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rather the potential threat to the United State's welfare by a dictatorship in Iraq. What is Black
Elk's moral philosophy? The spiritual grounding for his moral philosophy (and that of the Lakota)
is not questioned by Black Elk, but is considered self-evident and thus, it is not important. "The
boys of my people began very young to learn the ways of men, and no one taught us" (Neihardt
1961, pg. 20). Black Elk's moral philosophy centers on the concept that there is a natural order
that must be sustained. Part of this natural order is the importance of universal kinship
relationships, i.e. everything
universal family there exists a system of forbearance (consisting of retribution and atonement), and
reciprocity, all of which serve to keep a natural balance. For example, praying for forgiveness and
giving thanks for killing a buffalo (atonement and reciprocity), and the raiding of another tribe in
revenge for their previous attack on the Lakota village (retribution) are both actions which serve to
restore natural order to the world--they equalize.
helpless and only by
keep the natural order; "because no good thing can be done by any man alone, I will first make an
offering and send a voice to the Spirit of the World, that it may help me be true" (Neihardt 1961,
pg. 2). A crucial part in determining what is moral through visions is their proper interpretation.
But for a vision to lead to moral action,
said "and now when I look upon my people in despair, I felt like crying and I wish and wish my
vision had been given to a man more worthy" (Neihardt 1967, pg. 180), perhaps to someone who
could better interpret vision. Those who do interpret visions, like Black Elk, are fully responsible
for actions that stem from a vision.
for this would be that the government of the United States has no reason to sacrifice and kill ten
thousand civilians, especially if the reason we are firing missiles at Baghdad is because of the
actions of the Iraqi government. There is no cause for retribution. In other words, the civilians we
would be sacrificing have nothing to do with Saddam's government. It would be against the
natural order to kill innocent civilians, there would be no reason for retribution, and what would
the point be of killing those who are not responsible for the actions of their country?
in order to keep their county free. Does not the United States also have the right to defend its