Through my work in diversity education over the past 7 years, I have taken part in many debates and conversations about religion, ethics, morals, values, and our role as parents and educators in instilling them in our children. Many people see conflicts between the different ethnic groups, religious groups, tribes and cultures. Personally, the more closely I look at it, the more I understand that these different groups have more commonalities than differences.
In life, you get what you focus on. If you focus on differences, you will see the conflict between cultures. If you focus on commonalities, you will see similarities and how we are all connected.
Recently, I had a chance to read the Native American Code of Ethics. This code has survived for thousands of years. This is probably one of the oldest cultural codes that still exist today. There is evidence that the indigenous American people migrated from Siberia over 11,000 years ago. Yes, 11,000 years ago! Can you imagine how long that is?!
To put it in perspective, Judaism is about 5,000 years old, Buddhism is about 2,500 years old, Christianity is about 2,000 years old, and Islam is about 1,500 years old. Meanwhile, the Native American Code of Ethics goes back 11,000 years. Fortunately, if you go deep into each of these belief systems, you will find them very similar.
My work in personal development is in the service of all codes of ethics. I believe that regardless of which one we follow, if each and every one of us strives to live by them, to the best of our ability, we will create a better world. Striving is the most important part. Eventually, if you keep going in the right direction, you will get there.
We are all living together in the same land, sharing the same space. This makes us the custodians of this land, not the owners, not the destroyers and not the conquerors
Native American Code of Ethics
Can you see the similarities between the North American Code of Ethics and your own faith and beliefs?
- Rise with the sun to pray. Pray alone. Pray often. The Great Spirit will listen, if you only speak.
- Be tolerant of those who are lost on their path. Ignorance, conceit, anger, jealousy, and greed stem from a lost soul. Pray that they will find guidance.
- Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not allow others to make your path for you. It is your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.
- Treat the guests in your home with much consideration. Serve them the best food, give them the best bed and treat them with respect and honor.
- Do not take what is not yours whether from a person, a community, the wilderness or from a culture. It was not earned nor given. It is not yours.
- Respect all things that are placed upon this earth – whether it be people or plant.
- Honor other people’s thoughts, wishes and words. Never interrupt another or mock or rudely mimic them. Allow each person the right to personal expression.
- Never speak of others in a bad way. The negative energy that you put out into the universe will multiply when it returns to you.
- All persons make mistakes and all mistakes can be forgiven.
- Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind, body and spirit. Practice optimism.
- Nature is not FOR us, it is a PART of us. They are part of your worldly family.
- Children are the seeds of our future. Plant love in their hearts and water them with wisdom and life’s lessons. When they are grown, give them space to grow.
- Avoid hurting the hearts of others. The poison of your pain will return to you.
- Be truthful at all times. Honesty is the test of ones will within this universe.
- Keep yourself balanced. Your Mental self, Spiritual self, Emotional self, and Physical self – all need to be strong, pure and healthy. Work out the body to strengthen the mind. Grow rich in spirit to cure emotional ails.
- Make conscious decisions as to who you will be and how you will react. Be responsible for your own actions.
- Respect the privacy and personal space of others. Do not touch the personal property of others – especially sacred and religious objects. This is forbidden.
- Be true to yourself first. You cannot nurture and help others if you cannot nurture and help yourself first.
- Respect others’ religious beliefs. Do not force your belief on others.
- Share your good fortune with others.
Remember the similarities between the faiths, religions, and cultures. We are all living together in the same land, sharing the same space. This makes us the custodians of this land, not the owners, not the destroyers and not the conquerors. Nature is not for us, it is part of us and so are others.
Strive to live by these rules and it will bring you peace with yourself, with others and with the land. The world will be a better place.
May the force be with you!