Mrs. Cranky reminded me of something I had quite forgotten about. A generation ago, we decided not to tell an elderly relation of mine about Mrs. Cranky’s Latina heritage because it would likely cause an issue. This elderly relation came from a generation that didn’t mix the races. He lived some distance away, his vision wasn’t all that fantastic, and he’s now long passed, so it wasn’t really a big issue. There’s a few of those types on Mrs. Cranky’s side as well, so for us it was never a big mean evil whitey thing but more a generational thing that really touches all people groups.
It’s kind of funny that this is the generation I’m talking about that stamped out the xenophobic hyper-nationalism of Hitler’s National Socialists, Mussolini’s fascists, and Japanese imperialism, all three of which had elements of thinking that promoted not simply bigotry, but beliefs in racial supremacy. As much as Hitler had his mind of Arian Supremacy, the Japanese also considered themselves the superior Asian people. To this day many Asian people have a particular disdain for Japan, which I learned in college when I dated a girl from Taiwan. I had been previously unaware that non-Japanese Asian women consider Japanese men disgusting. I admit, I was a little surprised to discover how wide-spread that sentiment was among non-Japanese Asians, but it is a pervasive view.
One of the issues that repeatedly comes up is this concept of supremacy that finds itself associated with race, yet never seems to me particularly well defined. In order to actually make a case for the supremacy of a thing, it seems reasonable that someone ought to define what makes something superior. What is the standard of superiority? What features and traits are necessarily superior?
Let’s talk about the automobile. Is a Ferrari superior to a diesel pick-up? Well, if you’re after speed and performance, I suppose it is. If you want to pull a fifth wheel through the mountains however, not so much. The same characteristics that make it superior in one way make it inferior in another. Low to the ground, lightweight and lots of horsepower are great for a sports car, but to pull that trailer, you really need a taller center of gravity, weight, and torque. So in the case of the automobile, it seems reasonable to argue that a vehicle can be superior for it’s intended purpose, but when you mix purposes, the argument falls apart. You cannot argue that a Ferrari is superior to a pick-up because of its performance capabilities because a pick-up isn’t designed or intended to perform like a sports car. A diesel pick-up is designed to handle heavy work loads.
This analogy doesn’t translate perfectly to the case of humanity because there is less clarity on the issue of purpose and design, but it serves well enough to make a few points. We can talk about man in terms of divine purpose, but to do so one must discuss the Designer or Architect of that purpose. Most of those discussions become easily distracted by prejudicial thinkers who don’t like religion because Christians are judgemental meanies or Muslims blow stuff up. As such it becomes difficult to have a discussion about the design of man, which we ought to be able to talk about whether the Designer is Nature or the God of nature.
What makes a man superior is his ability to fulfill his purpose. If we do not know what his purpose is, we cannot know his level of supremacy or inferiority toward the fulfillment of that purpose. While the point of this work is not really to speak to an eternal purpose, there are some obvious basic purposes that all living things possess.
Everything that lives seeks to survive, thrive, and build a future. I see this every day because I live in the country. A lot of people like to talk about nature from the convenience of the city. A few of us actually are a part of nature. For example, I have trees that have made their home along a creek. That’s a great place for a tree to survive because it’s easy for the roots to find water. They also thrive there. They drop a cone and a new tree grows next to it. They build for the future. These trees have marched along the bank of this creek till they converged in a marsh where they have created a small forest. That’s my backyard. They find a good place for survival, they thrive by reproducing, and they build a tree community. They intertwine their roots and they spread out in all directions to build a little empire of trees. I could talk to you about our foxes, wild turkeys, deer, frogs, lilies, and more, but the result would be the same. By design they seek to survive, thrive and build.
People are no different. First order of business is survival. From the age of hunting and gathering to the age of agriculture and industry, to the age of information and technology, people seek to survive, thrive and build. Whether it be the man tiling the field or his wife cooking what he harvested, man seeks to survive. Men and women seek to thrive by reproducing; they reproduce themselves, raise their children, teach them their ways, and are replaced by them. They build. They create families, extended families, communities, states and nations. They build an empire that will receive many generations of their influence, just like a forest and it’s many generations of trees.
So what makes a man superior? What makes him more fit to survive, thrive and build? The answer, I would argue, is we can’t know. We can’t know what makes a man superior because we can’t know what he is designed to be, without delving into a religious and metaphysical discussion, and while I’m not opposed to doing so, it won’t amount to a proof of anything. There is no proof of spirit. In point of fact, we really shouldn’t expect there to be because it is contrary to the nature of the spiritual to present a tangible proof of itself, otherwise it wouldn’t be spiritual at all but rather physical, and governed by the physical laws of nature. Arguing proofs or disproofs of spirit are therefore nonsense because they are built on a false premise. The nature of spirit is experience, not something tangible that may be heated in a test tube over a Bunsen burner. It’s an unreasonable expectation to demand the spiritual to avail itself of the physical. You wouldn’t after all demand that of a thought, would you? Do you have an atomic equation that equals the thought, “You are the love of my life?” I didn’t think so.
So right then, we cannot know, but what do we think makes a man superior? We all know the stereotypes. White Europeans are considered the intellectually and philosophically superior, ingenuitive race of humanity that dominates the globe with his sophisticated social orders and industrial machinations. The negro is considered less intelligent, yet physically more developed, stronger and better suited to harsh tropical conditions. The Asian is considered a small and insular kind of people not particularly creative but innovative with little individuality and a strong devotion to culture and group. These are the stereotypes. There are more of course, but fill in the blanks as you will. Stereotypes tell us about the perceptions of others who are outside looking in. Undoubtedly there is some truth within them or they wouldn’t be pervasive as they are, but of course, they are only glimpses of a much larger picture. Racial distinctions are complex. It’s bound to be difficult even for the geneticist to determine where the code ends and culture begins. I’m sure that there are many distinctions scattered throughout the races of humanity that could be quantified as superior or inferior, and my purpose here is not to argue the truth or falsity of it, but rather the relevance.
