I woke up this morning at 1:50AM with plans to lazily scroll though Instagram until sleep reappeared. Within a few minutes, I saw a post about the Dakota Pipeline (remember the #NODAPL hashtag on social media?). The Sioux and their allies weren’t protesting the installation of the pipeline to prevent economic growth. They were doing it because of the very real chance that the pipeline would leak, contaminating their environment.
Yesterday, the pipeline leaked, contaminating their environment. Things like this would make a more innocent version of myself wonder why our nation puts the good of the economy over the good of its citizens. But, as I’ve become more cynical, I’ve realized that the Bible was right and the love of money is the root of all evil. Not only has America historically trivialized the lives of our Native American brothers and sisters because of its insatiable greed, to this day we spit in their faces and poison their water in an attempt to make the rich richer. Being that I am not a scientist, I cannot say with any certainty what 210,000 gallons of oil will do to an environment but it doesn’t take a genius to know that, yesterday, some of these protesters’ greatest fears were realized. Their children’s children may suffer as a result of America’s gross negligence and moral bankruptcy.
How do we begin to hold the government accountable? When do we put the corporations on trial to the point that they must be dissolved? At what point do we realize that, if a system is grossly underserving so many citizens, it should be done away with? And, to those who say, “Well, it is working for many, so let’s keep it in place and try fixing the broken parts instead of scrapping it in its entirety,” I say you are disillusioned at best and malevolent at worst. A system that, at its base, was meant to serve only those of a certain race and class will always primarily serve only those who meet that criteria until the foundation is replaced. We cannot fix this from the top down or the floor up. We have to dig deep, get to the bedrock, and redefine who we are as a nation. As I said in a piece published yesterday on Blavity, America is in such turmoil right now because its values do not align with its actions, and never have. We say we are the land of the free and the home of the brave but our (using that word loosely) founding fathers were little more than cowardly thieves of the most predatory nature with no regard for a humanity that didn’t look like they thought humanity should look. If one fails to identify the brokenness at his core and work to repair and make amends for it, how can that person (or nation) ever get better and live up to a set of lofty values? You don’t fix a bad habit by saying you’re working on it publicly while privately going back to the same habit. You need to be held accountable. We must hold America accountable.
So, to my Native American brothers and sisters, I hope Sioux nation sues the pants off the American government, pun intended. I pray they have wronged you for the last time. And I hope that, at some point sooner than later, America will go through the painfully revolutionary process of looking in the mirror and saying, “We have to start over.”
Make integrity a priority.