Bare Bones Biology 344 – Gold Stars and Good Jobs

Veterans’ day dance was special, at our village senior center, and then a few days later, special in a different way, was the open house at a native American tribal women’s center. There was a good deal of quiet pride, tinged with sadness, at both of these events. Not the shallow pride of ego, but pride of responsibilities fulfilled. Responsibilities to our children and to our children’s roots.


I remember the “everyone is a winner” phase in the classrooms of our lower grades. Our children are not so gullible; they know that nobody deserves a gold star every day.

And out on the field it was all about football, or baseball, or whatever was in season. Our kids are not so dumb as to believe that “everyone is a winner.”  All that did was make them dismiss “education” as of little value. Nobody can take pride or happiness in fake winners, fake success, fake happiness, nor from fake anything. Education has the potential to take us beyond that.

The affirmation of value arises from value affirmed – not value belittled. And value belittled cannot support the human longing that tells us, over and again, that we must be good for something. Something to do with our community. Something important that has to do with our children and our roots.

The Ayaa (grandmother) asked me about that. “What are your roots?” I said I have none. I have not even grandchildren.

My mother did not have her grand-mother; I did not have my grand-mother; today’s “successful” children were grand-mothered by the television.

But the Ayaa let me to understand that I am a grandmother nevertheless, and she invited me to come to the Ayaa-in, the circle of the grandmothers. And that’s what I saw in her, as in the veterans. Pride in their ongoing fulfillment of responsibility to the future of humankind.

My father was right, and Archie Goodwin, when he said that nothing makes him feel better than “doing a good job.” Doing a good job is its own reward if we make it so. A deep pride in a life well lived, even though it is accompanied by an infinite sadness in the knowledge that one person’s life cannot be enough, when the time comes, to help the beautiful system of Life, or even our local communities, when our population of billions comes to the point when the food is gone and the soil contaminated and none of the children or the veterans will care anymore about gold stars, and even the television will recognize that pretending we have a glass “half full” will not make us happy.

161117-tewa-asc_8444rls-copy-2Rather than dancing around inside the corposystem pretending to be “happy,” or trying to be “successful” (defined around profit) while the whole of humanity is ignoring a crisis beyond the limits of what we are willing to comprehend, beyond Hollywood, and even beyond Standing Rock, which is not Hollywood but real and important, if we were to open our eyes, we would see that we all have a job to do that is important and of essential value to all of human kind. And instead of doing it, as our ancestors have done, we are trying to create happiness out of tinsel and gold stars.

Maybe the answer lies in a deeper consideration of community. Not my community or your community, but community itself, as it relates to human individuals. Community over competition.  ( (

Maybe what we all seek can only be found wrapped in the wisdom of our communal Ayaa-in. Maybe if that is not available, if we no longer have human community, but only the corposystem God of domination, then maybe we should stop trying to reach for what is not available and isn’t even much fun.

Happiness by any definition is not an appropriate goal in a time of deep peril. It’s just corposystem propaganda designed to make us forget about doing our personal good job for the future of humanity.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of

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