Linda Neale's Blog

the shootings

Linda Neale - Monday, December 17, 2012

So many people are writing about the mass shootings at Clackamas Town Center and  Newtown, Connecticut, that I wondered what else I could possibly add to the conversation.  But I found myself crying last night when the names of the twenty child victims were read by President Obama at the Newtown memorial service and realized that I needed to share, even if no one reads this or listens, as part of my own healing.  And, I needed to figure out what I could do to help.


Usually I avoid the news about such events, but good friends of ours were only yards away from the Clackamas shooter in the mall; later I realized that we'd met him and his aunt years ago when he was only a young boy. And what mother is not horrified at the wanton killing of twenty kindergarten children.  I've been looking through my own stash of photos recently, and have many pictures of my daughter Joanna at that age.  She was so full of life, and hope, and promise, and joy...


People are now talking about "what to do" --  increasing mental health services, school surveillance, gun control, and more. I'm relieved that our wider society is finally engaging in these conversations.  Perhaps something substantive might really emerge this time.


But what I can do personally, besides support the efforts to change our laws and policies? How can I think globally and act locally?


My friend, Sharif Abudullah, recently wrote in his  blog that we have created a society where people hunger for the sacred, but have no idea how to  feed that hunger.  The separation of church and state has meant that it's almost impossible to talk about spiritual yearning in public schools.  Teenagers especially need spiritual direction.  It is as teens that we begin to ask   "who am I" and "why am I here", basic questions about our relationship to God and other people.


Rod and I and members of our community are privileged to  go into the public schools and talk to kids. We bring the drums with us, and Rod teaches them songs and lets them experience the "heartbeat of Mother Earth". He also tells them, over and over, “You’re all good people — you have a spirit”.   It’s amazing the difference that just one such experience can make in a life. One of the high school boys at Cleveland wrote to us after our presentation there and said, “No one ever told me I was a good person before”.

Imagine being 17 years old, and never hearing you are a good person.  I wonder what Jacob Tyler Roberts and Adam Lanza were told about themselves.


We're now expanding our work in the schools through the Earth & Spirit Council's "Natural Way School Initiative".  We plan to involve others in this critical work, and develop a structure so that more native elders can share their experience and their teachings within the public school setting.


It's not the only answer, but it is a part of the solution that I can work on.  And, it's in my home community -- "acting locally".  If you're in the Portland area and want to become involved in supporting the Natural Way School Initiative, go to and click on the volunteer or donation link.


What else can I do?


Part of my life's Work has been to restore the ceremonies we all were a part of, no matter what our culture or color.   I am especially passionate about bringing coming-of-age ceremonies back into Western Culture.  I write about this in my book, "The Power of Ceremony". We need to have a way to acknowledge teenagers as part of our adult community. A number of women here are forming a young women’s coming-of-age group, where skills are passed on from the elders to the girls. I would love to see older men take on doing these ceremonies for boys, because it's best when women initiate girls, and men initiate boys.


What else can I do? 


I can support other adults I know who are doing good work with children and teenagers.  Numpa and the Ant Farm community.  Warren Matthews down in Harney County.  Erik Gonzalez and Earth Peoples' United.  The Portland Youth Philharmonic.   You probably know many more.  Call them up and thank them for their work.  Send them a financial donation this holiday season.


What else can I do?


I can tell all children and teenagers they are good people, and they have a spirit. I can share my own life journey with them.  I can listen to theirs.  And I will.


Perhaps you have more ideas to share.  All your comments on how to help be part of the solution will be published here.  We need all the ideas we can get. 











Jana Shannon commented on 18-Dec-2012 09:03 AM
ALL Lightworkers need connect and focus on offering as much light to the world as possible. This is something that every good hearted soul can participate in. It costs no money, doesn’t require travel, electronics, a special language (well the language of the heart) you don’t need to be a specific age, . Skill level can vary from beginner to adept. It is all about the INTENT and the faith/belief.

We need to DEMAND that fixing our mental health care/system is priority. Fixing mental health issues and providing support would go do far more good than all off the gun control we can muster.

This is a tall order… our family systems have broken. Love, Respect and courtesy is not taught. (We must teach by example) Ceremony – in whatever guise it is cloaked (church, club, tradition) is nearly non-existent in the mainstream

Extended family is limited. We discard our elders and their wisdom.

We can go back to the old ways, so how do we adapt mankind’s needs into new ways?
Dawn Williams commented on 18-Dec-2012 09:28 AM
One of the most exciting things addressing spirituality in schools, that I have ever read is Rachael Kessler's "The Soul of Education." She has passed on, but her organization, Passageways, continues. One of these days, I plan to go to Boulder, Colo., to take their course in working with talking circles with teens. They have a flagship school district there that has adopted this work in all of its schools.
Katy GhostHorse commented on 18-Dec-2012 09:52 AM
Thank you Linda and Rod!!

Love ya,
Dancing Crow Dancing commented on 18-Dec-2012 11:00 AM
Many years ago a friend had a dream that we knew was prophetic and like all prophecy, the dream offered guidance.

