It's been sad dealing with recent suicides in our Native communities. I believe I heard the wrong messages being sent to our youth, almost as if its OK. I've heard comments such as, "He's in our Heavenly Father's arms," and "They had entered heaven." Isn't that what suicide bombers are told; that a reward greater then earth is awaiting for them?
Life is worth the living. Yes, hard times are here today, but you can be miles away from it - years down the road.
When I was hand-cycling across America in May of 2000 from Denver to St Louis, cycling alongside the Missouri river, sweat pouring down my face, I held back tears because in 1985, an auto accident destroyed my dream. Following my ordeal, all I wanted to do was end it all, but here I was cycling 1,100-plus miles taking part in a relay cycling event.
I thank God, my family, my community and those disabled people whom I look up to as I get older. Some of them are elders and some are youth with disabilities. It's been said that it takes a community to raise a child and I agree, but for me I really think it takes a healthy family to heal a broken heart.
In short, suicide is wrong. It's painful, but we make it seem easy when everyone comes back laughing and joking as if a reunion and then just leaving the suffering families to fend for themselves. When the dust settles from the vehicles leaving for home, the pain is unbearable. I lost my younger brother to suicide. I dream about him at times, but before dawn comes again, he has to leave back to his own world.
Words coming from your own mouth decide your destiny. One can sometimes find them in lyrical content of music our youth and parents listen to. I found myself after my accident that I was listening to heavy metal music, which I thought was just poetic form of literature. But as I was going through my ordeal, those words became real to me. I came into a church one day where people were singing about beating the odds and overcoming suicide, about having faith, about love, peace and joy and unity - things that were absent in my life before my injury.
I heard someone say, "Words are just words; they mean nothing." Yeah, maybe as a politician, but as parents raising and empowering good thoughts, it's lifelong learning. You praise a child and lift him up by praising his school work, but in the end tell him words are just words that everything you praised him with meant nothing, and see how well that works?
Everything in life is learned, including religion and spirituality. As Natives, we teach people how to bless ourselves with corn pollen and how to behave in a ceremony. The minute you are born to the day one kicks the bucket, everything is learned. Anyone who uses drugs and alcohol, or who is involved with gang violence will most likely experience disability, which is not where you want to spend the rest of your life.
Rebuilding faith in one's self can lead you to overcome anything in life: separation, sickness, illness, divorce, death, friends failing you - you can overcome all of it and make life work for you again.
Take care, never give up you, and you will find yourself miles and miles away from your problems. Faith and prayer changes things. It may not be how you want, but it will give you strength in your inner man and your inner spirit.
Pine Springs, Ariz.
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