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The Truth about Thanksgiving

America always has the best holidays.  They are of a different nature when compared to European holidays in terms of the level of enthusiasm, participation and excitement.  America is like the young child, bursting with anticipation for their fêtes while Europe would be the slow lumbering adult who smiles with muted amusement and in no particular rush towards their holidays.

The one thing about America however is due to its youthfulness it has been able to recreate each holiday according to its will without much regard to the actual origins and in most cases turning a complete blind eye to actual fact.  

Such is the case with the holiday we celebrate today.  We call it Thanksgiving and for most it is the time to eat turkey, watch football and take long naps.  If you ask most Americans about the origin they will tell you the story about the “Pilgrims” who are these people in top hats and buckle shoes who were helped by the Indians (Native Americans) when they didn’t have enough to eat.  

They will remember from their childhood drawing pictures of smiling pilgrims and Indians sharing a table and being good friends.  Unfortunately, this couldn’t be farther from the truth by the simple fact that as I look around I do not see one Indian anywhere but I do see a lot of non Indians.  In fact, the world has spun around the sun so many times since the first Thanksgiving that I actually see many many Indians from Indian but *not a single* Native American.  

As this blog enjoys pointing out truths that have either been forgotten or are just completely ignored, I’d like to share an excerpt from a very good, historically accurate book.  Enjoy.  

Book: The Hidden History of Massachusetts
Author: Tingba Apidta
Link:  Amazon.com

The Real Thanksgiving

Much of America’s understanding of the early relationship between the Indian and the European is conveyed through the story of Thanksgiving. Proclaimed a holiday in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln, this fairy tale of a feast was allowed to exist in the American imagination pretty much untouched until 1970, the 350th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims. That is when Frank B. James, president of the Federated Eastern Indian League, prepared a speech for a Plymouth banquet that exposed the Pilgrims for having committed, among other crimes, the robbery of the graves of the Wampanoags. He wrote:

“We welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end; that before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people.”

But white Massachusetts officials told him he could not deliver such a speech and offered to write him another. Instead, James declined to speak, and on Thanksgiving Day hundreds of Indians from around the country came to protest. It was the first National Day of Mourning, a day to mark the losses Native Americans suffered as the early settlers prospered. This true story of “Thanksgiving” is what whites did not want Mr. James to tell.

What Really Happened in Plymouth in 1621?

According to a single-paragraph account in the writings of one Pilgrim, a harvest feast did take place in Plymouth in 1621, probably in mid-October, but the Indians who attended were not even invited. Though it later became known as “Thanksgiving,” the Pilgrims never called it that. And amidst the imagery of a picnic of interracial harmony is some of the most terrifying bloodshed in New World history.

The Pilgrim crop had failed miserably that year, but the agricultural expertise of the Indians had produced twenty acres of corn, without which the Pilgrims would have surely perished. The Indians often brought food to the Pilgrims, who came from England ridiculously unprepared to survive and hence relied almost exclusively on handouts from the overly generous Indians-thus making the Pilgrims the western hemisphere’s first class of welfare recipients. The Pilgrims invited the Indian sachem Massasoit to their feast, and it was Massasoit, engaging in the tribal tradition of equal sharing, who then invited ninety or more of his Indian brothers and sisters-to the annoyance of the 50 or so ungrateful Europeans. No turkey, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie was served; they likely ate duck or geese and the venison from the 5 deer brought by Massasoit. In fact, most, if notall, of the food was most likely brought and prepared by the Indians, whose 10,000-year familiarity with the cuisine of the region had kept the whites alive up to that point.

The Pilgrims wore no black hats or buckled shoes-these were the silly inventions of artists hundreds of years since that time. These lower-class Englishmen wore brightly colored clothing, with one of their church leaders recording among his possessions “1 paire of greene drawers.” Contrary to the fabricated lore of storytellers generations since, no Pilgrims prayed at the meal, and the supposed good cheer and fellowship must have dissipated quickly once the Pilgrims brandished their weaponry in a primitive display of intimidation. What’s more, the Pilgrims consumed a good deal of home brew. In fact, each Pilgrim drank at least a half gallon of beer a day, which they preferred even to water. This daily inebriation led their governor, William Bradford, to comment on his people’s “notorious sin,” which included their “drunkenness and uncleanliness” and rampant “sodomy”…

The Pilgrims of Plymouth, The Original Scalpers

Contrary to popular mythology the Pilgrims were no friends to the local Indians. They were engaged in a ruthless war of extermination against their hosts, even as they falsely posed as friends. Just days before the alleged Thanksgiving love-fest, a company of Pilgrims led by Myles Standish actively sought to chop off the head of a local chief. They deliberately caused a rivalry between two friendly Indians, pitting one against the other in an attempt to obtain “better intelligence and make them both more diligent.” An 11-foot-high wall was erected around the entire settlement for the purpose of keeping the Indians out.

Any Indian who came within the vicinity of the Pilgrim settlement was subject to robbery, enslavement, or even murder. The Pilgrims further advertised their evil intentions and white racial hostility, when they mounted five cannons on a hill around their settlement, constructed a platform for artillery, and then organized their soldiers into four companies-all in preparation for the military destruction of their friends the Indians.

Pilgrim Myles Standish eventually got his bloody prize. He went to the Indians, pretended to be a trader, then beheaded an Indian man named Wituwamat. He brought the head to Plymouth, where it was displayed on a wooden spike for many years, according to Gary B. Nash, “as a symbol of white power.” Standish had the Indian man’s young brother hanged from the rafters for good measure. From that time on, the whites were known to the Indians of Massachusetts by the name “Wotowquenange,” which in their tongue meant cutthroats and stabbers.

Who Were the “Savages”?

The myth of the fierce, ruthless Indian savage lusting after the blood of innocent Europeans must be vigorously dispelled at this point. In actuality, the historical record shows that the very opposite was true.

Once the European settlements stabilized, the whites turned on their hosts in a brutal way. The once amicable relationship was breeched again and again by the whites, who lusted over the riches of Indian land. A combination of the Pilgrims’ demonization of the Indians, the concocted mythology of Eurocentric historians, and standard Hollywood propaganda has served to paint the gentle Indian as a tomahawk-swinging savage endlessly on the warpath, lusting for the blood of the God-fearing whites.

But the Pilgrims’ own testimony obliterates that fallacy. The Indians engaged each other in military contests from time to time, but the causes of “war,” the methods, and the resulting damage differed profoundly from the European variety:

o Indian “wars” were largely symbolic and were about honor, not about territory or extermination.

o “Wars” were fought as domestic correction for a specific act and were ended when correction was achieved. Such action might better be described as internal policing. The conquest or destruction of whole territories was a European concept.

o Indian “wars” were often engaged in by family groups, not by whole tribal groups, and would involve only the family members.

o A lengthy negotiation was engaged in between the aggrieved parties before escalation to physical confrontation would be sanctioned. Surprise attacks were unknown to the Indians.

o It was regarded as evidence of bravery for a man to go into “battle” carrying no weapon that would do any harm at a distance-not even bows and arrows. The bravest act in war in some Indian cultures was to touch their adversary and escape before he could do physical harm.

o The targeting of non-combatants like women, children, and the elderly was never contemplated. Indians expressed shock and repugnance when the Europeans told, and then showed, them that they considered women and children fair game in their style of warfare.

o A major Indian “war” might end with less than a dozen casualties on both sides. Often, when the arrows had been expended the “war” would be halted. The European practice of wiping out whole nations in bloody massacres was incomprehensible to the Indian.

