May 05, 2010

Pick Up Your People

I’m part Aninshinabeg (Objiway). I don’t look it. My skin is as white as my mother’s. My Dad and my paternal aunts, uncles and grandfather look, obviously, Native American. Because I don’t look “it” people reveal their anti-Native prejudices in front of me and then, oops, they apologize for remembering my blood is muddy brown.

My Dad worked in the big Postal Service office on the river in downtown Minneapolis for many years.He was a fairly high-level employee and well known and respected. Yet, people can’t help their prejudices.

It’s a sad fact in the life of The People that substance abuse has hit them hard. Near the Postal Service building are many homeless camps. Also, the homeless and those on hard times tend to congregate downtown after dark. Any open building is a potential shelter. As the lobby of the Postal Service building was open late a lot of Natives (as well as many of other races) would wonder in intoxicated and sit down.

Inevitably, someone would go to my Dad and say: “Your people are drunk down in the lobby; go get them” or “Your cousins (no relation really) are partying in the lobby can you get them to leave?” There was notpart of my Dad’s job description that involved being a Bouncer for the building.The only reason he was asked was because he is Native American.

The requesting tone was along the lines of “Go, take out the trash”.

So, my Dad would go down and do what the others were afraid to do; talk to the people and tell them they’d have to leave. He’d also give them directions to a shelter. I know without asking that he probably opened his wallet several times. I know his generous heart. I don’t even have to ask. He probably asked them about their people and where they were from; just making conversation. Maybe they saw him, ogiichidaa, and were inspired.

As Christians, how many of us pick up our people when they are down? How many of us see our brothers and sisters intoxicated with sin and bother to say anything to them much less encourage them and open our Christian witness to their sodden souls?

Like those who wanted to my Dad to handle the “drunken Indians” we want someone else to lend assistance to our fallen brothers and sisters. We are afraid ofwhat we don’t know. We are afraid of their response.

14 Comments:

Blogger Adoro said...

Great post

May 05, 2010 7:04 AM  
Blogger Subvet said...

Very good. Interestingly enough, there was a study done some time ago that found the greater a crowd present at an emergency situation (someone choking, passing out, etc) the less likely a response.

Seems everyone instinctively waits for someone else to step in and take over.

As Catholics we have to be willing to jump in, even if that means being "judgemental" about another's "lifestyle choices".

May 05, 2010 7:33 AM  
Blogger Tom in Vegas said...

I think the fact that you're Native American is awesome!! And on top of that Catholic! You make a good thing even better:0)

I'm truly sorry your father had to deal with bigoted individuals. That type of condescending treatment he experienced from those Neanderthals would be frowned upon in this day and age. Unfortunately, while conducts have changed, attitudes like the one he encountered still linger.

May 05, 2010 6:08 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I love this post so much. Keep it up.

May 05, 2010 8:00 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I just came across this today:

"Perfect charity appears when in the midst of great difficulties, one loves one's neighbor, mente, ore, et opere, that is, judging him with benevolence, speaking well of him, helping him in his neceessity, perfectly pardoning offenses, and making oneself all to all. This charity is still more obvious if by preference one seeks out, as St. Vincent de Paul did, friendless and fallen souls, poor, strayed, and gravely guilty creatures, in order to lift them up, rehabilitate them, and set them back on the road to heaven." Three Ages of the Interior Life

That's charity. See how you are?

May 05, 2010 8:11 PM  
Blogger belinda said...

My activity director has driven us through the reservations a few times and it's heartbreaking and the reasons for the heartbreak are varied.

I have mixed feelings because even though I'm a terrific sinner I still have an adversion to sin and sometimes even towards sinners and the distain in my attitude comes from the frustation of watching people make terrible choices at the expense of other people (mainly their children)and without any reguard for anyone but themselves.

