I WRITE this on Friday October 12, Indigenous Resistance Day — two days before the Week of Prayer for World Peace, October 14 to 21.
October 12 is also the day the United States commemorates the 1492 landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas — hailed as “the New World” by Europeans who had no previous knowledge of America’s existence.
History records that the newcomers did not treat the newfound territories or their people kindly. They saw themselves as conquerors and the inhabitants as inferior beings. The countries’ riches were there for the plunder, the people mere savages, and the consequence of their actions mattered little.
This trend was to be the norm, with little consideration for indigenous habitations as more lands were hit by European cultures. (“Blacks are sub-human,” I was told by a South African in 1949.)
Miriam Pixtún of Guatemala’s Tz’ununija Indigenous Women’s Movement states: “In the struggle to defend our territory, our natural resources, our very existence is at stake.”
Powerful words that could apply where other lands are targeted by foreign infiltrators, less considerate of cultures and ecosystems.
These are the Ten Native American Commandments:
1. Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.
2. Remain close to the Great Spirit, in all that you do.
3. Show great respect for your fellow beings.
4. Work together for the benefit of all mankind.
5. Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.
6. Do what you know to be right.
7. Look after the wellbeing of mind and body.
8. Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.
9. Be truthful and honest at all times.
10. Take full responsibility for your actions.
Currently the world is embroiled in horrific turmoil and the injustice of re-conquering and exploiting foreign lands goes on — always ending in death, destruction and suffering with little regard for peoples and natural systems.
Since 9/11 even more zealous pressure has been applied by the War on Terror code, which the United States and its allies have willingly embraced.
Grating phrases such as, “we don’t negotiate with terrorists”, “pre-emptive strikes” and “collateral damage”, are now often in the news.
Desperate people struggling for freedom and resisting foreign forces are often mercilessly considered terrorists, with no right of redress.
Guilty or not, once tagged these people have no rights or dialogue under the new War on Terror rules.
Worldwide, great injustices are being perpetrated.
From a Buddhist entry in the 2012 Interfaith Week of Prayer for world peace leaflet, Responsibility for Peace:
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
“Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many.
“Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
“Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
“Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
“But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
During this Week of Prayer for World Peace, at interfaith meetings throughout our country, countless peace-loving people will be joining in prayer and activities to foster peace and harmony throughout the world. All of interfaith agree that love, compassion and forgiveness will achieve far more for God’s precious world than hatred, vengeance and war.