In The Arms of Reason
“Gold is most excellent; gold is treasure, and he who possesses it does all he wishes to in this world.” – Christopher Columbus
On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered the New World on a sea voyage to chart a shortcut to the Indies, funded by Queen Isabella of Spain. By chance, Columbus landed upon a small island in the Caribbean populated by a group of friendly and pacifist indigenous people, the Taino, who met the oncoming Spanish with gifts of gold, jewels and shells. Columbus wrote in his diary after his first contact with the Taino, “with fifty men they can all be subjugated and made to do what is required of them.” After his second voyage, Columbus sent a consignment of Native slaves back to Spain. The lives of the Natives, and indeed, of all the people of the world, would never be the same.
Columbus’s first action was to divide the island into colonists and Natives. Next, hundreds of Natives were sent back to Spain to be bought as slaves. On the island, they were forced into slavery, and those who escaped to the mountains were hunted down by hounds and killed. Thousands committed suicide by taking a poison made from Cassava. Many parents killed their children to spare them torture and an agonizing death at the hands of the Spanish rule. Native women were raped. Men and boys were enslaved, tortured, starved and killed. In only two short years, half of the 250,000 Natives were dead. By 1548, no more than 500 remained.
Since 1971 Columbus Day has been recognized as a national holiday, and in 2002, President George W. Bush issued a presidential proclamation celebrating “Columbus’ bold expedition [and] pioneering achievements,” directing that “the flag of the United States be displayed on all public buildings on the appointed day in honor of Christopher Columbus.”
Mass killings and genocide did not cease after Columbus departed. During the Spanish Inquisition, thousands of indigenous people were routinely rounded up, tortured and burned alive for heresy, oftentimes decrees were read to them from distant Spanish ships coming to shore, with hordes of soldiers ready to jump onto the beach and murder and capture all of the nearby tribes who were proclaimed heretics, whose lives were therefore compromised by the Church.
The killings didn’t stop there, even up until the beginning of the 20th century, during the great South American Rubber Boom, tens of thousands of indigenous people were rounded up by rubber barons and enslaved, tortured by flogging, fed to dogs, and the women were routinely raped. It is projected that over 50,000 indigenous people were killed.
Ten to twenty million people perished at the hands of Joseph Stalin. Eleven million people died in the Holocaust. Mad dictator Pol Pot of Cambodia ordered one million Cambodians killed, including everybody that wore glasses because he believed the Marxist declaration that those who wear glasses belong to the educated class, the bourgeoisie, exploiters of the peasants. In Cambodia, this meant that all who wore glasses were rightfully subject to elimination. The Khmer Rouge soldiers took hundreds of thousands of Cambodians into what became known as the “Killing Fields”, where they dug their own mass graves and were beaten to death by the Khmer Rouge soldiers with iron bars and hoes, buried alive, and the babies were smashed against trees. A Khmer Rouge directive decreed “Not a bullet is to be wasted.”
Genocide has come to dominate the 20th century. The Herero Genocide of 1904 in Namibia claimed ¾ of the population, roughly 60,000 people. The Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923 claimed 1.5 million people. The East Timor Genocide, from 1975 to 1999 claimed 120,000 people. Rwanda in 1994, 800,000, and Darfur from 2003 to present is still debated, 100,000, 300,000, 500,000 people?
To study history is to become increasingly aware of an ancient and on-going succession of human cruelty. Genocide is the act of rounding up a group of people from a specific social construct, whether it be class, race, religion, or ideology, who are then murdered. How can such madness permeate the minds of men, and so integrate itself within the false claims of reason? What reason is to be found in burning another humans flesh because they do not believe in the same God, do not share similar ideologies, do not bear the same color skin, and are born into a different ethnic class?
War is generally the conductor of such symphonies of murder, but who are the conductors of war? Out of Nationalistic cries and the fervor of demonizing the common enemy, people are being persecuted and power is being achieved. All lives are a compromise to this common cause of “good”, which is so often inherently evil. Groups of men, women and children are virtually wiped out and civilizations demolished in the wake of a new, stronger, more rightful empire that is here to preserve the everlasting status quo of human civilization: Power.
Power makes a strong nation. It makes an ideology, a religion, an army, an Empire. Power can turn an intelligent, cultured nation into a group of bloodthirsty murderers, and has done so time and time again throughout the dark pages of our history. Power is comprised of greed, of wealth, of possessions, and it knows no bounds, for it is insatiable, and it’s only aim is the endless progression for more.
It acts like a cancer cell, constantly reproducing, so devastatingly that it kills the organism which it lives on, and in so doing causes it’s own destruction. Can not human beings be viewed as such a ruthless and short-sighted creature? Have we not destroyed 95% of America’s old growth forests? Have we not created a global economy that is inherently flawed, because it’s only survival depends upon infinite growth, while the resources on this planet are obviously and ecologically limited? Have we not poisoned our air, water and land for profit? Have we not genetically mastered food, only to witness and accept the harrowing negative impacts to our health? Have we not created wars for profit, drugs for profit, life and death.. for profit?
Power rules the current paradigm, and in so doing rules the hearts and minds of Humankind. We see it every day, a war for resources in Afghanistan, rising dictatorships across the globe, the domination of corporate control in the political spectrum, SOPA, now CISPA, a cybersecurity aim for governments and corporations to share internet information, and to ultimately control the internet. We see it everywhere in the destruction of the natural processes of our planet, which paradoxically provides life for all living organisms, a class for which humans are not excluded. We are cutting down our forests and planting seeds of an unsustainable technologically advanced society, all the while ignoring the basic tenets of ecology, that we cannot replace the real world with an artificial one and hope to survive.
We are crushing peaceful regimes around the globe, and strengthening the destructive dictatorships and tyrannies. We are knowingly and unknowingly participating in the game of artificiality, of materialism, which defines social classes and further propagates the destruction of our dying resources, the sole creators of our possessions. We have built an empire on a false foundation of non-renewable resources that are quickly running out and laying devastation in their absence in economies throughout the world, while our governments and corporations crush the rise of renewable energy, energy that can be free to all people on the planet. Our governments that have not already done so, are creating a culture of fear, and we are fearful.
Wherever power lies, so too, do the power-less. Now is the unequivocal time in Mans rise to power, a time more tumultuous and testing than any other point in human history, a time when we are moving towards the peak of our own destruction, when the next war to be waged may very well render extinct our own species, and perhaps all life on Earth. There is a lesson to be learned here, a lesson that has been understood by the few and ignored by the many. Unfortunately, if we do not pay heed to the knowledge of Reason, and quickly learn to adopt a new world, one without power and greed and war, and if we continue to ignore the many sufferings that we inflict upon ourselves and all other living things, Humankind is sure to pay the full price for it’s supreme stupidity. Not only have we not learned from the atrocities we have inflicted, but furthermore, we have repeated them to awful grandeur, and only propagated the violence.
We are now in the waiting room of History. Crimes go punished and unpunished alike, but we must make the decision here and now, of whether or not we will let these crimes occur at all. For if they occur again, they very well may be the last crime we ever made against our fellow selves.