I believe that human needs can be boiled down to three: Physical or material, psychological, and spiritual. After all, for what purposes is spirituality a tool? It is an explanation for the unknown and provides comfort, connection and community.
Have I neglected my spirituality? Certainly, our culture as a whole has. I never understood spirituality and thereby turned by back on it. I have not failed to notice the need for spirituality. It is engrained in my Native culture, after all. I’ve often written about this societal deficit, so why haven’t I embraced it?
I shunned churches and religious institutions a long time ago. I was disgusted with the predatory nature of some churches and how they purposely targeted the most vulnerable. I had many instances of people hiding their poor ethics by waving their Bible as a placard of goodness.
For example, my early twenties were spent as an administrative assistant at a business college. I helped transform the not-so-confident into skilled and confident people. Over time, I witnessed the takeover of my dad’s educational dream as it became dogmatic and overrun by his administrators’ church members. I saw corruption on a scale that my 22-year-old mind couldn’t comprehend nor counter. I felt powerless, and that feeling extended into my interpretation of religion. I saw people in ways that I myself never wanted to appear as.
Then there was the Oasis of Love with the Prophet and my then-girlfriend. This church propped up her faith, gaining her trust and love. Then crisis hit amidst the church members and her tower tumbled. I saw it all as very un-Christian-like. She became a lone wreck with no support other than myself and another pillar in her life.
The weak fabric of the institution was accentuated when her other anchor of hope, Narcotics Anonymous, mirrored the church’s behavior. When crisis hit between her and another member, the institution chose to let her down rather than take any corrective action against the offender. It’s a long story, but the end result should have been assault charges. Instead, it was slipped under the rug.
I was endeared to her faith, and watching it getting brushed off only made the sour more bitter. All this merely reinforced my dubiousness towards religion.
To compound this, I look to history. I see how Christianity dismantled my Native way of life. I see how our land was appropriated in the name of the church. I see how residential schools aimed to whip the Indian out of us. I see how it was a cooperative effort with the government to destroy our culture.
Put together these three instances, all prospects of becoming a Christian were dropped. Yet the call for spirituality is without doubt. I’ve sought it through my studies, yet doing so leaves me feeling like I am in this on my own. That was a major error as it requires agreeing minds to arrive at a truth.
Perhaps this is why community is such a strong pillar to spirituality. Without it, there can be no comfort or connection. And I wasn’t bringing anyone into the fold, nor attempting to join others. I suppose finding that community must be my first step. Where it integrates with Native culture can only be found through trying, right? Only then can balance be achieved.