Yesterday was such a day, and last night was such a night. I read an article in the morning which spoke of the large number of suicides of young children at the Pine Ridge Reservation. The original article that I found was in Colorlines, an online news source. There were two things which stood out for me in that article.
This was the first:
"At least 11 children between the ages of 12 and 17 have committed suicide in my county since December. The heartbreaking details vary from child to child, but their families and this community—in the newly renamed Oglala Lakota County—feel the voids left by their absences just as deeply each and every time.Between December 1 and March 23, Pine Ridge Hospital treated 241 patients under 19 who actively planned, attempted or committed suicide. These numbers don’t account for unreported cases or for those who were treated in neighboring counties. At this rate, 37 young people in a county that only has 5,393 inhabitants under 18 will be gone by the end of 2015. Moreover, statistics from Pine Ridge Indian Health Services show teen suicide numbers have gradually increased over the last seven years. In the same four-month period last year, for example, there were no suicides in Pine Ridge."
This was the second:
In January, at a hockey game in nearby Rapid City, white adults sitting in a private box above 57 middle-school students from Pine Ridge sprayed the children with beer and told them to “Go back to the reservation.” Instead of 57 charges of child abuse and assault in response, like some had suggested, only one man ended up with one charge of disorderly conduct.
Later during the day in a conversation with my sister Sara, she informed me that Tom Laughlin, had died. Now many may not know of Tom Laughlin. I had to be reminded myself. But Tom Laughlin was the star of a series of movies--the "Billy Jack" movies. I was a fan. Over the top acting? OK, I'll give you that. Overly dramatic dialogue. OK, I may even give you that. But it served to satisfy my need at the time to see "evil doers" punished. It was a time when non-violent pacifists were getting there assess kicked on a regular basis. And, even though I professed to be a proponent of non-violence, watching the Viet Nam vet, Billy Jack, demonstrate his outrage at injustice with his martial arts mastery somehow seemed to settle some primal need in me. Here's one of those scenes:
I wish Billy Jack had been at the Hockey Game. I wish someone had been at that hockey game to intervene on behalf of those 57 children. Megan Redshirt-Shaw describes how she heard of the incident from the fourth graders' chaperone, Justin Poor Bear here. What struck me the hardest were these words from Megan:
Are you fathers? Do you love your own children just as Justin does? The last memory Justin left me with of the evening was that the bus ride home was in silence. Those children, after you dumped beer on them, rode home without words.
Ultimately, I know that we as a nation will get past the time a group of cowardly men tried to break our kids spirits. ... They look to a better future and a more tolerant world because people like Justin Poor Bear and the other chaperones that night protected their rights as citizens of their nations and citizens of this "land of the free and home of the brave." Those children have now learned what cowardice looks like, they have seen when intolerance rears its head, and with the faith of people in their lives, we will build them back up. Again, I ask you men, please don't choose a life for our children before their lives have even started. We don't want special privileges, we don't want reimbursement, we want justice. Justice for 57 kids who just wanted to watch a hockey game for the first time.So, last night in a world full of enough injustice to bury us all, I cried. I cried because my heart was broken... I cried because...
there is enough injustice to bury us all. But this morning when I woke up I remembered that the universe will, overtime, right itself. Although probably painfully, the universe will not remain out of balance. If humankind is unwilling to correct itself (because we do have the capacity), the universe will bring itself into balance, even if it must do so without us.
Lakota Prayer Song...
HEAR WHAT I HAVE TO SAY, HEAR WHAT I HAVE TO SAY, HEAR WHAT I HAVE TO SAY, HEAR WHAT I HAVE TO SAY