Our Common Ancestor
I must have been born color blind, I just don’t see it. I see no black fella, white fella, yellow fella, nor red fella, at least not worth noting. I see only the human animal, both in all it’s glory and all it’s shame as well. I see a smelly one walking ahead, and one there, drinking too much. That one behind us is smiling, and there are two there in love. Some are playing together, one is helping a small child, and others are at war. I see only the human animal doing all it does. I must be blind, or perhaps mentally unstable, because I cannot understand you, my ancestor. You who are long gone in the mist of time, and you who have just recently perished, you had what seem to me to be very strange ideas.
How could you come to a land and see a person made of skin and bones, flesh and blood, the same as you in nearly every way; the differences so minor that they had to be grasped at like trying to capture smoke in the palm of your hand? You said their skin was the wrong shade, eyes the wrong shape, hair the wrong texture. They talked differently, told different stories, prayed to different gods, sang different songs, celebrated different things and mourned in different ways. All this I can understand, all this I also see. But how could they not be human animals, equal in every reasonable way to either you or I? How did you dream up the manifold geometry required to cut and splice so that only what looked most like you, acted only in a way you proscribed, would fit into your idea of the human race?
Black fella, yellow fella, red fella, white fella, mixed breed; you all did the same, in one way or another, I know. The victors got to call the shots, and through agriculture, disease and technology, dominate the vanquished for a time. But how could you not see what I see?
Maybe I am not blind at all; maybe my judgment is not so disturbed, as well. Could it be that it was you, with your wars, your incessant need to dominate and destroy, who had been insane, and obtuse? Were you blind to the beauty of the diversity of life, even within our own species? Did you not comprehend the fact that the true glory of the world, is that we all have something to put into the melting pot, and the result of that concoction will be a far better human culture than any single contribution can possibly achieve?
Then again, perhaps I am deranged. Now a day the children of the conquerors are rightly embarrassed and apologetic for the sins of their fathers. And the children of the subdued are demanding that no quarter be given, that turn about is fair play. I don’t see that a new imbalance is a just way to settle the score. And while you, my ancestor may have been guilty of uncharitable deeds; I have taken nothing that was not mine. What I have I worked for and gained through the labor of my own sweat and blood. I have trod on no one, and respected all as my equal, or perhaps better.
I long for the day when we will all recognize that the only thing of true value to us on this earth is the limited time we have to spend, and how we spend it together. I am perhaps mad as a hatter, because through all the sorrow I have seen in the world, all the continued bigotry and bloodshed; I believe we progeny of common ancestors can reach this apex together. I believe that if we do so, we will not need stories of a life after this. Rather we will be living in the greatest of all possible worlds, here and now.
I am black fella, I am yellow fella, I am red fella, I am white fella; I am the animal called man. I share my heritage with all of this species, and many more. Our ancestors are the same, and the people of today are all my brothers and sisters. My dear ancestor, I admire many of the things you have done before my time, to build the life I can have, but I hope that the family of man can forget your distemper and learn to walk through this life, together and in peace.