Among the many mindless mantras of our time, “making a difference” and “giving back” irritate me like chalk screeching across a blackboard.
Among those who make a difference by serving food to the homeless, how many have considered the history of societies that have made idleness easy for great numbers of people? How many have studied the impact of drunken idlers on other people in their own society, including children who come across their needles in the park — if they dare to go to the parks? How many have even considered such questions relevant as they drop their stone in the pond without thinking about the waves that spread out to others?
“Giving back” is a similarly mindless mantra. Indeed, many who repeat the “giving back” mantra would sneer at the idea that the institutions and values of American society have accomplished worthy things and deserve their support, instead of their undermining.
For example, our educational system is actively undermining any sense of loyalty to the traditions, institutions and values of American society. They are not giving back anything except condemnation, often depicting sins common to the human race around the world as peculiar evils of “our society.”
A classic example is slavery, which is repeatedly drummed into our heads as something unique done by white people to black people in the United States. The tragic fact is that for thousands of years, people of every race and color have been both slaves and enslavers. The Europeans enslaved on the Barbary Coast of North Africa alone were far more numerous than all the Africans brought to the United States and to the 13 colonies from which it was formed.
What was unique about Western civilization was that it was the first civilization to turn against slavery, stamping out slavery not only in its own societies but in other societies around the world. That process took well over a century, because non-Western societies resisted. White people, as well as black people, were still being bought and sold as slaves, decades after the Emancipation Proclamation freed blacks in the United States.
Those who want to “give back” should give back the truth. It is a debt that is long overdue.