Monday, June 23, 2008
P.1 Thoughts on the Chief Seattle Letter
One of the interesting things this letter shows is the vast casm that exists between the perspectives of the native Americans of the time and white westerners in general with respect to mans place on earth.
What I'd like to argue is that one of the themes which is weeved into the Christian tradition via the first book of the bible is the idea of entitlement. Here is the world created on the one hand, and man created on the other. God takes man, places him on earth from outside and gives him dominion over it and the animals.
Genesis 1, 26 (NIV)
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, [b] and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
This idea of entitlement follows it’s way through the OT. In the book of Joshua we find the Hebrews with entitlement handed down from God laying siege to the land of Canaan.
9 Joshua said to the Israelites, "Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD -the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap."
This is a dangerous way of thinking indeed, that somehow we have total dominion over that which we lay claim. At first the question of, "how can one buy or sell the land", seems almost rhetorical, but it is in fact a serious question. We westerners "BELIEVE" in ownership and entitlement, and it is this fact that creates the drive towards greed in our human nature. And it is a cultural phenomenon derived from our western philosophical/christian traditions that creates this. Surely there are other societes that share this belief, however they're stories of creation also share the same theme of man being placed here and having dominion.......