Thursday, April 14, 2011

Civilize them

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Civilize Them With a Stick (response)

Anna Long

Ever since the beginning of human history, people have induced their way of life upon others. Generally, this is because of a belief that their own beliefs are superior to others. The problem can be that people often tend to do whatever it takes to achieve these end results. Those who wish to change the world for what they believe to be for the better, use corrupt means. In the selection Civilize them with a Stick by Mary Crow Dog, she writes about a group of people who feel they have the right to tell others what to do. The oppressors in her story believe their ways to be superior and do not care how to achieve the end result, as long as it is achieved. The Catholic nuns in the story believe themselves to be qualified to rule over and change the Native Americans sent to their school. However, they are far from having the true authority to forcibly change the beliefs of others.

Mary Crow Dog writes about her experiences in a Catholic school. She explains how religion was forced down her throat in an attempt to socialize Indians into an Anglo way of life. The nuns taught theories of Catholicism, and then they would be completely hypocritical by beating the children. Crow Dog writes about one time when her grandmother was put in solitary confinement after getting caught playing jacks with another student, “After she came out she promptly ran away, together with three other girls. They were found and brought back. The nuns stripped them naked and whipped them.” These nuns had especially no right to rule over the Native American children if they cannot even follow the basic pillar of Catholicism � Love.

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Catholicism, in pure form, teaches religious tolerance to others and not to judge others. The little girls who would first arrive at the boarding school would have their hair cut off and would be bathed in a sort of rubbing alcohol solution. I am certain that these nuns did this because of their ethnocentric attitudes which caused them to believe Native American children were dirty. Without any evidence of any sort, when nuns would catch the little girls snuggling close to each other at night for comfort and moral support, they would judge them immediately and assume the worst by saying things like, “I smell evil in this room. You girls are evil incarnate. You are sinning. You are going to hell and burn forever. You can act that way in the devil’s frying pan.”

The main reason that the nuns should not have been given the authority to teach at the school was because instead of painting an accurate picture of Catholicism, they caused people to fear God and religion. Mary Crow Dog herself was so sickened by the whole affair that she says the closest she ever came to seeing Jesus was when her friend Charlene said, “Look at that poor Indian. The pigs sure worked him over.” She said this in reference to a crucifix. By attempting to force religious beliefs upon others in such a way as these nuns did, they assured that many of the students would never truly believe in the tenants of Catholicism, even if they externally pretended to out of fear.

If a group wishes to show its beliefs to another group because they feel their beliefs to be superior, it is okay. It isn’t okay to use coercive tactics and force beliefs upon people. As a matter of fact, forcing beliefs simply has the opposite effects anyhow. The nuns did not have the right to force their beliefs upon innocent children of any nationality, especially by using violence. The nuns felt that they had divine authority to show Christianity to others. However nowhere in the bible does it say that the ends justify the means or that violence was okay as long as the subject becomes a Christian.

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