Indigenous peoples embody the soul of the land, blacks embody the soul of the nation
Personal reflections in response to a reader's question
vol. 4 issue 21
"St. Hildegard saw the whole world as wedded to divine Wisdom and this marriage symbolizes the mutual encounter of God and human together, working in harmony to bring about beauty in the world." ~Christine Valters Paintner, PhD
A docu-mental reader recently asked about my reasoning that black americans* embody the soul of America. The comments were made behind the paywall of last week’s post. She argued that, with no disrespect to the black community, it is the indigenous people of this country who are the original bearers of our nation’s soul.
It’s an excellent and complex question, and as I am neither black nor indigenous, I can only offer my conclusions as an american. However, in that way, I certainly have an opinion when I consider what informs my soul and spirit.
My response to my reader was impromptu and is accessible in the comments section if you’re a paid subscriber, but it was an authentic response, and is typical of this online thought project where together, you and I, work at mapping the true contours of the american state of mind, not the industrialized, Disney World version of the place.
The more I think about this, the stronger is the conviction in my argument that there is a Holy American Spirit, and that it is literally rooted in the land.
To cut to the nub, I believe the indigenous people of this continent are the soul of the land we think of as America, and black americans are the soul of the ideal of America.
My argument is that America the nation is most definitely not America the land.
Defining soul and spirit
It helps to know the definitions of what we’re talking about before we argue who is responsible for what.
So, then, what is soul?
Search the archives and you will find previous explorations of it in this publication, but for now, I say that Soul as a universal force holds the infinite blueprints of each of us as individuals. Like any cell and its DNA code, soul (little “s”) when incarnated into form relies upon a harmonized will to live and to express itself according to that code.
A soul is both eternal in that it is connected to something greater and infinite, and temporal in that it never forgets its code and the promise contained therein for the creation of something material in the here and now.
But that “harmonized will” can only function if the sprit is intact.
So, what is spirit?
Spirit is the centripetal force that carries the soul’s mission forward. Spirit’s power hinges upon will, not promise. In other words, spirit goes out into the world when the embodied soul has been inspired by a choice to do so.
Simply put: The soul offers a promise, the will of the spirit carries out that promise. Notice the interplay of fate (the original promise) and choice (we must make a choice to act) in that equation.
We must choose to give life to our soul’s promise. We can only do this if we infuse it with spirit.
When disconnected from the soul that gives it wings, our spirit dies. So too with a nation and the land that supports it.
A nation is not a de facto country
Also important to understand here is the lexicon of peoples and communities. What is a nation, for example? A nation is not a country. A nation is not a land.
A nation is a collection of people who are inspired (have the will) to achieve a certain aim, or to uphold certain beliefs.
The Navajo Nation, by way of example, exists in the minds of its people, regardless of the land boundaries imposed upon them by the US government.
The land contains our soul code. The land therefore is also our resource. It is what helps form us if we work in harmonized will with it, or it is what suffers and dies if we abuse it. When we cut our connection to it, we also begin to die.
This is true of any given people and the land on which they live, but it’s especially important to my reader’s question about who embodies the soul of America, because the land of our continent informs how we use our spirit. That is, how we relate to the land literally informs how we go about enacting the formation of our national spirit.
A fundamental misunderstanding of, and the utter dereliction by, the news media to detail this distinction is why there is so much vapidity surrounding President Biden’s recent speech noting that there is a menace in our country, meaning in our land. President Biden is correct: there is a Fascist nation contained within the larger boundaries of our actual country.
But – and this is essential to my argument – the nation of Fascists to which he refers would exist whether we put them all on boat adrift amid the seaweed of the wide Sargasso Sea, or if we sent them all to the Moon to live in Jeff Bezos’ lunar colony. Where fascists live and breathe is irrelevant. What matters is what they believe while they are living and breathing. It is that body of belief which inspires them to hate and spew and all the other sad and evil things they do.
That is to say, it is not the land upon which they stand that unifies them. It is the continent of congealed ideas contained within their minds that gathers them into their discrete nation.
The takeaway here is that for a nation to exist, there does not need to be actual terra firma. The threat MAGA poses exists because MAGAts are mobilizing to marry their national spirit of fascism to the soul of the land that is this continent. But because fascism is inherently nihilistic, if they succeed, what is currently an existential threat will become an actual calamity.
Indigenous people as America’s soul keepers
Before our arrival as colonizers and conquerors, the people already living here did not differentiate themselves from the land. There was no “supernatural”, there was just life. For an indigenous person, life was a sentient continuum between humans and all that is animal, mineral, plant, and stars.
The land was not merely the backdrop scenery for human drama. The indigenous on this continent were therefore fully cognizant they were participating in the living embodiment of this particular geography’s soul code.
And that is still the case today. All indigenous ancestry is literally rooted in understanding that they are of the land. Whatever their nation, whatever they think or do, it must be in accordance with the land: They are always of the land, no matter what anyone wants to call the land.
Further, without any exception that I am aware of, all the various indigenous nations of this continent, in their respective tongues, all refer to the land the same way: as the Great Mother.
For the original people of this continent, there is no difference of opinion as to what the land, the source of soul, is. America the land is the mother to them all.
That is why I say they are the embodiment of the soul of America, the land.
Coming soon…why Blacks embody the soul of America, the ideal
Sometimes I write too much, too densely. I do not regret it. We have far too much junk food in our media diets.
But, sometimes, richness is best enjoyed slowly and in smaller bites.
So, I am going to leave you with just what I have said about the American Indians/Native Americans/Indigenous peoples (here is an interesting link to an Indian Country Today survey of various Indian nation leaders and their thoughts on what they should be called collectively) to ponder today.
It’s an unfinished thought. It’s only part one of the idea. Part two will address why I believe it is black Americans who embody the soul of America, the ideal, and thus the nation itself. I hope you will think about it in the meantime and share your thoughts in the comments section.
If you want a head start as to why, consider again that it’s not the land that brings us together if we are talking about America the ideal, it’s the pursuit of democracy and the promise of its riches when we are all equal before the law, that cause us to commit to America, the nation.
Another reason I pause here is that I am keeping up with big moves right now, and so have to direct my attention accordingly. Next time, I will re-post one of the pieces I have written previously that addresses the notion of America as an ideal. It’s good to see where we’ve come from as a publication and reflect on how we might go further. It is a process, and it is a map we’re creating. Then, we can get back to part two of this thought here.
Weirdly, I seem to be the only voice you hear at docu-mental, even though I have literally thousands of readers and hundreds of subscribers. It’s true that this is my full-frontal act of thinking out loud, but despite all the attention, comments have never pushed above 5 (!!). I do appreciate it when you email directly, but perhaps consider sharing your thoughts publicly. Also, my invitation to Christian Nationalists to join in the comments is wide open and real. Please accept it.
Which is why I sat that while I will be back with more thoughts on this later this month, in the meantime, I hope to read more of your own in the comments section.
*I use a little “a” when I talk about being american because I just think we get too heated and arrogant when we claim to know what it even means. One day, I might return to observing it as a “proper” noun with its derived adjectival propriety, but not today.