It’s a question I had to finally face because it has been gnawing at me for years, just below the surface. As a Native American and a student of history, I know of the hypocrisy, the constant sway towards American myth building, the social construction of “the White Man,” in order to maintain power and how many treaties were made by the United States with really no intention of keeping them. I’ve seen the disregard for the poor and the hate exhibited for those who are not mainstream or not from the “right” ethnicity. I’ve seen all this sin, both in its ugly raw grassroots forms and in its heinous sophisticated expressions.
Now it appears the present administration may be gearing up for an Iran assault and I wonder what is next? How many innocent Iranians will die? How many of our sons and daughters will have to die for someone’s political agenda? When will the quest for world domination ever end? History continues to repeat itself. I heard someone say, “if we invade Iran, I’ll move to Canada.” Others are speaking out of frustration and cynicism at what appears to be a growing fascism in the United States. Yet, for Native Americans—this is all yesterday’s news…
You may wonder why Native Americans fly the U.S. flag at our Pow Wows. Why do we have the highest rate of service in the U.S. military than any other group? Why despite continued mistreatment, do we remain citizens? While I can’t answer for all Native Americans, I believe I can safely say that it is not because we did not recognize the fascism, the attempted genocide, the lies, and the hypocrisy. Given our history with the U.S., these are very appropriate words to describe the government’s relationship with us. We have never held our eyes closed to the truth.
In some ways Native Americans comprise some of the best citizenry in America because we know the most vile underside of America personally. We benefit the least from America’s accomplishments and we still hold a glimmer of hope that the United States will one day live up to its own goal of being a true democracy. It has even happened in history on several occasions. Perhaps it can happen again. One thing is certain, fascism will not turn itself around willingly. The intoxication of power for those who lead such a regime will not simply abandon their addiction.
I hope that once we, as a nation, get over the shock of the American Myth being shattered, we can see more clearly that something else must happen to allow us to call on our “better angels.” Apparently our university students are not going to be the influence for peace like they were during the Vietnam era. And, even if they were, much of the media has opted out of protest coverage. The politicians are obviously unable to buck the system in the halls of power. The legal system is slowly being purged and gilded. The church is quietly acquiescent in regard to the affairs of the state. So, shall we just lay down and die? Become total cynics? Bury our heads in the sand? Join the rhetoric of those in power? Are there other options?
Without sounding trite, I am actually wondering what Jesus would do. Whatever it is that Jesus would do—it will take you for him to do it. I look forward to hearing from you.
Rev. Randy Woodley is a Keetoowah Cherokee Indian teacher, lecturer, poet, activist, pastor and the author of Living in Color: Embracing God’s Passion for Ethnic Diversity (InterVarsity Press). http://www.eagleswingsministry.com/