Cutting off the Hand

I’ve been going through my history book’s Imperialism section. Otherwise known as the make-white-people-look-bad section.

Our companion book right now is called “King Leopold’s Ghost” it’s got its own movie, King Leopold is quite famous as it turns out, though I never remember hearing of him before now. People say this part of our history has been hushed up. Now that I’ve read of it, I think maybe it was better that way.

I’m not about suppressing the truth, but for as much good as rehashing it has done us, we might as well not.

Think about it, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. But do we learn from history?

Or does dwelling on the past lead us to repeat its mistakes?

It’s a sad fact of humanity that we tend to repeat our errors whenever we are most desperate not too.

In our age’s rush to eradicate racism and inequality, we’ve gone to the other end, making more racism and inequality.

Case in point:

In my history class we’ve had two separate discussions of European conquest over black people, some Aborigines and some African.

One week, my classmate and the textbooks ripped one British missionary to shreds for presuming to eradicate the culture of the Aborigines by teaching them European ways, and how to read, and plough, and raise crops.

My reaction?

“Oh he taught them how to grow their own food, and how to read, so shoot him! That’s just so despicable.”

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For real, Education, the thing people now say changes the most for oppressed people, and brings about the most Social Equality, is decried in this case because it destroyed their culture.

I’m sure it wasn’t the fact that the army was slaughtering them like sheep, this Missionary was trying to preserve them, in the end he failed to save most of them, and felt it badly, crying at their deaths, as his own account goes. But he felt they were better off dying there than in the bush.

My classmates and the textbooks called this an attitude of “Moral Superiority.”

I called it common decency, thinking someone is better off dying with some dignity, around people who care for them, then shot in the bush like a wild animal. Morally speaking, that sounds like the superior option, doesn’t it?

I wish I was exaggerating how unfair this was. But because he was a Christian, he must be wrong for assuming he was morally superior to these people. He must be justifying his part in this.

Robinson, was his name, if you want to look it up. Robinson seems to me to be more against his own people’s ruthless treatment, then to feel he is better than the Aborigines, but I suppose I’m just too white to understand.

The following week, we discussed the Congo, the subject of the book I mentioned above.

My teacher made the ironic statement, backed up by our textbooks, that the reason things finally changed in Africa after many decades, was because some of them were educated like Europeans, and learned to speak their language and reason with them in ways they could understand.

You catch that? One week, it’s bad to educate them and override their culture, the next week it’s the only path to their freedom. (My professor said it was complicated, which is another way of saying we don’t have an answer for if it was right or not.)

I would add that is why The Civil Rights movement succeeded here in America, slaves who got educated, freed people got educated. One can quibble all day about equal opportunity, but education was the only doorway to it for them.

And it was often White Masters who educated some of their slaves, though later it was made illegal, and white people started schools for them.

It was unfair still in many ways, prejudice is ugly, but it’s kind of funny that the very people (by race) who enacted it, also gave the oppressed the tools to break free.

If you think my Secular history class at my liberal college is going to acknowledge that with any sense of injustice toward the White people for ignoring it, then…you didn’t read the above carefully.

While my class begrudgingly admits there was good Europeans, they pass over the glaringly obvious truth, that Europeans were always part of toppling the Imperialism that they enacted. No nation is entirely unified in how it perceives what its leaders are doing.

They are even more anxious to ignore the other obvious truth: Christianity, which is blamed for aiding in the oppression, was the only reason it ever ended.

It’s like an inoculation. Christianity came into the other countries with the Oppressors, like a mild form of the disease, carrying some incorrect ideas of the times, but also the worldview that does the most universally for the dignity of human life, and the value of charity. Like a vaccination, Christianity helped the native peoples build up an understanding of European ways and religion that they later used to protest their rights to freedom and fair treatment. The Missionaries were also the only ones who usually educated the natives, which is what enabled them to integrate and rise above the culture.

In effect, Christianity was warped into something that would justify White Oppression, but it also preserved the idea of all human beings having value, which later was what put a stop to at least some of the oppression.

People fault Christianity for being used the wrong way,, but will barely give a mention to how it was used the right way, to help people.

And I have yet to hear anyone talk about how Christian based systems basically give power to anyone they oppress to eventually overthrow them, based on moral reasons. It’s like they give the knife to cut off their own arm, if they start to sin.

If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to depart into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)

The only thing that would satisfy these people is the notion that Europeans should have just stayed home to begin with, never changed anything, and contented ourselves with our eager resources…how unrealistic that option is is negligible, because it’s clearly morally wrong to take over another country…

Says who?

I mean, are we going to start saying it’s morally wrong to take over another business? Where does it end?

Despite what they try to paint it as, the Europeans were not solely violent. A lot happened with trade deals, also. Sometimes unfair ones, sometimes they started out as mutually beneficial and then devolved. Sometimes, it didn’t happen that way at all.

You won’t find it in too many religions that Conquest is actually Wrong, in the sight of God, or the gods. Some cultures glorify it to a divine calling.

Where does the notion that is is wrong even come from?

No country can really back this up. Even if it’s wrong, no one can hope to prevent it from happening in one way or another.

So, I fail to see the point of teaching us that it was wrong, and then leaving it there… well, what now? What’s the big conclusion, History?

The claim can be made that History class should not be giving us new ideas, but telling it like how it happened.

That’s ludicrous. Any narrative of history is going to present new ideas to a student who has not studied it before, and a clearly slanted narrative is going to lead them to blame one party more than another.

It used to be slanted in Europeans favor, it is not slanted against us, we must look bad at all costs.

Maybe it was bad, I think in the context of the time, it’s harder to tell.

But even so, it’s over now. We have real world problems. Oppression continues in new forms, and old forms, but not the forms of the Modern Era, as it’s called.

I don’t think we are being taught to recognize the signs of this any more in our everyday lives, or we’d realize how the modern devices every single student has in their pocket are products of a system very similar to the ones we read about.

And do we care? Can we give them up?

Maybe, it’s harder to judge, hmm?

There will always be oppression as long as people are sinful, and people are in charge, or their creations are in charge. Running things by computers has not improved them.

The question for us, is what can we do to make it better or worse? 

We are dependent on these businesses for our way of life, undoing that is not the work of  a day. It was the same in the Congo, the same everywhere. By the time people realize it’s a problem they’re stuck, just like with an addiction.

I choose to keep applying my faith to every situation, because I think G. K. Chesterton was right when he wrote that the charge that Christianity obscures progress and keeps us in the Dark Ages is ridiculous when “Christianity is the only thing that has ever gotten us out of it.” (Orthodoxy)

Which is not to say Religion has never been an obstacle to advancements, but it has also been the main drive behind them. It comes down to the individuals every time.

The Bible is also concerned more with men’s souls then their station, and Christians have often taken that attitude also, but in the process, have done more to elevate men’s station in their concern for his soul.

For Missionaries have worried that mistreatment will make men bitter against God.

This is how things come right in the end, that and the Grace of God. There’s ups and downs in history, I for one think we should be looking to see what they did right, and not forever listing what they did wrong, as if we are free from error and know so much better than our forebears.

That’s what they thought too.

Mistakes have to be remembered if anyone is tempted to think their nation is perfect (that has led to a lot of evil) but it’s better to feel there is nobility left to preserve than to feel your people have always been irredeemably bad.

That’s where I leave it, I’d rather be proud of my heritage than ashamed of it, until next time– Natasha.

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