While reading Linda Hogan’s “Department of the Interior” I was reminded of the recent controversy in Zanesville, where a man who owned a variety of exotic animals let them out of their cages and then killed himself. As a result the authorities were forced to kill almost every animal that was let loose, in order to protect the people living around the area. I can’t help but see the parallels of that sad story with the attitude we have as a culture towards the earth. We use and abuse the earth and other people, and either refuse to acknowledge that our choices have consequences, or that we are making the wrong choices.
Knowing the little bit that I do about the suffering that white settlers inflicted on Native Americans already simultaneously disgusts and depresses me. We weren’t taught very much about it in school, only the basics. Unlike racism against black people, I think racism towards Native Americans often falls to the background in a scarily quiet way. There is not a lot of discussion about it, it’s almost like we have forgotten about their past suffering. I can’t imagine the pain and anger that Native Americans feel towards white people. I grew up white and middle-class, and I would say have definitely lived a privileged life. I’m not discriminated against because of my skin color, my ancestors weren’t killed by the thousands in cold blood, and I don’t feel a responsibility to carry on the traditions of heritage.
The choices that we make have such a profound effect on others, and it is incredibly sad to think what will happen if we don’t soon change our selfish ways. Terrible things have already happened, and are happening. I can only hope that America learns more about the Native Americans and their suffering, so it won’t become such a distant concept to us.