We’ve been subjected to a couple arguments lately about how benighted people who are religious, or a culture built on myths are/must be. This is made by people with a very comfortable hand in society. People whose values are shared by the liberal majority, academics, culture makers, etc. I thought it might be useful to think about what it feels like when the shoe is on on the other foot.
Here is your scenario:
The government has been taken over by a culture you don’t belong to. They value things you don’t understand. They have myths and stories and religious beliefs you don’t know, or understand. They speak languages that are unfamiliar to you. But they have the law, they have the police… co-operation is probably in your best interest.
A government agent has been to your family’s house. Because your family and people are backwards, and believe the wrong things, and live the wrong way. The government will be taking your children. They are being taken to a school hundreds of miles away (too far away to easily travel to), where they will be raised by people selected by the government. You’ll see them again in the summer. But they’ll be raised properly, with proper values, the way the government says they should be.
You have four days before the plane comes to take away your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren. No adults who share your values, or your culture, will be with them for the rest of the year.
What will you take the time to tell your children, to teach your children, in the next 96 hours?
This is not entirely an idle question. On September 30, Canadian school children will recognize Orange Shirt day, to recognize and memorialize the trauma inflicted by the Canadian government on survivors of Residential Schools.
The Residential schools were a government program that forcibly separated Native children from their “backwards” parents and cultures, sending them to government run schools. The system was implemented in 1883, and lasted until 1996. Approximately 20% of children sent to residential schools died. Information on their deaths was never relayed back to their families. Many, many others are survivors of sexual and physical abuse, with the legacy of psychiatric and addiction issues such abuse, or traumatic separation from parents can create.
The students lost their languages, and their culture. They were punished because the family they were born to believed things that the wider culture did not. ‘Irrational’ things. ‘Primitive’ things.
On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered a public apology on behalf of the Government of Canada and the leaders of the other federal parties in the House of Commons. Nine days prior, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established to uncover the truth about the schools. In 2015, the TRC concluded with the publication of a multi-volume report detailing the testimonies of survivors and historical documents from the time. The TRC report concluded that the school system amounted to cultural genocide.
After you’ve had a chance to consider what values you’d try to instill in your children as the time ticked down to them being taken away from you… to go and reread the “mythology” post from yesterday. And consider what the actual implications are of ‘atheists’ who are implacably hostile to ‘foolish’ people whose cultural values are based on myths they don’t happen to share.