Thursday, October 16, 2008

Respectfully Speaking Up

I am relatively young, meaning I have much to learn.  This is evident by the fact that I often act as if I know something, when in fact I know very little when it comes to many things.   There is great truth to the statement, "You are not teachable until your thirty."  Up to around thirty, one often walks around with a youthful air, exuding relative confidence and excited naivete.  Up to this point, one often believes they know a great deal and have lived through many experiences to speak with a cadence of confidence and knowledge.  Then slowly but surely, a sense of greater maturity begins to set in(hopefully) and the need for constant reflection and discernment is further appreciated.  

Today, at 35 years of age, I find myself reflecting more, thinking more and saying more about the Indian community. I still speak with naive excitement and often, boisterous rhetoric.  I often say things that challenge our community and perhaps are perceived as a bit narrow and unappreciative.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I say the things I say because I honor and have immense appreciation for the struggle Indian people went through, particularly in the 1800's and more recently in the 1940's-70's.  The resiliency of Indian people is the reason I am able to speak up, naive or not. Their sacrifice is the reason I can proudly say I am Dine/Navajo. Their strength is the reason I am able to challenge the status quo and to vision greater things for my family and for our people.  It is with great humility and appreciation for how far Indian people have come in the last 40 years that drives me.  Knowing how hard Indian people battled for their dignity and humanity is why I cannot settle with or stand for attitudes of "good enough".  I was never raised to take a back seat.  I believe part of my responsibility is to ensure that the struggle and accomplishments of the past were not in vain.  Speaking up is one small way of shaking awake complacency and shooing away apathy.