Is private property a good thing? I happen to think it is. Have you ever noticed how public beaches are always disgusting? No one takes pride of ownership. I’ve heard people say after throwing some trash around, “that’s why we pay taxes.”
Since at least Biblical times there’s been a tension in history between communitarian-ism and private ownership. People have written songs and novels about this tension. People have gotten into university debates and great wars over this tension.
We bemoan the loss of Indian hunting grounds even as we sit in our comfortable highrises or suburban ranches. We feel vaguely guilty because that’s what we’re told to do. Yet a study of the Iroquois nation quickly reveals that their dominance of a vast territory of the US and Canada came at the expense of other weaker tribes. They didn’t just sit around being peaceful. They were into conquest. It didn’t matter if some tribes were all about sharing.
We can say it’s primitive not to share, but the tragic thing about history is that, search as we may for a progressive walk towards enlightenment, it’s always just out of reach. I’m not celebrating “might makes right,” just pointing out that despite lofty ideals everywhere in the world the human tendency is towards this behavior. No matter the style of government or organization or friendship, might often makes right.
I lived with American communists for a while. They worked their “interns” (indentured servants) like dogs for the good of the community and the ecology. They had the land and the power to make our lives miserable. They made sure they had a voice on the local radio station and in the town council. They preached peace and love, but might makes right pushed their interns and neighbors.
Once we see this tendency to push each other around we then can see that it’s not them over there or us over here. We can stop expecting our governments to present us with good new schemes to cover our moral failures. The reason why private property is important is because without it we’re at the whim of people who could care less about us and use their might to do whatever they want. Private property gives us a stake in the game. (This doesn’t for a second mean there are perfect systems on Earth)
We can be charitable or not based on the knowledge that what Jesus said about the poor always being with us is true and no amount of second-rate political thought is going to change that. Some people are always going to be stronger, smarter and more evil than others no matter how well we institute Common Core or apologize for winning wars.
Private property means I get to keep my mind as well as my responsibility. With that I must answer to a higher power.
The pristine heaven on earth created by some people who may have gotten to the “new” world first was destroyed by adorable, playful tricksters. Yes, before that ugly Columbus came there was the evil seal laughing as it spread tuberculosis. I wonder as we go to war with a group of crazies we helped create and fund how we continue to believe in revisionist history and a corporate political class that keeps us all at each others throats. We fail to think, Hey wait! They wanted to go to war last year, but a few brave people said no way in hell. And here we are a year later. As the seals might say, it seems a little fishy.
But back to the past with a fascinating article about the seals:
“The next morning as they were breaking camp they were attacked by a war party of Cheyennes led by Chief Medicine Water. John and Lydia German, their son Stephen, and daughters Rebecca Jane and Joanna were killed and scalped. The Indians then took any goods they deemed usable and set the wagon afire. Captured and eventually taken into the Texas Panhandle were Catherine, age seventeen; Sophia, twelve; Julia, seven; and Addie, five. The Germans were victims of the Cheyennes’ retaliation for their losses at the second battle of Adobe Walls on June 27.
After a scouting party from Fort Wallace came upon the scene of the massacre a few days later, the military campaigns against hostile Indians in the Panhandle were intensified. In the meantime, the German girls were subjected to exposure, malnutrition, and occasional maltreatment as their captors traveled southward. Catherine, in particular, recalled instances of gang rape by young “dog soldiers” and indignities at the hands of Cheyenne women, particularly Medicine Water’s obnoxious wife, Mochi (Buffalo Calf Woman). Eventually Julia and Addie were traded to Grey Beard‘s band, who for the most part neglected them. Grey Beard steered his following down the east side of the Llano Estacado, while Medicine Water joined with other groups and moved down the west side, probably crossing at several points into eastern New Mexico.
By November 1874 Grey Beard had set up camp north of McClellan Creek, about ten miles south of the site of present-day Pampa. On the morning of November 8, Lt. Frank D. Baldwin‘s column charged the Indian encampment. So complete was the surprise that the Cheyennes abandoned the village and left most of their property intact. Riding through the deserted camp, William (Billy) Dixon and other army scouts noticed movement in a pile of buffalo hides; they were astonished to find Julia and Addie German, both emaciated and near starvation. Dixon later recalled how hardened scouts and soldiers turned aside to hide their emotions as the little girls sobbed out their story.”
These books were tremendously useful when writing about Katherine Weldon’s experience as a missionary teacher. Education For Extinction is full of anecdotes and is not really about the extinction of Indians but of that way of life we associate with Indians. Anyone who has ever taught or studied education must realize that the system is set up to indoctrinate students to the culture–all students. Books about children voluntarily sent to boarding school are always popular because most people at some point in their lives have fantasized about getting away from their parents and having adventures. Although there is much sadness at Indians leaving their families’ ways behind, the kids in these books are like all kids. They give the schools their best shot and toughen up, vie for leadership, embracing their circumstances or pine away for home. Bittersweet stories intermingle with just plain bitter and fair enough–the speed of change was definitely catastrophic to the tribes.
While we moderns are aghast at the idea of “killing the Indian and saving the man,” it’s difficult to judge the only friends the Indians had. It’s not the fashion nowadays to categorize people as more or less civilized, but back then people rightly saw that if the Indian didn’t assimilate and quickly they would be relegated to the margins of society at best. Progressive Victorians believed they should uplift humanity–through art, education, assimilation, etc. On some level in their well meaning elitist way they thought that all people were the same and could be taught to “fit in.” We also must remember that many Indians assimilated voluntarily. I have Indian blood through the marriage of an Indian woman to a Euro-American man. I have a full blood friend who still sports the braids, but loves making huge amounts of money working for Citibank. He doesn’t pine for his native ways. Complexity of history yet again.