You are Culpable
And so am I
What are we going to do about any of this? I'm sick of memes and infographics and virtue signaling and performative outrage and then nothing. I'm sick of myself when it comes to this. Sick of and from all of it. Here I am, running off at the mouth, borderline incoherent and full of outrage on a week I truly wanted to be love-filled and positive with my writing. It's the solstice and a full moon and we should all be naked and setting effigies on fire, not each other.
I'd surmise there isn't an Indigenous person in North America whose family isn't impacted by the boarding school system in both Canada and the United States. Certainly other places too, I just don't know about them. To think one government is any different from the other is wrong. There are mass graves in America too, they just haven't been found. Yet. But it's time to start digging. This is not ancient history. The graves are fresh. Some of these bodies are people who might otherwise still be alive. These are members of our families. Members who were taken and then just ... disappeared. This isn't hyperbole. This is how colonialism gets its bloody work done. The work is genocide and it is still happening overtly and covertly. You are culpable in it too. It's just a matter of degree.
I feel gross sharing a clip from a film, but damn does this one ever nail it.
I have hard questions for my Christian friends. How do you walk into a church and pretend you are anything more than a scourge on the earth? How does it feel to be a participant in one relentless, brutal crime against whatever morality still exists in the world? How do you live with yourself? You are all in the same club. The same gang. In particular, if you are Catholic, how do you manage to hold your head up, with one murderous hate crime after another perpetrated by your officials, gone un-addressed at the highest levels of your organization? How do you justify your participation? Are you going to tell me you are working to change it from within? Because if you are you better roll your goddamn sleeves up and start getting serious about it.
I was baptized Catholic. And I am an American too, for that matter, a citizen of a nation responsible for countless innocent deaths the world over since the country was first founded, built on a bed of deceit still propagated at the highest levels. I didn't choose to become a citizen of the USA, though, I was born into it. Just like I didn't choose to be baptized Catholic as an infant. But here I am, and nothing can change either reality. What are we going to do about it? How are we going to wash the stain from our hands?
I'm culpable in a lot of things. I am culpable when it comes to being happy to see Catholic churches getting burned down in Canada. I'm culpable when it comes to the desire to see the Vatican in ruins. At my angriest, as now, I'm culpable for the desire to see the pope in a body bag. Priests in body bags. Nuns in body bags. People who looked the other way while all of this happens? Body bags. People other than my people, my "class" of people, who are always the first to wind up in body bags, in body bags. I'm ready to see some of these politicians in body bags.
Maybe the solution is to be more than just culpable. Start torching churches myself until some assholes are held accountable. Get a gang of Indians to join me. Don't worry, we won't steal your children—we aren't monsters, for crissakes. But we certainly will put a few black robes in the ground. Maybe we'll start with those Catholic priests in Great Falls who lined up behind Trump last year. I want every single one of them living in abject terror. We won’t even mess with body bags. Shoot, shovel, and shut up. Isn’t that the line they use for some of our brothers and sisters?
It is exhausting. I realized last night that I need to figure out a way to live with the world and the way it is, and with the people who are in it, or one of these days I'm going to shoot myself. But even that is not the answer. That’s a surrender and I’m not in the mood for that. Here is the late poet David Budbill with a wonderful poem:
I’m no aspiring Bodhisattva. And in reality I'm too much of a coward to be more culpable than I already am. I don't actually want anyone to live in terror. I don’t want to kill anyone. Nor do I want to blow my own brains out. So what am I going to do? What are we going to do? I don't want to hate, but I spend a lot of energy failing not to.
Can we figure out a way to love and care for each other, make amends for all our cruelties, enjoy ritual and celebrate and be spiritual, but leave all the assholes and their guilt and violence out of it?
Tell me what is next. Tell me how we make the world anything other than what it has always been. Tell me what part you are willing to play. I’m all ears.