According to one scholar, “The most notable feature of Indian warfare was its relative innocuity.” European observers of Indian wars often expressed surprise at how little harm they actually inflicted. “Their wars are far less bloody and devouring than the cruel wars of Europe,” commented settler Roger Williams in 1643. Even Puritan warmonger and professional soldier Capt. John Mason scoffed at Indian warfare: “[Their] feeble manner…did hardly deserve the name of fighting.” Fellow warmonger John Underhill spoke of the Narragansetts, after having spent a day “burning and spoiling” their country: “no Indians would come near us, but run from us, as the deer from the dogs.” He concluded that the Indians might fight seven years and not kill seven men. Their fighting style, he wrote, “is more for pastime, than to conquer and subdue enemies.”

All this describes a people for whom war is a deeply regrettable last resort. An agrarian people, the American Indians had devised a civilization that provided dozens of options all designed to avoid conflict–the very opposite of Europeans, for whom all-out war, a ferocious bloodlust, and systematic genocide are their apparent life force. Thomas Jefferson–who himself advocated the physical extermination of the American Indian–said of Europe, “They [Europeans] are nations of eternal war. All their energies are expended in the destruction of labor, property and lives of their people.”

Puritan Holocaust

By the mid 1630s, a new group of 700 even holier Europeans calling themselves Puritans had arrived on 11 ships and settled in Boston-which only served to accelerate the brutality against the Indians.

In one incident around 1637, a force of whites trapped some seven hundred Pequot Indians, mostly women, children, and the elderly, near the mouth of the Mystic River. Englishman John Mason attacked the Indian camp with “fire, sword, blunderbuss, and tomahawk.” Only a handful escaped and few prisoners were taken-to the apparent delight of the Europeans:

To see them frying in the fire, and the streams of their blood quenching the same, and the stench was horrible; but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave praise thereof to God.

This event marked the first actual Thanksgiving. In just 10 years 12,000 whites had invaded New England, and as their numbers grew they pressed for all-out extermination of the Indian. Euro-diseases had reduced the population of the Massachusett nation from over 24,000 to less than 750; meanwhile, the number of European settlers in Massachusetts rose to more than 20,000 by 1646.

By 1675, the Massachusetts Englishmen were in a full-scale war with the great Indian chief of the Wampanoags, Metacomet. Renamed “King Philip” by the white man, Metacomet watched the steady erosion of the lifestyle and culture of his people as European-imposed laws and values engulfed them.

In 1671, the white man had ordered Metacomet to come to Plymouth to enforce upon him a new treaty, which included the humiliating rule that he could no longer sell his own land without prior approval from whites. They also demanded that he turn in his community’s firearms. Marked for extermination by the merciless power of a distant king and his ruthless subjects, Metacomet retaliated in 1675 with raids on several isolated frontier towns. Eventually, the Indians attacked 52 of the 90 New England towns, destroying 13 of them. The Englishmen ultimately regrouped, and after much bloodletting defeated the great Indian nation, just half a century after their arrival on Massachusetts soil. Historian Douglas Edward Leach describes the bitter end:

The ruthless executions, the cruel sentences…were all aimed at the same goal-unchallengeable white supremacy in southern New England. That the program succeeded is convincingly demonstrated by the almost complete docility of the local native ever since.

When Captain Benjamin Church tracked down and murdered Metacomet in 1676, his body was quartered and parts were “left for the wolves.” The great Indian chief’s hands were cut off and sent to Boston and his head went to Plymouth, where it was set upon a pole on the real first “day of public Thanksgiving for the beginning of revenge upon the enemy.” Metacomet’s nine-year-old son was destined for execution because, the whites reasoned, the offspring of the devil must pay for the sins of their father. The child was instead shipped to the Caribbean to spend his life in slavery.

As the Holocaust continued, several official Thanksgiving Days were proclaimed. Governor Joseph Dudley declared in 1704 a “General Thanksgiving”-not in celebration of the brotherhood of man-but for [God's] infinite Goodness to extend His Favors…In defeating and disappointing… the Expeditions of the Enemy [Indians] against us, And the good Success given us against them, by delivering so many of them into our hands…

Just two years later one could reap a ££50 reward in Massachusetts for the scalp of an Indian-demonstrating that the practice of scalping was a European tradition. According to one scholar, “Hunting redskins became…a popular sport in New England, especially since prisoners were worth good money…”

References in The Hidden History of Massachusetts: A Guide for Black Folks ©© DR. TINGBA APIDTA, ; ISBN 0-9714462-0-2

 

 

History is Alive

In my short 35 year life I have had the great fortune to travel a good portion of the world and experience a great many things. Most of these travels occurred during my twenties but it was not the travels alone that contributed to these fantastic experiences. It was the study of language that gave me very deep insights into the various cultures and changed me forever.

Find here the music which sets the tone for this post:

Once you have enjoyed the music you can find the historical reference here

These languages which changed my life were Spanish, French and Japanese. Spanish and French gave me unique insight into the history of Europe and gave me confidence. That is to say, I thought I actually new something after becoming proficient in these languages. Yet, it was the study of Japanese that really humbled me and taught me that the more I learn, the less I realize I actually know. With Spanish and French I had only learned about the European part of the world. With Japanese I made a small splash into a completely different and wonderful world known as Asia. I was amazed by the insights learning Japanese gave me. It was then I realized that language can really open up a different way of thinking and change how one views the world. I now knew four languages but out of the 6800 or so languages in the world I could only comprehend the mindset of very few.

Furthermore, I never felt as though I mastered any language other than my native English (and that is debatable as well!) No matter how good you think you are at a language, the natives are better.

This post however is not a biography on my experiences and discoveries. Rather, it is something that carries a bit of the same magic that one can experience in their own home without setting foot in another culture.

Almost.

There is nothing that will take the place of travel and learning other languages. One gains so much insight that it is near impossible to explain to others who have not had the same experience.

But, one can come close.

This post is about Netflix and the historical entertainment it offers us. Never in the history of mankind have we had such access to history portrayed as entertainment. Yes, yes, the plays and theatre of old are spectacular yet, those performances were never on demand, starting at the push of a button. Never have the masses as a whole had the access that they do now to rather accurate historical entertainment.

Unfortunately, even though such entertainment is now available, I wonder how many of the “unwashed masses” actually pay attention. There are so many other shows (of rather stupid subject) that history and historical fact now have to vie with the vulgar prancing around hoping to draw even more attention.

Forgive me, I continue to be extremely upset that even though we have more access to knowledge than ever before in the history of mankind, my brethren choose to entertain themselves with the equivalent of a Cockney lass with huge boobs who just happens to dance or sing surprisingly well. This cockney lass comes not from East London but from Jersey, the new one.

That was cruel. Some are actually very talented. My anger, nay, my disappointment stems from the seemingly endless support for current wars when most of the population do not understand history and choose not to educate themselves, preferring to watch henceforth mentioned Cockney Lass equivalent from Jersey, the new one.

Makes me upset. People are getting killed and the only people that could stop it choose to watch dancing and singing.

I digress. As you know I rarely stay on point and enjoy the frequent side-tangents. :)

Regarding Netflix, it has given me access to a lot of history that I can use to supplement my previous travels. In fact, it brings it alive!!

Yes, I know it is entertainment, but being a big fan of history, I use my Iphone to check the accuracy on Wikipedia.

*Sidebar – I wrote an argument Wikipedia Inaccurate? when many were calling it inaccurate back in 2006. Just wanted to give props to myself in that my judgement seems to stand the test of time in this case. :)

So I check Wikipedia and see that the historical truths match up pretty well with what I am seeing on Netflix.

