4 December 2015
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY REFLECTION: Who is your king? Romans 13:1-7 and resisting the TPP
by Chris Sabas
[Note: The following reflection is adapted for CPTnet. The original is available on Sabas’s blog.]
Photo courtesy CPT-Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Team. November 2015. CPTers Carrie Peters and Charles Wright were part of a CPT presence that accompanied
In November 2011, President Obama with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon began a publicity campaign describing how the United States would “pivot” towards Asia. With the pivot emerged a secretly negotiated trade pact, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”).
Although called a “free trade” agreement, the TPP is not solely about trade. Of the 29 draft chapters, only five deal with garden variety trade issues. The TPP is actually a grave threat to the planet because it undermines climate change measures and authorizes de-regulation of mining, land use, and biotechnology. Alarmingly, the TPP intellectual property chapter also provides international legal protections for corporate patents on plant and animal life, granting companies ownership and sole access to all of creation.
While most of the U.S. coverage about the TPP analyzes overall implications for ‘every day working Americans,’ with a dash of environmental vignettes, another significant aspect needs to be addressed and highlighted: TPP’s detrimental impact on First Peoples and indigenous communities located within each nation state, its continuation of the European history of conquest and exploitation.
While many refuse to budge from the notion that, while “such a darn shame,” the conquest is ancient history, many others are do look to indigenous voices, in humility, for guidance. And at times, living in right relationship requires open defiance of established norms. Thus, as a Christian, I applaud the TPP opposition.
I wonder if St. Paul would really sneer at those who oppose the TPP, saying the organized opposition is resisting the rulers that God has appointed. To believe is to obey and to obey is to believe wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship. Living the text does not mean we can simply cherry pick a verse or two to support a position. Paul references conscience when “one must be subject.” Peter and John also referenced the principle of supremacy of conscience over even religious institutions by telling the Temple council, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20).
We are to obey—and submit—to the will of God. Dallas Willard, author of Hearing God, advises us to look to circumstances, impressions of the Spirit and passages from the Bible. “When these three things point in the same direction…we [can] be sure the direction they point is the one God intends for us.”
Scripture has countless examples of God taking the side of the marginalized, often in unexpected ways. When will we truly get that God does not see as mortals see, and God’s ways are not the world’s ways (see 1 Samuel 16:7)? Bartolome de Las Casas (1484-1566), a Dominican friar and known as “Defender of the Indians” repeatedly challenged the Court of Spain to realize that no salvation in Christ is possible apart from social justice.
Do you know your King? We continue to anticipate the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, liturgically waiting, remembering he initially came as a little vulnerable, weak child.
…God’s blessing be with you, Christ’s peace with you, the Spirit’s outpouring be with you, now and always. Amen. (Source: Celtic)