On Mon, 2 Dec 1996 23:28:58 -0800 Tom Willis <[log in to unmask]>
>Every human being knows in their heart that it is not right to let
>1,000,000 innocent people starve. Especially when you control their
country and >have oppressed them for 150 years.
Funny thing is, I agree with you with regard to today's morality. I would
readily and publicly condemn anyone so inclined as to be blind to the
suffering of humanity when something proactive can be done to help.
My point to Ray was that, yes, it is incontrovertibly wrong by today's
standards; however, by the moral standards of the day in which these
things occurred, I am not so sure they were seen as wrong (emphasize "NOT
SO SURE" as in UNCONVINCED). Do not mistake this simple observation as,
in any way, endorsing the conduct of the Imperialist Powers of the past
age, I do not. It remains remarkably clear that throughout countless past
millennia we have been deplorable shits toward our fellow man.
But, it is difficult to ignore that many British - during the early to
middle part of the last century - believed the "Bible" was their personal
edict to rule the world with fire and sword; and that the prohibitions of
the "good book" didn't apply much to the "vulgar masses". To the British,
"civilizing" the Emerald Isle or the Scottish Highlands was no different
than their conduct in India or the America's.
Worse, they were not the only ones who felt this way; the Spanish, the
Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and ad nauseum, all went into the
wilderness with a cross in one hand and a sword in the other. Here in the
Americas, at the same time as the famine, we were in the process of
"civilizing" unto death some millions of indigenous peoples. OUR
government will STILL not admit that this was wrong. After all, to do so
might demand an accounting of the countless atrocities.
The affable Mr. "Talks A Lot" Ladd mentioned the Western Shoshone in
another post. Well, the US Government is still trying to forcibly take
their land away without their consent, and without the slightest apology
(by this time they may have succeeded).
Even in this century, the same things are still happening in places like
South America. A wise old Roman, Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Seneca the
Younger) once wrote: "Whom they have injured, they also hate." This is
probably why some of the British still peer down their noses at the
Celts. I have had a taste of this attitude myself ("Oh, you're Cymric"
the old Englishman said, dismissively). The really miserable thing is
that it isn't a huge majority of the regular citizens who conduct their
nation's business in this way. Most of them are simply indifferent to
these events. George Bernard Shaw said, "The worst sin towards our fellow
creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that's the
essence of inhumanity". This was the crux of it a century ago.
Are things getting better? Sure. We don't go out and deliberately
slaughter people any longer and we try to respond when we see starvation
and disease, but to what reward? Somalia was a disaster even with today's
technology. As the world shrinks and we become more understanding and
tolerant of the greater community of our neighbors, things will get
better. Charles Caleb Colton remarked, "We hate some persons because we
do not know them; and will not know them because we hate them." Well, we
are getting to know them more and more. The British of a century and a
half ago didn't want to know anyone else, except through their own very
Yes, they not only didn't know it was wrong to let "those people" starve,
they believed it was right and they still will not readily admit that it
even happened (just as we believed Sand Creek was right - "The only good
Indian is a dead Indian"). They let people starve in India, too, without
so much as a glance. It's just more "Manifest Destiny" on a global scale.
Again, none of this is meant, in any way, to excuse what happened; just
to try and understand how these things happen. In my book, the British
should not be excused for it, but we might understand it and maybe -
eventually - learn to forgive their souls.
Of course, this is only my opinion.
Bruce L. Jones
[log in to unmask]
Mojave Desert - The Geographic Center of Nowhere