We the Conquerers

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Grimlock
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 08:55 am
@Khethil,
First, thanks to the various posters who asked the guy with a Nietzsche portrait as his avatar about his feelings on guilt and compensation for cultural warfare. As the Romans said (only in Latin, obviously): "the best satire is done with a straight face."

So...ummm, I guess I just don't see the point in focusing on just one of many bloodbaths. Shall we feel guilt for the extinction of the neanderthal while we're at it? This is not meant to be a celebration of warfare, but merely an illustration of how thoroughly soaked in blood the whole of human history really is.

Perhaps it is evidence of madness that I no longer find that fact depressing?
 
Khethil
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 09:03 am
@Grimlock,
Grimlock wrote:
So...ummm, I guess I just don't see the point in focusing on just one of many bloodbaths. Shall we feel guilt for the extinction of the neanderthal while we're at it?


Your point's well taken. History is soaked with blood from all corners of the earth and there are commonalities and differences in each instance. Its a worthy discussion to discuss them all en-masse, but to do so is a rather large chunk to bite off and not the theme of this thread. I'm thinking there's nothing wrong with discussing the specifics of one. Yes?

Grimlock wrote:
Perhaps it is evidence of madness that I no longer find that fact depressing?


Nope, and VERY good point. Negativity and suggestions of guilt surround us; and to my way of thinking, the sensitive mind will feel these more pointedly than the numbed-of-heart. But if I may suggest, thinking these through in the context of ones' own mind (with generous portions of compassion and rationality) can hold the key to whether or not one *should* feel guilt or not (and therein perhaps gift us some enlightenment). Thus... the original question.

Thanks for your input, nice perspective.
 
Grimlock
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 10:17 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
I'm thinking there's nothing wrong with discussing the specifics of one. Yes?


Fair enough. As far as I know, vastly more North American Indians died due to smallpox than due to active warfare on the part of European armies. Furthermore, their culture had a blanket (incendiary content intentional) thrown over it by the old firewater.

At the end of the day, it seems that European man carried viruses (gunpowder and population pressure, as well?) that North American man simply couldn't handle. Manifest destiny, anyone?

As my ancestors clearly survived, I suppose I've benefitted from most every war in which they or their cultures were involved. My capacity for contrition goes only so far. I consider it much more a shame that Indian culture was more-or-less obliterated than that a lot of people died. Has the meeting of tribes after a long estrangement ever gone well?
 
nameless
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 02:31 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil;24332 wrote:
1. How do you deal with the ethical dilemma of knowing that the land, terrain, your homes and property you enjoy right now, are a product of muderous bigots?

I rent.
And the world is a 'product', if you scratch anywhere, of murderous biggots (if thats what you ar looking for).

Quote:
[*]a. Are you of an opinion that it wasn't just so?

I'm well aware of the actuality. It is so.

Quote:
[*]b. Do you just not think about it?

Any reason that i should?

Quote:
[*]c. Do you believe, "... it wasn't that bad"?

I have no 'beliefs', and I don't (judge) divvy life up into 'good' and 'bad' or gradations of such.
What is, is...

Quote:
[*]d. Is it your opinion that the conquering of the americas was good for the natives?

Depends who you ask. It's a matter of PErspective. And again, from here, what is, is.

Quote:
2. If you believe that we, today, enjoy the fruits of a poisonous tree,

Depends on Perspective, all fruits can be both poisonous and beneficial...

Quote:
what (if anything) should or could be done in terms of recompense - righting the wrong?

Can't be done. Even if I believed in right and wrong, what 'is' cannot be undone. What is, is, like it or not. It is for the individual to 'deal with it'!

Quote:
a. Is this "water over the bridge"; worthy only of a shrug and a "what am I to do about it?"-response?

It's history. I do not carry the pains of the world (all the time). Born a Jew, I could complain and whine and make demands and point fingers, too. But I don't. Now is now! (Now! Live it or lose it!)

Quote:
b. Are the decendants from whom our ancestors stole, owed anything?

Not in general, that I can see. But, contextually, you might make individual arguments..

Quote:
c. Are you fundementally opposed, sickened, made indignant by any suggestion that you are to 'pay' for past autrocities?

