The Horizon

This year, it took me a bit to answer the question of what am I thankful for. Of course, I am thankful for my children, my wife, my elders; for my strength of health, and my tribe. They are the energy from which my light burns, and without them I am nothing.

Yet beyond that, my looking for things to be thankful for find me at the bow of a boat, searching the horizon for signs of land. The vessel I sail is tempest tossed and battered. The travelers with me, sullen and silent, for they are weather beaten and tired from battle.

This year has tested the strength of our people. From the day the people decided to welcome an invading false god who promised them power and privilege, we have been on our back foot, holding shields up against onslaughts of barbaric attacks to our humanity and existence. Allies we felt we could count on have abandoned us — easily angered by old grievances manipulated and perpetuated by a wily foe.

The masses we try to protect are in denial that they are in danger. Distracted by trinkets and magic, they are content to live their lives and ignore the battle they hear in the distance. Only when the invaders come to their door do their realize the danger is real, and by then it is too late.

We were a powerful people; imperfect, but proud. Together, we worked to solve problems and we passed on the stories of our ancestors to learn from our mistakes. Those were the songs sung by the fires at night. Today we are superstitious and easily fooled, listening to myths told as fact and never questioning why. The invaders reject our old songs and force upon us new ones they create that serve their purposes, that raise their stature and erase our memories. They build monuments to their own ego and greed, and tell us to worship them and reject our old ways.

Beneath our feet, the ground shakes. The skies above us turn grey and unleash a fury unlike any our elders have seen. It is like the earth itself is angry with our choices. Yet the power it unleashes is indiscriminate, hurting friend and foe alike. It serves to send us a message that we are all here together, and exist only at its pleasure. It tells us clearly that we must all find better ways to care for it or we will surely perish together.

The invaders ignore the messages as they seek riches and glory. But they are afraid. They fear that despite their power their numbers still dwindle. They fear that the people still know the stories of old and will find courage and strength from them. And they fear that eventually the different tribes will understand that we have more that unites us than separates us, and that together we can end this dark time and return to the light.

So I am thankful not for the events of the recent past, but for a future of hope. I am thankful that through struggle comes understanding. I am thankful that there are those unafraid to be beacons of light in the darkness. Their stories will one day be shared by the fires, long past the days when the monuments to ego, greed and destruction are torn down.

There is land in the distance, fertile and free. We may be tired, but so long as we have life, we will sail towards the horizon to meet it.

Urayoan, Cacique De La Yagueca, in Barcelona, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico