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“The World Will End” and “Independence Is Good”

We have been talking a lot in Native liberation about the “religious” beliefs that permeate societies as fact. Some factor into the care-of-the-environment conversation, for example, the “end of the world” beliefs and theories—the idea that “the world will end” and we need to be prepared. (It seems that all major religions that arose from the lineage of Abraham have some version of this.) This collection of beliefs fuels the panic in care-of-the-environment work. In my mind there is something here that needs to be discharged, so that we can think, without the attached panic, about the care-of-the-environment work that needs to be done. 

Another “background noise”: Independence is good, to be strived for (U.S. dogma). This is used to justify expansion, stepping on and over anyone else, Manifest Destiny* (preordained by God).

Marcie Rendon 
International Liberation Reference 
Person for Native Americans
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA 

* In the United States in the nineteenth century, Manifest Destiny was the widely held belief that U.S. settlers were destined to expand across the North American continent. There were three basic themes: (1) the special virtues of the U.S. people and their institutions, (2) the U.S. mission to redeem and remake the world in the image of itself, (3) a divine destiny under God’s direction to accomplish this task.

Such a doctrine was already firmly entrenched in the Western legal tradition, going back to Biblical times. Abraham needed a reason for dispossessing the Canaanites. The reason, according to the Bible, was that God had given the land to Abraham’s people. As God said through Joshua, “I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you dwell therein.” (Joshua 24:13) The dispossession was also justified on the grounds that the Indigenous inhabitants were idolaters, cannibals, and human sacrificers—neither civilized nor of the true faith. 

The colonizing religions of the Old World—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—all trace back to Abraham, and through him to Noah and to Adam, in order to inherit this “chosen” status and thus to inherit the earth and dominion over it. As it is written in the Book of Psalms, God said, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” (Psalms 2:1-11) 


Last modified: 2014-12-08 19:36:07+00