Transcend and Transform
An introduction to conflict work
Example Chapter: CHRISTIANITY AND THE HEATHENS: THE TRUTH THAT WAS FALSE
I quote from one of Western civilisation's most important and for that reason also least known documents, the Papal Bull Inter Caetera of 4 May 1493. The Pope was Spanish, Alexander VI, and he was praising our "very dear son/daughter in Christ", los reyes catolicos, Ferdinand and Isabella, for spreading the
-Christian religion so "that barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith":
-as witnessed--with so much glory to the Divine Name in your recovery of the kingdom of Granada from the yoke of the Saracens;
-you--chose our beloved son, Christopher Columbus--to make diligent quest for these remote and unknown mainlands and islands through the sea, where hitherto no-one had sailed; and
-discovered certain very remote islands and even mainlands that hitherto had not been discovered--wherein dwell very many peoples living in peace--going unclothed and not eating flesh-disposed to embrace the Catholic faith and be trained in good morals-.
-built a fortress fairly equipped, wherein he has stationed in garrison certain Christians, companions of his, who are to make search for other remote and unknown islands and mainlands. In the islands and countries already discovered are found gold, spices, and very many other precious things
-bring under your sway the said mainlands and islands with their residents and inhabitants and
-bring them to the Catholic faith.
Whereupon He, Alexander VI, assigns to los reyes catolicos
-and your heirs and successors, kings of Castile and Leon, forever
-all rights, jurisdictions, and appurtenances, all islands and mainlands, found and to be found, discovered and to be discovered;
-we-appoint-you-lords of them with full and free power and jurisdiction of every kind (italics ours).
-Let no one, therefore, infringe, or with rash boldness contravene, this our recommendation, exhortation, requisition, gift. grant, assignment, constitution, deputation, decree, mandate, prohibition and will. Should anyone presume to attempt this, be it known to him that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul.
In short: the Earth belongs to God, the Pope is the administrator of God's will, and he has the mandate to delegate all jurisdiction to the kings of Spain. In doing so Alexander VI legitimised for a long lasting posterity the gigantic violence of colonialism and imperialism, and created a protracted conflict between those who suffer under this illegitimate papal bull, and those who do not revoke the bull.
Author: This does not call for transcendence, but for an alternative, soft Christian Papal Bull, for instance:
We Alexander VI, servant of the servants of the Christian God, to the Catholic Kings of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Granada:
Us has been given a remarkable gift: to travel by ship, guided by the Almighty's stars, across vast oceans, to distant islands and mainlands different from ours in Europe, and above all inhabited by people and peoples different from us in Europe.
We thank you, our Mother and Father God, the Son, the Holy Spirit, for this wonderful opportunity given us to be enriched by encountering Others, engaging them, celebrating the diversity of us humans, of our beloved animals and plants, of the seas and coasts and mountains under the magnificent sky, illuminated by the God Sun.
We shall learn from their Truths, from how they see the world and all the miracles dwelling therein. We shall offer them our Truths for them to taste and judge by their fruits. And together we shall all move forward, spiritually, materially, learning from each other through the word, dia logos, through exchange of our products. What a wonderful, challenging opportunity for us all to explore deeper truths than any single segment of humanity can ever develop alone.
We, Alexander VI, servant of the servants of the Christian God, direct you, Kings of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Granada, to
-approach these peoples, discovered by us and to be discovered by us, in deep humility and respect--never imposing upon them, by any kind of power, by force or threat of force, by gifts or promise of gifts--but engage in friendly exchanges guided by reciprocity if they so want. If they do not want, leave them in peace, tell them where you can be found should they become of an other mind. And you may ask them what could change their mind, to understand their reasons not to take us on as we want to take them on.
-learn from these peoples. Us has been given the understanding that they live in peace, walk naked and do not eat meat. Try to learn from them the knowledge and wisdom that has guided them toward a life in peace, so sorely missing in our part of the world. Is it in any way related to the other two points? Ask them humbly to be your teachers in the difficult art of harmony.
-never build any fortified tower or garrison, but ask them for the permission to dwell among them, at your risk, not theirs.
You expelled the Muslim Saracens because they had unlawfully occupied your land, and the Jewish Moriscos. I direct you to invite back as many Muslims and Jews as want to return, to settle in your lands, to enrich you by having different ideas of the message in the Holy Book, and to continue the wonderful dialogues among the abrahamitic religions in Alhambra, in Granada, with the hope of reaching ever higher, and ever deeper in the understanding of the Creation that unites us all.
Problem: The papal Christianity of 1493 could not have produced anything like this. But Pope John Paul II, after the attempt at his life gave him a new spirituality, could perhaps have done so. And how about the next Pope? And the one after that?