Yesterday, we Canadians, heard Justice Murray Sinclair’s report on the treatment faced by countless First Nations people during the era of residential schools and the systemic actions of the governments of the time against them.
The backdrop of this day, for me, was marked by an article about the insult to Sarah Hoffman, efforts to stop bill C51, Sepp Blatter and the FIFA scandal. Now at first glance, these would seem to be very separate issues, one having little to do with the other. But they are all related by the thread of our human nature. A nature that has many good qualities, but many negative ones as well.
These events also run the gamut from personal slight to worldwide corruption. In each case, we as humans, struggle to overcome the root issues that these events speak to; sexism, bullying, determining motive, labeling terrorists, corruption and greed. Each casting their pall onto our societies’ and each of us struggling to come to terms with their influence on us.
So what can and does the Truth and Reconciliation report do to move us forward from our past deeds and their modern consequences? One statement stands out, is the conclusion that the acts against our First Nations people amounted to “Cultural Genocide”. The reports on the news devolves into a legal semantic argument on the term genocide which in and of itself highlights a fundamental hurdle for us as humans to effectively deal with our current and past misdeeds. The term genocide is a very modern word, only coined after 1944 by Raphael Lemkin. He defined genocide as such:
“Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.” (Wikipedia reference)
I would hope that as a species we have evolved enough and matured enough to take responsibility for our actions. Not hide behind semantics, veils of secrecy and perceived omnipotence. I am hoping and working towards a day were we truly embrace the concept of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In a good way. I reached this conclusion when I was barely 4 years old and have spent a lifetime perplexed and soulfully heartbroken that too much of the world around me does not come to the same conclusion.
Let us all feel the weight of the cultural genocide inflicted upon our brethren, it could have and someday might be inflicted upon us. Let us all feel the insult of a bullies comment, let us all feel the stain of false accusation and lastly let us all feel the need to rid this world of greed and corruption wherever we find it.