Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Indigenous Resistance Day

Disclosure: J, my beau, was very upset by this post and its title.  As a privileged white male, it is not up to me to critique the efforts of the oppressed.  And she is right.  
      I get confused sometimes because I so much more strongly identify with the oppressed, and feel that even the privileged people I know are often profoundly unhappy and trapped by the trappings of their lifestyle.  
      Still I did not wish to imply that any movement of a people to claim freedom and autonomy ought to be condemned, even as I strive to find a sustainable way to balance the needs of all people, and increasingly, my concern for all living things.
     The post stands, because I still feel strongly that this view can help people.  Whenever there is an opportunity to encourage a collaborative stance rather than one of opposition, I will do whatever I can to get people to work together.  I truly believe that peace cannot come from resistance, but only through deep connection.
     That said, I respect that sometimes the forces of the world still seek to destroy you, connection is impossible, and your only option is to fight back.  Tit-for-two-tats.
     The below is a cautionary tale: For me, I need to shut my mouth sometimes.  For other people, they have to be careful of unintended consequences, and most importantly: be careful of becoming the very intolerance you loathe.

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”- A.G.

Can we admire and appreciate both stunning native cultures and the amazing efforts and diverse accomplishments of C. Columbus?

 Isolated cultures are now mostly lost, violently destroyed, or re-contextualized to irrelevance, and Columbus's efforts were largely stolen away from him by a greedy monarchy with a history so colorful  that it's at home in a Spanish soap opera.

"Weep for me, whoever has charity, truth and justice! I did not come on this voyage for gain, honor or wealth, that is certain; for then the hope of all such things was dead." -C.C.

For goodness sake, the man had to explain to the greatest leaders of the world, in painstaking detail, that the world was round.

There's a lot to be said for hundreds of years of amazing intellectual awakening and growth for 'us' to be able to recognize the injustice he wrought upon 'native' peoples.

People just didn't have the tools back then to put pacifism into action.  In plain English: people can be stupid.  It was too important to conquer or be conquered.  Spain was on the brink of bankruptcy.  If you want a more recent example, look at US dropping the bomb twice on Japan.  Or just think back to your high school days...or your office politics now.

And yet today the EU is working desperately to bail each other out, to help find stability, rather than seeking an opportunity to capture a neighboring country.  There is more prosperity in teamwork, and this is beginning more and more accepted around the world.  War doesn't pay.

"There would be an end of war and preparations for war if the cost were borne by those responsible for war." -F.C.H

It's not so black and white as pulling down a statue of Christopher Columbus and patting ourselves on the back.  Most of us have blood on our hands, to varying degrees.  Anyone can be a monster in the right environment.

Our safety and satiety rests on the backs of generations, just like any of our accomplishments (agriculture, algebra, medicine and moon landings).

People are hard-pressed to give up their conveniences, even if their development, or even their continued use, leads to suffering.

We have to recognize that glamorizing history doesn't make most people any more willing to live in the past.  Trumpeting future doom doesn't much help us avoid it.  We must evolve or perish.  This has always been the case.  We are forever least until entropy kicks in.

And yet, in my country, I see intolerance on the rise.  I see people so isolated from each other that, once again, they aren't seeing a fellow human when they judge someone.  This applies as much to cashiers as it does to billionaire presidential candidates.

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

If the majority of people were more connected to their world, and less desperate for survival and success, maybe most of the world's great injustices could be solved, through small actions or inaction.

 I know that being in a rush, being less of a part of my community, breeds in me a lack of compassion. Yet I am becoming more stressed and impatient the longer I work and live here.

As for C.C., he left quite a clear message on how he wanted to be remembered:

"I should be judged as a captain who went from Spain to the Indies to conquer a people numerous and warlike, whose manners and religion are very different from ours, who live in sierras and mountains, without fixed settlements, and where by divine will I have placed under the sovereignty of the King and Queen our Lords, an Other World, whereby Spain, which was reckoned poor, is become the richest of countries."

The Hero and Savior of Spain.  Except, maybe Columbus' understanding of humanity wasn't as forward-thinking as his understanding of geography and navigation.

After all, he was merely following the foremost thoughts of his day, and exceeding pretty much everyone's expectations of how they might be enacted. He was such a good savior and hero that he expedited the imminent slaughter of millions.


His intentions were 'good', and that slaughter would probably have happened within a couple hundred years either way.  It seems worth considering.

So maybe this ought to be "foster a culture of understanding day"...but I'm afraid most of us aren't ready for that yet.

Still, it can't hurt to try.

Let's devote some time to seeing things from someone else's point of view.

Is it a crime to fall in love?
Can we ever tell where the heart truly leads us?
All we are asking is...
A little understanding.
Why can't the world 'leben und leben lassen'?
'Live and let live...'

No comments:

Post a Comment