Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nature's God...

This morning before putting out my flag, I again read the Declaration of Independence.

Apart from mildly stilted language, general eloquence and lofty ideals, there are a few things that rightly cause us to squirm in our seats. That "all men are created equal" was indeed radical talk by no means broadly accepted then. It still is not today. Sure, "men" may have been the rough equivalent of "humankind" back in '76. But think about the broad classes of human beings to whom the definition of "men created equal" would not have applied. Like women. People of color. No property rights, no educational or civil rights, no citizenship rights--because they were not seen as "men". They could be owned, bought, sold, imported, used for food and wealth production and used for sexual pleasure. All of that was seen as being entirely consistent with the drafters' worldview which they understood to stem from entitlements granted by no less than the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God". Squirms all around, I hope.

The drafters of the declaration decried the British king's "transporting of large armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, destruction and tyranny..." Today we use them ourselves, calling them "contractors" and "coalition partners". As if they were doing painting or concrete work. We use them to deny the true costs of war. Hardly a grownup position, but the prevailing one.

Then there was the problem of the king's use of "the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions". (See definition of "men" discussion above.) Sounds like an apt description of suicide bombers, better named homicide bombers. But it all too often fits completely what we accomplish with the use of drones. Or rifles back at Wounded Knee. Who was that chief forced to flee a Pharaoh's army to Canada? Why again did we have a Trail of Tears here in USA? Tell me again about smallpox, carpet bombing with alcohol, worthless treaties and "termination". Children shipped off to boarding schools to be decultured but not acculturated.

"Reservations?"  Merciless who?

A wise man once said, "Everybody wants peace. But we also want what we cannot have without war." Our own founding documents call us to repentance and renewal and humility before the God of all people and all things. And may the God of All Things and All People renew us and restore us in steadfast love. And hope.

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