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Walking Together in this Life
Yuriel Justin
 
There is a Dakota Saying that I believe to be true.  "Mitakuye Oyasin".  We are all related.   As you may know, living in a small community like this one, everyone seems to be inter connected at some level of their existence.  Whether by blood, livelihood, religion, school, children, relatives, acquaintances, or deep friendships.  The longer someone lives in a community, the more inter related they become.
 
We don't always get to choose who we travel with on this journey called life, but we can make choices about how we as individuals will treat each other.  An important part of this is being mindful of our words and actions.   We each have the opportunity every day to spread kindness through our interactions with others.  When we use kind words and show others kindness in our actions, it opens the door for others to do the same.  Even though it sometimes may not be easy, we can each make an effort to "try" to be gentle, to be kind, to be thoughtful, to be fair, to be compassionate, and to be loving to those we travel with.
 
I recently attended the annual Mankato Pow Wow.  The purpose of this event is to bring people from all backgrounds and nationalities together in peace, and to mend wounds with reconciliation and forgiveness.  The Pow Wow is filled with symbolism.  My favorite part is the Inter Tribal Dance.  All tribes (all people) are invited to come into the sacred circle to dance.  One enters the circle as an individual, and in doing so, joins together with many, to proceed in the same direction, moving in a circle "as one" to the beat of the drums.   It is a wonderful ritual and experience and one is reminded that we all are, indeed, walking together in our time on this earth.
 
I am ever mindful that we are many people sharing the same community, state, country, and planet.   As human beings, we share our weakness and frailties, our hopes, dreams, and longings, our air, land, and water, and finally, our need for discovery and acceptance.  So, even though it may not always be easy, let's try to be aware of our words and actions in our everyday encounters.  It will be good for you, good for the community, and good for our planet.
 
I will leave you with these thoughts to ponder during your day:
  • Free your heart from hatred. (Apologize and practice forgiveness.)
  • Live and love deeply.  (Let yourself have the experience.)
  • Give more. (The smallest gesture has its reward.)
  • Expect less. (And each day will be a gift..)
  • Plant the seeds of kindness. (Those seeds will grow into blessings for thousands.)
  • Mitakuye Oyasin (We are all related.)
Yuriel Justin is a cultural educator and a member of Freeborn County Paths to Peace.  For more information contact www.freebornpeace.org