Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Wounded Knee - You Can Justify It In The End

I love this song "One Tin Solider" by Coven from the movie "The Legend of Billy Jack."
Spotted Elk lies dead after Wounded Knee Massacre, 1890

It tells a story of "Valley People" who wanted a treasure that was in the territory of the "Mountain People." Whereas the Mountain People were loving and ready to share, the valley bullies decided they wanted the treasure for their very own. And so they killed the mountain folk in order to get that "reward."

The reason I love the song so much, besides the ironic ending which we will get to later, was because of these poignant lines:

"Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of Heaven, you can justify it in the end

You can justify it in the end. 

Cleaning up the mess December 29, 1890, South Dakota
This leads me to Wounded Knee and all the other justified killings humans have ever thought were a "good idea." For all the times warriors, soldiers, and freedom fighters stood in righteousness over their murderous actions, there has been a small cry of sanity hoping for another way.

Wounded Knee - originally termed a "battle" by the victor, later termed a "massacre" by realists - took place December 29, 1890 in South Dakota. The day before, the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment led bands of Miniconjou and Hunkpapa Lakota to Wounded Knee Creek where the Lakota set up camp, surrounded by the Calvary. On the morning of December 29, the troops went into the camp to take away the firearms of the Lakota. That's when all hell broke loose. By the time it was over, between 200 and 300 Lakota men, women, and children had been killed and 51 were wounded. On the U.S. military side, 25-30 soldiers perished, with at least 20 soldiers later awarded the Medal of Honor.

All right. Is that enough insanity for you? No?

Cleaning up the mess, Some time after 1938, Germany.
Consider any other killing. Consider the Holocaust, which ironically carries similar views of mass graves. Consider the simple gang drive-by shooting on the streets of Chicago. Consider the bombs, missiles and drones that wipe out children, families, villages and cities in foreign lands. Consider 911 deaths, and the subsequent deaths of those the U.S. believed perpetrated that terror? Consider the nuclear detonations of August 1945 in two cities in Japan. Consider the hanging of blacks in the south in the an ugly nation's past, or the hangings of dictators in foreign countries today.

It is all insane.

There may be some minds struggling with the previous paragraph above, as some murder may appear justified while others are horrific. But is it not all murder on a tangible level? Do not the 10 Commandments include "Thou shalt not kill" without any asterisks or addendum? Does not one limb break the same as another; one mother wail in agony the same as another, one heart break the same as another? 

All asterisks and addendums were added to "thou shall not kill" after the fact, once a mind could justify not turning the other cheek, but instead pushing and pulling for "bringing the terrorists to justice." Who is the terrorist when all murder results in the same brokenness and horror? The righteous leaders may be able to rally enough fear and hatred in the people to support the pure madness and evil of murder, but does it ever justify it?

Wounded Knee, with its anniversary today, can stand as an example of a humanity gone wrong, a story that shifted from a battle to a massacre, but one that will always be - on a very real level - insanity. We can all learn from it, to realize killing is killing, and it will always have the same result: more killing.

Now, back to the end of our song with which we started this story. Our Valley People wanted that treasure for their very own. Remember?

Now the valley cried in anger - "Mount your horses, draw your sword"
And they killed the mountain people - So they won their just reward
Now they stood beside the treasure - On the mountain dark and red
Turn the stone and which beneath it - "Peace on Earth" was all it said.

Perhaps the only real ending to the story will be peace; perhaps it will be standing for something else besides killing, greed and leverage. Perhaps it will be our own sanity. Perhaps the only thing we ever will be able to truly "justify in the end" will be brotherly and sisterly love.

James Anthony Ellis is a writer living in San Diego, California. He can be reached at www.LegacyProductions.org. 

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