Friday, February 11, 2011

Shining a Light

I have occasionally written here about dominion theology and religious colonization as part of the indigenous experience that forms a backdrop to many of the ills and unresolved grievances we face today. But while we struggle against the backwardness and cruelties of religious fundamentalism, we must also acknowledge the role of liberation theology in shining a light on the social justification for the indigenous peoples’ movement.

For anyone who has committed their lives to social justice, the ironies that comprise the evolution of human rights for indigenous peoples are simply part of the landscape. In Chiapas, one man who became part of the indigenous landscape was Don Samuel Ruiz Garcia, the bishop of the Diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas from 1959-2000. Tatic Samuel (Father Samuel in the Mayan language tzotzil) passed away on January 24.

While the Zapatista uprising in 1994 was not his doing, the work of Tatic Samuel in raising political consciousness among the Lacandon Maya is part of their story. In his view, Father Samuel illuminated the obstacles and alternative paths for them to recuperate their dignity. In 2004, Samuel Ruiz said, “The question that God puts to us at the end of our existence will be: What side were we on?”


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