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Custer died for your sins; a reflection on collective sin in European Culture, made after the Brussels Bombings of 3/22

Custer died for your sins; a reflection on collective sin in European Culture, made after the Brussels Bombings of 3/22

dinsdag 29 maart 2016 23:24
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The sun has gone down in the West,

the day has been good to us. We were given the opportunity to work hard, there was a variety of good food in the end of the day, and the Lord allowed us to make a tour on foot in the wide area around our humble home, enabling us to renew our knowledge of the landscape that is ours, and re-establish our bond with it. Our connection with the stones, the footpaths, the trees, the hills, the prairie, the four legged animals and birds and the horizons. Let us now sit down around the fiery flame and let me tell you a story. (1160 words)

When grave Evil (“le Mal, c’est ce qui fait mal”, as the renown Swiss pastoral theologian Lytta Basset explains accurately in her masterwork, Le Pardon éternel. De l’abîme du mal au pouvoir de pardonner”), when a terrible Evil Event occurs to a population, a very dangerous situation can ensue, especially in those cases when the folks do not understand why this Thing is happening at all to them, and why “so all of a sudden”. Then a collective psychosis can grow and all the blind violence typical of this state of the human Mind. An enraging state of Mind caused by unbearable Loss of Comprehension and lack of keeping track of the Meaning of it all. We risk to go spiraling down because we lose perspective on the significance of suffering and of Life itself, that might follow in the head in the weeks after a certain Big Catastrophe.

Sometimes victims that have been denied access to a normal life, feel themselves obliged to explain a few things when they have succeeded making a Counter Attack of some importance. Gold and undisturbed dominion were the main reasons the United States Government wanted to take in possession the Black Hills, traditional sacred lands of the Native Americans in Montana. In 1874, a Black Hills Expedition was started. In May 1876, a cavalry army departed from Ford Abraham Lincoln. It’s was to be an ill fate. On June 25 and 26, combined warrior groups consisting of about 1800 Warriors of Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho, brought together by Sitting Bull, the Holy Man of the Hunkpapa Lakota (Sioux), met with the Seventh Cavalry in the plain at the sides of the stream called Little Big Horn. That army had been under the command of Lieutenant General George Armstrong Custer. He was a magnificent looking fellow, born in Ohio in 1839. The son of a blacksmith, he gained recognition with the father of his future bride, a judge, after he ascended to the grade of general. George Armstrong used to indulge in his long hair, but on this famous expedition in the summer of 1876, had just recently cut it all off. More to the point, during this campaign, he had decided to leave behind several canons, in favor of more abilities for his (Native American) scouts; information was more important now, he decided. Still, that day, he underestimated the numbers and bravery of the enemy dramatically. The Indians were led by Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Crazy Horse and other Chiefs. Custer’s forces where surrounded. The horsemen and shooters using bow and arrow obliterated the Seventh Cavalry. General Custer was killed, like all the troops under  his command. The unconceivably large gathering of Native Americans of different people had originated out of the need felt by Sitting Bull, to come together and talk about the matter what to do with the White Man. 

The original inhabitants of the land had indeed come under increasing pressure from the colonizing white people, who immigrated by the hundreds of thousands from Europe. They came for a set of reasons, economic, political, personal ambition in leaders, religious zeal… And partly because of dire economic necessity. Like the failing crops of potatoes in Ireland, where many families died of starvation at the end of the 19th century.

One surviving young Lakota that day, or rather one of the conquerors, was a young man called Black Elk, who was to become extremely famous after his memories, daily life stories and spiritual wisdom heritage was written down and published by the celebrated Nebraska Poet John Neihardt. (A renewed scientific edition was published only three years ago, I liked it a lot).

In the meantime, the American White People felt hurt to have lost general Custer, such an iconic military figure. Lost, moreover, to a Nation of people, a culture that was supposed to be inferior and maybe barbaric, compared to their own way of life. To the white’s, moral standards, religious concepts, art, technology and material wealth. The shame was felt so much, that one century later, in the seventies and eighties of the twentieth century, Native American Indians decided it could be of some use, to put a sticker on the boot of their cars saying:

Custer died for your sins

Now, let me tread carefully, I don’t want to hurt no one’s feelings. But let me make a special comparison, and ask you this question: “Why would it be that the good God (hallowed be his name), would send, or if you would rather call it, ‘allow to ascend’ to the Holy See in Rome, as head of the Catholic Church, Francis, such a superb Pope, only in these our own days?” A man that arguably is in possession of all the assets such a highly placed moral and religious Leader must possess to be able to do his duty. Amongst them, to guide and steer one third of the religious population of the planet, and a Global Society that is in possession of more power and wealth than in any other era… Francis has the clear Mind, the great & warm Heart…  and the balls to stand and deliver his Message exactly where it is needed. (Don’t we all remember how this man confronted the criminal organizations of drug dealers right in the heart of their territory in Mexico, only a couple of months ago.)

Let there be no doubt: this Man has during his life span been purified in God’s Gold Smith Flame of Suffering. His encyclical letter “Laudato si”, titled after the great ecological testament of the newly rediscovered Nature Loving saint Francis of Assisi, contributes ever day since its release, to growing a world culture of Respect for Mother Nature. Why did we in Europe and World christianity had to wait centuries for such a prophetic and good Pope?  Could it be that, speaking of the Spirit of the European Population, related as it will necessarily be to the mean and selfish behavior of the upper classes, both clerical and civil, for centuries, has been blocking such great man to ascend to his powerful position? We are speaking of a European Spirit characterized by a quality that cannot be much different from hideous Sinfulness…

Steven Hublou Solfrian

Louvain, March 29, 2016, one week after the Brussels Bombings

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