I am not a religious human, but the United States of America is unofficially a Christian nation. Understanding this, there is a scripture in the New International Version of the Bible, “Matthew 25:45”, which reads, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” In short, this scripture means that you cannot truly proclaim to love and serve “God” if you do not value and treat with kindness all humans. This sentiment has transcended holy texts and church buildings, it has become embedded within American society.
“If you help the least of these then everyone benefits” is spurred frequently during rally calls for justice and reform. However, this statement remains ideal and has not been demonstrated with fidelity to see it actualized. In this country, Native Americans continue to be victimized and terrorized at the hands of whiteness. As explained by Ta-Nehisi Coates, whiteness is “that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them.” I define it as a belief that one’s skin color inherently grants them universal privilege and domain over all others and all things. This is not to be confused with individuals who are simply white. Whiteness is an ideology. A false belief.
Most recently, an article published in the Wall Street Journal tells of another raft of catastrophe upon Native Americans at the hands of whiteness.
The article details a hospital on a reservation that was in dire need of a pediatrician for its children. So much so that the Indian Health Service (IHS) overlooked warning signs of possible inappropriate behavior and when those warning signs were found to be valid they did not fire Stanley Park Weber, the physician, and pedophile, but transferred him to another hospital, in an even more desolate community, where he would prey on and abuse young boys for another 21 years.
The IHS reports that “because the agency has struggled to recruit medical staff and experienced leaders, especially at remote reservations, officials said they gave second chances to doctors who likely would have struggled to find work elsewhere.” This is no excuse.
It is documented that alcoholism and suicide rates are often high on Native reservations due to the pain and trauma of poverty, the massacring of their people, being displaced and contained in their own country, just to identify a few possible reasons one might seek coping mechanisms. Weber preyed on this vulnerableness.
“One of Mr. Weber’s victims, testifying in Montana, described the doctor sexually assaulting him on a hospital examination table when he was about 11, around the time his father had killed himself.”
This is not the depth of his savagery. Of the victims who have come forward, some admit to being as young as eight years in age when the doctor began to fondle and molest them. Perhaps what is most disturbing, other than this abhorrent behavior, is the degree to which the suspecting administrators went to dismiss and turn a blind eye to this behavior, sometimes taking bribes, or taking punitive measures against those who reported the observation of suspicious behavior. This cycle continued for nearly thirty years and left a string of broken men who suffer from alcoholism, drug abuse, and crime, in its wake.
America is a country founded on the doctrine of equality and justice for all, but it is the most vulnerable who have always suffered and been excluded from this myth.
I do not write to appeal to the conscience of a nation, for as James Baldwin has stated, “..this is the crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen, and for which neither I nor time nor history will ever forgive them, that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it.” I write this for all of us who are “relatively conscious” and know that injustice done to one of us is injustice done to all of us. I write this so that the silence does not continue. Whether it be Stanley Park Weber or Robert Kelly, Harvey Weinstein or Donald Trump, a priest or others in positions of authority, in the USA or international, those of us who believe in justice must not only speak up but show up.
We must remember to be there for the citizens of Flint, MI even when the story is no longer the headline.
We must fight for educational access and equity in America and Pakistan and elsewhere.
We cannot let up, we cannot assume that governments are standing on their promises, we must be vigilant in our protection of and care for each other.
There is an unlimited number of ways that we can do this. If you can not show up in person, donate money. If you cannot donate money, speak. Speak in meditation, speak in prayer, speak in an exchange of energy, speak to your congressmen and all officials, speak to those around you, speak to the victims themselves, speak to your children, speak to your own heart to protect it from apathy. Speak!
And show up!
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”