Saturday, February 25, 2012

knowing better

Someone -- as often as not I -- always knows better and is willing to perpetrate all sorts of horror in order to prove it.

As Australia separated Aborigine children from their parents, so it was written in Canada in 1883:

"In order to educate the children properly, we must separate them from their families. Some people may say that this is hard, but if we want to civilise them we must do that.''

In Canada, it was likewise the indigenous children who were separated from their parents and sent to church-run boarding schools where physical and sexual abuse and a loss of identity were a staple of knowing better. They were the poor and the uneducated and the powerless. They needed to be 'assimilated' into a wider society run by those who knew better. Today they are described as "lost souls" ... another echo of the 1968 quote by an unnamed American army officer in Vietnam after the decimation of Bien Tre: "It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it."

What a fearsome and potentially horrific capacity ... knowing better.

Social policy, spiritual endeavor, peace, war, justice, love ... I know better.

For individuals to exercise such a capacity in their own lives is probably instructive enough. To exercise it on behalf of others ... I think not.

1 comment:

  1. We did it here too. When i lived on the navajo reservation, i talked to folks who were taken from their families, raised in the white schools, forbidden to speak their language, etc.