I had a great grandfather who was a Cheyenne and he drank and gambled and led his wife into sin and his children suffered as a result of their sins for at least 84 years and so did his grand children and even his great grandchildren! I only have compassion for you up to a point and when your abortions being to fall into the double digits I just wanna slap the sh@t outta you.


We do have an obligation to feed and clothe people without a doubt no matter what their issues might be. Maybe I wouldn't be here had others not done the same for my relatives.

Now if I misunderstood this post (I've got a migraine- please God kill me quicker) and it's simply about prejudice then I believe when God judges you he will be the color of the men you've hated.
**************
Terry, wouldn't it be an act of charity to draw a line in the sand and say to another. Here's the line -you will cross no further?

May 05, 2010 10:32 PM  
Blogger ignorant redneck said...

Well, I want to thank you for this post! It points up several uncomfortable truths that we need to confront with action, not "tut-tuting".

May 06, 2010 8:40 AM  
Blogger nazareth priest said...

The Native Americans and the Irish are most known to be 'drunken sot'.
The Kingdom of Heaven is open to these "sort"...thanks be to God..
I'd be lost, save my Irish ancestors, drunks them all,...
whatever:<)!
It's great to be Catholic, yeah?
The Lord dredges us all in...(the 153 fish in the net that did not break!)...
Oh, Jesus, you are so good, so kind, so loving, so merciful (I say this about a thousand times at our Holy Hour every day for all the drunks, idiots, has-beens, outcasts, etc...I'm just lucky I'm not onna dem:<)..maybe I'm just a dry-street person...could be. Donna know!

May 06, 2010 11:28 PM  
Blogger Georgette said...

What a fine and noble man your Dad is, Cathy.

Poignant post. May God bless and protect all of His people, in all their distressing disguise.

May 07, 2010 10:53 AM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

God Bless you on your birthday, Cath!!!

And thank you for another fine, thoughtful post that makes us all reflect.

May 07, 2010 4:32 PM  
Blogger Melody K said...

Your father sounds like a good man, Cathy.
It's coincidental that Tom mentioned Neanderthals; I just read in today's news that scientists have found Neanderthal DNA in modern humans. Not sure what that means except that we're all more interconnected than we think; there really is no "them" and "us".

May 07, 2010 7:56 PM  
Blogger Angela M. said...

Earlier this week I was coming out of the post office and a Native lady (the Native population in my town is about 30%) had fallen. She was sitting in the alley. If someone wasn't paying attention they would have run right over her.

I walked over to her (I should have run) and I tried to pull her over to the sidewalk. For someone so tiny and thin I thought it would be easy but she was a dead weight.

She looked right through me with her browny-bluish eyes (cataracts) and my heart broke - all I could see was Jesus looking at me.

I tried again to move her but to no avail. A beautiful young lady crossed the street and came over at that point. She had a cell phone and she called the ambulance. I left the scene and returned to work.

A few minutes later I came back out and the lady was still sitting on the road but the beautiful young woman was still waiting with her. The ambulance arrived and it turns out the Native woman was well known to them. They got her onto the stretcher and took her away.

I thanked the young woman for staying. She touched my arm and thanked me for helping. I said, "nobody wants to help people like her." She agreed and we parted.

I thought about "Margaret" all day and prayed for her long into the night. I was ashamed I hadn't thought to stand guard by her and call the ambulance like the young woman did. I cried hot tears of guilt and shame for me, of pity and sorrow for her.

There are SO many like her in my town. I wish I could do more. I will keep praying.

May 08, 2010 12:26 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Angel Baby: I'm crying reading your comment. You did something. You have a good heart. God bless you.

May 08, 2010 10:14 AM  
Blogger MBrandon said...

When My Dear Wife were spending the winter in Tucson from our home in London, Ontario, she showed me love by how she loved another.

We encountered Jesus, when she came to the assistance of a native woman, shortly after Sunday Mass. Here is her story.

http://freethroughtruth.blogspot.com/2010/01/encounter-with-jesus.html

God Bless You.

May 09, 2010 3:50 PM  

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