Do you mean like a ghetto rat with his hand out because I'm caucasion and his great grandmother was a slave? Hardly! Of course, it might be different if I committed the attrocity, for instance. Again, context.

Quote:
3. Are you of a mindset that employs a particular flavor of "survival of the fittest"? (e.g., those who can conquer, should, and in so doing further the 'strongest' nation-states, that there is no 'right' or 'wrong' in this)?

Long live the Borg!!!

Quote:
4. Early settlers dubbed the natives as 'filthy heathens' treated with less respect than wild-game. Most ethnocentric views - at the time - had religious overtones to "bring them to god", "perish the wicked" and the like. Do you subscribe to this? Was god's will done by our ancestors?

No, and no, but thats just this Perspective; there are others, just as 'valid'.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 02:38 pm
@nameless,
I'm still quite interested to hear your take on this Khethil. It's obvious you don't have a relative standpoint by some of the questions outlined in post #20, like "are we enjoying the fruits of a poisoned tree" and the immediate mentioning of "compensation," ect. Doesn't this seem like a question whose answer is already presupposed? Seems like partial impartiality to me.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 03:39 pm
@nameless,
Haha, excellent Nameless,

Very practical, pragmatic and unassuming. I think I'd agree with most of that (except I own) but not all. There's a undeniable wisdom in viewing the past in terms of "... it just is" that helps us put things into a rock-bottom, no-B.S, uncomplicated view - one where we're not in danger of getting wrapped around our own axles. Very nice

Thank you
 
Khethil
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 03:49 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon wrote:
I'm still quite interested to hear your take on this Khethil. It's obvious you don't have a relative standpoint by some of the questions outlined in post #20, like "are we enjoying the fruits of a poisoned tree" and the immediate mentioning of "compensation," ect. Doesn't this seem like a question whose answer is already presupposed? Seems like partial impartiality to me.


Guilty as charged. :devilish:

I make no claims to complete partiality. I do; however, claim honesty.

And sure, as it stands I do have specific feelings, some knowledge and many opinions, but I was really hoping to pry opinions out of as many folks as I can (here on the Forum). In certain ethical dilemmas - particularly those with emotionally-loaded themes - I think we suffer from a duality of view (e.g., compassion -vs- rational). I know I often do and it's most uncomfortable, I can assure you.

Often one can get new perspective by asking and listening to others... so yea, sometimes a question is just a question, no matter how loaded it may sound

Any other takers?
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2008 05:02 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil,

Though this does seem like an interesting discussion, it seems odd that you "string" the thread.

Your response is problematic. Though you say you make no claims of complete partiality but claim some degree of honesty, isn't it partial to claim honesty because honesty is a relative thing?

But you assume that your issue is emotionally loaded? From the posts I have read so far (most of them anyway) the responses are for the most part emotionally removed. I think there should be some elaboration on why you think it is an emotional issue beyond your original statement.

Also, if you mention duality, then you admit that there is a relative (as in middle ground) to the issue. You state opposing views, but I don't see the notion of duality in there. But I'm still curious to hear your thoughts on issue though.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sat 13 Sep, 2008 07:20 am
@Khethil,
Well, I'm heading out for a few days on vacation tomorrow, so it seems fair to post my take on this since others have been so kind to post theirs. I see there lurks here those itchin for a debate, and it's all good :surrender:

First I'd like to say how amazed I am at what appears to be motivation-judgment going on. Where any controversy is contained, it seems most folks assume there's an agenda when a question is posed. We've seen this before and - no doubt - will see it again. I'll readily admit that this, if one accepts it as a common occurrence, is a part of human nature but in the same breath I'll also tell you I don't like it. But I suppose this isn't really the point.

In any case, lemme show how I'd answer. I make no claims to complete objectivity - I am only human. Further, despite my claims to having learned much on the issue, I can't claim being an 'expert' on this either. There are so many sides to so many intertwined issues. In any case, the point of this whole exercise is to try and discover how folks think about this. Yes it's history, but not so far gone. It struck me as a curiosity, and again I'll thank those who've responded in good faith.

