Letter from the Founder


We marched in Santa Fe this past Saturday—my husband, one of my sisters, and I—with thousands of teenagers and adults.  This “sibling” March for Our Lives was, as Parkland survivor Cameron McKasky said in Washington DC, only the beginning—here in Santa Fe as well as throughout America.  As New Mexicans push for sane gun legislation in this state and around the country, more skeletons leap out of America’s collective closet, and the elephant in the room grows larger and far more menacing than any rogue elephant could possibly be.

We are not just facing off against the NRA.  The foe is archetypal and ubiquitous.  Fear and greed have dominated Western culture for millennia and have spawned many monsters, especially here in America:  mindless grasping for power by corporations and those who benefit from their actions; willful disregard of the principles that governed the founding of this country; senseless hatred of anything and anyone “different” from those in power; an atmosphere of brutal commercial competition in which no one wins; worldwide wars of acquisition and aggression; mockery and repression of all who live by truth, decency, and honor; hypocritical worship of a god said to approve this depravity; and utter disregard for life in all its many forms—human, animal, even the planet itself.

As Founder and Executive Director of Orenda Healing International, I believe it is imperative that we act upon the principles that inform our mission: to promote individual and community health and well-being. 

The senseless massacre of 17 bright young people on February 14, 2018 is the latest in an appalling roster of school shootings—and only one of the many other insane assaults on life—not just on school campuses but at festivals and in theaters, shopping malls, grocery stores, bars and restaurants, administrative buildings, public transit, abortion clinics, and individual homes.  This does not support individual or community health and well-being.  We know that individual and community health and well-being can only exist in an atmosphere of safety, not in a cultural war-zone.  To that end,

  1. We believe that military weaponry does not belong in the hands of civilians. An automatic weapon in the hands of a disturbed individual of any age does not constitute a “well-regulated militia.”
  2. We support a national ban on automatic weapons and any accessories that enhance their operation.
  3. We support comprehensive background checks on any individual who wishes to purchase a gun of any kind, and a substantial waiting period before that individual can walk out of the store with a weapon.
  4. We support increasing the number of trained mental health professionals in every school, so that troubled youth can be helped in time to prevent further tragedies.
  5. We support arming teachers—NOT with guns, but with books, art supplies, assistants, smaller classroom sizes, better pay and benefits, and appreciation for the difficult work that they do in helping us raise our children.
  6. And finally, we support education based upon truth, no matter how painful that truth may be, so that our youth can grow up safely to become wise and responsible adults in a country guided by the principles of its founders and not by the greed of corporations.

In order to honor our mission, Orenda Healing International is taking a strong and non-political stance against violence in any form whatsoever.  We pledge to support the youth of this country in whatever peaceful work for change they undertake.  We will do our best to help spread their words, share their videos, attend their gatherings, and argue on their behalf with our legislators.

Welcome to the Revolution!

Dr. Valentine McKay-Riddell, Founder and Executive Director


Photo courtesy of Apple News