Yes, it is often a choice we make as to whether we are a victim, or a victor. In many situations, there is a way to look on the bright side, to take responsibility, to focus on the lesson, in our efforts to grow forward. But let’s not throw the whole victim out with the bath water. Because sometimes there are victims. Sometimes there are people who did not choose their suffering. Sometimes there are people in such horrifyingly difficult situations that positivity alone is not enough to save them. And sometimes people actually need to express their victimhood as part of their healing. They need to express it, and they need to be heard. And sometimes they need our help before they can become victors. When we tell them they have a choice in their suffering, sometimes we forget that WE have a choice too. We can sweep their pain into a swampland of artificial positivity, or we can help them up. We can ignore their challenges, or we can support their liberation. Yes, we have a choice, too. (~an excerpt from 'Love it Forward', image taken by Patricia Dolloff) SOURCE: JEFF BROWN.
Did you know that L.A.’s Native population is actually the second-largest, behind that of New York City?It’s also true that 80% of Native Americans do not live on the reserve…WHY? You can guess: poverty, no jobs, isolation, contamination by oil and mining companies, all the things you’d expect in a Third World environment.
THE PHONE CALL:
December 23, Monday:
I woke up and saw the email. Call right away. Ellowyn left the message at 4 am. Something was wrong. A month ago we talked, when her niece Maria died after the coma. Alcohol stole another life in Pine Ridge.
I get my coffee and dial. It rings and rings. I hang up and try again.
Ellowyn answers.”We are not even done mourning Maria then this happens,” she sobs. “Now my nephew is dead.”
Her nephew was shot and killed by police on Saturday. Allen was at his mother-in-laws house in Rapid City. There were 5 people in the house when Allen was shot. His young son saw it. His young son Sincere saw it and is ruined, Ellowyn cries.
She hands the phone to Tony. We talk about Vietnam, the drugs, and his skill with setting landmines. He still has dreams, more like nightmares. He smells their VietCong food. Tony asks me to send him small plates so he can feed the spirits. The spirits are haunting his house. He made 32 ghosts. It would take a lot of money to have a ceremony to release 32 ghosts. He explains how to use tobacco to send the ghosts home.
I tell him I will do this. We have ghosts here too.
I hang up the phone. I watch the press conference in Rapid City online. Policeman claims Allen had a knife. He had a criminal record. Allen was 30 and the father of two small children. He worked as a meat cutter. He’d just attended a rally “Native Lives Matter” on Friday. I know Allen’s father Darryl after all the visits I made to Pine Ridge since the 1990s. Ellowyn said AIM would be at the protest Monday in front of the mayor’s office, asking for an inquiry into this slaughter of yet another Lakota warrior.I pray with tobacco and ask Eagle to carry my prayers to South Dakota.