“Serra allowed his men to rape Native women
and kill their objectors. He tortured and maimed
those who resisted his message of Christianity,
and kidnapped children only to be reunited with their parents
after everyone agreed to family baptisms
and perpetual enslavement.”
Pope’s Hypocritical Stance Towards Indigenous Americans
Opens New Wounds
“There is something poetically appropriate
about the fact that the last surviving practitioner
in North America of the primordial existence
once shared by all humankind was known as ‘man’."
The last one they tell of staggered in unarmed, three years lonely. By then he had remembered to forget the screams documenting babies
blown to bits. Walking the creek bed will do that to a man. Cool water
and smooth rock will remind him of his mother and how she washed
his feet even after he bit her breast until she bled. The last one alive
had lived long enough after to remember who he was before
the first one was killed, and so, he walked into the corral politely,
anticipating every kindness. The able studied one named him ‘man’
Note: Born around 1860, Ishi is the last known living member of the Yahi, a small tribe that lived near Mount Lassen in northern California. Theodora Kroeber tells Ishi’s story in her book Ishi in Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America (1961). In his 2014 SF Gate article, one in a series devoted to San Francisco’s history, Gary Kamiya reflects on how Ishi (‘man’ in Yahi language) acquired a name. Ishi lived through the climax of genocide in California.
Those said to be wild, that is everyone out from under the direct control of human beings who see themselves as not that, are essentially free willed, free thinking, free spirited, un-indoctrinated spiritual beings. I want to say that Ishi, “the last ‘wild’ Indian”, was the last recognized spiritual man of California.
Pope Francis’ urgent call for renewed care of creation is as commendable as his decision to glorify Junipero Serra is reprehensible. Pope Francis has carried on a legacy of condoned religious persecution and genocide. The contradiction between Pope Francis’ message on ecological culture and his action sanctifying the recent desecration of California’s ecological cultures suggests to me that, while he may understand the science of ecology, Pope Francis does not sense the spiritual underpinnings of what can be known empirically.
What can be known empirically is but a rudimentary understanding of what is actually going on. There is something underlying and encompassing everything, which the human mind does not know and is unable to understand. One who seeks to understand mystery is furthest away from harvesting the fruit of life, and safely navigating forest and sea. A man endangers himself when he is arrogant and naïve enough to think that he is the most intelligent among other men and other creatures; that a hierarchy of intelligence is in play and that somehow he knows best.
The world is all one intelligence at the depths, split into different pieces at the surface, each playing a critical role. By creating God in his own image, half the human image, the arrogant male has nearly destroyed his psychic counterpart and peers, the ones with sense enough to know their power and, by an evolutionary twist of fate, lending them less brawn or no hands, use their power not to rule over but to keep the peace. With this, I refer to female human beings, as well as to cetaceans realizing that the possibility of human and cetacean extrasensory power and interspecies telepathy is a stretch for many. Both empirical evidence and human experience 'prove' that human beings are far from alone among sensitive animals capable of meta-cognition, thinking about thinking, which leaves open existential contemplation.
Ishi is written in witness to unconditional love’s profound healing power. Subconscious memory of being nurtured and loved unconditionally can be retrieved and restored to the person, resolving the insult of anything brought to consciousness that contradicts the original experience of being the center of someone’s affectionate attention and concern. This process of recovering the subconscious memory need not be itself conscious, just as chronic attention to the traumatic experience through conscious recollection may perpetuate rather than alleviate suffering. Wounds heal not through memorializing violence.
"We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers
who came here immediately after the genocide
and we had to ask some of them to leave.
They came and their practice did not involve being outside
in the sun where you begin to feel better. There was no music
or drumming to get your blood flowing again. There was no
sense that everyone had taken the day off
so that the entire community could come together
to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy.
There was no acknowledgement of the depression
as something invasive and external
that could actually be cast out again.
Instead they would take people one at a time
into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around
for an hour or so and talk about bad things
that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave."
~A Rwandan talking to a western writer, Andrew Solomon,
about his experience with western mental health and depression.
To survive genocide is to endure a wound that dates back to the first genocide. Risk to a survivor is identification with the root of the perpetration; the energies of shame and fear. In this state, the victim suffers and may struggle, requiring assistance to regain authentic self-appreciation as to avoid embodying conceit, paranoia and narcissism. If the wounding goes untended, narcissistic behavior, including emotional and/or physical violence, can be anticipated. Resolving the pain of past harms is implausible when the wounds fester, and, thus, violations continue.