So what am I watching on Netflix? Enough of my rambling already, lets get to the good stuff!!

The shows I’ve recently watched are the following. I thought a Youtube trailor might be able to give you a better impression than my simple explanations.

1. The Tudors

2. The Borgia

3. Rome

4. The Virgin Queen

I think four examples are enough to show how efficiently this new service called Netflix can really bring the past alive!!!

I would imagine there are two schools of thought on this. The first being those that prefer not to study at all and simply watch a show and believe they know something. A show is just a show and does not really confer any knowledge. Well, maybe a little knowledge but it really helps to read a quick biography and historical account about the show to really know what is going on

The second school would be the detractors. Those that believe they understand too much and will not give any standing to some theatrical performance infringing on their focus of study.

Not being an expert myself, I would imagine that the screen writers and movie studios employ enough financial firepower to employ those that do have expert knowledge in these historical matters and thus keep the story pretty accurate n’est pas?

So, for a plebeian such as myself, albeit a rather well traveled pleb and one who knows how to use his Iphone, I am inclined to believe these historical shows so long as they match up with what I read in Wikipedia.

What this does for me is absolutely brings the past alive!!!!!! The past was never brought alive for me in school as it entailed simple words on a page, ideas, places, people that meant nothing to me and were simply things that I must memorize to pass a test.

This changed of course when I actually visited such places.  However it was never brought alive as much as it has with Netflix!

It is now time for picture sharing.

Welcome to the Tower of London.  I did visit, I took the tour and I payed attention to everything my “Beefeater” guide said.  I also read my “Let’s Go” book to inform myself about the history.  Yet, the history of the place never came as alive as it did with the Tudors series and Elizabeth the Virgin Queen.  I could read a thousand historical books and I believe nothing would leave as deep an impression on me as these various TV (Netflix) series.

I think it was Ben Franklin, although I could be completely wrong, but one of the founders predicted that with the invention of the moving pictures books would no longer be necessary.  I have it in my head that it was Franklin but of course I could be completely stupid on this one.

My point is, I visited the tower of London, I tried to feel the ghosts there, I tried to feel the history.  I understood what happened and I tried to let it in.  I didn’t feel anything. It really didn’t come alive for me.

The only time I ever felt “ghosts” and the sense of history completely washing over me was in Toledo, Spain and I described the ghost part rather clearly in my post Ghosts.

So where else could I find “ghosts” and a real sense of history?

No, I didn’t feel anything in Rome.  I experienced neither Cesar nor the Borgias in Rome.  I just experiences ruins and various vagrants trying to seal my wallet. The glory of Rome has indeed vanished.

Actually, I did enjoy meeting a lot of young Italians at Piazza di Spagna but that was a rarity.  There were more opportunities for bad people to take my wallet than for me to meet the young vibrant youth of Rome at that time.  :(

Well, as you know my posts are never long and I grow tired after a few short paragraphs.  I guess the lesson for this post is that after watching so many shows about medieval Europe I can now more clearly understand the roots of Catholic vs Protestant, English vs France vs Spain and so on. By understanding the origins, I am able to much better understand the present.

***Quick mind dump ***

I grew up Catholic, a descendant of the Irish who were long oppressed by the English.  Why did I grow up this way?  Well my ancestors escaped the potato famine and came to the USA.  The English on the other hand used to be Catholic but Henry VIII decided to not be Catholic anymore because he wanted to marry another.  Throw in a bunch of politics and England didn’t want to be under the Pope anymore.  The Pope had gained his authority from an ancient “Cult of Christ” from long ago Rome that never really went away.  It was the religion that like the Duracell battery refused to die.  Since it was the only one that stood the test of time people took it as the truth.  And oh yea, it was the one that had the most military force behind it, so if you didn’t convert, bad things happened.  But even before bad things happened most were convinced bad things would happen after they die if they didn’t believe.

So anyway, our friend King Henry the VIII didn’t like the pope telling him what to do.  Some people agreed (Protestants)and over time these people eventually came to America.  These are the same folks that become our Presidents.  Well, except for JFK but he got shot.  After that we had more Protestants. Now we have Barack Obama who many believe is Muslim (lol).  The Republicans are still crazy incensed that he got elected and have now gone off the rails.  Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann?   For God’s sakes, all you supporters of them should never be allowed in a gentleman’s club again. Wait, the GOP is no longer a Gentleman’s club you say? It is full of idiotic hillbilly Jesus freaks you say? Boy, I really miss the old GOP. The heathens and unwashed are not only at the gate but have been invited in to sit down to dinner! >:(

I’m sorry, I’ve gone off the rails again.  I’m terrible.

I’m also tired and become tired of this post.  I really should write a book but am absolutely sure it would offend so many that it would stand no chance of being published.

No matter, I live in my own world and prefer to keep it that way.

I guess I’ll end this post with the truth that there is so much to learn. The trick is to keep it interesting which is something these shows and Netflix is very good at! They bring the past alive and make learning about history much more entertaining!

Heathcare – A Global Citizen Perspective

In honor of the Supreme Court decision today I thought a quick post was necessary.

As you readers know I rarely fall into the same old boring talking points of the right or the left but try my best to give you something unique, something from a global traveler perspective.  Well, I’m pleased to let you know I won’t fail you with this post.

Healthcare?

I tell you the truth I had never really thought about it.  I was a young healthy adult and planned to stay that way.

After I graduated college and was out on my own I first went to Japan.  I didn’t think about  healthcare in Japan.  The only time I had to go to the doctor was when it was required to work out in the gym at Waseda University.

Yep, you heard me right, I had to go get a health check before I could work out in the weight room at Waseda.  So, I made my appointment and went to the doctor.  He told me I was healthy, I got my note and was able to workout in the gym.  I don’t even remember how I payed for it.

Actually, I think I was required to go to the doctor one more time in Japan although I forget for what.  Good news is I had already been paying into their national healthcare so I just got to see the doctor and leave.  Again, I didn’t think anything about healthcare.

After Japan I went to live in Vietnam.  As half of America knows Vietnam is Communist.  Did I think about healthcare in a communist country?

Nope.

If I was going to think about healthcare, this would probably have been the best place in the world to think about it!  You see, there isn’t much to do in Saigon except go to the bar and, um, other things.  If you’re a local you’ll hop on your motorbike after the bar and drive home.

Do you see the problem here?

Yes, sometimes people drink to much and crash.  Back in 2004 helmets were not yet required in Saigon and the expat community lost about 1 or 2 members a year to heads hitting the pavement.  For those that did survive they got air lifted to Thailand at the cost of about $40,000 dollars because Vietnam really does not have the ability to deal with such head trauma.

I don’t mean to get into the extremes here, I just wanted to point out that if I were to ever have healthcare, I probably would have wanted it in Vietnam.  I did not.

So what did I do?  Well, I just payed upfront because it really wasn’t that expensive.  Every expatriate is going to have to visit the doctor sometime or another due to various issues.  One of those issues is diarrhea that does not stop.  If you spend any amount of time in Vietnam you’re going to get some strange bugs in your intestines and they do not just go away.  So you have to go to your doctor and pick up a dose of your best friend Cipro.

I met my doctor through a mutual Vietnamese friend.  The doctors name was Mark, but our Vietnamese friend always called him “Mark Doctor.”  So, from then on he was Mark Doctor to me.

I would just call Mark Doctor up and say “Hey Mark Doctor, I got the shits!”  I’d go down and see Mark Doctor who would write me up a prescription for Cipro, I payed about $20 and off I went on my merry way.  Other times you will get strange fevers and rashes.  I’m not sure what I had one time but it totally knocked me on my ass.  Again, what did I do?  “Hey Mark Doctor, I FEEL like shit!”  I popped down to see Mark Doctor and he fixed me up with a nice prescription for another $20.

