“Actually we have no problems – we have opportunities for which we should give thanks. An error we refuse to correct has many lives. It takes courage to face one’s own shortcomings and wisdom to do something about them.”

I think of this quote from Edgar Cayce quite often, from errors I have made in my personal life to what I am observing with the state of things in our world, country and our local community. It does take tremendous courage to face our shortcomings; it is not an easy thing to do.

There are so many things that I have done in my life that I am not proud of, these things have been done out of selfishness, arrogance or simply just not knowing any better.

However, when I can take responsibility for my actions, to face these issues openly and honestly, I have the opportunity to see these examples as lessons to do better. This does not mean that I am automatically off the hook or that I should be allowed to continue harming myself or others, but it does give me an opportunity to learn how to move forward in a good and better way.

I have learned that when I hold onto these mistakes, not forgiving myself or others, these mistakes continue to halt my growth…our growth.

What I have learned that has helped me is that I need to let go of the things that do not serve me any longer. It isn’t that I have forgotten or dismiss these mistakes as not a big deal, but I just do not give them power over me any longer. Those mistakes are not mine to carry any longer, and if I choose to do so, I should not be surprised if those issues continue to repeat themselves in my life.

So instead, I choose to give thanks for the lessons of these difficult situations as an opportunity to grow as a person, friend and as a reflection of each and every one of us.

Forgiveness is a powerful virtue to give to others and to ourselves. It really comes down to how we choose to perceive these events or situations in our daily life.

Here is an example that I have struggled with indirectly for many years. Being described as a shrewd businessman, cheating settlers out of property and being quoted as saying, “the Sioux Indians of Minnesota must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of the state.”

Alexander Ramsey had no regard for any other person’s interest besides his own and his rise in political power. There is no honor in this way of being, something that we all can relate to as our own selfishness, arrogance and/or just not understanding has had an impact in our lives.

So hopefully we can agree that this was not a bright point in our history.

However, if not for this turn of events in history I would not be here now nor would you. Therefore, I choose to give thanks for those who suffered at this time of our history for me to be here today.

With that being said, we can give thanks for the opportunity to learn and do better. However we do not need to honor this person anymore, it does not serve us any longer. 

We have an opportunity to change, to evolve, to be here now to grow together for a better tomorrow. For such a beautiful area of land that we are fortunate to live so close to, I do not believe we need to honor Alexander Ramsey any longer.

Instead, we can start the healing process to repair the harm caused by all of our ancestors that had to live through that time in history. Over the years, I have always had disdain for such a beautiful park to have such an ugly reminder of how it came to be.

As much as I disliked what the name of the park represents, I never had a thought or idea of what to replace the name with or even how I would go about it. Well that has changed.

I have witnessed enough to know we have the power, and, if we have the will, to make the change necessary to heal from the harms that were caused. Changing a name of a park is as easy or as difficult as we make it, but to what?

In the span of the last two months, I have observed something I have not witnessed to the extent that I had witnessed in this community. Tragic situations have a way of doing that to people, but again this provides an opportunity to do better.

I watched a community come together; providing help where needed, being kinder to one another, and a greater sense of community to search and honor a young person that went missing, Thunder Brother Of All. Even as much of a tragic event this is for family, friends and a community as a whole; it was very beautiful to see a community of people come together.

I did not know Thunder personally, but from my experience these past few weeks from his family, friends of his, as well as others that knew him; I got to know more about him through this tragic situation. Thunder brought many people together from all different backgrounds, histories and perspectives, which to me is more honorable than any title that is given to a person.

This is what I have been guided and the voice to say, but I have no idea what comes next or even have an agenda with this. All I am doing is inviting those who read this is to examine your intentions and send them forth in a good and honorable way.

I have found things manifested with good intent, pure of wanting and in giving thanks for what we have. Today we have a community that we know can come together when needed to share our gifts with one another.

So with that, I invite you to join me Nov. 22 in the park of Redwood Falls to give thanks to those who have come before us and for the legacy we leave for those that come after us. Share your gifts whether that is singing, dancing, painting and/or playing music to share with others who may join us.

Send out positive intentions; say prayers as you know them for healing within ourselves and those around us. This isn’t a sanctioned event, just an opportunity for us to send positive energy into the aether. If you cannot physically join us in the park, you can join us in spirit to give positive intentions, healing and thanks at 11:11 a.m. Nov. 22.

Let us send a ripple of good intentions through celebration and prayer. So what are you going to do at this moment?

Change starts within, and through our healing and gratitude we can be the light for others to follow through our example.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I will end with this: “Whether we can come here with heart full or heart empty, with spirits high or low, rested or tired, hopeful or despairing, whether we have come here out of habit, conviction, loneliness, or curiosity, we belong here because we are here, and all that we have and all that you are is welcome here. This evening we are, together, the heartbeat of this community.”

– Eric Johnson is the restorative justice coordinator for Redwood County.