We are meditating on empires and colonialism and religions’ complicity in both.
Englanders sometimes raise the story that some Africans themselves were in league with the slave trade as they captured their own peoples, locked them in cages, and took much booty from the Westerners coming to steal Africans to bolster their imperial ambitions.
Of course there is the tragic story of American slavery that is still with us in so many ways, and the trauma inherited by the descendants of slaves. And the conquering of the Indigenous peoples, often in the name of religion, which has fed its own series of traumas to this day.
Plenty of sins to go around. Plenty of wounds and trauma and evil unleashed. No one tribe is without sin. Humanity is capable of plenty of evil wherever one lives.
Humans cannot live without myths. Psychologist Rollo May points out that myths are basic to societal ethics and morality. That is part of the story of the “tamed” monarchy of England that I touched on recently.
We are living between times, myths are in flux, the marriage of religion and empires is dying and deconstructing. And religions themselves are on the decline in Western culture. And that explains, I think, some of the confusion and chaos, bitterness, grief and anger of our times.
There are no easy answers, but one recognition that may help to contextualize issues today is this: An Age of Reckoning does not have to be an Age of Anger. It can also be an age of recognition, of understanding both the sins of our fathers and the possibilities of a species struggling for its survival as these sins come home to roost.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year is a stark reminder of the kind of power and havoc that empires and wannabe empires (including the dreams of the 3rd Reich to rule for “1000 years”) wreak on humanity.
Our “Age of Reckoning” extends beyond the era of empire-making to that of Ecocide and the afflictions humans commit against Mother Earth. That Reckoning is occurring as we witness the droughts and heat, floods and hurricanes, seas rising and creatures going extinct that have resulted from human imperial attitudes toward Mother Earth.
One yearns to see the “kingdoms” of this world yield to that promised kingdom where justice and compassion and community would be the norm. That “shared meaning,” might provide the “right glue” for societal and earth survival (using David Bohm’s language from yesterday’s video).
See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Falling Leaves. Photo by Benjamin DeYoung on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
Can you see a promise of justice and compassion as a provider of “shared meaning” that can buttress society and humanity’s relation to Mother Earth? How do we get there from here?