"If we have no peace,
it is because we have forgotten
that we belong to each other."
- Mother Teresa
Day 88 - Monday, September 18, 1995 - At sunrise about half of the Sunbow pilgrims set out on the road walking West. A couple of hours later the rest of the pilgrims broke down the camp, and then traveled to the city clerk's office in Pulaski, Tennessee.
Pulaski is the place where the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was founded. The group started in 1866, immediately after the U.S. civil war.
The walkers intended to meet this birthplace, this seed thought, with prayer.
Confederate veterans founded the KKK as a social club, but the group soon moved to Nashville and was then restructured for racial and political purposes.
The KKK styled itself as “The Invisible Empire of the South,” and set out on a generations-long campaign of fear and violence. Essentially it became a domestic terrorist organization based on Turtle Island.
An initial goal for the Klan was to reestablish the dominance of the prewar plantation aristocracy of the South. That goal mutated over time to become, essentially, the establishment of a supreme White Christian Order controlling America.
Stressing the idea that White Protestant males were somehow special and therefore outside the circle, and choosing to regard themselves as apart from other human beings, the KKK has persisted, waxing and waning in popularity over the decades. It peaked during the 1920s with four million members with large concentrations of memberships in the South and the Midwest, and scattered members across the rest of the land.
In its formal lifespan the Klan has singled out and targeted not just Black people, but also Roman Catholics, Jews, "foreigners," Native Americans, and organized labor. Over the decades its members have been associated with, and convicted of, many hate crimes and atrocities. The Klan was reported to have 8,000 to 10,000 active members in the mid-1990s at the time of our Sunbow pilgrimage.
While in Pulaski the delegation of walkers circled up on a lawn. There they offered up prayers for the racial healing of the world, and for Pulaski and for all the people who live or visit there. Then they met with the City Clerk, Terry W. Harrison.
Mr. Harrison was pleased. He welcomed the walkers and told them an encouraging story. He said that several years ago the Klan began to come back to Pulaski as a sort of sentimental site for meetings and rallies. In response, the townspeople organized a successful Brotherhood Walk, which still takes place each year. The Brotherhood Walk has gone a long way toward restoring a good reputation to the town, and it helps to weave the web of relationships that make for any healthy community.
Mr. Harrison shook hands with all the walkers, then wished them well on their pilgrimage to the West.
By the time the delegation of walkers on the road had stepped their final paces on this late summer day, they had covered nearly 32 miles. They halted about five miles West of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.
I spoke with Jacki Gauger on the phone. She reported that throughout most of the day hawks flew over the walkers. "The hawks came back big time today,” she said. “We were all glad to be walking, and it seemed the hawks were glad, too."
The walkers moved their base camp to The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee. There they settled in for the night.
The walkers were fascinated to see all the intelligent, sensible, things happening at The Farm -- a cooperative community of about 200 people -- families and friends -- living on about three square miles of land.
Founded in 1971, The Farm has sought ways to integrate human activity and industry into the natural world cleanly, harmlessly, beautifully. Respect for the Earth has been a key concept for The Farm from the very beginning, and all along through its many changes.
The Farm was started with hopes of creating a cohesive community with the capability of outreach. It was felt that The Farm could serve as a base from which residents would, by action and example, have a positive effect on the world. This it has accomplished.
The original settlers bought the land, erected the buildings, and became agriculturally self-sufficient within four years. Then they began implementing the broader visions.
When our Sunbow pilgrims arrived for a short visit in 1995, the 200 residents of The Farm were not resting on their laurels. The Farm's international, non-profit development agency, Plenty, was managing projects in Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, and in the U.S.
The Farm projects focus on sustainable development strategies to help lay a foundation for a shift in Western consumer lifestyles -- a shift that residents of The Farm see as necessary for the broader culture. The basic idea is to develop and then employ techniques and technologies that respect and benefit the Earth.
By phone from my office in New Hampshire, I talked with Peter Schwietzer, who lives at The Farm. He told me that the Sunbow walkers' visit worked out beautifully. Residents and pilgrims joined together for a giant pot-luck supper. Then they kindled a campfire, and sat round the flames late into the night. Together they sang and they talked.
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 89 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire