Once upon a time, when I was but a child, there was a most wonderful television show called the Lone Ranger. The show featured a rather hapless cowboy, who was the star of the show, and his inventive, ingenious side kick, a Native American Indian called Tonto. In my youth I had no conception of the inequity embodied in this relationship. I also had no clue that ‘Tonto’ translates from Spanish as ‘stupid’ or ‘silly’. Ugh. Nice way to insult your friend. And yes, this is just a fine example of how some of my earliest pleasure and role modeling for friendship was grounded in racism. We have a very long way to go to build a world where all relationships are grounded in respect for human dignity. (And even further to go so that ALL relationships – relationships between and among humans and with other sentient and with non-sentient beings are grounded in respect.)
So, when I came across this little story, I have to confess that it brought a smile to my face, a twinkle to my eye, and hope to my heart. I hope you enjoy it too.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto went camping in the desert. After they got their tent all set up, both men fell sound asleep. Some hours later, Tonto woke the ranger and said,
“Kemo sabi, look towards sky, what you see?”
The ranger replied, “I see millions of stars.”
“What does that tell you?” asked Tonto.
The ranger pondered for a minute then said, “Astronomically speaking, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three in the morning. Theologically, Mother Nature is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.
“What’s’ it tell you, Tonto?”
Tonto says,“Kemo Sabi, you dumber than buffalo shit. It means somebody stole the tent.”
Wisdom is not always were you expect to find it. Yes, I very much agree with Thich Nhat Hanh that we should look deeply into the roots of events and experiences to fully understand the experience and the people involved. But, sometimes it is important to see what is (or is not) right in front of our faces. And always it is important to not take ourselves too seriously!