I remember having the talk with my parents.
When I was pregnant for the first time I actually thought about how I would deal with the talk with my kids.
I dread the day I have to have the talk with Lil Miss.
I realized there’s just no good way to say it.
Our “people” got where they are today by slaughtering millions of people who had every right to hate us and want to kill us. Because originally there was enough room for all of us but we weren’t content with that. We felt threatened by their very existence. There were decent folk who were willing to live in harmony (on both sides) but overall, war was what prevailed. And we “won”. Because we had “superior firepower”. We also had other countries backing us. So of course we “won”
Why the right to claim this land as OURS. The right to make the rules. The right to go back and whitewash history to make us look like “the good guys”
“Are there any of those people left?” is the inevitable question.
“yes, actually there are. A very very few. We pushed them into tiny patches of land that we didn’t want”
And I will have to explain how we acted as if this was very magnanimous on our part. How we have a history of pushing Stockholm syndrome on the people who were here first. I can spend all day talking about the various nuances of the history. I can talk about how some of the “other side” were in fact scary horrible people who never had any intention of letting us live in peace. I can talk about how some of “our side” were good decent folk who really wanted the rest of our people to stop warring the original inhabitants. Even so, I will have to talk about greed and how discovery of the land’s riches made most people willing to step all over anyone in order to be the first in line to lay claim to more of the sanctified earth. How even our moral views were warped enough to pretend that we had some intrinsic right to be here and take over this land. How our pretense at compromise was torn down again and again as we decided again and again that the tiny patches of land we gave them were actually worth something to us after all. Our pretense that we were ever interested in letting the other side continue as a people
I will have to explain how our people also had others backing us, how we would never run out of firepower. I can explain how we used propaganda to paint the other side as evil and savage and bloodthirsty. I can talk about how our people came to truly believe the other side weren’t even human beings, just disgusting animals worthy of death. I will definitely talk about how we incorporated this disdain and disgust into our culture so that generations to come would also distrust, despise and demean the other side – so that our children and their children’s children would never successfully make peace.
This talk will happen. Its part of where we come from. Its not the only history we have. It doesn’t negate the good things we have done any more than the good things negate this part. I hope that when we have this talk, my daughter will be suitably horrified and sad that our cultural lives rose from the bloody pyre of vanquished people whose only crime were to be here before us, live differently than us, and want different things from life than we did.
Then the inevitable end question will come.
“We don’t still do this, do we?”