I think those were the only times I saw the doctor in Vietnam for medical issues.

Sooooooooooo, I then come back to the United States and healthcare seems to be the most important issue in a century.  Having access to healthcare almost seemed even more important than having food or shelter!  The overriding thought seemed to be that if you do not have healthcare YOU WILL DIE!

I really couldn’t understand why everyone was making such a big deal about it.  I think it had something to do with politicians and the political shows getting everyone all worked up.

Well, I quickly found out what the fuss was about when I went for a routine teeth cleaning.  The first thing they asked me was if I had insurance.  I said no and I swear the receptionist looked as though the world was going to end.  I realized this and told her I would just pay out of pocket, all I needed was a simple cleaning.  The receptionist made me feel like some kind of leper and I knew then, I was an outsider, an outsider due to no insurance!

I started to get my cleaning and before I knew it the dentist was telling me about all the special services they provide such as whitening and other various cosmetic treatments.

Hell Doctor, I didn’t ask for a sales pitch, I just wanted to get my teeth cleaned!

I declined and we wrapped up the cleaning.  I payed about $120 and was quite shocked about how expensive the USA is.  It was at this point that I started to think a little about healthcare.

With my first job I was given some healthcare cards, a bunch of reading materials and e-mails about three times a week telling me that something or other with my healthcare plan had changed.

I exaggerate you not, these e-mails came at least once, if not three times a week telling me to review my plan and the changes that had been made.  I thought that these must be some lawyer tinkering with this word or that and so out of hundreds of “updates” that I believe I had received, I looked at a total of none of them.

Then Obama comes around and gets elected.  The healthcare debate REALLY heats up then!

****** Warning***** About to get into the good stuff*************

Now we have the Right bitching and moaning while the Left is celebrating.  Everyone is talking costs, constitutionality, individual rights and other things.  For me though I just see the following.

A rather large portion of Americas are fat and unhealthy.  Just take a quick look at the CDC statistics.  Why?  Well, we have a culture whose main reason for existence is to make money.  Sell the people more food, sell them more drugs to combat the obesity, sell them more insurance to cover the costs when they need to go see the doctor for being unhealthy.

‘Unhealthyness’ is a bonanza for many many industries who have a vested interest in keeping people unhealthy.

So they go to the doctors and if the doctors do not do everything perfectly then there are the lawyers who also make money on people being unhealthy and the doctors making mistakes.  Now we have litigation which also drive up premiums because the doctors now have to run many many unnecessary tests just to cover themselves from being sued.

In fact, the number of doctors running their own practice has been severely decreasing!  Now they much join a big consortium such as Kaiser just so they can practice and not losing everything to lawsuits!

So why are costs increasing?  Is it Obama and Socialism?

No, it is America has a LOT of unhealthy people AND this culture is programmed to believe something is always wrong with them but then this can be fixed by purchasing something.

Something is wrong with you, you better go see a doctor and you better get some drugs to fix your problem.  Don’t have a problem?  Come’on, I’m sure there is something not quite right that the latest pretty little pill can fix!

America is sick alright.

Now we have Obama trying to provide insurance for everyone, but the other half have been convinced to vote against something that is probably in their best interest!

I really hate it when they throw out the word “socialist” so readily.  These people have no idea what socialism actually is!  I mean they certainly haven’t lived in a socialist country and most likely have never been out of the United States!  So how would they know what Socialism is?  I’ll tell you how.  They watched Fox News and Fox told them so.  They also told them that Socialism is bad.

As for me, I really don’t want to think anymore about healthcare.  If there was a big problem we are fortunate enough that we could always pop back to Japan and be taken care of.

Wait, that was my old thinking.  The Supreme Court just ruled that we can indeed have something close to national healthcare!  Wow.

The people against this really baffle me.  Let me get quickly and succinctly to my point.  I have a choice of nations in which to live and can fit into many of them easily.

Here in the USA you must do the following

1. Pay taxes which already include Medicare / Medicate which is kind of like healthcare
2. Go to war if required.
3. Serve at Court if summoned

We have to do these three basic things but when the government wants to offer something that actually benefits us (healthcare) people get upset?

It is at this point that international people would say that Americans are stupid.  Well friends, I’m happy to inform you that it is only half of them that are stupid.  The other half has it right.

Half advocate war, pollution, racism, outsourcing of jobs.

The other half advocate the opposite.

And yes, this is very simplistic.  I still like Ron Paul for his anti-war stance.  I just can’t stand the Republicans who are just so…………….  off putting!

To wrap it all up, I’m very glad the Supreme Court did good today.

And to put it in perspective, many people have a choice of which passports to hold.  If you were given the choice would you not take a look at the advantages of citizenship in each country?

If Republicans had their way you would have the ‘advantage’ of

1. Going to war
2. Breathing plenty of pollution
3. Not being gay as they don’t like them
4. Having your papers checked daily
5. Praying to Jesus because as everyone knows, Jesus didn’t like immigrants (or gays) and only performed miracles on those with a good healthcare plan
6. Not being assured of healthcare, because only those that know how to make profits are worth anything to them.

But luckily, the Republicans lost today.

As Ice Cube says, “It Was a Good Day.”

Question Everything: Jews, Circumcision and Netflix

I had a very difficult time coming up with a title for tonight’s post.  If you are reading this then I guess it worked and I shall not let you down regarding the catch words.  And as usual I’ll veer off into related topics and rarely stay on point.  Some would call this “rambling” but I much prefer to call it “Stream of Consciousness” because that is a respected writing style and sounds so much better than “rambling.”

As usual I chose another random movie from Netflix and came up with a TV series from the 1980′s called “30 Something.” This show is about, in Netflix’s own description, “examines the lives of several suburban friends as they grapple with love, marriage, parenthood, work and the ever-present fear that life is passing them by.”  It caught my eye because I happen to be a 30 something and wanted to see what 30 somethings in the 1980′s were dealing with.

Now, for some reason Netflix doesn’t always go to the first in the series and I ended up watching season four’s “Prelude to a Bris” which is a about the parents decision to circumcise or not.  The husband is Jewish and the wife apparently, so far, not religious.  The wife wants to know why they should automatically circumcise the baby and the husband, not being particularly devout, was grappling with tradition vs the feelings of his wife.

I listened to their debates with intensity because this was a recent decision I also had to make.  It was not based on religious reasons but instead the tradition of hospitals to just assume that everyone wants to have their kids circumcised.

As the husband debated with himself, he got some advice from both a Rabbi and an older Jew.  The Rabbi said it was “A covenant with God,” and the older Jew said it was like an unbroken chain of tradition that went back for centuries.  His main point was that nobody was forcing him to continue the chain but would he be the one to want to end this tradition?

As for me, in our enlightened age of 2011 I found it a bit odd that God would base his relationship on a little piece of skin being chipped off the old wiener or not.  There are tons of traditions in all faiths and from my studies of history and travels I’ve come to think that all these traditions were just made up over time for certain reasons.

For example, many religious folk are not supposed to eat pork.  As I researched, I learned that it may have been because if this food is not cooked properly then there is a high chance of getting worms or some other nasty parasite in you.  Thus, this safeguard learned over time eventually gets incorporated into religion and finally becomes God’s word.  Interesting how that works.

By the same logic and from all the debates I have read concerning circumcision it could be that an uncircumcised male might find it a bit more work to wash and keep his favorite part clean which could have led to infections especially in the past when people were not showering daily.

