Rev. Holly Haile Davis: I Denounce the Violence

July 13 was a very violent day. Reports made their way to me regarding a day of extreme bombing that surpassed previous levels of ferocity, which might easily be considered disproportionate to the particular incident that was, that day, being avenged. I witnessed that same afternoon the president of the United States justifying the excessive attack, calling it “Israel’s right to defend itself.” Even if this is true, marking non-military targets and considering it mere collateral damage when civilians and whole families are assailed, murdered, injured, terrorized, threatened and intimidated, is disgusting and indefensible. Those with a conscience, not to mention those with any hint of spiritual or religious conviction, must stand and say, “I denounce the violence.”

And as July 13 was a very violent day, further reports made their way to me regarding an evening of extreme violence that surpassed previous levels of ferocity, which might easily be considered disproportionate to the particular incident that was, that evening, being avenged. Young men from my Shinnecock Nation, along with other young people from Southampton, were said to have attacked and injured an off reservation family in their home. I strongly denounce this violence. I send prayers for comfort and healing for all who have been victimized as perpetrators or as wounded.

The society in which we are currently living—the society, I must add, that we have chosen—is increasingly violent, aggressive, brutal and cruel. Confrontation seems to be the rule of the day; violent behavior is modeled, and violent behavior is, sadly, returned with vehemence.

I lift my heart, my hands and my voice—which is all I have—to say that I denounce any violent acts of one human being against another. I strongly express disapproval of young people armed against neighbors with armaments, or with fists, or with sign-boards that express the erroneous thought that one person or group has the right to bring violence to another, and I deny that one group has the right to live and feed their families and that the other does not.

I further denounce every battle campaign; every broken treaty; every cowboy-versus-Indian movie; every videogame. I denounce anyone who puts forth that violence is an acceptable mode of operating among humankind, for violence is not redemptive, it cannot save—it only continues and it escalates. In addition, I condemn any and every ideology that lies to us when it says that “might is right”—the false might of firepower, the false might of wealth.

There remain issues in our community that have not been identified and effectively addressed. These problems will not go away just because it’s the tourist season; the ignorance of violence never takes a holiday. May our thoughts of peace become worthy of our time, effort and budgets. After all, it is up to us.

Padoquohan Medicine Lodge
Shinnecock Indian Reservation

From a letter published by the Southampton Press Thursday July 20, 2006