black man. We stood around the table chanting, ‘Valiant ones transform events, valiant ones transform events, valiant ones transform events.’ Then the Corn Princess appeared, carrying a tri-colored corn cob. She walked up to each of us and touched us on top of our heads with the corn cob. We became beams of light bursting over the mesa in all directions. Then I woke up.”
My body tingled as I listened to Grandmama. I didn’t know how but I knew this was a special dream. But, dream interpretation was not one of my talents. So I called my friend Penny Cho. She was a professor of Asian Studies and always able to assist me in any research I needed.
“Penny, my Grandmama had a terrific dream last night. You were in it. I really need someone to interpret it for her. Do you know anybody?”
The line was quiet for a few seconds, then with excitement Penny said. “Yes, Aisha and Jamal Hafiz are doing their doctorate on dream interpretation. Can you e-mail me the dream ?”
“Of course,” I said.
I was surprised to receive an e-mail from them that evening. They said the first letters of the chant, “Valiant Ones Transform Events,” spelled VOTE. They interpreted Grandmama’s dream as a guide to organize all of the diverse communities in this country to vote. They ended with the note, “We are not organizers or political activists, but we feel we are the Arab-American couple in your Grandmama’s dream. So, if you are able to create a vehicle people like us can use we will join your effort. We’ve also forwarded the dream to Socorro and Manuel Hernandez. They are professors and political activists in the Latino community and could help you find some of the other people in the dream.”
The Hernandez’s e-mailed me, and said they would like to join in our effort. They also gave me contact information for Adam Stewart, whom they saw as the blonde paraplegic in the dream. He was also a professor, software developer, and gay activist.
After I e-mailed him the dream, the Hafiz’s interpretation, and my phone number, Adam called and said, “Your Grandmama’s dream is very inspiring. I have a student named Javon Taylor-”
“The football player,” I blurted out.
“Yes, but he’s also a computer whiz and has been looking for a project. Even though I’m a Republican and he’s a Democrat, he said he’d like to work with me to set up a website that will provide people in every state with all the information they need to register to vote with resources for assistance, from transportation to translation. We’ll also include links on how to run a campaign for political office, from the local to the federal level.”
“But, how much. . .”
This time he interrupted me. “I know you’re a storyteller and teacher, so we won’t charge to set it up. Javon said he knows a singer and he’s going to get her to do some fund raising for you. I’ve also told my friend Amita Jaya, she’s an East Indian American, active in her community and is a Buddhist, that’s how I know her.”
When I got back East I met with Javon for lunch. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Terry Bowers sitting next to him. I had just bought her latest CD.
Terry smiled and made me feel at ease. “Javon shared your Grandmama’s dream with me and he swears I’m one of the black women. I’ve talked to my friend Sherry Paul. . .”
My eyes grew big.
“Yes,” Terry smiled,” the actress. We went to school together. I’ve already talked to her and she’s agreed to do a fund raising tour with me. So you’ll have money to pay for the website and to pay voter organizers.”
When Amita communicated with me, she gave me Hannah Zubinsky’s contact information. She’s a Jewish lawyer representing unions and women’s issues.
Hannah helped us find the remaining people in Grandmama’s dream. She knew Francine Bordeaux, a black social worker and organizer from New Orleans and Lolana Kaikala, a Hawaiian artist and organizer. With Amita, these four women set up the organizational structure for VOTE, taking care of all of the accounting and legal issues, as well as recruiting and paying organizers around the country.
Most of us never thought we’d be involved in politics. Nor did those who were community organizers think they would end up running for political office, but that’s what happened. A momentum began Grandmama never imagined. That summer and fall record numbers of people across the country registered to vote. In the following elections, more people than in recorded history voted. And most importantly, more women and diverse people participated.
The four women who organized VOTE, along with Adam and Javon would not let VOTE fade away. They had a contest and the name was changed to The Septima Clark Highlander Center, named after the black woman who influenced many civil rights activists and taught at the mid-1900’s civil rights Highlander Center in Tennessee. But our virtual center was maintained by volunteers with rotations of paid political science student interns around the country coordinating information, educational, and organizing events.
Each year we saw political change evolve from the seeds of Grandmama’s dream. States passed legislation for publicly funded elections, allowing more diverse people to run for political offices. Within five years, publicly funded elections became Federal law and this vast country saw that democracy could truly manifest when money was no longer the major factor influencing who ran for and won elections.
After decades of decline, within ten years, the United States of America once again served as a shining example of what a government by the people, of the people, and for the people looked like. Nationally, the halls of local, state, and federal legislatures around this country reflected this nation’s diverse population. Everywhere, fifty to seventy-five per cent of elected offices were held by women. Legislative sessions reflected a rainbow of skin colors and their halls were filled with musical accents of representatives and staff who grew up in households in which English was not the only language spoken. Our environment improved with a flourishing of alternative energy and conservation of natural resources and habitats. The economy was stronger than ever in our history with poverty on a steep decline. Our health care system was developing into a wellness promotion system available to all citizens, and prisons were closing for lack of inmates. Our Defense Department now assisted our citizens and people around the world experiencing natural disasters, mediated peace negotiations, and coordinated refugee relocations. Finally, our country was taking the lead in nuclear arms reduction and enforcing the pursuit and prosecution of illegal arms sales.
On the tenth anniversary of Grandmama’s dream, all of us finally met on First Mesa. In addition to all of the national changes, I married and had a baby. We gathered for our group photo in the setting sun standing at the center of the universe, the Hopi nation. Our gathering was a reflection of the composition of city councils, state governments, the federal legislature, and halls of justice. Our group was predominantly female, and included individuals from the different ethnic heritages, races, religious beliefs, and political parties that make up the United States of America. Sure, politics remained politics, people aren’t perfect. But now politicians worked together for the greater good of this diverse nation.
I smiled as I looked at Grandmama, beaming in the midst of the manifestation of her dream. Once again, she had combined a variety of ingredients and spices mixed with patience and care to bake the perfect American pie.
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