Man’s Tyranny Over Man
THE course of history confirms the truth of Ecclesiastes 8:9: “Man has dominated man to his injury.” Or as the Catholic Jerusalem Bible expresses it, “man tyrannises over man to his hurt.” Millions of people have suffered injustice, and this has been so under nearly all the different forms of government that man has experienced. A reminder of this suffering came in a speech by the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs of the U.S. Department of the Interior on the occasion of the 175th anniversary of the establishment of the Office of Indian Affairs.
He said that rather than a celebration it was “a time for sorrowful truths to be spoken, a time for contrition.” He admitted that the first mission of the institution in the 1830’s was to remove the southeastern tribal nations—the Cherokee, the Creek, the Choctaw, the Chickasaw, and the Seminole—from their lands. “By threat, deceit, and force, these great tribal nations were made to march 1,000 miles [1,600 km] to the west, leaving thousands of their old, their young and their infirm in hasty graves along the Trail of Tears.”
He continued: “Yet in these more enlightened times, it must be acknowledged that the deliberate spread of disease, the decimation of the mighty bison herds, the use of the poison alcohol to destroy mind and body, and the cowardly killing of women and children made for tragedy on a scale so ghastly that it cannot be dismissed as merely the inevitable consequence of the clash of competing ways of life.”a He admitted: “This agency set out to destroy all things Indian. This agency forbade the speaking of Indian languages . . . and made Indian people ashamed of who they were. Worst of all, the Bureau of Indian Affairs committed these acts against the children entrusted to its boarding schools, brutalizing them emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually.”
He concluded by saying: “Let us begin by expressing our profound sorrow for what this agency has done in the past. . . . Never again will we be complicit in the theft of Indian property. . . . Never again will we attack your religions, your languages, your rituals, or any of your tribal ways.” Significantly, he said: “Together, we must wipe the tears of seven generations. Together, we must allow our broken hearts to mend.”—Vital Speeches of the Day, October 1, 2000.
The only true and lasting solution to man’s inhumanity to man is God’s Kingdom, which will restore justice for all and “will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Revelation 21:3, 4.
a The history of the American Indians confirms that the tribes were often in conflict among themselves, so that fighting “for territory, horses, and buffalo became constant.”—The People Called Apache.
[Picture Credit Lines on page 31]
Indian: Artwork based on photograph by Edward S. Curtis; Map: Mountain High Maps® Copyright © 1997 Digital Wisdom, Inc.; Indian dwellings: Leslie’s