We are sitting in a café talking about some bad stuff that is happening to one of the Native youth.
She says “It’s all bad. It’s evil. There is no good to it. I hate the drinking and the violence and the fear that I live with.”
“You are right to be disgusted with all of this. And we will work on some possible changes,” I say.
“I just can’t get over how hard it feels and how much damage it is doing to me,” she says, with her head bowed and her fists clenched.
“For me,” I say, “it is too emotional for me to call things good or evil so I try to look at the yes and no. There are things that stop my world, sometimes it is a big affirmation yes and sometimes it is a giant slam in the face no. What is important is my response about going forward, regardless if it is a pat on the head or a slap in the face.”
“How do you do that?” she asks with real curiosity in her face.
“I try to think about what within me is being said yes or no to,” I say. “If I call it good or evil then I am judging myself and muddling my mind with overtones of guilt or pride. So what are the yes and the no in this for you?”
We talk about it for a while. Then she says “I think that the no is that I know what is bad and what I don’t want in my life anymore. I think the yes is that I think I have a way out.”
With that, a new proficiency in discerning the yes and no in whatever is given joined the repertoire of life skills.
It is an ability that takes a lot of practice.