Water Man Spouts

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tell the Truth

"All people whose minds are healthy can desire peace, and there is an ability within all people -- especially the young -- to grasp and hold strongly to the principles of righteousness. These principles of justice demand that all thoughts of prejudice, privilege, and superiority be swept away, and that recognition be given to the reality that the creation is intended for all equally." – Degan-awida (The PeaceMaker)

When I was young, I had the privilege of being taught by Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman. We talked a lot about the proper relationship between leaders and the people they served. Paul’s grandfather’s grandfathers were among those who met with people like Jefferson and Madison. Some of the older histories of the United States call Chief Hendrick one of the "Founding Fathers."

In one interview I did for publication, I asked Chief Waterman about what the white politicians could learn from the Haudenosaunee (or Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy) leaders? Paul said, "To tell the truth."

For many years, Chief Waterman and I used to speak at schools and colleges, and Paul taught me that it was a privilege to have that opportunity. The money we were paid went to the Longhouse, to pay for food for elders. We didn’t look to benefit financially, but rather to have society reap the rewards of educated, concerned young people.

One of the most important things about this democratic primary is that so many young people are actively participating in the process. This is a sign of a healthy democracy.

Young people have the ability to recognize those who tell the truth, from those who do not. People from my generation will recall a fellow named Richard Nixon: we just knew that he wasn’t an honest man. Nixon tried to keep secrets from the public, and then from investigators. But when we read the history books, we find that the young folks were right: Nixon was a crook. A lot of his criminal behavior was tied to campaign financial arrangements.

There are questions being raised about the Clintons’ finances. Some people are saying it is wrong to raise these questions. They say this information will become public soon enough. I recognize those words: Nixon said the same thing.

If people in the Clinton campaign wonder why young people trust Barack Obama, it is because they trust him. You can’t buy that trust.


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