Confronting A Dark Past

Photo by Yann Allegre on Unsplash

One of the gravest defects of religion is that it can be used to keep the poor contented with their lot, which is very convenient for the rich.

—Bertrand Russell

This morning, according to a Globe and Mail headline, Prince Charles pointed out that Canada must confront ‘darker’ aspects of its past, just the sort of gratuitously obvious statement one would expect from a royal speaking to the colonials about indigenous relations, and, in particular, the history of residential schools.

Yes, we Canadians need to confront and redress the harm done, and I wouldn’t presume to say how that needs to come about, given that more august personages than I have already chimed in on the subject, and in full knowledge that there is a long and likely painful path for all of us to get to a point where First Nations feel that they have achieved their rightful place in the life of this land. The process is complicated by the presence of a slice of the population who would just as soon ignore the issue and continue with business as usual, particularly in those instances where major adjustments might need to be made in the way we do business and in the way that the benefits of doing business get divided up.

However, it strikes me as a little tone deaf for the future king and descendent of Queen Victoria, to be lecturing anyone on the perils of failing to confront the ills of past empire. In the good old Kipling days of White Man’s Burden, the sun never set on the British Empire, and where there was empire, there was a bleeding off of resources and personnel to serve said empire and its principals, at the top or which pyramid sat Charles’ forebears.

Yes, so, the House of Windsor can speak from a position of authority based on personal experience and hand out free advice to others will have to bear the brunt of any real reconciliation before skipping back to that green and verdant island for a few chukkers of polo. The same applies to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and our progressive Pope. They seem to all be endowed with the same propensity for high-sounding rhetoric devoid of any real meaning whose greatest local proponent would be none other than our current Prime Minister, though there would be many others vying for a position at the top of that scale.

The monarchy, the papacy and the corporate hierarchy represent power and money, both of which are notorious corrupters of any notion of morality (the possible exception being the theocratic republicans wrestling for some notion of the soul of the US, Canada, Hungary, Poland and other jurisdictions where notions of fairness and equity are seriously on the wane) exactly because the deed of reconciliation, all over the World must imply a different way of conducting the business and different outcomes relating to the distribution of wealth. This in not a comfortable notion for those holding the economic and power cards as currently dealt.

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