Two Great Men, Two Great Movies

Karen Willard Ribeiro
3 min readOct 14, 2020


And the Roots of Societal Pain and Suffering

What if we took a moment amidst our busyness to consider the up side of chronic pain and suffering? Personally I have been in physical pain and too keenly aware of emotional suffering for so long that for me this idea seems to be a last consideration to explore. I just named this notion the 180-degree perspective. Due South. Consciously bringing sunlight to darkness.

Michael Greyeyes as Sitting Bull and Kenneth Branagh as Shakespeare

Whether or not you are consciously aware of or actively feeling the massive societal shift underway, the critical mass engaged in Truth and Reconciliation across the planet has catalyzed a Great Turning.

One truth to reconcile: Native Americans (and African Americans and Japanese Americans and many other brothers and sisters in the “melting pot”) were slaughtered by European Americans and there has never been justice. The Movement for Black Lives has helped raise national consciousness about the disgustingly immoral racial killings that continue to this day. And, if you are really paying attention, you know that despite the never ending assaults on their humanity, Native peoples are still living in harmony with the Earth, still protecting water, soil, flora and fauna in community.

In the movie Woman Walks Ahead (currently on Hulu), Michael Greyeyes portrays Lakota Sioux leader Sitting Bull in his final years. After having survived four gunshots with bullets lodged in the body, he keeps his hands in the soil until the spirits make it known that it is time for him to rally the people.

This movie so elegantly conveys the power of the human spirit to unite and overcome despair as well as the weakness of the human mind to attack, deprive and war against one another for egoic and economic gain.

Another truth to reconcile: For hundreds and arguably thousands of years woman has been intimidated and subjugated by man and there has yet to be justice. The whispers of centennial celebration of suffrage and the movements of women fighting for equal rights have helped raise national consciousness about wage gaps and the disgustingly immoral regulations of her body that continue to this day. And, if you are really paying attention, you know that despite battling for 172 years, women still do not have the equal or equivalent legal rights as men.

In the movie All is True, about the final years of poet and playwright William Shakespeare, he returns home to the wife and daughters he had abandoned as if all the world was a stage. Shakespeare mourns his only son Hamnet, who we learn was only the scribe to his sister’s poetic inheritance (which may not be true).

This movie beautifully captures the near complete resignation of European women’s ego and their economic captivity; the behind the scenes struggles each such family may feel due to the chronic trauma of gender inequity.

In this moment of Great Turning, it is of the utmost importance that we all develop our emotional and spiritual capacities. If we are to coexist in harmony with each other and the Earth, we must learn how to be frank open and honest — with ourselves and each other — at home, at work, in the world.

Can we hear and see the subtle signs all around us? There is so much opportunity for growth when we face the sun and let the reconciliation begin to heal deep seated pain and suffering. Yes, it exists. Harrowing things did, do, and will take place. And if we come together to listen to what continues to burden the heart, nature reveals the next right steps we may take in consideration.

I just can’t kick this irritating impulse
to be God-like
I breathe and there it is
Filling my body-mind with light
Guiding me toward evermore creative endeavors
Will it never stop?

Winona LaDuke, in a recent discussion with Leah Penniman, noted that indigenous people live on just 4% of the Earth alongside 80% of the remaining biodiversity. Mary Evelyn Townsend of Mount Holyoke college reports the extent of European land grabs in the 19th century.

Pain and suffering lead one to strength and resilience; toward creativity, art, expression. It is unquestionable that the societal re-turning of the behemoth patriarchal barge has begun. Each day, embracing the pain and suffering and simply witnessing without acting upon the desire for grandeur can help us appreciate all that lives right in our midst.



Karen Willard Ribeiro

Beyond Karen: emerging from the depths of an epic epithet is available at and at your favorite independent bookseller. Thanks for reading.