In the blink of an eye, an entire people were slaughtered and an entire civilization was destroyed by American guns, soldiers, and unspeakable treachery. Not everything the Native American people did was noble or wonderful. They had their share of flaws, their share of violence, their share of cruelty. They also had their share of goodness, their share of wisdom, and a valid and magnificent way of life much different from the Europeans who suddenly fell upon them. They had a participatory consciousness of the sacredness of life and a deep intuitive connection with the earth which was by no stretch of the imagination inferior to the state of consciousness of the violent foreign invaders who conceived of them as contemptible savages or mere children – a foreign people who understood nothing of their reality and could not even conceive of what they were destroying: for they were not just destroying human souls with as much intelligence, as much love and compassion, and as much humanity as themselves, but a civilization with as much wisdom as their own, with a comprehensive and advanced philosophy of life that was at least as refined as their own; and a vision of peace, justice and human goodness that the Americans of the time, had they understood their own Declaration of Independence, and had they been the least bit self-aware, would have honored, respected, and learned from. Instead, we betrayed all our own ideals.
In destroying the American Indian, this is what we destroyed, this is what we stole from ourselves and from the world. Can we now return to the world what was taken? Can we replace what was lost? Not in full measure, no. But can America give back to the world even some small portion of the spiritual wisdom, the profound understanding of the sacredness of life, the longing for peace, and the respect for integrity, that we obliterated? Unless we attempt to meet this obligation, all the compensation in the world, all the apologies in the world, mean nothing.
This article is an excerpt from my upcoming new book, THE BEAUTY AND NOBILITY OF LIFE: The Restoration of Meaning in a World Overwhelmed by Commercialism, Scientism, and Fundamentalism. You can receive a Free Preview Copy of Chapter One (“What Went Wrong?”) when you join my mailing list.