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Fearless Engagement of Four Arrows

The True Story of an Indigenous-Based Social Transformer


R. Michael Fisher

In times of extreme cascading global crises facing humanity, all responsible humans need to re-evaluate the dominant worldview that has brought us to this point of facing extinction. As a species we need to relearn the "good" ways from our greatest allies in Nature and from Indigenous cultures that lived in relative harmony with Nature. Equally, we need to learn the best ways to think critically and act on the holistic understanding that may guide us beyond our individual and collective trance and illusions cast forth like chains upon modern societies through elites who manipulate fear.

Fearless Engagement of Four Arrows offers a unique strong "medicine" for the reconstruction of a healthy, sane, and sustainable future for all. Utilizing the form of an intellectual biography of Four Arrows (aka Dr. Don Trent Jacobs) and his daring activist life and true teaching stories, the author creates a powerful adventure into the firey philosophy, activism, and emancipatory inspirations of one of the world’s great visionary prophetic educators and social transformers. Through a number of unique experiences, including firefighting, white-water kayaking, wild horse training, world-class athletic competitions, and counter-cultural activism, Four Arrows has become a connoisseur of fear and courage. This book shows how he walks a universal ethical path of Fearlessness at a time when too many remain trapped by their fears.

Among other readers, high school teachers and post-secondary teachers across diverse disciplines will find great ideas, eliciting dialogues and study questions for students, who now face a globalizing world where they can take charge of the future via fearless engagement.

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8. The Bronco and the Boat


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But his eyes were still noble and brave.

—Four Arrows1

Beneath the busy bluster and heroics of Four Arrows’ ethical life with no apparent regrets, I am at times taken aback by an enervating vestige of an aged-life hovering over my shoulders like winged ghost—I dare not look back to see—who is judging—staring upon the author-biographer. I intuit an overwhelming crowd of “editors”—young and old—all my Indigenous ancestors, human and otherwise. Standing on the escarpment: How can I live up to this—to them—to an authentic ethical life and a book of authentic risk? The gentle wind pushes from behind. There’s no room for bullshit bravado—no place, not t-shirts in bold “No Fear!” here.

This closing chapter self-reflection on this collaboration brings to mind one of my favorite existential and eclectic psychological and philosophical thinkers of the 20th century, the late Ernest Becker. “[H]eroism is first and foremost a reflex of the terror of death. We admire most the courage to face death; we give such valor our highest and most constant adoration; it moves us deeply in our hearts,” wrote Becker. What I like about Becker’s analysis of heroism, of which I would classify Four Arrows’ life within, he also is fervent to think systemically and shares that the healthiest heroes have healthy hero societies equally important as context ← 263 | 264 → so that the lone hero does not go off on their...

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