interview by Douglas Eby
Linda Redford has received professional training and certification in contemporary psychological practice through studies with Dr. Edith Stauffer, the founder of Psychosynthesis International, and Fr. John Alexis Viereck, of the Interfaith Council for the United Nations.
She draws as well on the spiritual and psychological wisdom of her American Indian (Tsalagi or Cherokee) heritage to help a variety of private clients, using one of the elements of the Peace Village Teachings she has developed called Reassociation, a process of healing on multiple levels.
Noting that Daniel Goleman's work, especially his book "Emotional Intelligence," is related to her work, Linda helps clients deal with issues like shame that block many gifted people from realizing their talents. She feels "We're all gifted; everybody has their own genius."
Realizing the compelling social need to respect the sacred and unique in all people, and to use communication media more consciously, Linda has formed a multimedia company, Ageyya Ink, to develop educational entertainment and media projects for use in corporate environments, as well as classrooms and in the home, with a shared purpose: honoring the unity of humanity.
Having been an accomplished actress, Linda recognizes the potent influence of entertainment media: "There is a belief system behind every image, book, piece of music. A child in front of that TV sees images, which develop belief systems - which they are going to act out."
The teaching materials she has developed are designed "to help people to look within themselves, and to find peaceful resolutions, by finding the belief systems that are in conflict."
As a concrete application of her vision for freeing and healing of the human spirit, and restoring wholeness both individually and culturally, during the 1995-1996 school year Linda sponsored a pilot program called the Honor Project in a Santa Cruz classroom of.
Making use of multimedia teaching materials developed by her own company, the Project has won enthusiastic response from the teacher and sixth grade students. Don Jacobs, the teacher at the Westlake Elementary School, has commented "I have never before tried to deal with these issues (such as trust, humility, openness) in a conscious, direct way.
"In the past I have tried to instill these and other values through modeling and indirect conversations. The Honor Project provides a framework for many of the activities I have always improvised... Most of the kids have become much more open to new ideas, less judgmental of others based solely on 'differentness' and a great deal more honest and self-aware. Some kids have actually sort of 'blossomed', carrying the ideas of the project into their family lives."
Jacobs also has commented on the more personal value: "The project has forced me to reexamine some deeply held beliefs and to become aware of some traits and characteristics which I thought I had left behind years ago. I am a bit more conscious in some of my choices and I tend to place less importance on 'getting the job done' and more on 'doing it in a positive way'. More than anything else, the project has made me aware of how important attitude and belief systems are, and how much work I have to do to liberate my own higher Self."
The experience has also been very meaningful for Linda: "I was surprised to discover that some of the students had no concept of what the word 'honor' meant, nor did they have a concept of a common goal or awareness of how their behavior might impact the next generation. Through experience of the Honor Pledge and Code, they were able to embody this principle... I was privileged to see a group of kids show empathy for each other, kids learn to honor even those they thought were their enemies. I'll remember them in the deep parts of my heart."
Educators have been meeting with Linda to bring her work into the Los Angeles area school system. The educational organization LA's Best has committed to an order of 5500 copies of the Honor Set for 25 schools, and the Madison Collaborative, a group of teachers and principals, is committed to using the Honor Project materials for over 8000 students. Both groups are currently looking for funding.
Linda notes that Karen Matsui, an organization facilitator with the LA Unified School District, and a member of the The Madison Collaborative, has commented that what she finds so beautiful about the project is its twofold direction - it will raise the awareness of the American Indian and philosophies surrounding them, and would create a common goal for all Americans based on values found in Indian spiritual philosophy: that we are all connected, we are all valuable and all equal.
Linda notes "This philosophy could reduce violence, it could give us a new way of looking at conflict resolution, and could restore honor to Mother Earth. The American Indian's common goal of honor, balance, and altruism began at birth and was continued throughout life."
A related passion of Linda's is the renewal of these American Indian spiritual values in contemporary society. Attending a recent peace conference, she made the statement "If all we have to offer our children is religion, then we offer them nothing. Nothing but war. We have to offer them something that's going to bring them together... What I offered was the First Americans as a foundation; they are the ones whose philosophy and values are what America needs to get back to: community, family, women and children as priorities. Among American Indians there was no abuse of children, as children were considered the 'sacred ones'."
She points out that Jane Seymour (known for her role as "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" and one of the narrators of the recent TV program "The West") supports the realization that the entertainment industry is the biggest perpetrator of the genocide of the American Indian, and the many negative belief systems about them.
Linda agrees: "I go along with that, and what I'm pushing for is for the entertainment industry to create a fund as an atonement for their part in the destruction of the Indian culture and the continuing genocide, and to create programs for restoration of the American Indian."
A number of organizations are learning of Linda and her vision for social responsibility and healing, and seeking her participation. She was recently invited to give a keynote presentation on "Correcting Our Planet's Spiritual Deficit" at the Unity-And-Diversity Center (UDC) in Los Angeles.
According to a statement of the UDC Executive Board, they are committed to this recognition effort throughout the country, and are going to have programs that can help to increase understanding of First American culture and issues.
Linda is a member of the advisory faculty of The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics, and notes she has been "making the organization more aware of the ongoing genocide of the American Indian." Founded in 1987 by Rabbi Dr. Benjamin Herson of the Malibu Jewish Center, and actor Michael Landon, the institute's mission includes initiating "a cultural and educational process of enlightenment toward peaceful resolution of conflict."
A site at the Malibu Jewish Center is being set aside to acknowledge Chumash Indians, and Rabbi Herson recently sent a two page letter to Michael Eisner, head of the Disney Studio, noting the movie "Pocahontas" had moved him to express concern for the plight of First Americans, and declaring that: "Righting the wrongs committed against the American Indian can mark the beginning of our own moral rehabilitation."
Linda has found that the people in these two organizations are increasing their awareness on personal levels as well: "They have been one hundred percent supportive of looking at their own stuff, in other words their belief systems that need to be changed regarding American Indians. They have had the courage to do this. This is not superficial, not a cosmetic thing, but a very in-depth effort at really changing beliefs."
These two groups are developing the next Peace Conference in June of 1997, which will include an entire day dedicated to the American Indian. Linda says "The theme through the whole conference is going to be uncovering belief systems that promote war and genocide. This is very exciting; it's something I've worked toward my whole life. If a democracy like America is responsible for a genocide, who is really the villain? We have to look at the foundation, which is a lie.
"Other countries say we are always talking about being a democracy, but they know we're covering this up. It's overwhelming to think about. It's difficult for Americans to acknowledge it, but we must."
Linda is also developing the Honor Kids Foundation, a non-profit to help advance the Peace Village Teachings. Board members include entertainment professionals Kathleen Quinlin, Bruce Abbot, Tom Ritter, Linda Morris Smith (the late Greg Smith's daughter) and Bill Duke.
"The power of a common goal can change the world," Linda points out. "We need to create a safe world where life - all life - is honored and valuable. We are all created equal. It's time to forgive, listen and learn how to honor one another. Along with high self-worth, children and adults need a common goal that binds them in a sense of shared purpose."
~ ~ ~ ~
published in: New perspectives - a Journal of Conscious Living / Spring, 1997
~ ~Linda Redford site: Honor Kids International
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~