One Native Life: Stay Brown
- Richard Wagamese | March 11, 2017
I enjoy Facebook. Over the years I have reconnected to lot of friends with it. I’ve found new ones and revitalized relationships that were floundering because of time and distance. I’ve also been able to share a lot of the twists and turns of life and the sudden realizations and revelations that come from living. As a writer there always seems to be something fascinating going on beneath the surface of any ordinary day. So Facebook is a great tool for those of who spend most of our lives at a desk.
But it seems that the more people you connect with in a good way, the more people who are likely to be upset with things you share. The more you give your inner self, the more they attack you outwardly. I try to post comments and observations that have something of consequence in them; writing things that are spiritual, reflective and indicative of the things my spirit leads me to. I try to be real. Still, there are always people who are my ‘friends’ on Facebook who malign me for some of those contemplative comments.
For instance, I’ve been using a closing salutation on my posts for the last year or so. At the end of a message I will often write, Stay Brown. To me it was a benign, neutral salutation intended only as a spiritually oriented way of wishing everyone a good day, good fortune and good wishes. It was a celebration of personhood, identity and meant to bring us all together as a human family. But I got blasted for it.
Some people accused me of reverse racism. They said I was promoting Native identity over everyone else’s. They said I was creating ill will. Others called me exclusionary and someone who was creating barriers between people. A lot of people deleted me as a Facebook friend because of the salutation “Stay Brown.” Looking at it objectively, I can see where there might be cause for some degree of upset. The trouble is they didn’t get what I was saying.
Where dissenters took the phrase as something hugely negative, they didn’t get my intention. They didn’t look at the phrase as something of value to everyone or even send me a Facebook message to inquire about it. Instead, they chose to vilify me, denounce me and sometimes advise others to delete. But within the phrase “Stay Brown” is something elemental and valuable to all of us.
See, when you remember that you are a part of the Earth and that she is a part of you; you stay brown. When you remember that we are all one body moving through time together; you stay brown. When you can believe that we are all brothers and sisters as members of this human family, you stay brown. When you remember that we are all under the care and nurturing and grace of a loving Creator; you stay brown.
When you remember that we are alive because everyone and everything else is; you stay brown. When you can live with the credo that the honor of one thing is the honor of all things, you stay brown. When you remember that reaching out requires far more strength than pushing away; you stay brown, and when you remember that spirituality finds its truest expression in community; you stay brown.
And most importantly, when you remember that if you take the four primary colors of the Medicine Wheel, the red, white, yellow and black, the colors that represent all the colors of people in the world, and you mix them together – you get brown. It shows you the great human truth that separation does not exist and that unity and harmony are the energies that work to keep us together. You remember that we need each other, that we are all related, that we are all brothers and sisters – and you stay brown.
That’s the intent and the purpose of using that phrase. That’s the central message. It’s the spiritual center of two words that in themselves are nothing without that spiritual context. When I posted this explanation on Facebook, the feedback was immense. People swarmed to it and began using it themselves in messages back to me. Why? Because everyone is searching for a reminder of our connectedness.
But the most important part of that salutation is this: that when you remember to start each day with gratitude for the blessings that are already present in your life; you stay brown… So, Stay Brown friends! Stay brown…