Thus, over time people learned that simply snipping off the foreskin was a simple method of not having bad things happen to Mr. Happy down the road.  And just like meat (pardon the pun) the tradition gets incorporated into religion and becomes something that God apparently once said.

Having reasoned it out like this, I decided not to mutilate my own little boy.  I don’t hold anything against those that are still bound by 2000 year old traditions.  But for me, and more importantly my son, I thought the body knows best and should retain all things that accompanied him at birth.  One of the arguments that swayed me was that the foreskin covers the sensitive part and if you take the foreskin away it will lose sensitivity over time.

Now, one day I can tell him that I did him a very very big favor by bucking the trend of doing something simply because everyone else was doing it.

But, I am not alone.  In San Francisco and other parts of the USA there is actually a petition to stop the barbaric practice.  Think I’m crazy or anti-religion?  No, check out the Jewish Circumcision Resource Center 

“The organization maintains in its petition, that in a modern democratic society there is no place for the “barbaric” ceremony, which mauls a child who does not have any say in the matter. One spokesman for the group, a Jewish man who stated he is proud that his son was not circumcised, explained there are no health benefits, and in some cases, such as contracting herpes, there are disadvantages.”

Moving on to other topics, the older Jewish man in the show said the child’s name in Hebrew.   His English name was Leo (Means Lion, just think of a horoscope), but in Hebrew it was “Lyeb ben Adam.”  What caught my attention was the use of the word “ben” meaning “son of.”

You know what that made me think of?  Osama bin Laden.  I had no idea that Hebrew and Arabic were so close in terms of the word for “son of.”  It then made me think of how few Jews I knew that used Hebrew here in the USA when saying their names yet the Muslims still use the Arabic way regarding bin/ben.

No real point to make on this, I just found it interesting.

As I continued to read and learn about the origins of Jewish names I then got a real shock.

I COULD BE JEWISH!

“It is commonly believed that “-sky” is a Jewish surname while “-ski” is not. This spelling difference, however, seems do have more to do with the source of the surname: Russia or Poland. The correct spelling of this common surname suffix in Polish is “-ski”, and Poles usually kept that spelling after immigration to America. In Russia, this suffix is spelled in the Cyrillic alphabet, -sky (in Cyrillic), and may have been transliterated into English as either -ski or -sky. However, a Jewish friend of mine who comes from Moscow tells me that in Russia, names ending in -sky (in Cyrillic) were usually Jewish.”

My grandfathers last name was *******-ski and came from Poland.  Now, it is hard to trace back but I know for sure that the Americans took many liberties when taking down the names of immigrants since the founding of the country.  They just spelled the last names as they heard them (in English) and that is what they became.  So unless I traced that family branch back to Poland there is no way I could be absolutely sure.

But, to end the speculation, I’m pretty sure I’m not Jewish as the Polish side were pretty strong Catholics.  But then again, what if a very distant ancestor just decided to convert?  We know that many Jews did convert (forced, out of fear, or just because) at many times in European history.

So could it not be possible that I have a tiny bit of Jewish blood in me?  After all, I was circumcised against my will, with absolutely no debate on the matter when I was just months old so it looks like my family is following the same traditions although the doctrine changed a bit about 2000 years ago with the world changer JC.

Wow, look where we’ve ended up with this post.  Isn’t it fun that when we start to think a little bit, we just might find that we may question ourselves and have more in common with those who previously were very distant to us?  Through a bit of thought, research and new ideas provided by my beloved Netflix, I learned I might have a bit of Jewish blood through a very distant ancestor!

Even if that is not the case, I just hope people start using their noggin a bit more, start realizing that we are not all that different and if we go far enough back in history we could all be related!  Adam and Eve anyone?  Or hell, God for that matter if you really want to get to the source (sorry for the blasphemy.)

And oh yea, think a bit before you simply cut off a piece of your little boys most important part.  NOT everyone is doing it.

Goodnight - Laila Tov

 

 

 

 

Interconnection – Muslims, Mexicans, California and Conquistadors

Recently, I have decided to call California home for the long term.  It has been difficult to let go of the possible return to life in Asia but using the techniques laid out in my post “Mind Control” I’ve been able to do so and am enjoying myself!  (I simply decided to become enthusiastic about it and so it was)

In order to to ease my mind in this mental transition, I have decided to turn inward and study the history of California.  At first, my aim was to discover local, historical places of interest for weekend jaunts.  But what I have quickly learned is that California has been a crossroads for all the major cultures I enjoy!  Further, in a way it connects my past with the present.

I spent six months studying in Spain while I was at University and am very familiar with the history.  I also spent three months in Mexico and learned quite a bit of their history.  However, in my mind, they remained two separate places and I really didn’t understand the connection.  Now, living in California it had not occurred to me that all three places are connected and if we start in Spain, continue through Mexico, pass through California, we can eventually arrive in Asia by following the path of the Spanish Conquistadors!

As I have lived in all of these places, you have to understand how excited I am to find such a direct connection which adds tremendously to my understanding of the past, present and gives me a glimpse of the future!  Further, as my mind continually wants to pull me back to Spain, Mexico and Asia, I find I can remain connected to all three by simply staying in California and studying history!

This enlightenment occurred to me last weekend when I downloaded the book “North to California: The Spanish Voyages of Discovery 1533 – 1603.” This is an excellent book and to my surprise, has taken me right back to Spain starting with La Reconquista.  La Reconquista refers to the retaking of the Spanish peninsula from the Moors over a period of 800 years.  This book taught me that the discovery of California has to start in Spain and thus has reconnected me with my past in that country!  What this book does is ‘connect the dots’ between my understanding of Spanish and Mexican history and my discoveries here in California.

Just as the opening credits of “The Tudors” explains, “You think you know a story, but you only know how it ends.  To get to the heart of the story, you have to go back to the beginning.” By studying the history I can be transported back to to time of Kings and Knights!

It all becomes so clear!!  I can understand the present much more by understanding the past!  This “enlightenment” has also enabled me to understand current political issues such as Mexican immigration and “Muslim Issues” by learning about the past and I cannot express clearly enough my discouragement when I hear our politicians simplify every issue.  They have no understanding of history!  Now, when I hear their debates, they seem almost like children to me!

How simple they all are!  By understanding history, we can easily see that we are all connected and there is no absolute good, no absolute evil, history moves along and will continue to change what many would wish to keep permanent.  Just as Buddha says “Nothing is permanent.”  If we wish things to remain the same forever then we will be eternally unhappy.

Instead, let us rejoice in change and let us understand how we came to be as we are.  Only then, can we more completely understand where we will be!

Now, I know that history lessons can be tedious and boring.  So instead of diving completely in to each period like a professor, I am going to skim over each period quickly while adding personal tidbits to keep things entertaining.

The point of this post is to pull out those golden nuggets from the drudgery of academia to help you achieve an understanding of the past and therefore more fully understand the present.

I. España (Spain)

As said in “The Tudors” opening credits, we have to get back to the beginning and a great place to start is “La Reconquista.”

Spain has always been a very important vanguard in protecting Western Europe from Muslim influence.  In the year 711, the Muslims entered Spain and continued conquering north for the next several hundred years.  The only place that was not under their control was the Kingdom of Asturias and Asturians today take great pride in this fact.  (I have a friend from there and he told me so – thanks Jose!)

From the year 716 the Christians start to push back and by 1492 the Reconquista is finally completed with Ferdinand and Isabelle retaking Granada.

