Handle With Care

Yesterday, amidst a personal crisis, I received a call informing me that the daughter of a dear friend was in the hospital with meningitis. Elizabeth is a mere 2 weeks old and is battling for her life. I immediately thought of two things. The first being the reality of how precious and fragile life is. The second being how much we, as 'functional' members of society, do not value our lives.

Just two days before her diagnosis, I held Elizabeth in my arms. In awe at her beauty and scared to death that I would hurt her. Just four days after her birth, I held her for the first time. Amazed at this tiny creature who came from nothing but the love between a man and a woman and of course, the love of God. This small and beautiful child that I held had the power to bring many people to their knees to beg the Lord to help ease her pain. To strengthen her parents, Mike and Rose.

To see something so fragile become even more vulnerable was a slight jolt. It reminded me that all life is precious and should be handled with care. Yet, we choose to throw ours away. Whether it be with the abuse of drugs, alcohol, sex, or money. We take our lives for granted. We go, day to day, thinking that we are invincible. We put foreign chemicals of all sorts in to our bodies and do not realise the damage that we can do to ourselves or to those whom we love.

Our lives are not our own. We are given the gift of life from a being greater than any of us will ever be. So, in thanksgiving of this life that we are gifted with, should we not value it? Should we not try to do the best we can with what little time we have? If only we all came with a tag that read, 'Handle With Care'.

If a small child has the power to bring man to his knees in prayer, can that same child hold within her palm, the power to bring a family to healing? The power to wake us all up and face our realities rather than drowning them in vices of our choosing? I pray that it does.


Age and State of Mind

Today, I am 30. I feel no different from yesterday, really! It's an age that many people in their 20s fear. For me, it marks a new beginning. A chance to make things right. An opportunity to realise my dreams.

I remember, back in middle school, at the age of 13, I looked forward to turning 16. Sweet sixteen. The right of passage from being a girl to being a woman. There was the huge party with 16 candles and 16 roses. Dancing with dad during the father/daughter dance. It was a huge step! Something marked with a lot of food and drink!

After that, the big number was 18! At eighteen, here on Guam, you could party! With eighteen being the legal drinking age, it was something all young people look forward to! At eighteen, I could finally head in to a club without the worry of being caught! I could vote and get myself in to all sorts of trouble!

Then, 21!! At twenty-one, I could legally drink anywhere I lived! It was, officially, the age of freedom! The age that marks a milestone in all lives. The age where we are bound, legally, to all the decisions we make.

The dreaded 30! Most people have a fear of turning thirty. When you tell a teenager, 'I'm thirty', they always respond with, 'That's old!' I think that the fear of being called 'old' has most women, in particular, trembling! But, you see... Thirty is a big step.

I, for one, am planning on taking some huge steps this year. From vacationing as an adult to getting my life back on track. At 29, you're still at a dismissible age! The decisions we make up to that point at excusable by that fact that we are still young! 'Oh, that's OK, she's just in her 20s!' But, no longer, my friends. I am now fully accountable for the decisions I make from here on out!

I do have my whole life ahead of me! I am not old, by any standards! Being old is a state of mind, in my opinion. I like to think of being thirty as being mature. Being able to own up to my choices and become a better person because of them. I mark this day by making promises to myself to live a healthier and more productive life. To be able to look back on my 20s and shake my head and smile at the naivety of being young.

Who says that being thirty meant having to settle down and live a boring life? When I'm in my 60s, I will be able to look back at my life and realise that I've lived it to it's fullest. Today, my friends, marks a the beginning of the rest of my life.


Tano' i Chamorro

Tano' is the Chamorro word for land. The phrase 'Tano' i Chamorro' translates in to 'land of the Chamorros'. It is something that we, as the native people of Guam, take much pride in. We boast about the beauty of our land. The opportunity to escape to a secluded water hole or a private beach at our every whim. But, this is quickly turning in to a thing of the past. Something that our children will not be able to experience.

With the impending development of a Marine base on Guam, we are loosing access to some of the most beautiful getaways that our island has to offer. Areas that were utilized by our ancestors, and have since been made available for our enjoyment, will soon be taken over by the military. While it is not known yet whether all access to these areas will be cut off to the public, it is safe to assume that use of the area will be restricted.

Our people have been subject to restrictions for as long as I can remember. All my life, I can recall having to get clearance to visit certain beaches. It is a shame that the natives of our island have to seek permission for access to a land that is inherently ours. Even more shamefully, this land that I have to seek permission to utilize is freely available to strangers who have come to our island because they choose to serve their country. To strangers who disrespect and look down on our people.

You see, I have nothing against Americans. I call myself an American. It is a right that I inherited through birth. That my grandparents inherited through blood and tears. But, there are people who serve my country - our country - who do not take in to consideration that our culture on Guam is one of great respect and pride. We are a passive culture. We are a culture that believes we have a debt to pay to the U.S. for liberating and therefore saving the lives of our forefathers from the hands of the Japanese.

But, what is liberation if we are not free to use our own land whenever we please? What is liberation without being able to walk freely about that island that we love? What is this equality that we speak of in our constitution? What is justice?

To us, liberation is being held captive on our own island. Liberty is having to be careful where you tread for fear of being caught by a base official and kicked out. Equality is having to bow down and respect an American born in the states while they trample on you and talk about you like you are the lesser human being. Justice is trading an acre lot for a dozen of eggs and calling it even.

Maybe, one day, we can truly say that we, the natives of Guam, are free in our own land. Maybe, one day, we will be able to work, hand in hand, with the military forces on our island and come to an agreement that doesn't make us feel like captives at the mercy of their master. Maybe, one day, we can be truly proud to say, 'YES! I am Chamorro and I am also PROUD to be an American!'

This land, the land of the Chamorros, is a land that I have come to appreciate over the years and it is one that I am willing to fight for. We, the natives of this island, can not sit down and smile while our portion of the island gets smaller and smaller. We must stand proud and let them know that we are not going to lose the only thing we have left of our ancestors.