Reporter's Notebook

Embracing imperfection first step towards progress

By Antonio Ramirez
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, Sept. 19, 2013

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W hile constituents consistently criticize the Navajo Nation Council for its lack of productiveness, delegates have many responsibilities and quite a few of their accomplishments go unseen.

However, this is not an acclamation of Council.

Throughout the five-day long budget session a person could have watched the entire first season of Breaking Bad between the times when Council was scheduled to begin and when Council actually began because it was waiting to meet quorum.

On Day One of the budget session, it took two-and-a-half hours for the required amount of Council delegates to arrive at the Chambers so the audit hearings could commence.

On the day this article was written, this past Monday, Naabik'i'ya'ti' Committee took four-and-a-half hours to begin.

To be fair, not all Council delegates are consistently guilty of tardiness. As well, many of the delegates who do make it to the chambers on time have a good sense of humor. They crack jokes while waiting to meet quorum, which helps pass the time and abate any feelings of irritation.

By the time the last-needed delegate made it to chambers all the delegates present cheered for him in the same way a group of young sailors from 1942 would hurrah after a group of beautiful women.

Delegate Tsosie announces to Council, "I've been trying to provide an incentive for people to be on time by buying them sherbet and steamed corn."

As Speaker Johnny Naize was discussing the possibility of altering the rules for the day so session could begin with only one chair or vice chair from each of the four main committees under Nabbik'i'ya'ti' Committee, the delegates present began to get real excited.

Then someone asked the menacing question, "How many chairs do we have here?"

"Two," someone else responded and while many in attendance were likely frustrated almost everyone in the chamber broke out in laughter.


In criticism of Council's rhetoric, this reporter has recognized during Council sessions: comments irrelevant to the conversation, incomplete sentences that failed to make a point, and inflammatory language both unnecessary and deceptive.

For the most part these comments are not consistent enough to undermine productivity of Council sessions.

Nonetheless, comments such as the one asserting that an amendment to the budget was unfair because it would negatively affect the children, the widows, the poor, and the orphans, are a distraction. Not because the children, the widows, the poor, and the orphans are not important, they are significantly important.

This type of inflammatory comment was, in particular, a distraction because it could also be asserted that the amendment would positively affect children, widows, poor people, and orphans.

Incomplete sentences and irrelevant statements are fewer and further between. Especially, during the specific committee meetings when delegates have more specific responsibilities. However, these fractures of communication are capable of complete eradication with preparation, practice, and acknowledgement that these fractures of communication exist.

Embracing imperfection is the first step towards progress. Not only is this advice for Council, but for anyone. While some may malign another person's reputation, it should be remembered that with structured and accurate criticism, great improvements are within our grasp.

Editor's note: Antonio Ramirez' last week as a Navajo Times intern is this week.

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