Khethil wrote:
1. How do you deal with the ethical dilemma of knowing that the land, terrain, your homes and property you enjoy right now, are a product of muderous bigots?


I haven't; not really. Given the vast amount of recorded historical evidence from both the immigrants and the natives, I hadn't seen "did it happen at all" to be a valid question. But some of you have posted sentiments that seem to dispute it. All are entitled to their opinion.

But on an ethical level, I know I personally am not responsible for any injustices committed (nor are, I'm guessing, any of you reading this). But it does, from time to time, strike me (as I enjoy the absolutely gorgeous landscape in which I live) that once this land belonged to a people who, by and large, saw it as part-and-parcel to their existence - that my ancestors stole (took, pulled from, as in committing theft) this land, and it is just because of this that I can enjoy it. This, to me, somewhat taints the experience on an emotional level; thus, my what I'm presenting to be an ethical dilemma/question.

Should this make us feel 'guilty'? On a rational level I'd have to say 'no'. But at the same time, I think some compassion, respect and humility on the issue is in order.

Khethil wrote:
2. If you believe that we, today, enjoy the fruits of a poisonous tree, what (if anything) should or could be done in terms of recompense - righting the wrong?


Ugh, this is where it gets tough. If I find out that the car I have today was stolen long ago and somewhere there sits the victim's ancestors who still suffers for want of one, I'd have to say the only ethical response would be to give it back even though I didn't steal it. Unfortunately, it's not that simple.

Some of your responses, on this question, helped me clarify this to some extent. I guess the abridged answer, for me, would be "No, at this point nothing can be done that'll right the wrong, that's effective and just".

I don't like this answer, my heart says "fix it!". But we can't, not without doing so little good and inflicting additional harm on others (others who weren't responsible in the first place).

Khethil wrote:
3. Are you of a mindset that employs a particular flavor of "survival of the fittest"? (e.g., those who can conquer, should, and in so doing further the 'strongest' nation-states, that there is no 'right' or 'wrong' in this)?


No, not at all
.

I inserted this question as an option because I've come across many who feel this way. My little brother (aged 41) happens to feel this way. He (and those like him) employ a particular flavor of "Nation-State Darwinism" that strictly adheres to the notion that whomever can conquer and consolidate, should - that over time we'll end up with less divisiveness, and stronger, more viable nations. I see where he's coming from, but I can't say I agree with it - far too much potential for injustice.

Khethil wrote:
4. Early settlers dubbed the natives as 'filthy heathens' treated with less respect than wild-game. Most ethnocentric views - at the time - had religious overtones to "bring them to god", "perish the wicked" and the like. Do you subscribe to this? Was god's will done by our ancestors?


Again, there exists (though more accurately I should say "existed") those with this view, so this option was presented in the original question. No, I can't say I'd answer 'yes' to this at all - on any level.

------------------
Other Notes on this Issue


  • If you believe that the ill effects of the theft of the land and decimation of cultures don't survive today, I'd humbly suggest you think again. There's a litany of information out there that describes, in 21st century settings, the effects of living on a reservation; adjustment issues, sense of self and being a part of a conquered people, as well as the horrid barrage of icons, mascots and demeaning symbolism that hurts and embarrasses on a personal level.


  • I don't much subscribe to the "white guilt" notion; but I do strongly feel we should show compassion, humility and readily admit that our european ancestors - my ancestors - did do something wrong and bad. The need for honesty and a forthright heart tempers our reactions and imbues compassion.


  • Someone talked about the diseases imported to Native Americans; who had not encountered them and therefore had no immuno-resistance. Yes, this happened but paled, in numeric comparison, to the number of Native Americans that died as a result of direct damage: direct warfare, wholesale extermination, target practice, defending their home and lands, being herded in forced evacuations, slavery and the like. There's simply too much evidence to deny these things took place. Yes, it's unseemly. Yes it's embarassing. Yes it was bad - but those are hardly justification for denying that for which history shows us is true.

So there you have it, my take. I'd still love to hear more thoughts on this, but I haven't any desire to become ensnared in defending the positions I take. The issue is already wrought with emotional-overtones; so much so, that pointless advesarialism (where none is warranted) is something I've no patience for. I'm happy to clarify and discuss, just not quibble.