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*Side Note:  Spain has not always been “Spain” but instead a collection of Kingdoms.  The most important of these were Castilla and Aragon.  Isabella I came from Castilla and Ferdinand II from Aragon.  This was quite a royal match as Ferdinand was very handsome, athletic and a great match for Isabella.  She had the opportunity to marry Alfonso V of Portugal but they had an age difference of 19 years so Ferdinand II was the better match for her.

Imagine if Isabella had married Alfonso, then the Kingdoms of Castilla and Portugal would have been united and the Iberian peninsula would look much different today.

Another tidbit I learned is that the name Castilla (which means Castle) came from the practice of building fortresses (or castles) on tops of the mountains during La Reconquista which provided protection and areas from which to launch attacks against the Moors.

—————

Now, what one has to understand is during these 800 years or so of reconquest, Muslims and Christians mixed and that is why Spaniards of today are darker than northern Europeans.  Further, if you look at many of their names, some may have “moorish” names attached.  There are also many Arabic words in Spanish such as the following:

1. azúcar – Sugar
2. barrio – Neighborhood
3. Algebra – Algebra
4. jarabe – Syrup

For a bigger list, click here.

Currently, some politicians would like to simplify history as Christians vs. Muslims, but in actuality it was pretty much everyone against everyone.  Christian kings fought Christian Kings, Muslim rulers fought Muslim rulers and within those Kingdoms there were rivalries amongst themselves.

Newt Gingrich has tried to portray the Cordoba mosque in Spain as an affront to the Christian world when it was much more a middle finger towards other Muslims who wanted to rule from Damascus.  Just read any book entitled “History of Spain” and this fact will most likely be pointed out.

Now, getting back to the Reconquista, we have to understand that this created a huge warrior class of hardened fighters.  As we know today, it can be difficult to re-assimilate these warriors back into society and for them to not cause trouble they must be kept busy.

As Cristobal Colon had recently discovered the “New World” this offered a perfect opportunity to send these warriors to conquer new lands.  Now, we have a very hardened “religious extremist” warrior class heading to the New World in search of riches and the natives had never encountered such a people.  Certainly there was going to be trouble.

But, before we get on the boats and head West, let us take a moment to speak about Toledo, Spain.  I had the great fortune to study here during university and it was here that set the course of my life for the next decade.  Religion, culture, language all became intensely interesting to me and it is all due to my experience in Toledo. In fact, I’ll write another post just on Toledo, but in this post, let us get to why it is important and fun facts.

1.  Muslims, Christians and Jews

*Note – I am going to go very fast through this and tell you some important points, politically correct or not.

- The current political climate is detestable concerning differing religions.  Toledo is a shining example (as well as a horrible example) of Muslims, Jews and Christians getting along as well as persecuting each other.  It was under Muslim rule that Christians and Jews were allowed to worship.  It was most likely that they were still second class citizens but to have all three religions be able to get along amicably, especially in the Middle Ages, is astounding.

When the Christians took over Toledo they not only expelled the Muslims but the Jews as well.  It was pretty much a reign of terror with the Inquisition and nobody was really safe.  However, you would have to think that after fighting for so long, this terror might not be so surprising as the Christians wanted to solidify their hold on the country through religion.  The pendulum is always swinging and after going to far in the Islamic direction it swung equally and forcefully back into the Christian domain.

Why were the Jews expelled?

Well, they were not Christians first of all and if you were not Christian at this time, you were in big trouble.  Secondly, the Jews have always been a very tight knit group.  They are very smart and many of them in the financial sector.  They would charge lower rates to other Jews and very high rates to everyone else.  This caused a huge amount of resentment and what is called “usury” is one reason this group has often gotten in to trouble.  Christians were pretty poor during this time and just like the Nazis, used the Jews as a scapegoat to redirect the populace anger towards a certain group of people.  Not good at all but this is a reason.

When I was in Toledo, I remember a story of a Jewish person coming back with a very old key that had been passed down in her family for generations.  And guess what!?  The key still worked.

Another interesting story was that Toledo is so old, when they make renovations, they often make discoveries.  At the church by my school, they knocked down a wall and found part of a mosque.

Toledo is important for many reasons, but in terms of conquering the “New World” one reason is they had “Toledo Steel.”  The natives did not have such armor and this is the reason a small group of Spaniards could win against a huge amount of natives.

If you go walking through Toledo today, you can find many shops as in the picture.  I personally bought one of those smaller knights and it has become a treasured piece of my collection.

II.  The New World

Before we sail off, I also want to mention Don Quixote.  As you probably already know, he is the crazy knight who attacked the windmills.  But he also helps us understand the mentality of the Conquistadors.

During the 1500s, there were many books published about this idea called “Chivalry,” and were very popular with the soldiers.  Basically, the stories were about some famous knight who upheld all the values of “good,” fought monsters, had a one true love, and always won.  Don Quixote is a satire against these “silly” books since as we know, Don Quixote is a feeble old man who thinks he can conquer the world by upholding the values of Chivalry.  He continually embarked and failed on adventures and really won over the hearts of Spaniards which is why this book is the most famous in Spain.  He is always referencing some famous Knight or another from the books of Chivalry.  There are many DQ books some with different translations, but most of them have Don Quixote reference Esplandian towards the beginning.

Who is Esplandian and why is he important?

The book is called “Las Sergas de Esplandian” and is important to us in this post because it is where the name “California” came from.

In the book, there is a fictional island named “California” ruled by a Queen Califa.  When the Spanish had made their way across Mexico, they crossed the gulf of California and found Baja California (Lower California).  They didn’t know it was a peninsula and thought it was an island.  As they had been reading Las Sergas de Esplandian they jokingly named it California.

Now why was the queen named Califa?  Califa sounds like Caliphate which is an Islamic word and refers to a system of governance.  Therefore, by naming the queen Califa, it gives her a bit of an ominous sound as the Spaniards are very anti-Islam.

But let us back up and arrive freshly in the New World.

The Spanish had first arrived in the Caribbean and launched their voyages to Mexico from there.  Hernan Cortez was the main protagonist here and with their use of Toledo steel were quickly able to establish a presence in Mexico.  However, this ragtag group of soldiers could not take over the entire populace just due to their weaponry.

Their real advantage was exploiting the divisions among the Indian tribes there.  The Aztecs, were the dominant group but did not refer to themselves as Aztecs, but instead “Mexica,” which is how we get the name Mexico.  Their religion involved a MASSIVE amount of human sacrifice provided by the less dominant tribes and this was very unpopular.  It was kind of like the “tax man” showing up and demanding a certain number of people for sacrifice.

Further, these “lesser” tribes had their own ritual sacrifices, many of which included babies.  Therefore, when the Spanish show up and are against human sacrifice their religion seems a bit better, especially when they show images of La Virgen Mary with the baby Jesus.

As Cortez could not communicate with the tribes, he found immense value in one small native girl who knew the language of the Mexica as well as the tribe helping Cortez.  To the Spanish, she is called Doña Marina (which is an honorific title) but to the Mexicans, she is called La Malinche and is the most hated woman in Mexico.

Linguistically, it is quite interesting that her name starts with “Mal” as this is the Spanish word for “Bad.”

Please take a look at the following video, because without it, you will not be able to understand the rest of this post.  It will explain the reasons why the Spanish were able to conquer as well as why the Spanish are so hated.

WATCH THIS

Now, I’ll add the translation and a bit of commentary so you can better understand the story.

From the sea they saw them arrive
mi feathered brothers and sisters
they were the bearded men
of the awaited prophecy.

- The prophecy is that of the God Quetzalcoatl who in legends speaks of a white skinned God who will come from the East to reclaim his kingdom.  This God was cast out by a stronger God in ancient times.  It makes me wonder if the natives didn’t have some contact with a white skinned person or perhaps a European who perhaps had sailed off course and then simply became legend?  Or maybe there were albinos in that time?  I don’t know and the academics even question if Montezuma (leader of the Mexica) believed him to be a God?