The dream:
First the Grandmother died, but there was no Ceremony. Then the Grandfather died, and again there was no Ceremony. As a result, the young men began moving into rashes of senseless violence. My friend stood in a doorway which made her safe, but also made her potentially vulnerable.

We both felt that the door way led to Spirit and that the doorway itself was Ceremony.

There was a period of time while working in Grants Pass that I had the opportunity to see several troubled teens, some who seemed headed for criminal activities, turn around. Some came to our Sweat Lodge, some to my office, but all had Ceremony in some form or another. I cannot agree more that our young men desperately need their Initiation Ceremonies, as do the young women.

Thank you Linda for all you do. Thank you to the many others who are doing their best to help bring healing to these hard places

May the Returning Light of Solstice Bless Us All
Dancing Crow

Siebold Jennifer commented on 18-Dec-2012 03:10 PM
Thanks so much, Linda, for writing what was in your heart. The devastation that these young men created is a mirror of their internal terrain and I have no choice but to open to compassion and grief at that. At the core of these issues is how do we shift beliefs about ourself that are rooting in childhood experiences that we are unloveable, unworthly, inadequate, etc.... And as that child grows, he or she experiences events in life that continue to reinforce a belief and even the child's perception is limited by this belief system so that they only see themselves as other, as less than. How to heal those wounds is all of our work. Thanks for doing what you and Rod do to support this process!
Whetstine Rebecca commented on 18-Dec-2012 05:54 PM
"I got some information from my brother who has lived in the war zones of Compton. He is not someone who is in love with assault weapons for entertainment value, fetish camo wear and handsome sexy military knives (I admit I get rather warm when _I_ see those.....); I'm in a backchannel conversation with him. When he speaks of how the presence of guns in the schools and of guards HAS been effective in changing the minds of kids who are found with a plan, him I can hear, for he is not fantasizing some idea or some philosophy - he is living it and knows what it is to walk away from The Life while maintaining those skills if true need. Others I have trouble taking seriously, as they have NOT been in the war zone yet fancy that their peaceful valleys are the very next war zone, and so talk as-if. Me, I'm thinking about what I already do. I'm beginning to understand that to some I seem to do a lot. To me, I need to get fit again so I can do more. Mine is to involve children in the outreach, take them on the wild runs up the mountain with a load on. And to breath different air while doing the work of reaching out. That is one. Just making my work of direct interface with REALITY as an adventure and worthwhile joy.

Also,I think we need to stop with the "they" and "we" language and have the courage ONLY to say "I". This, to me, is where it begins. If I can reduce my orations to the key component of "I", then there is a hope I shall keep a promise to radical peacekeeping.
Tzun tzun Hsu commented on 21-Dec-2012 02:06 PM
Everyday people are dying all around the world. Yet in some ways we have all become numb . We say we cannot do anything. Or is it to do something we have to notice what we have forgotten. We have forgotten to care about people who needs our attention. We feel powerless rather saying hey let's talk. Maybe nothing can be done. But without trying we will never know. That is more the challenge . Do we stop trying or do we honor the sacred by doing our best to do something. How is it that we did not notice the trend that is happening.Fear becomes the norm as much as allowing people to be bully. Are we a nation of people who have become fearful because it is more convenient.

I do not know about others but I am asking how did we allow ourselves to ignore on a core level because our focus on our own interest. People everywhere are isolating themselves and going into a protective mold. They do not want to hear the truth even when it is in front. They are too afraid to ask tell me more. Instead it is let talk sometime. How about right now.

Is this a good time. Huh we lost our self respect as a people . We lost our power. When do we start acting like we deserve to get it back. It is more likely people will hear this and go nice. Or great but not ask what can we do as a people. How do we make the changes.The need to bring back the our true authentic power into the children and everybody else is important. So can you hear what is going on. Are we frozen enough to take action. Only time will tell if we deserve to survive?

What can we do. Start acting like it matters. Do something anything that shows that we can do something. Ask the questions and open to finding answers rather just the ones in the head.Stop protecting ourselves from the impact that is happening at a spiritual level.Ask for more and do more.

Let find some common cause rather being only comfortable in what we are only willing to face. Time to take action beyond words.

I think it starts with letting people they are not alone.

We must realize the pain we all are going through. This is a sickness that hits our psyche. We must be conscious and start being able to go deeper.

Let talk to find out what we can do.

It is not just the children but the shooters who needed help.Where could they go for help. I am seeing a lot of disconnections. Are we in a place we can be conscious aware and step forward.How about the unspoken violence we all have. Learn how to deal with it rather than just suppressing it. It does not work. Sooner or later it leaks out. How about teaching real principles of power and respect. How about how not to lose energy and being able to consciously learn the way without habit and patterns getting in the way. Knowing what real intent and not letting our ego or hostile emotions win us over.

hint hint hint

We need to show love but also strength and power. Teach respect by showing it. Learn to be more conscious rather act like we are already there. If we were all this would not be happening.

The gauntlet has been thrown are we up to the challenge.

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