I'm heartsick about what is happening at Standing Rock. I have two friends and colleagues who are there right now and another who was arrested a couple weeks back for peaceful protestation. In so many ways, I see us as deciding that living in the history books as being a savage people who robe indigenous folks of their land is better than actually having to live with the answer, "No."
No, we can't put a pipeline through their land. What if they were allowed to say, "No?"
Because that's not even on the table as an option. I welcomed this article that explained the many "talks" that had happened with the indigenous folks. The author explained that the Native American counsels often didn't meet on their schedule or in their time frame. The Native people simply didn't play by the rules we set out. But we set out the rules to ask them a favor. It wasn't ours to set the rules. It wasn't ours to decide to rescind on the contract and understanding of sovereign land.
I have two colleagues who are at Standing Rock now, sitting by the seven tribal fires that have come together in one encampment. This hasn't happened since 1876. Here is one colleague Aric Clark offering a Thanksgiving Day meditation. Here's another article from Thanksgiving by Benjamin Perry, "Spending Thanksgiving at Standing Rock Changed How I View the Holiday."
I can't get enough of it - news of it, prayer for it, information about it.
Of all the things that have happened this month, this is the watershed event. Forget what we thought of the last election being a watershed event - forget Clinton being the first female to run for a major party, forget Trump defying the odds and destroying the Republican party - the action we are taking at Standing Rock is going to speak to the character of our nation.
History books will continue the long tradition of describing American as the place that came and took land from others. We are the land that makes treaties and then breaks them. We are the land of manifest destiny. We are a bully who is greedy and doesn't take no for an answer - actually we don't even offer it as an option as an answer.
As a Christian clergy person in the United States, I can no longer read, interpret or preach the sacred texts of my tradition from any other perspective than that of the oppressor. I am on the side of the oppressor. And I am heartsick about it.
I'm starting to read a book called Faithful Resistance. It's been on my shelf for months and now is the time. Why? In it, Rick Ufford-Chase asks the question, Can a church who has been at the center of Empire for as long as we have make a course correction intentionally moving from the center of Empire to the margins?" I don't know the answer to this question but I want to find out what my friends and colleagues suggest is the answer. Would you like to join me in reading? I would certainly enjoy the company.