Believe what you will, learn for yourself, resolve these issues within your own self. My only request - as a fellow amateur philosopher - is that we don't deny or resist facts simply because they invoke unseemly feelings. Enlightenment, in this context, would only be stunted.

Thanks
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Sat 13 Sep, 2008 07:55 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
I see there lurks here those itchin for a debate, and it's all good
 
Solace
 
Reply Fri 19 Sep, 2008 09:50 pm
@Khethil,
The European settlers did not steal land that belonged to native Americans. Because it didn't belong to the native Americans. And it doesn't belong to European settlers now. Land doesn't belong to anyone.

That's the problem with the whole scenario; the same problem that can be added to just about any tale of the conqueror. We act like land is something that we own. A physical space that we are not simply content to occupy, but must claim ownership and authority over as well.

Look at the situation from the point of view of the Europeans. Europe of the day was largely overpopulated and depleted of natural resources. Would the leaders of old Europe not have committed a crime against their own people had they not encouraged emmigration to the New World? It was a whole new world for goodness sake! Not just a sizable chunk of land or an open country, but a whole world in their minds. It was like a dream come true to them; a place where they could go to start a new life and have some chance of making things better for their children.

Had they not had it in their heads that land must be owned, then they could have found a way to live with the natives as neighbours. And had the natives not had the same sort of notions, (yes I know, many of the natives were nomadic, but they still had a sense that such and such a territory belonged to such and such a tribe,) then they could have made room for the Europeans to live. But neither side did anything of the sort.

And that's it in a nutshell. Should I feel guilty that my ancestors were as greedy and close-minded as everyone else? I'd be the first to condemn them. It's not my fault that people want ownership over land, that they're willing to kill and even to die for a bit of ground that they could easily walk around to get to somewhere else.

People could decide that where I live isn't important, that I'll still be me if I'm living over here as opposed to there. But they don't. People decide that ownership is what's important, in a lot of cases, more important than anything else, so we get what happened when the Europeans settled the Americas. People are not content to simply live and let live, not anywhere in the world, not even in America, not then and not today. If people were then Iraq would not be an occupied territory today. So whatever you do, don't make the mistake of thinking that people have changed.
 
urangutan
 
Reply Sun 21 Sep, 2008 01:33 am
@Solace,
I just spent six months in a leaky boat, Split Enz.

The Australian Government has offically apologised. to the decendants of those who we as a nation have wronged. It may not seem much to hear out of context but it may yet open a litany of scenarios that we as a nation are neither prepared for, or prepared to do. On the other hand it may be the prayer, that aides in resolving the issues that we as a nation suffer in our tentions of the yoke.

Saddly both the USA and Australia, have another theme in common, when it comes to these situations, it isn't a matter of denying it, it is ignoring that we glorify it through our actions, in song, literature and deed. Is there any truth in the saying that Amereica is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Does the Statue of Liberty stand in honour of freedom and Liberty for all, to this very day, has it not stood in shame.

Don't missunderstand me I could rammble about us in Australia but it is not a history that you know and I myself am as guilty of those who see grit in the lines I have said. Words do play a great part in the psyche of right and wrong, and though we may accept that history was documented that way, we do not have to cling to the notion, that we did no wrong simply begin by writing the truth of our wrong. It may change nothing in us, it may change nothing in the victims but it will be closer to the truth. A truth that we should not deny.
 
William
 
Reply Sun 21 Sep, 2008 12:59 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
I agree that one does not carry the guilt of one's fathers actions, but one will always bear the obligation of justice.

Suppose my father had stolen a great deal of wealth from your father and left your father in poverty. As a result I live in decadence and you in squalor. Assuming you consider inheritance to be a just and appropriate manner of property transfer at the death of a property holder, am I not shirking my moral obligation to return what is rightfully yours?

If something of yours is stolen and pawned and subsequently purchased by me, would you accept "but I paid for it" to be reason enough for me to keep it?


What goes around, comes around. Magnificently said. It has far more reaching repercussions, but we will save that for another thread, when I can get a better grip on what I just said. Ha.

William
 
 

 
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