Ned Cantwell: State columnist
Just after noon on Sunday I got the word that my sister Lois had died in Maryland. She was my oldest living sibling and her death was not totally unexpected. Makes no difference. Even the expected carves at your heart.
Lois was an accomplished woman, a good woman. And as the youngest of 10, I never forgot how Lois and Frank took me in to their Falls Church, Va., home for some time during particularly trying times for our family.
This sorrow is exacerbated by the knowledge my brother Dick is suffering much at this stage of his life. Anyone who knows him knows Dick to be living a life of giving to others, especially young people and the underdog. He was a prime mover in bringing to his town a youth center when few thought it possible.
Also, close friends are struggling with serious health challenges, as are many families who face one crisis after another, the kind of things that make us all wonder why bad things happen to good people.
When overwhelmed by life’s events, I did Sunday what I always do, take a folding chair into the woods and sit there trying to think, and pray, and dope it all out. You can never dope it all out, of course, but I find that writing thoughts is therapeutic. So this one is for me.
Who knows why thoughts bubble to the surface or why on this particular day, at this particular time, I got to thinking about media reports I have been following about the Hopi Indians. Go figure.
The Hopis need jobs and money, badly. Their idea was to build a casino in Winslow, Ariz., not far from the New Mexico border on Interstate-40, and they intended to put that concept before their members in a tribal vote. My initial thought was this was a no-brainer. They are a struggling tribe and this is a chance to provide between 400 and 500 jobs and a $24 million casino take each year.
It’s what we do, isn’t it? Grab what we can, when we can. If it is at the expense of someone else, well, so be it. Everyone knows the trick is to stockpile as much material stuff as you can to last you through a rainy day, even if you already have enough to survive a deluge.
The Hopis had other ideas. The tribal members rejected the casino. “Not everything is money in this world as far as the Hopis are concerned,” said Caleb Johnson, tribe vice chairman who helped lead the campaign against the casino.
The Hopi vote to turn down the casino wasn’t overwhelming, but it was decisive, enough to let the world know that they believe living right is more important than joining the rat race.
I didn’t figure much out sitting there last Sunday. It is difficult to understand why bad things happen to good people. But the Hopi decision to retain core values made me realize there are a lot of good people in this world. One of them was my sister Lois.
Ned Cantwell is a retired newspaperman living in Ruidoso. He welcomes feedback at: