" When the Apollo 11 lunar module landed on the moon and discharged U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Ed Aldrin onto its surface on July 20, 1969, some Zunis in New Mexico watched the historic event on their television sets with shock and horror. For them, the Moon Mother and Sun Father were sacred beings, the sources of light and life. Before their very eyes, two white men were violating Moon Mother--walking on her body, jabbing an American flag into her belly, stealing pieces of her flesh.
" Most non-Native American people in the United States celebrated the moon landing as a triumph of the human spirit, or at least a triumph of America over the Soviet Union. But even some non-Native American citizens felt little enthusiasm for the two white men hopping up and down on the lunar powder. One African-American blues song included the sardonic refrain, "honky's on the moon, and I've still got my bills to pay."
"People's view of the world (or the moon) depends in large part on their place and life-situation within it. Their community, religion, race, ethnicity, class, and gender. Their sources of authoritative knowledge. Their history and prospects for the future. Their power or lack of it. Their freedom or lack of it. Their successes and failures. Their allies and enemies. These are the prisms through which people interpret events and other people in this world.
"On September 11, 2001, people watched in horror as airplanes flew into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. They viewed these acts as crimes against humanity perpetrated by evil people. Others celebrated these same events because they hated the country in which the Towers and the Pentagon stood. They viewed the U.S. as the source of evil that perpetuated their own suffering and feelings of powerlessness.
"Different places in the world, different life-situations, different prisms of meaning, different interpretations of the same event.
" Is there an unbridgeable gulf that separates those of us who viewed the events of September 11 as horrendously evil, and the people who celebrated the event because they believed we deserved it? Is there a chasm of meaning so deep and wide that people on both sides believe the other side is beyond redemption? Are we capable of seeing the world only through our own prisms, feeling our own pain, nursing our own wounds, counting our own grievances, and struggling to defeat our own enemies?
"Or is it possible to experience our horror, our pain, our anger, our grief, and our utter disbelief that anyone could do anything so shocking and terrifying, and share a common bond of humanity with those who committed and celebrated the act of terror? Can we feel our own suffering, and have compassion for (suffer with) those who caused it and those who cheered when they saw it? Can we see the world through our own prisms of meaning, and attempt to see it through the prisms of our enemy?
"These are difficult questions.
"A part of me feels that those who committed the acts of September 11, and those who danced in the street the next day, do not deserve any understanding or compassion. But another part of me listens to the one who tells me to love my enemy, the one who forgave his enemies when they nailed him to a cross on trumped up charges.
"Part of me believes there are people in the world who deserve no consideration. But another part of me believes there is no hope for the world if we cannot try to see the world through the eyes of our enemies. I know this part of me sounds naïve, idealistic, foolish, and to some people, despicable and loathsome. Yet I believe it's this latter part of me, the part that is listening to Jesus Christ, that I must cling to.--TomCongregational Church of Austin Texas Monthly Newsletter, September, 2005
ot a bad sermon. I still can't help feeling that reverend Tom believes that the events of 9/11/2001 are inherently more outrageous than the events of 7/20/1969. My feeling is the opposite, 9/11 was a small episode in the violent 500 year history of European America whereas the moon landing may have been the most significant event in the much longer history of the Zuni. Mother Moon was the last of the beneficent deities, the others having already departed due to the negligence and disrespect of the Zuni themselves. Disenchantment may be a good thing, but only if reenchantment at a more cosmic level is accomplished. This the modern world refuses to do.
Zuni "clowns" counter the missionizing efforts of Christians by staging mock crucifixions and demonstrating how foolish Christian beliefs are in terms of Zuni culture. They are now attempting to stage mock moon landings.(these are very clever, acrobatic, and extremely funny--even to a non-Zuni). The U.S. can probably survive Al-Quada. Can Zuni survive the desecration of Mother Moon?
Incidentally, if the U.S. were to extinguish itself (without taking the rest of the planet with us) there would still be at least four other English speaking democracies and very little of value would be lost to the rest of humanity. There is only one Zuni language, worldview, and culture and its loss would probably be irretrievable.