Noble Savages, or, Why Black History Month is Still Important
You've probably never heard of the people in this post. But you should read it anyway. Shockingly, one needn't go to Cambridge or speak Latin to argue about matters religious and philosophical with the best of them. A sample (Baker is the white guy):
Baker: "Have you no belief in a future existence after death? Is not some idea expressed in the act of exhuming the bones after the flesh is decayed?"
Commoro: "Existence after death! How can that be? Can a dead man get out of his grave unless we dig him out?"
Baker: "Do you think that man is like a beast, that dies and is ended?"
Commoro: "Certainly; an ox is stronger than a man; but he dies and his bones last longer; they are bigger. A man's bone breaks quickly - he is weak."
Baker: "Is not a man superior in sense to an ox? Has he not a mind to direct his actions?"
Commoro: "Some men are not so clever as an ox. Men must sow corn to obtain food, but the ox and wild animals can procure it without sowing."
Baker: "Do you know that there is a spirit within you more than the flesh? Do you not dream and wander in thought to distant places in your sleep? Nevertheless, your body rests in one spot. How do you account for this?"
Commoro (laughing): "Well, how do you account for it? It is a thing I cannot understand; it occurs to me every night."
Baker: "The mind is independent of the body; the actual body can be fettered, but the mind is uncontrollable; the body will die and will become dust, or be eaten by vultures but the spirit will exist forever."
Commoro: "Where will the spirit live?"
Baker: "Where does fire live? Cannot you produce a fire by rubbing two sticks together, yet you see not the fire in the wood. Has not that fire that lies harmless and unseen in the sticks, the power to consume the whole country? Which is the stronger, the small stick that first produces the fire, or the fire itself? So is the spirit the element within the body, as the element of fire exists in the stick, the element being superior to the substance."
Commoro: "Ha! Can you explain what we frequently see at night when lost in the wilderness? I have myself been lost, and wandering in the dark I have seen a distant fire; upon approaching, the fire has vanished, and I have been unable to trace the cause - nor could I find the spot."
Baker: "Have you no idea of the existence of spirits superior to either man or beast? Have you no fear of evil except from bodily causes?"
Commoro: "I am afraid of elephants and other animals when in the jungle at night but of nothing else."
Baker: "Then you believe in nothing; neither in a good nor evil spirit! And you believe that when you die it will be the end of body and spirit; that you are like other animals; and that there is no distinction between men and beast; both disappear, and end at death?"
Commoro: "Of course they do."
Baker: "Do you see no difference in good and bad actions?"
Commoro: "Yes, there are good and bad in men and beasts."
Baker: "Do you think that a good man and a bad man must share the same fate, and alike die, and end?"
Commoro: "Yes; what else can they do? How can they help dying? Good and bad all die."
I get "irrationally angry" when I think of all the great philosophers, poets and thinkers who were relegated to chains and picking cotton, all because some "Christians" and capitalists thought it a good idea to practice genocide and enforce slavery on those who didn't quite see the world the same way as they did and who had the excusing quality of being darker hued.
In this country, you can extend this metaphor upon Latin and Native American populations as well. To this day, there are white people who remain convinced that only they are capable of complex thought, and demonstrating otherwise is the purpose of "black history month." That should not be hard to understand, or to understand as a valid, imperative project for all who care about humanism.