In any case, this is the prophecy the lyrics are talking about.


The voice of the monarch was heard
(Montezuma)
saying that the god had arrived
and we opened the door to them
out of fear of the unknown

They were mounted on beasts (Horses)
like demons of evil
they carried fire in their hands
and they were covered with metal.

Only the valor of a few
put up any resistance to them
and when they saw the blood running
they were filled with shame.

(The Spaniards were a hardened bunch of fighters who often stuck for the face in order to induce fear among the natives.  These guys fought so many battles and were extremely scarred so the Spanish women didn’t really want to marry them)

Because gods don’t eat,
nor do they enjoy what they’ve stolen
and by the time we realized
everything was over.

(They just could not be defeated.  It seemed like their eyes were always open, always ready for an attack)

In that mistake we gave up
the greatness of the past
and in that mistake we became
slaves for 300 years.

(Spaniards came, conquered and did make slaves out of the natives)

The curse remained with us
of offering the stranger
our faith, our culture,
our bread, our money.

Today we continue exchanging with them
gold for glass beads
and we give up our wealth
for shiny mirrors.

(The Spaniards traded glass beads for gold because the natives thought they were very valuable)

Today, in the middle of the 20th century
blond people keep coming to us
and we open our homes to them
and we call them friends.

(A bit of resentment here against the Rubios, now called Gringos.  The term Gringo didn’t come until much later which means “Green Go” and refers to the green the American army wore)

But if there arrives an Indian,
tired of walking the mountains
we humiliate him and we see him
as a stranger in his own country.

(In Mexican society there are whiter people *Spanish blood* who are the ruling class and rich.  The “natives” are darker and much more poor.  In the USA you will notice that many of the migrants are of a darker color and more likely to come in search of work.  Yet, there are white Mexicans if you take a look at their society.  The societal breakdown in Mexico is worth a post *hint hint.*

“In addition, the Mexican population consists approximately of 60% Mestizo (mixed indigenous-Spanish), 30% indigenous, 9% white, and 1% other. There is a definite racial hierarchy in Mexico that is easily observed, but seldom acknowledged.” –  Documented here.

You, hypocrite, you who appear
humble before the stranger
but become arrogant
with your peasant brothers.

Oh, Malinche’s curse,
sickness of the present,
when will you leave my land?
When will you make my people free?

Notice that this song is sung in the language of the oppressors.  The song also assumes that Mexicans are united.  If we look back at history, the varying tribes were at war with each other and nobody really liked the Mexica.  But, as the Spanish ran over the entire country it is easy to place the blame on the Spanish and conveniently forget that the native tribes really disliked each other.

This is very similar to the way Native Americans blame the “white man.”  Yes, the white man was terrible but it is also true that Native Americans (North America) were continually at war with each other.  And, if we go back to Europe, the “White Man” was also continually at war with each other.  It would seem that everyone was at war with everyone!

In any case, it is a very sad song and tells of the fall of a civilization which changed them forever.  It puts me in a very reflective mood every time I hear it.

III.  California

Now, let us get to California.

IT COULD HAVE BEEN, that the USA could be divided between Spanish and English speakers if the Spanish of this time period had decided to settle into what is now called the USA.  By why did they not?

a.)  The Sonoran Desert. –  This was simply too hard to cross with a large supply of animals, goods and so on.

b.) A Good Reason – The Spanish were looking for easy money and would rather conquer a civilization and take gold, not necessarily mine for it.  When Pizarro conquered the Incas, this sent some soldiers south in search of fortune.  Up in the present day USA there really were no civilizations as advanced as the Mexica and Incans so why even go?

c.)  Wind and Current

Notice that the currents run down the coast of California.  The wind also pushes South to East.  This makes sailing very difficult if you are going up the coast.  Therefore, if there is not a lot of easy money to be made, it is hard to get to, and you cannot get by land, California at that time was a very inaccessible area!  Very isolated!

d.)  Focus on Asia

- At that time, the Spanish monarchy became increasingly interested in Asia and “The Spice Islands.”  The Portuguese were making their presence known in Asia and the Spanish did not want to be left out of the action.  Therefore, they ordered Cortez to send expeditions there instead of concentrating on California.

If you would like a good movie about the Portuguese influence in Asia from the time of discovery I recommend “James Clavell’s Shogun

Some did make it however and the Spanish influences in California remain a subject of study for me.  Here are some interesting tidbits.

1.  Place Names

Most names in California are in Spanish.  Why?  Because when the Spanish made a new discovery they would name it after the Saints day on the Christian calendar in which it was discovered.

a. San Francisco – St. Francis – Was discovered on his day
b. San Diego
c. San Leandro

If the day it was discovered had no Saint attached to it, there were plenty of other Christian things it could be named.

a. Santa Cruz – Holy Cross
b. Vera Cruz – True Cross

2. El Camino Real

- This is a main highway running up California and was the principal highway before freeways were constructed.  It means “King’s Highway.”

3. Missions in California

I don’t have much to say about these yet and am looking forward to more discoveries but what I can share is a picture.

This is a chair shown to me by an acquaintance.  It has been passed down in his family for generations and was acquired by his great grandfather from a mission he was hired to do work for.  We can see an image of a conquistador right there on the arm rest.  He told me that his grandparents had made a mistake in the 50s’ and had the chair reupholstered, which you’re not supposed to do on antique furniture!

4. Conclusion

In conclusion, I am very much looking forward to making more discoveries here in California and have my work cut out for me.  This is something I enjoy and should I come across something interesting, I’ll be sure to share.

What I’d like to leave off with, is a political point concerning Mexican Immigrants and the whole Mosque brouhaha occurring right now.  Instead of sound bytes, I think it would do everyone better to learn about history and see how we are all tied together.  Wouldn’t an explanation like this be much more interesting than simply the nonsense spouted by our current politicians?  It would be much more fun to debate the following!

1.  If you’re related to the Spanish, you may have Moorish blood
2. A great part of the USA was once Mexico
3. The divisions within Mexican society
4. The USA could have been a Spanish speaking nation if the Spaniards would have crossed the Sonoran desert in greater numbers.
5. Muslims let Jews and Christians worship freely in Toledo, Spain.  Couldn’t we replicate these ideals?
6. Muslims invented Algebra and were great scientists in the past.  Some places have decayed but that is the fault of the leaders.  Islam just like any other religion has much to contribute.
7. Everyone massacred everyone at some point.  There are no tribes or group of people that are pristine and free of awful actions.

Instead, let us learn from history and let us all get along!  It is impossible to keep things as they are as the world continually changes.  Embrace other people, learn from them and call them friends.  It is time to stop all the wars, the hatreds and blaming.

If we cannot do this, then we will just continue the atrocities of the past.  As the cliché says, “Those that cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  - George Santayana.

After so many millennia, you would think we would learn.  But instead of the quote by George Santayana, it seems like we would all prefer another quote:

Arizona Immigration Law – A Unique Perspective

Yet again another political issue is all over the media.  And as usual the debate is superficial filled with shallow “talking points,” which paint the issue as black and white and the color you choose being your political affiliation.

I find the debate swirling around the details of the law a bit too much.  For example, will “profiling” be a problem and if the papers are checked only if a crime has been committed.  I feel we need to look at the larger picture.

I have a unique perspective on all this that I would like to share but first let’s do a quick overview of the logic employed by both parties.

