Meeting Compassion at Standing Rock

My favorite feature of being human is compassion.

Compassion isn’t empathy.  It’s not altruism.

But I wonder, what does compassion mean to you?

To me it’s wanting to deeply understand the emotions that someone else is going through, while also feeling compelled to alleviate or reduce their suffering.

In my last week at Standing Rock, I met Brenda White Bull.  She is Sitting Bull’s Great Great Granddaughter. Her given name, Waunsila Win, means “Compassionate Woman.”  Brenda is a strong Lakota woman, and former vet. She took on the responsibility of making sure that the 3,000 plus vets who self-deployed to protect Water Protectors at Standing Rock were taken care of.  She declined speaking with CNN and MSNBC to speak with us, Indigenous Rising Media. It was a big honor.




The first thing she said:

“When people come here, I express to them that I want you to go home with good feelings. I tell them, tell those stories, so that they can come back. Bring your families back, and if you don’t feel good about leaving right away, stay for a while.  Pray.  Everyone I know who’s come here will leave as a changed person, for the good of all mankind and it spreads and it trickles out. And that’s the beauty of all this going on that I see and I can say about Sitting Bull, and that’s what he wanted for his people, to be happy, and to be safe, and that’s what we are here to do, is to protect the people.”

The reality is that thousands of people came out to Standing Rock. Yes, not everyone got along. Everyone had their own reasons. There were many judgements cast. And that’s all another aspect of being human. But remember compassion.

I think being compassionate is the most regal way to show up as a human being.  We never know even the half of where someone is coming from, whether its just a day in the life, or the whole life. We can only skim the surface, and in the meantime, be compassionate.

I hope you will watch this video we produced, featuring some big time compassion vis a vis Brenda White Bull.  And the full photo essay to hear more from her is linked below the vid.


Full Photo Essay —> here.


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