Doing conflict well matters. When all this is over at #StandingRock, after whatever resolution comes and the crowds go home and people stop checking in on FaceBook, the long term damage will remain. The relationships between Native Peoples and the State have been set back 50 years. This afternoon Brian Grantz and Paul Nesta I heard from Patrick Kelly at St James’ Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball, ND that the healthier relationships that have taken generations to build are now fractured. Both “sides”, protesters and police, include people who have not done this conflict well. People on both sides of the divide have been frightened to death for their lives, been hurt, dehumanized and humiliated. Police have been charged by horses tactfully and unexpectedly by protesters; a Dakota Pipeline access guard, dressed like a protester brandished an AR15 in a camp; those arrested have been locked in kennels in a cold parking garage with numbers sharpied on their forearms for processing; racial profiling of Native Americans is now on overdrive.
Fear, racism and firearms are a deadly combination. This morning the Washington Post carried a video of President Obama speaking for the first time on #StandingRock. His words of wisdom, including initiating a new consultation with the Army Corps of Engineers on this whole project, were about doing conflict well. Protesters have an obligation to be peaceful and authorizes have an obligation to show restraint.
As we are seeing here in #StandingRock, where peace and restraint have not been exercised damage to important working relationships had been done. It will take generations to rebuild trust and cooperation for the benefit of life here. This is one of those complications and griefs we heard today. May God give us all Grace to do our conflicts well, our lives together depend on it.