2017-02-16 / Voices

Respect Is Needed

Sicangu Lakota
Sicangu Scribe

Our children and teenagers must learn how to show respect for their older relatives, as well as other elderly people. Many of our senior tribal citizens today are shown a complete lack of respect, especially on social media. This behavior reflects how the person doing the disrespecting was raised.

For instance, many of us were raised with the teaching of being respectful and polite to adults or people older than you. Still, it might take some of us several years to learn how to genuinely respect others. This virtue is one many of us embrace as Lakota people. To show disrespect to others is to engage in behavior unbecoming a Lakota.

You may have noticed that disrespectful behavior is more common in younger people. This may be because many Lakota people become grandparents early in life. It’s a life changing event because once we reach grandparent status, we realize we are rolemodels.

As a grandparent, we want to act appropriately.

When our ancestors walked this Mother Earth hundreds of years ago, it was very different. Back then, children, teenagers and young adults emulated the respect they saw their adult relatives display in all of their personal encounters with fellow tribal citizens. Today, it’s very unfortunate that so many of our young people are very disrespectful. Children learn by watching the adults.

There is a phrase many people use nowadays, they will say there are old people and there are elders. This is an accurate observation. Many of our esteemed Lakota elders will help young people learn how to behave respectfully. Unfortunately, many other Lakota people grow old without showing the younger population much on how to be a good ancestor.

Elders are supposedly differentiated by the wisdom they share with their younger relatives, or something like that. Old people can have wisdom too, but perhaps it doesn’t involve the teachings you want to learn. Just because one’s wisdom doesn’t conform with what you believe to be wise in your world, it doesn’t give you license to show disrespect to the elder/old person. Remember, that person is someone else’s grandma or grandpa.

Consequently, Lakota teaching requires respect to be shown to people who are older than you, no matter how they behave. If you dislike or disagree with what an older person says, or what they post on social media, you are encouraged to dismiss it without disrespecting that person. For instance, you can still treat the older person with kindness, even when you don’t agree with him or her.

Many of us have learned to let a lot of things go by without getting upset, or believing we need to defend ourselves. For example, if something an older person says to you isn’t agreeable, you don’t really have to argue with them. People raised with good manners know when to walk away from a situation they don’t need to become involved with.

The older we get, the more we tend to treat one another with respect. Or maybe not. That is, some people are disrespectful no matter what their age is. Still, their individual disposition doesn’t give me the right to treat them badly. Some of us let things pass because we just don’t have the energy for drama. We love our peaceful lives.

Consequently, there are many folks out there who thrive on drama. They are addicted to the drama they create in their lives. Their dramatic scenarios can take place both in their personal lives or in their social media encounters.

We all have an opinion and the right to express ourselves. Still, those basic rights don’t include the right to treat one another badly, especially when it concerns the older members of our community. We also have the right to remove ourselves from drama fueled scenarios that are created on the Rez or on Facebook.

There are many situations which arise in our lives where we make the personal choice to debate others. Some encounters can turn dramatic very quickly. A drama filled encounter is something many people work hard to avoid. Life is peaceful when we allow others to post whatever they please on Facebook, without their opinions always provoking a need for us to defend our beliefs.

In any case, most of us simply want our young Lakota people to show respect for the older people in their lives. Sometimes the way you show that respect is by walking away from the drama. Children, teenagers, adults and elders are all subject to dramatic situations. Just because the drama is there, it doesn’t mean we have to engage in it.

Respect yourself by not disrespecting others, especially those who are older than you. You are showing your younger relatives how to be a good ancestor.

*Vi Waln is an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota Nation and is nationally published journalist.

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