Original sin

Whenever the subject of original sin comes up in class, I’m challenged to give it a fair hearing. Why would anyone take seriously the suggestion of sinfulness as something you could inherit? But people do take preposterous customary things seriously. 

Today’s poem will help, next time the subject arises. A god really should be

reasonable, like Emerson or Thoreau
without their stranger moments.

Just take away the transparent eyeballs, please, and give us more transcendent moments of exhilaration striding across bare commons. More natural effusion, less arbitrary omnipotent vindictiveness.

… it made no sense
that we’d need to be saved before
we’d even had the chance
to be wrong.

On the other hand, peoples and nations do inherit a responsibility to rectify wrongs that have been perpetrated by forebears and have continued to hamper the lives of our fellow humans. That’s what Naomi Klein is talking about in her chapter on invoking the treaty rights of indigenous First Nations to block fossil extraction like the Alberta tar sands project.

If we’re going to try to reap environmental victories in that way, we need to compensate the indigenous populations who’ve sacrificed so much and inherited so little. It falls to we the living to make good on our ancestors’ promises. We didn’t have the chance to be wrong in the past, when those treaties were disingenuously drawn. But we have the chance to be right in the present.

6:30/6:43, 50/63/49, 6:32

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