As far as life goes, I try and make a point of recognizing how fortunate I am on a daily basis. Not just when I am traveling or experiencing something out of the ordinary, but on the average days, too. Most times, though, even daily recognition barely verges on true gratitude. It takes something staggering to make us realize how privileged our lives really are.
Saturday night I sat down on my couch to watch the latest episode of Diane Sawyer’s 20/20. Titled “Hidden America: Children of the Plains,” I had no idea what I was getting myself into. For the next hour, I sat there in tears, watching the stories of four Oglala Lakota Sioux children who have lived lives that I cannot even begin to comprehend. I was horrified to hear the statistics on alcoholism, obesity, and unemployment; to see the living conditions that make success and opportunities for these people nearly impossible; and to realize that our government is hurting them more than helping them. The worst part, though, was to feel the hope of these children who have no reason to believe that it even exists. I have never felt so embarrassed as an American; I had no idea that these people were living in such depressing conditions. Furthermore, I drove through the Pine Ridge Reservation just last summer, completely oblivious to where I was.
The special, which aired about forty minutes of footage, should have been made into a multi-segment series and shown in every household in America. Awareness is the first step and from what I can tell, it is minimal. After googling “how to help” I found one mention of an event (outside of private donations) that gives to Pine Ridge. I found myself wanting to travel to Hamilton, OH, in order to run a 5K that raises money to provide backpacks and school supplies to the children of Pine Ridge.
I don’t usually have a burning desire for preaching about something, especially something political, but I find myself wanting to tell everyone I see about this. I want our government – for once in our history – to treat these people fairly. And I want the private organizations that donate millions to countries around the world, to focus on the heartbreak that we have in our own country.