By Bryce A. Pulver, grade 12, *Navajo*
2011/2012 Reconnecting The Circle Essay Winner
I guess most people would say that we’ve come a long way in the past 2000 years. We’re far better educated. We’re much more sophisticated. We know a whole lot more about the world we live in, the universe around us, the microscopic world within. We have the benefit of 2000 years of thinking, of philosophy, of scientific investigation and exploration. Our ability to access information is almost beyond belief. Yet in many ways we’re actually no better off now than the people who lived in the first century. We still have the same sorts of social issues. We still fight the same temptations. Our human nature is really no different now than it was back then.
I want to talk a moment about diversity. Diversity finds its origin in the word diverse, meaning different. Difference in what? Difference in basically anything – cultures, ideas, values, lifestyles, classes, goals, etc. No two people placed side by side will portray the same sets of values or ideals, or any of the other factors mentioned above. Take a group of people and the diversity range will further broaden. Diversity does not mean divide, mind you. It just means a difference, which is essential in today’s times. But why is diversity important? What does diversity do? Diversity, first and foremost, teaches us to accept differences in others and look beyond the base emotions of language, culture, race and color that makes us racists or sexists, for example. It teaches us to be more open and accepting of things that are different from us and in that process makes us more adaptable and flexible. Through diversity we can become stronger by learning not to judge and that can create a bridge forming a relation. What do we see and experience in the diversity of the landscapes of the world, as when in the desert? By the tropical seashore? By the lake in the forests? By the waving grasslands? The variety of colors and shapes of flowers? Or in the differences between animals? They’re all “perfect,” beautiful, divine creations in their similarities and differences. Just because we want the whole world to be a forest or tropical oasis, we won’t be able to change it, so why even try? We are individuals until the truth of faith brings us to actions of love and compassion and incorporate us into positive activism within the greater whole. “Our shared humanity is that common thread and it is emerging ever clearer.” What is a “label” given to man by another man? We know in our hearts who we are, and if we don’t, we have to each individually realize who we are and what our true purpose in this short life is…and it has to do ONLY with Love; Diversity is no accident.
Reconnecting the circle is important by maintaining diversity, but it is much more than that. Looking back to how our ancestors lived provides us with insights that should be accepted more widely rather than being blocked out by modern ways of thinking. Now there is a balance between old and new and this balance must be attained, as it is no longer reasonable to only think in the way of our ancestors, but native need to learn and adapt. They need to focus on the bigger values and beliefs from the past, so they can shape the future into a place that values the environment and peoples’ interactions with it. The reconnection is important because there is limitless enlightenment that can be learned from it and after it is learned there can be the spread of these ideas, which could greatly impact society’s standard beliefs.
I want to share part of my story and how I have integrated my ancestral beliefs into the way I want the world to see them. Through reconnecting the circle with myself I have found objectives and focus in many different aspects of my life. Living in Utah has exposed me to many wonderful cultures and ways of living. From taking in the massive amount of beauty to taking what the people have to offer, there are so many things to experience. Although where I am from may not directly reflect the person I am, I try and maintain my Navajo heritage and remember where I come from both geographically and lineally. Remembering this is important as it does reflect who I am and has given me an understanding of what I feel is important. Being Native American has had some of its quandaries (as does any minority) for the most part being a Native has been a blessing. Being of ethnic descent has placed many doors in front of me waiting to be opened, but I don’t want to talk about the doors that could be opened — I want to talk about the people and experiences that have shaped my ideals and values while living in the place of my ancestors.
While living in the great state of Utah people have shown me the vast beauty of a seemingly endless state. I want to thank my mom for keeping me in touch with my ancestral homeland down in Arizona, by taking the family down there to my Grandmother’s farm. This has shown me the importance of staying connected to one’s roots, which I try to do in whatever way I can. It has also given me a love for mother earth — I was taught at a very early age that she is the one that you must ultimately respect and leave untouched.
Living in a beautiful state I have found solace in the outdoors. From the majestic Wasatch Mountains to the mighty red rock deserts in the south, I have seen much of what Utah has to offer and is has given me respect for the wilderness and how it must be preserved. I want my children and future generations to be able to see things the way I have and learn the importance of maintaining healthy biomes. Being involved with my science teacher has further reinforced how I feel towards the preservation of our local ecosystems. She has shown me how the current environmental issues need to be addressed. Taking her Chemistry and Environmental classes, as well as being involved in her club, I feel like it is my generation’s responsibility to take action, whether it is for survival or preservation.
Living in a place that has allowed me to experience the wilderness has shaped my values and aspirations. Being surrounded by immense beauty and the place where my ancestors have walked, I truly wish to not only preserve my homeland, but I want to preserve other people’s homelands as well. This is how I have reconnected with my circle.