Building community on shared values

Building community on shared values

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During coffee hour after church, I was talking about what I observed at the Oceti Sakowin camp of Standing Rock. A congregant suggested that I write the editor as others might be interested in a few observations from an urban, middle-aged woman.

When I stayed overnight in camp in early October, the sky was bursting with stars and the night was very peaceful. In sharp contrast, in early November, more than 30 large stadium floodlights dotted the ridge and glared down on the camp all night long. Low-flying planes buzzed all night long. Not only could I hear them, I could feel the vibration of them. It made me feel tense and I had only just arrived at camp.

I also feel tension in Bismarck. All this tension saddens me. The more I learn firsthand about Native culture, the more I see how much overlap in basic values we all have — and the more I hope we can find ways to minimize our differences by working together to create a beloved community built on all the values we do share.

Community building can start with any simple action that acknowledges another, whether it be a smile, holding a door open for another, or coming to break bread at an interfaith meeting where we can start to know one another as people. Every action can be a prayer.

Recently, I participated in the interfaith prayer gathering at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of BisMan that was led by Karen Van Fossan. I was very encouraged that over half a dozen faith traditions were represented. A number of people from the Oceti Sakowin camp joined us to pray and answer questions. I hope it will be the first of many such gatherings.

Terri Wilkerson, Bismarck

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