22 Jan
A painting of a clump of trees with a touch of pink.

     Click on the image to go to a YouTube animated jingle about being one with nature.

Text and image by Rick McVicar 

     “Manifesting” has become a popular buzz word in electronic media on both television and social media. I take the word to refer to personal growth as “expanding.”             

     According to the Urban Dictionary, the term currently in slang use means “to hope for a desire until it comes true.” In other words, manifesting refers to the power of wishful thinking. 

     "Manifesting" is a word that makes me cringe, as “manifesting” always reminds me of a truly racist and environmentally destroying American belief called “Manifest Destiny.”  It is the belief that drove the 19th century expansion of the nation from “sea to shining sea” (“America the Beautiful”). 

     “Manifest Destiny” was first spelled out by John O’Sullivan in his essay, “Annexation,” written in 1845. The essay appeared in The United States Magazine and Democratic Review

     The essay begins with praise for the taking of Texas. O’Sullivan notes that the United States fought off nations by “checking the fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions” (p. 2). Taming the wilderness for civilization is a God-given right. 

     “They will have the right to independence – and self-government – In the possession of homes conquered from the wilderness by their own labors and dangers, sufferings and sacrifices,” states the essay (P. 5). Never mind the sufferings and sacrifices of indigenous people. “Annexation” clearly advocates for a preference for whites while giving moral justification for the coast-to-coast expansion of the United States.  

     After praising the annexation of Texas, “Annexation” goes on to promote U.S. expansion into California. “The Anglo-Saxon foot is already at its border,” the essay states (P, 5). Slavery is discussed as “the slavery of an inferior to a superior race” (P. 4).       

     As you can imagine, the current popular use of “manifesting” makes me gag, knowing about how that word has been used in America’s history. Looking at the word “manifesting” from a historical perspective, environmentalism and racial justice must go hand in hand. After all, the destruction of forests and wilderness has long been combined with racism. 

     Don’t worry, we can still reverse the racist environmental crisis, perhaps by starting with the creation of art. So have some good artful health today.

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