Tuesday, February 27, 2018

NAHM 2017: Our better natures

Having recently mentioned the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and Canada withdrawing its objector status, I want to circle back to that.

When the declaration passed in 2007, there were four votes against it. We know about Canada, but they were joined by Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. You may notice that these are all countries that had colonizers fighting and subjugating and abusing the previous residents, and that those issues are not completely resolved yet.

There were also some abstentions, and some "yes" votes that you could easily question - this may be something that I want to delve into more later, but I had not really been aware of the declaration in the first place. I saw a reference to it when I was researching the apology, and then when I saw there was such a thing I was curious because of the Sami.

I was reminded of them by a Final Jeopardy! question. If I had been playing I would have had to answer Lapplanders, which they would have accepted, but which can be seen as derogatory. Anyway, that got me interested and I read up a little. As much as we laud Finland for their educational methods and programs that are helpful for children, Sami get underfunded. They are entitled to day care and instruction in their own language; they have a hard time getting it. Land rights are disputed.

It doesn't seem to be an issue of colonizing. The Sami are classified as indigenous, but they have shared space with the dominant groups for a long time. Somehow, there still seems to be a desire to look down on someone, and discriminate against someone.

As we get more into misogyny we will get more into the resistance to accepting the equality of others when there is a cultural tradition of looking down on them. Yesterday I used my human frailty as an explanation of why I can't be perfectly organized; there are much uglier aspects to that frailty.

Still without intending to excuse it, I do think it is beneficial to acknowledge it and try and understand it. People like Justin Trudeau a lot. He does do some good things. His shortcomings seem to most often come up in relation to indigenous Canadians. Is that a coincidence or a not at all surprising result of years of conditioning? And I ask that knowing that there are other people who are much worse.

For anyone who wants to argue that Trudeau's shortcomings are really more in the realm of the environmental, that's where a lot of the conflicts with indigenous Canadians come up, and that one is definitely not a coincidence.

Also important, I am not picking on Trudeau. He has his good points and bad points like most people, but another key human trait seems to be a desire to divide the world into good and bad people. That can feel very comforting, and it might even seem convenient, but it can't truly be convenient because it doesn't work. That's not how people work. So we need to deal with that.

Recorded history has many instances of people sucking. If we had more historical records, they would probably provide more examples.

But we do good things too. Sometimes we rise to the occasion. Sometimes we say "No!" to injustice. We work toward something better, and then we lose progress again because of the sucking part.

That is not a reason to give up. It is a reason to be realistic. It is a reason to try harder.

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