Chronicles in Ordinary Time 78: the tracks we leave behind…

My desire for the last few weeks has been to write something upbeat…it’s just very hard, looking at the world and the way it is.

Sitting BullWe will be known forever by the tracks we leave behind.

Lakota Proverb

I watch a lot of movies. Now that my time is not as tied to a schedule as it has been in the past, and because I spend about 1/3 of my day in a chair in the living room, I watch even more movies/DVDs…they occupy my mind while my hand and eye are working together.

I’m not sure why I’ve never watched “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” before. I spent several months, back in the 90s, researching our American history and our treatment of the ‘indigenous people’ who occupied our continent until we—white folk—drove them off their land. I’ve heard that there were something like 500 nations in the Americas before the Europeans arrived.

I’ve also spent/invested the last two weeks of my time investigating my family history. As an adult I’ve largely considered myself as an ‘immigrant child’—I’m ‘first generation on my Mom’s side of the family [she was born in Norway]; and ‘third generation’ on my Dad’s maternal side of the family [my maternal great grandparents were Swedish, born in Finland. My paternal great grandfather comes from a family line that seems to have taken the Biblical command VERY seriously: “As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” From that generation backward, it seems like every mother gave birth to a dozen children—free labor. I found an immigrant side of that family as well—one of my ancestors emigrated from England to America in the mid-1600s. To my surprise, that line of my family goes back to Charlemagne—by marriage—a Plantagenet descendant married a woman who is in my ancestral line…

I’ve been a member of churches for the last 40 years; and I was in a Christianity-based sales organization for much of the 80s and early 90s. For years I have heard from platforms and pulpits, how blessed the [white] American people are—‘the only nation created in the name of God’—and other such nonsense. The prosperity so valued began in the 50s and 60s, increased in the 80s and died in 2008…I’ve heard so many people state that our material prosperity is a ‘gift from God.’ For all of our supposed ‘prosperity’ we have an incredible number of mass murders. Divorce, unemployment, destitution.

A lot of people who ‘proof text’ the Old Testament tend to leave out the places where ‘God’s People’ were cursed because of their wickedness. The Pilgrims who arrived here were seeking religious freedom—from the Anglican Church of England at that time. It’s probably an exaggeration to state that the Pilgrims came to bring religious freedom to a new land. They weren’t seeking religious freedom for everyone—they were seeking the freedom to practice their own religious beliefs.

We tend to rewrite history to make it sound much better than it really is. It appears today that the Founding Fathers, in declaring their independence from England were really saying that “we hold these Truths to be self-evident—that all [white males] are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…’ However, history has caught up with the Founders and the Supreme Court has ruled that these rights mostly apply to all American citizens, without regard to gender, race or religion. One of the ‘problems’ of a Democratic Republic—the rules can change.

Tonight I’m thinking about the huge number of Native Americans who were slaughtered by European emigrants who believed they could own land [“On 8 September 2000, the head of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) formally apologized for the agency’s participation in the “ethnic cleansing” of Western tribes]; about the Japanese-American citizens who were sent to American concentration camps during World War II; and the hundreds of thousands killed in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, which included the murder of thousands of children. How do we overlook such wickedness…

It is far easier for me to see the world today as being under a “curse”—I’m a 21st Century enlightened American Christian who has trouble thinking of the literalness of “curses and blessings’—than it is to see the results of blessing in our world.

And then there is another quotation from the movie: “There is another road that runs beside warpath, a secret road, only known to the Christ worshippers…” for me, it is important to distinguish between the religion and the followers…they aren’t necessarily the same.

Medicine Bottle

 

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