The monster of alcohol abuse

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. issued the following statement on Aug. 2 in support of the City of Gallup's efforts to eradicate alcohol abuse.)

From our Navajo teachings we know that monsters once roamed the earth killing and devouring the Dine'. It was the Hero Twins -- Monster Slayer and Child Born of Water -- who slew these monsters to make the land safe again for our people.

Our teachings tell us that other monsters still live among the Five-Fingered, Intelligent Earth Dwellers called Homo Sapiens. These monsters do not discriminate by color, creed, gender, age or tribe. They prey on all equally, consuming as much as they can. We know these monsters as hunger, thirst, illness, poverty, ignorance and jealousy.

Today, there is another monster among us, more hideous, more ugly, more evil than the others. It, too, does not discriminate but seems to have a particular favorite prey as evidenced by the misery it has heaped upon the Navajo and Native American people. This is the monster of alcohol abuse.

This monster is a scourge upon all native people. It has not merely touched the lives of every Navajo family, it has ripped them with jagged claws, tearing many apart as it feeds and consumes and ravages. The monster of alcohol abuse thrives on producing ever more victims every day. Our land is soaked in tears from the heartache this monster has wrought from the pillar of one sacred mountain to the others across our Navajoland.

With deepening sadness, daily we see the weakest among us willingly offer themselves to the seduction of this monster. Their personal sovereignty, independence and will is sapped from them as the monster consumes. There comes a point when they cannot protect themselves and they need a protector to intervene for them.

Protection of its citizens is the highest purpose and role of government. The Navajo Nation can do little to protect its citizens from the monster of alcohol abuse beyond its borders. But we can stand with those who rise to help us.

One of those is Gallup Mayor Bob Rosebrough who has faced harsh criticism from those who oppose his stand to limit alcohol sales within the city to the inebriated. Many of those he seeks to help with his stand are Navajos or Native Americans. I applaud the mayor's valiant effort. If successful, he will help save the lives of some individuals and, in turn, prevent another native family from experiencing tragedy too well known to us all. If allowed to succeed, he will make Gallup a safer place for its residents, its visitors and its businesses.

Some have said the mayor's stand discriminates against native people. This is untrue. It is obvious that those whose livelihood comes from the sale of alcohol to our native people have a vested monetary interest in opposing the mayor. Their argument and organization against him show that they still have free will and reason, the same which has been robbed by alcohol abuse from the victims of this monster.

So I join other native leaders from the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni nations to stand with my brother, Mayor Bob Rosebrough, in turning the monster of alcohol abuse from this city and these lands. No mayor, no president, no chairman and no councilman can do it alone. Yet together we may succeed in slaying yet another monster to make our land safer for the Five-Fingered ones.

That is how it should be. Join us.

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