Sitting Bull, seen here around 1883, was killed during an incident with federal law enforcement on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in 1890. Photo: David F. Barry

The dilemma of faith

Native Sun News Today Columnist

It is an unfortunate truth, indeed History has shown us that many religions (perhaps all of them) can become fundamental whether they mean to or not.  

What that means is that Radicalisms seems to arise in religious thinking whether that is the intention or not, centering on a book and the holy sites, a charismatic figure, land, power. This radicalization seems to have happened at times in history, not only in our generation, but in the past. 

When this happens religion manifests itself in a surreal relationship with the men and women who are led to believe. Often, terrible laws are made against the civil rights of citizens in relation to that religious fervor, and awful wars are endured because of faith.  

I was thinking about this as I read about the assassinations by American forces of the Iranian Generals Qassen Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muandis last week.  And I started asking questions about faith. 

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn. Courtesy photo

These killings are nothing new, of course, and they are often attributed to politics rather than religious belief.  Even the most significant societies have engaged in what are called political assassinations providing a steady diet of war killings ever since the Crusades but make no mistake,  they are driven by religious thinking and experience;  even,  we’ll have to admit,  for all of the two hundred plus years of our own existence as Americans.

Much argument goes into the meaning of these events.  If you want to say that this is not a religious war that is going on in the Middle East, you could be right.  Or not. Who knows?  Much religious thought is speculative. 

As we try to make sense of an unstable world, we must try not to insult the intelligence of those who differ. 

Historically, though, such acts are mostly said to be necessary for our own protection and they are accepted as the solutions to conflict. If not protection, then, the rationale is that we just prefer the solutions of strong countries and good economies, meaning that we will probably agree with the “good intentions” of such recent U. S. actions. Thus, we package them for public consumption with the condescending birthright of our own powerful White-Christian nation. We can make almost anything seem right given enough media attention.

A look at the Indian wars in America tells us that the assassinations of the Sioux Military leadership, i.e., Little Crow, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, have been accepted as a common way to stop wars.  

America often denounces the practice and eventually blows up a mountain sculpted with a faked image to honor the deceased but mostly to cover the tracks of shame. 

Assassinations are cowardly acts and we Indians feel sad that Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce along with Red Cloud of the Oglala,  Sitting Bull of the Hunkpati are among the rare Indian leaders of their  people who lived to an old age. Our heroes die early. Resistance leadership rarely allows you to raise your grandchildren if you are among the First Nations Peoples.

Today, analysis or criticism is not allowed either in Iran or America as it concerns this recent Iran assassination event.  And certainly, we don’t want to blame religion. And, so, we plod on harboring terrible hatreds and blinding faith in the necessary actions of a rich and powerful (and Christian?) country like America. Our perfect powerlessness cannot seem to stop our governments from such killings, so massacres continue.


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Thumbnail photo of Sitting Bull Monument by Brett Whaley

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