I was raised in a very conservative home. We were respectful of our elders. Some of it was due to our beliefs. But largely, it was due to the culture I was raised in. I was raised to think how my parents think as proud Native Americans. I see this today with children and young adults back in Oklahoma. I’d be sitting on the couch and my sister’s family would come in the door. The kids shake everyone’s hands. They start from the eldest person in the room and then work around to the entire room. If an elder needs a seat and a young person is sitting down, the kids get up and sit on the floor or somewhere else. Its very different from what I see elsewhere. Somehow kids rule the roost nowadays and are allowed to do whatever they want. Parents bow to every beckoned call. And elders are left behind. Somehow we’ve turned the tables on what is right anymore.
My parents were raised during the civil rights era. As Native Americans, they were discriminated against. Every now and then I get a glimpse of what happened. But 99.9% of the time, I never hear about it. They don’t complain. I’ve never heard them being victims. The same was true with my maternal grandparents who were obviously discriminated against. My Grandpa was in a segregated platoon in the 82nd Airborne Division. He had his own Dirty Dozen of wild Indians who jumped in the day before D-Day. I know they were heavily discriminated against. But I never heard them complain. I never viewed them as victims who wanted reparations or kickbacks for all that happened in the past. Its because they were strong and proud.
I think back to many of the movies I loved as a kid, and still love today. The 1970’s were a time just past the civil rights era. So there were still painful memories in many minds. Yet, movies like Blazing Saddles parodied many of the issues of gender, race, and religion. It was so irreverent that it would never fly in a millennial society that is triggered by everything. They explored slavery, the Ku Klux Klan, stereotypes by race, gender issues, and even government oppression. None of that would be accepted today.
I think of other movies like Animal House. Yeah, same issues. They were able to laugh about it all. It could almost be viewed as mutually uniting. Mind you, all of this is spoken from a Native American point of view. I’m sensitive to certain issues. But I hold no ill feelings toward anyone today for the things that my friend’s forefathers had done. I mean, even Abraham Lincoln was an Indian killer and hunted down one of my tribes. But I’ve rubbed Lincoln’s nose in Springfield, IL. I honor what he did for civil rights for blacks even when he was still discriminating against Indians. I’m not telling everyone to take down his statues. I’d prefer to see the good in people and give grace to their misgivings. Well, unless there isn’t an evidence of good, I’d probably not look the other way. There wouldn’t be a statue of anyone anywhere if we expected everyone to be perfect. Nobody is perfect!
I think people need to be rational in today’s world. I hear all this patriarchy nonsense and victimology to the nth degree. We need to stop being victims. Instead, be strong and proud and live as examples for what you represent. If you like to focus on darkness, then your heart will always be filled with darkness. It doesn’t hurt to live in bliss. Be happy and don’t let negativity get you down.
I think every year, people should be required to watch Blazing Saddles, the Breakfast Club, and Animal House. More recently, Undercover Brother and Austin Powers. Maybe it would reprogram our minds to be less sensitive. Seek laughter and positivity. And then spread that to others. Its totally contagious.