The White Man’s Burden: Australia and the Stolen Generation. “TAKE up the White Man’s burden – Send forth the best ye breed- Go bind your sons to exile, To serve your captives need;” Those are the words of Rudyard Kipling that are meant to describe the back then ubiquitous way of thinking that was called “The white man’s burden”. It Is an Ideology that dictates that It is the moral obligation of the white man to better the lives of the “colored” people of the world whether they wanted it or not.
It was an ideology that sprang up from the need of a moral justification for imperialism ring the Victorian age but stayed in the minds of men for long after that age had ended. In many places in the world the so called civilized nations of the west sought to bring literacy and economic prosperity to the so called savages around the world. But In no place was this policy more extreme than In Australia for here the Cleveland people not only tried to forcefully remove children from their mothers, sometimes moments after the child had left the womb.
No, for here they also tried to breed out the aboriginal blood through selectively marrying of half-castes to whites. During the period of approximately from 1910 to 1970 the abduction of aboriginal children was a commonality. With the goal of bettering the lives of the aboriginal savages, up to 100. 000 aboriginal children were abducted and put In either foster families or special aboriginal orphanages. But at the start of the skies the program was abandoned was it because of the increased public awareness or because of the utter failure of the program I cannot say. But fact is that the practice has been abolished.
Now 40 years later the debate is still raging as to the morality of this program. And while the government made a formal apology back in 2008, is it something that Is actually pardonable? Is It possible to forgive the people behind the abduction of a so called Stole Generation (or two to be exact)? Can the moral debt left by the ruining of thousands of lives be pardoned by the use of an eloquent excuse? As the old saying goes: “The end justifies the means”. And in this case the end was the education and the improvement of living standards for the aboriginals through integration and assimilation.
No matter how you look at it, It Is a noble goal. With the esters lifestyle comes education and the Improvement of living standards, something absent from the aboriginal way of life. But in this case the end does not justify the means. Australians sought the complete assimilation of the abducted children. They sought to completely eradicate any trace of aboriginal culture in these children. This is not the same as when an adult deciding that a child needs to go to school. When the adult decides that a child needs to go to school it Is because the child needs the tools to live In that type of society that they live In.
Negligence of this But when a white man decides that he must take on the so called the burden of the white man and bring literacy to the savages, you rob the indigenous population of their completely valid way of living. In a world where all morals are subjective it is not for any one person to decide that one way of living is superior to another. This is one of the core principles of democracy: any man has the right to do whatsoever he pleases, till the moment he decides to rob another of the same privilege. A man can try to convince another that his views are superior and should therefore be followed.
A man may use the principles of logic and argumentation to convince another. But a man cannot force his own ideals through violence on another. The act of coercion is by its very nature evil. In the same way it was wrong of the Australians to force their ideals on the aboriginals without their consent. In the very same manner as it is wrong to steal another’s property, it is wrong to steal a babe from their mother’s breast. Let’s go back to the analogy of the parent and the child. When a parent decides the early direction of a child’s life, it is because the child is not capable of doing it homeless.
They cannot care for themselves. Without help and guidance they would starve to death. They are still a blank canvas. It is a canvas that a parent and teachers of their respective societies have to paint with ideals, morals and knowledge. The child is an extension of the parent and most see it as a privilege to raise one. When one robs a parent of their child, they rob them of the pinnacle of many years of work and dedication. A parent automatically has an attachment to their child. They view it as their child and no one else’s. And as stated previously: stealing another’s property s evil.
The white man’s burden dictates that one should forcibly paint one’s own ideals on another man’s canvas. Coercing them into acknowledge your own beliefs as their own. Threats and violence is the only methods able to achieve this. And as I have stated previously forcing people to do things without their consent is evil. But the government of Australia went beyond that. After failing to fully assimilate the aboriginals into their society, they tried to force their ideals on their children by abducting them. They punished them for using their own language and prohibited hem from access to their own culture.
But this plan of theirs backfired. Instead of assimilating into their society most aboriginal children were stuck in the middle. Neither being able to fully forget their ancestor’s culture but also not fully accepting the culture of their oppressors. This has resulted in the scarring of two generations: The children who were abducted and ended up as culturally confused zombies. And the parents who had to experience getting their child taken away from them. The actions of the Australian government would have been easier to extenuate had they actually succeeded in heir original goals: improving the quality of life of the aboriginals.
Sometimes the end does Justify the means. But when ones means are as horrible as they were, and grown up as part of The Stolen Generation are not leading very good lives. Studies show that there are no tangible improvements between the lives they led and the ones they lead now. By many standards they are worse off now. Children who were part of the stolen generation were less likely to complete their secondary education compared to other aboriginal children. As part of losing their culture many also darted to indulge in illegal activities and do drugs.
And with this we return to the original point. Is the abduction of aboriginal children excusable? This answer may surprise you. But I honestly believe that it is something that should be excused. But do not mistake forgiveness for acceptance. Such means as were used should never be used. The coercion of innocent people is not to be tolerated. We live in a society of free speech, and property rights. Removing children from their parents without a tangible reason behind the abduction is intolerable. But those were practices of several generations ago.
When one truly wants to make up for the cruelties of their ancestors’ one should not condemn him. But work together with them to work towards a better future. It is important to let old grudges die and not color your views today. The practices that happened during the stolen generation are a thing of the past. The current Australian government is doing all in its might to remedy the damage that has been done. And such actions should not be met with misplaced anger but with cooperation. Perhaps the time has come to put down the burden of the white man?