EDITORIAL: R-E-S-P-E-C-T (Just a little bit)
By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
Wow! We are experiencing a twilight zone moment in our country and in our Tribe. We have forgotten most or all of what our ancestors, not to mention our mammas and daddies, told about treating other people. Back in the day, we minded our manners. No matter what we thought of people, we were invited to show courtesy and even kindness to them.
It’s fitting to talk about kindness and peace, especially at this time of year. While it would seem that Easter is a celebration of colored eggs and the rabbits who presumably lay them, the day is remembered as the resurrection day of Jesus Christ. Now, before you send hate mail to me, I understand and respect that people have various views on Christ. Some say he was a man, others a prophet or teacher, and still others the son of the living God.
It is up to each individual to decide what they believe about Jesus. My point here is that one of the names used to describe Jesus is “Prince of Peace”. And, if anything can be said about the recorded history of Christ, it was that he was a man who exemplified kindness and courtesy. Even to the Pharisees and Roman rulers, who despised, mocked, beat, and eventually crucified Jesus, he remained kind and peace-filled. In fact, in the recorded history of Christ, the overwhelming evidence is that he treated everyone with kindness and respect.
Contrast that life with those we see around us today, particularly those in leadership roles. From the federal government level to the halls of our own tribal government, we see what amounts to verbal brawling and name calling. It may be, in part, that being peaceful or kind is seen by many as signs of weakness; some call it meekness. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It takes great courage and character to stand in the face of criticism and hate, and return kindness for venom. When parents fight or abuse each other, the biggest losers are their children and family. When government officials fight, the biggest losers are the constituency and the community.
There has to be a way that we can settle our differences peacefully and respectfully. Just like parents with regard to children, our leaders are the ones who are supposed to be our examples, the standard by which we may pattern our behavior. They are the ones that we should be able to look up to for kindness, courtesy, and respect. With regard to our Tribe, time after time, we have witnessed elders, adults and even our youth come to the podium at our Tribal Council house and plead for us to unify as one people in peace. Our elders especially understand that a house divided cannot stand.
Hopefully, in the coming days and weeks, there will be resolutions to the issues that have divided our house. One of our great strengths as a Tribe has always been our dedication to our community in the face of outside enemies. Today, we face our own demons. The enemies are from within us. They are not people, but are instead attitudes and emotions. We must learn and heed the teaching of those who went before us who insisted that the Cherokee way was a way of peace, courtesy, kindness, and respect. Humility is not a sign of weakness. It is a trait of greatness.
On a personal note, I hope that each of you has a happy and holy Easter. It is a time to remember a sacrifice that changed the history of the world; the sacrifice of one solitary life.