Being beautiful. I often ponder as to why humans should hang around. After all, we mess things up pretty well.

There’s some old Anishinaabe stories about how we messed things up a few times, back in the day. No society, or person really, is exempt from some of our dumbest moves. We just hope we learn from it. That’s human error and folly.

Honestly, the scale of mistakes today is ginormous. There are a lot of contaminated and injured parts of the world—like Australia, for instance—and some never-ending wars. It’s a gruesome drama of government mismanagement, ego, climate change, and folly all unfolding in front of us as we watch the koala bears burn.

Boy, some days I just hang my head and wish we could be beautiful. After all, humans can do some beautiful things. We make beautiful art and music. I’m grateful to the musicians for holding it up for us, from Bach and Beethoven to the Beatles, and some locals like Corey Medina, Midnight Express or Smokey Hills.

Then there’s art. I’ve watched my mother, Betty LaDuke, paint for decades. Her brilliance is worth seeing. And, some days I just look at Christi Belcourt paintings for hours. Humans, at our best, take my breath away.

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The problem is that we don’t do enough of it. We do more making a mess of things, bombing, fracking and such. All sort of ugly pastimes.

I retain my faith in beauty and in love. Take a water crystal, for instance. It turns out that molecules of water are unique, like snowflakes. Take a good look at a water crystal under a really powerful microscope, and each water molecule is different. They transform because water is alive.


While the dictionary defines water as a “polar inorganic compound that is at room temperature a tasteless and odorless liquid which is nearly colorless apart from an inherent hint of blue,” Dr. Emoto, a Japanese scientist, found otherwise. Emoto demonstrated how water exposed to loving and compassionate human intention results in what he referred to as aesthetically pleasing physical molecular formations in the water, while water exposed to fearful and discordant human intentions results in disconnected disfigured and unpleasant molecular formations. That’s heavy.

He prayed and sang with the water. It turns out that water liked Mozart’s Symphony Number 40 more than heavy metal music. Using high powered microscopes and magnetic resonance analysis, his research documented how contaminated “…water, when exposed to prayer and intention can be restored to beautifully formed geometric crystals found in clean healthy water…,” the Wellness Enterprise writes.

We say water is life. The basic premise is that being kind, beautiful and loving is healing. That seems simple enough. This applies to all of us.

In my travels I go a lot of places. Let me tell you about Louisville, Ky. Now, I’m a Northerner, a woman of color from the North to be exact, so going South has always made me nervous—all that KKK stuff, "Deliverance," and all. Well, Louisville is a "Compassionate City." It turns out that there’s a movement by cities internationally (at last count 311 communities in 45 countries had joined), committing to a charter of being compassionate.

According to its website,, “In a Compassionate Community, the needs of all inhabitants of that community are recognized and met, the well being of the entire community is a priority and all people and living things are treated with respect." Or, put it this way, “in a compassionate community people are motivated by compassion to take responsibility for and care for each other."

That sounds, well, wonderful to me. It's sort of like healing water crystals. It’s a cruel world we have made out there. I prefer to be kind. Kinder and gentler, didn’t even former President George W. Bush say that?

In as much as I worried about traveling to the South, it turns out they are compassionate. And sweet tea is pretty good.

As Beltrami County comes out as the first county in Minnesota and second in the nation to ban refugee resettlement, I worry about the Deep North. Need I point out that that four of the five county commissioners who voted descended from people who were once refugees? (Tim Sumner is the only Ojibwe on the board; and he, along with Reed Olson, opposed the measure.)

Native people have taken in a lot of European refugees, and in that process, many of us have become refugees in our own land. Besides that, we might want to look at the making of refugees. Most come from wars, many of them financed or carried out by our military, and more recently millions of climate refugees are looking for new homes.

I’d like to quit making refugees. People would rather stay in their beautiful and peaceful countries, the countries their ancestors loved and the land which holds those memories. That’s all of us.

In the end, I know that northerners can be compassionate and loving. I know many. Oshki biboonigiizi. It’s a New Year. Time to be beautiful, compassionate and loving. That would be a good way to start things off.