Have you heard the story of Mauatua Maimiti? Perhaps you know it better as The Mutiny on the Bounty. At the time the Bounty reached Tahiti, the British Empire was the most advanced and powerful force in human history. They had a world class navy and colonies on every corner of the globe. Great Britain’s achievements in science, philosophy, literature and the arts were second to none in this day, and a young Fletcher Christian was a talented young officer from a respectable family who was rising in his career. Mauatua Maimiti, it could be said, was at the top of her own social order as the daughter of a Tahitian chief, but even though Tahiti has a fascinating culture with a complex and interesting language, music, an oral history that was being recounted in dance, and was just beginning a kind of written history in the form of tattooing… I’m sure everyone agrees that by comparison, Tahiti was no Great Britain. As a nation and a culture they stood far beneath the Empire and were virtually unknown while Great Britain was busily dominating the globe. Tahiti at this time was a zero impact nation of savages by comparison.
Captain William Bligh was a dictatorial officer given to irrational behavior and demands, and it is worth noting that while mutiny is no small thing, the Bounty is not the only command he lost control of. He went on to lose control of his command in India as well and has largely been discredited as an officer who pushed his men to the point of breaking. After his failure in India, he never held a command again. This is the background where where we find the young chief’s daughter Mauatua Maimiti encountering the young officer Fletcher Christian, a rising star in the British Navy. How this young native girl managed to get so deeply inside Christian is quite a mystery. We know she was very beautiful, and in her own culture she was no doubt accomplished, but the English must have seemed like gods to the humble Tahitians on their remote islands in the vast Pacific. Bligh attempted to dissuade Christian’s interest in her pointing out how likely it was that she would be rejected and dismissed by his own family as a person far beneath his own status. This appeal fell on deaf ears, and as the Bounty sailed away, the crew’s disaffection with Bligh’s command grew until it reached the point of mutiny. The crew turned to Christian to captain the Bounty, and he returned to Tahiti for his native wife Mauatua Maimiti. There is no reason to believe he planned the mutiny, but when the circumstance of history gave him the opportunity to change course, he seized it. They settled on Pitcairn Island where they had three children, and the descendants of Mauatua Maimiti and Fletcher Christian are alive to this day.
What do we say of Mauatua Maimiti? The savage princess of an inferior culture, uneducated and backward by every standard of the time… yet strangely superior and more fit to survive. A nobody who reached into the heart of the greatest Empire the world had yet seen and ripped out of it here desire. She survived, thrived, and built a legacy that is still spoken of in literature and film today. It seems impossible that it could have happened. Mutiny was a death sentence, yet even Bligh in his own testimony acknowledged to his inquiry that he plainly underestimated the affection Fletcher Christian held for Mauatua Maimiti. Christian tossed aside the supremacy of his station like so much rubbish and abandoned both family and Empire for a life on the run that ended short in violence, but Mauatua Maimiti continued and her legacy thrived.
Our concepts of supremacy seem like nonsense. We don’t really know how intelligent she was, how physically fit or healthy she was, and certainly not what her genetic code might have told us about her as an example of humanity, but by every standard of the time Mauatua Maimiti was inferior, yet her history argues quite the opposite. In her ability to reach far above her own status to find a desirable mate, reproduce, and build a lasting legacy, history shows us that her inferior status meant absolutely nothing.
Suppose we acknowledge her inferiority. No doubt she descended from a very limited gene pool as an isolated Polynesian native, and who can say that some natural part of the human desire to reproduce with healthy children did not play a role in whatever led her to fall in love with her English mate and expand the influence of her people’s genetic code. Let us for a moment simply acknowledge that she was very likely an inferior example of the human race in most if not all ways. The question becomes… So what? She still proved herself fully capable of doing what it is that humanity does by design. In this sense she adds to humanity rather than detracts from it regardless of supremacy or inferiority.
So regarding racism, bigotry, and prejudice, let us say it is possible that some examples of humanity are superior to others in some and perhaps even many ways. The question remains, so what? If an inferior man can fulfill his place and purpose, what difference does his inferiority make? It seems and feels to me like something completely irrelevant, even if it’s true. So my question is why does anyone care? Why does anybody give a fuck about racial superiority?
From the prodigy we may learn the highest heights of man’s creative potential, such as Mozart. From the genius we might learn the nature of the universe and the theory of relativity. A brilliant theologian might kick off the Reformation. What shall we learn from the village idiot? Actually, we may learn a great deal. Obviously we learn not to marry our cousins because inbred, six-toed retards do not bode well for the survival of our species, yet what if we learn more? What if we learn about compassion for the weak and the sick, which builds the strength of our communities and ties us together as one? People are so busy taking offense to the idea that we might not all be equal that they neglect to ask the correct questions. Let’s put aside our egalitarian vanity for just a moment and not concern ourselves with whether someone considers us inferior, because there is an important question to be considered. What if the survival of our species depends not merely on the brilliant or strong or superior. What if we also need the mediocre, the stupid and the weak? We’re not merely individuals and we’re not merely members of a race, a culture, or a nation. We are members of a species, and what if our species requires the strong, the weak, and the mediocre middle to survive for reasons we can only partly understand? Does it not make sense to be satisfied with who and what we are, and let others do the same? In the larger scheme of things, does it not make more sense to say, who gives a fuck about the irrelevance of supremacy?