Tag Archives: prejudice

How many more generations will it take?

For humans to stop harming each other.

  • 25 generations ago (500 years), Europe started plundering other continents.  The Spanish ransacked Peru, Mexico most of Central America and the Caribbean. They laid waste to the Inca and Aztec cultures and robbed them of their wealth. The British, Portuguese, Dutch, and Italians were doing the same in other lands.
  • 25 generations ago, in most of Europe, people were routinely killed by torture, limbs pulled apart, beheaded, or hung. Tens of thousands of women were burned at the stake in witch trials. Thousands were executed during what is known as The Spanish Inquisition.
  • 12 generations ago, the founders of the USA wrote the Declaration of Independence. In it are the words we often point to: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,…..  Except that all men excluded Native Americans, Blacks, Women, and white men without property. All men in our Declaration of Independence referred to white men who owned property.
  • 10 generations ago, the French invented the guillotine, for a humane way of killing thousands. They stopped using this method 2 generations ago.
  • 10 generations ago, American Indians were thought to be savages. Blacks were slaves. Many poor whites were indentured servants, and women were second-class citizens.
  • During the last 20 generations, the US systematically annihilated most of the Native American Indians — all in the name of civilization.
  • 8 generations ago in the USA, we killed three-quarters of a million fellow citizens to abolish slavery. 
  • Only 4 generations ago, the Germans executed millions in the name of racial superiority, and
    • Japanese wiped out millions during what is called the Asian holocaust
    • Mao starved tens of million Chinese to death in his Great Leap Forward
    • The Khmer Rouge murdered millions of Cambodians in an effort to create a master race
    • The US dropped atom bombs on Japan, killing 10’s of thousands in order to save lives and end WWII in the west.
  • During the last 2 generations, there have been brutal and extensive genocides in Armenia, Rwanda, Bosnia, East Timor, Darfur, Myanmar, and others throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, South, and Central America.

In our current generation, one-fifth of the world’s population lives with a social cast system.  Yet there is outrage in the US when races and sexual preferences are not treated perfectly equally.

There is no justification for our barbarous past, except that it was the nature of our past.  But it may help to understand how long it takes deep-rooted prejudices, passed down through generations, to evaporate. Recent studies indicate that behavioral genetics may have something to do with this influence.  One perspective might be that we’ve come a long way in a dozen generations.

Nevertheless, it certainly seems intelligent that we keep trying to convince ourselves, through concerted civil discourse or even hard-wire adjustments, that harming each other, in any way, is not in our species’ best interest. The question is, how many more generations will it take?