1. Republican

The problem is with the “illegal” immigrants.  This means they entered the country illegally and if we are not upholding our own laws then why have laws at all?  People who enter the country legally are welcome but if you do not have your visas in order then you should be deported.

- This makes complete sense but again, I prefer to look at the larger picture.

2. Democrat

The Democrats are more “humanitarian” in that these are real people and we should work with them not just knee-jerk deport them if there is an issue with the visa.

-  It is good to be humanitarian and these people are human beings just trying to make a living.  However, if we cannot enforce our own laws then why have them at all?

Let’s being with the meaning of a “law.”  A law is a random rule or proclamation written by the governing authority in order to bring order/stability etcetera to the land being governed.  These “laws” have no inherent authority on their own as they are just ideas set down on paper and then enforced by the government to get people to act/behave in a certain way.  In the past, some rulers claimed that the “law” came from God which would give it a more superior authority than just the current ruling body.  In the USA, we often say it is “the law of the land,” which implies that the land (dirt, earth) made up the law and it is as old as the dirt itself.

However, laws are neither from God nor the land but are simply rules made up by human beings.  (The law of God is a whole other subject, let’s skip that for now as the only law I can think of regarding immigration is “love thy neighbor as thy self” which would mean Arizona is about to get struck by lightning.)

In order to empower any laws there must be people to follow them and the conditions below must be true:

1. These people must live on land since we are not all swimming in the ocean.
2. The land must have been taken at some point and proclaimed “this is our land, and the law applies to this patch of earth.”
3.  It has been a long time since we took it from the animals so the land must have been taken from another group of people.

So, there is land, it was taken and proclaimed as belonging to a certain group of people that are bound under these ideas we call laws.  BUT, the “law” remains an abstraction that could be dissolved should any of the above conditions change.  Just following the law because it is the law is for men without superior faculties!

If we look at history, the Mexicans used to own a part of the land we now call America.  During this time the Americans came up with the Monroe Doctrine which basically said “Hey Europe, this is our land, leave us alone because we have a law that says you should.”  Then we had the Mexican-American War in which the Americans took land from Mexico.  So basically America was telling Europe to quit trying to take any of its lands but at the same time was taking it from Mexico.

Some schools of thought wonder why the USA didn’t go further into Mexico with one of the reasons being they didn’t want to absorb too many people of Indian decent so stopped their progress.  I don’t know if this is true or not, it is just an interesting point that I’ll return to later.

Therefore, to sum it up, America made a law regarding other powers from taking any lands but did the same thing to other nations.  Aren’t “laws” interesting!!!

Fast forward to today and the Mexican view is that “we didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us!”  So, to the Mexican mind they are simply returning to their former lands regardless of any wars being won or lost or any arbitrary laws that say they shouldn’t.  Heck, if we look at a lot of the names in the Southwestern states they are in Spanish and New Mexico is well… um, Mexico only NEW!!!

The Mexicans did lose the war but that did not mean they couldn’t come to America.  Passports were generally introduced during WW1 in Europe for security reasons (to keep out spies).  Imagine, before WW1 we could go wherever we wanted!!  So even though the land was won by the USA in war from Mexico and some laws were created people could still pretty much travel freely!  Travel freely many people did and there was mass immigration from Europe to the USA.

If we look at history, it seems various groups of people didn’t like the immigrants back then either.  English, Italian, Poles, and so on each came in droves and the racial slur “WOP” means (without pass) because these people were coming to America and were the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS of todays population!!

As time went by America prided itself on being an accepting country and even wrote on the Statue of Liberty the following:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

- Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus

Well, apparently this doesn’t apply anymore or we wouldn’t be making such a fuss over immigration.  If we look at the big picture the people getting in a huff over illegal immigration are descendants of illegal immigrants themselves.  How’s that for irony!?  In the news today it was also reported in the article Congressman would support deporting US born children of Illegal Immigrants, that he would do just that.  Well, then that begs the question, how many generations of children does that apply to because if it goes back far enough you might be deporting YOURSELF YOU DUFUS!!

Further, people born in America were simply very privileged to be simply born here and now want to keep others out.  This doesn’t seem very reasonable to me since:

a.) They were just lucky to be born here, have no inherent right to keep out others.
b.) Their country used to pride itself on welcoming immigrants.

America really used the moral high ground of welcoming immigrants and being “free” in the past, especially when fighting the cold war.  There is a scene in “The Hunt for Red October,” in which a former citizen of the Soviet Union is allowed to venture forth in his new life in the USA and this dialogue took place:

Borodin: Do you think they will let me live in Montana?
Capt. Ramius: I would think they’ll let you live wherever you want.
Borodin: Good.  Then I will live in Montana. And I will marry a round American woman, and raise rabbits, and she will cook them for me. And I will have a pick-up truck, or umm… possibly even…a recreational vehicle, and drive from state to state. Do they let you do that?
Capt. Ramius: Oh yes.
Borodin: No papers?
Capt. Ramius: No papers. State-to-state.

Well, apparently papers are now needed in the state of Arizona so kiss the moral high ground bye-bye.

But HOLD ON let’s switch gears here as I recently heard a very interesting point in that Mexico would most likely close their borders if we sent all the Americans on welfare down to Mexico.  I’m sure this is true but there is a better example.  The Mexicans really give the Guatemalans a hard time and did close their border!

But instead of playing tit-for-tat and who does what worse it would be better to take the high ground and not even use that example.  Instead let us get to the real issue which is SHOCKING!

There are really no debates about illegal Canadians, English, or other white people.  This is about people of a different color who speak a different language and the white majority doesn’t like it.  Personally, I like it because I speak Spanish and love Mexican culture but this isn’t about me.  I’m simply calling a spade a spade.

This issue is not about laws, profiling, illegal and so on, it is about race and us vs. them mentality.  Remember my point above about America not advancing too far into Mexico because they didn’t want to absorb the Indian people?  Well, the Indians (er Mexicans) are advancing into the USA and it seems not much has changed in peoples attitudes in the last 200 years.

BUT HOLD ON the anti-illegal-immigration advocate would say, “There are many people of different colors in the USA and we have no problems if they have their visa in order.”  This makes sense and I understand their point and they are correct.  However, thinking about this on a high level, laws can be changed if we want them to and America makes certain accommodations for certain folks.  This is just a tidal-wave of “different” people coming in and frankly I think it scares a lot of people.  Again, there is nothing wrong with this, change can be frightening.  I still think if we step back it is about race and the people being a little “too different.”  I think they are afraid of too many of them coming in.  If we go to a personal level most Americans stick to their own groups and only let others in if they are a direct reflection of themselves.  There is a great quote from “Lazarillo de Tormes” in which he says “How many people there must be in the world who run away from others when they don’t see themselves.”

Regarding them taking “American jobs,” what ever happened to the Republican mantra “Doing jobs Americans do not want to do?”  A free wheeling capitalist would welcome all this cheap labor!!  So I’m confused about the political parties,, how can the Tea-party be pro capitalism yet refuse cheap labor??

These “illegal immigrants” are just human beings that are trying to better their lot in life and to use an Australian saying “good on ya mate,” I wish them the best.

The current hub-hub bruhaha of all this is that the white population is a bit frightened and therefore use “the law” which was made by their own politicians to ease any fear of having to deal with these people.

Time goes on, things change if we really followed great religious leaders then we really would “love thy neighbor” and not try to keep them from enjoying the benefits that we Americans were born into.  You want to ease any anxiety, learn Spanish, get smarter, obtain a better job and start loving people.  I’m sure you will be much happier if you did.

As for me, I’m going to go drink a Corona and find a pretty Latina to teach this white boy how to SALSA!!!

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