I recently had the chance to spend some time with people in leadership positions, and listening to the social problems on and off the reservations surrounding my area. I listened to stories of gangs, violence, alcohol and drug issues, as well as suicide. How did we get to this place? How does something go unchecked for so long, before someone comes along and says hey you know this is not right, it doesn't have to be like this. However now people have no idea what to do, do I have the answers, probably not, however not growing up in these places but being a outside observer for so long, makes me think I have seen and felt what most people need.
Long story short people want acceptance and love, that's it. Children need to feel safe and nurtured, cared for and looked out for. Charles Manson once said these very words in a interview, you want good children, love them. When I think of gangs, I see how one can fall into the trap, they are supported by their peers, they feel supported, loved and accepted, if you want out, you then become a threat and are cut off, or harassed, threatened and some are even murdered. In numbers you feel safe, and if you are not with them, you are against them and in turn you become a target, so it's easier just to follow the flock. We are conformed into making their beliefs our own, because we don't want to be the outsider, we don't know we are unique, we would rather be the follower than the leader, it's easier to work with the grain than against it.
Society cannot tolerate individuality, because individuality will not follow like a sheep. Individuality has the quality of the lion; the lion moves alone. The sheep are always in the crowd, hoping that being in the crowd will feel cozy. Being in the crowd one feels more protected, secure. If somebody attacks, there is every possibility in a crowd to save yourself. But alone? - only the lions move alone. I watched a flock of sheep the other day, a farmer was moving his flock across a busy highway. As we pulled up we sat and watched on as the dogs did their part, in herding the flock, if you watch a sheep they are frightened and do not usually know which direction to take. The dogs job is to bark and prance around them, to guide them where they need to go, it keeps the flock together so none can stray and become harmed, the dogs in turn look to the teachers for guidance and commands. If a sheep strays away, one dog will chase it to bring back to the flock. The sheep usually look confused and distraught because it was only following its natural instinct to protect itself, which is to get itself out of dangers way.
As I am watching this I am thinking people are like this, we have been made to believe we are sheep. When in reality we are not, we are lions however society goes on conditioning us, programming our mind as a sheep. So we seek outside acceptance flocking together with numbers, looking for the cozy comfort of being in a crowd, looking for orders of what to do next. Now when you look at a lions pride it is a bit different from sheep, they know what they need to do to survive. A lions pride is a family structure, and everyone knows their place, no one told them how to do it, they just follow instinct. Lions are very affection with each other, and cubs are taught discipline and order from a young age usually through gentleness and love, a pride will stick together, work together, hunt together, eat together, play together, teach each other and look out for one another. If a threat comes along the male lions will guard the pride, the mothers and sisters, guard the young, most of the time lions will not fight or charge, they will do the stare down and growl as to warn off predators, when they fight though look out, it is usually to the death, and both the males and the females will do everything to protect the young.
Now looking at the reservations, we know years ago their children were taken and placed in residential schools, forced to conform to societies knowledge and religion because someone deemed it better. Until then parents and families stuck together, growing, harvesting, not all families were like this some families however had already been touched by alcohol. For a few leaving for residential school was a welcomed relief, because life at home was not as good. Children were forcibly removed from their families, or their families were threatened with prison if they failed to send their children willingly students were required to live at the schools. Most had no contact with their families for months at a time because of the distance between their home communities and schools, and sometimes had no contact for years. They were subject to punishment for speaking their own languages or for practising non christian faith, this to me can only be described as cultural genocide. In the 1990s, it was revealed that many students at residential schools were subjected to severe physical, psychological and sexual abuse by teachers and school officials, who were usually priests and nun's. The effects have lasted a lifetime for many, and this went on through a few generations, and the effects are still felt today. People were lost and the heartache a family must of endured as a child was forced to leave for school, sometimes never to been seen again, or not for months at a time. When they did get to see them, they seen the effects of what was happening, the abuse what was put upon them, and to know you could do nothing about it. As they also were controlled by government money, and if their child was not sent back they were cut off from the government cheque's they now depended on to live. Gone were days of training our young boys to be hunters and providers raising a child in a pride where they were looked after, the young girls were forced to learn from others outside of their mothers, aunts and grandmothers.
They lost their natural survival instincts and were forced to conform to a imagine that was projected unto them.
We now see the psychological damage it has done, alcohol and drugs being the number one crutch, people have sought to hide the effects. Now when children came home it was usually to a hostile life style, where more violence and sexual abuse happened, and it carries over and over again. We see the effects of gang violence in our communities, and really can you blame this young ones, knowing that society robbed so much of their upbringing. Now I don't agree with everything a gang is about, however this is what they now know as survival, they have found their power and trying to make a stand in the world. At one time you couldn't go anywhere in my city without seeing the 712 marks placed everywhere, out of curiosity I picked up a bible and the first passage I came to was “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” Matthew 7:12. I understood they are only treating society as their people have been shown over the years, in a negative light of course. Now I have known some of the youth who have left the gangs, and righted their wrongs again it was only when someone treated them as a human being and took the time to listen to their wants and needs, that they repented of their wrongs and started walking down a new path.
In conclusion we can not change our past, the government can say they are sorry a million times over, and we accept it, but it will not erase the effects and damage it has left in many hearts. Our people can not wait for the government or a quick fix, pick up with what is left and create a wonderful life with what is before you, dig deep and work through your stuff, no matter how painful it is, I am not saying it will go away tomorrow, just be willing to look at it. Let the Great spirit into your hearts, before it is to late, the new world is coming, let's ease her birthing pain with love and light for each other. When the love grows, circle by circle, until the whole earth is filled with love, then the old ways will be just a memory. It's coming, the grandfathers and grandmothers are waiting to celebrate.