Racism Is No Picnic

Racism will not ultimately win out over unity. But it will win a lot of little battles, increasing local hatred for a time and delaying the onset of worldwide peace. Racism will ultimately lose because it is too restrictive. The White and Black and Hispanic and this subgroup and that nation and whatever racists cannot work with each other; they can't make treaties the other groups would trust; they can't even communicate. So even if the non-racists in each race or nation form just a small minority, they can work together across the world forming an invincible mass that will infect the entire human race with peace, while the racists can only fester in their own communities.

Many people assume Europe "conquered" America and Africa due to its "innate" superiority shown by its advanced civilization and ability to manufacture weapons. I've always assumed Europeans took over America because they had better diseases, stuff like small pox and cholera that killed 90 to 95% of the inhabitants of the continent before they ever got to see a white man with a gun. Imagine if the population of the US dropped from 250 million to just one and a quarter million people. There would only be about 1/3 of the population of Colorado spread throughout the entire US left to deal with keeping civilization together by locating food and burying the immense amount of bodies. Our society would disintegrate. Any small band of well-armed explorers could easily take us over.

In the book Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond examines the underlying question: Why did Europe end up with a large civilization (guns and steel) and deadly diseases? It is actually because of geography, although Diamond is not in the school of geographic determinism that claims people are the way they are due to geography. He explains how any race that happened to end up with the same biologic opportunities of easily domesticated animals, useful-to-farm plants, and a horizontal axis to spread the agricultural practices would have ended up having the strongest civilization in the least amount of time.

Diamond shows how all really useful, easy to grow plants were controlled thousands of years ago. He analyzes the qualities needed for a domesticated species and shows how every good candidate species had already been domesticated, usually several times by different tribes. Some places, such as China and the middle East, ended up with a package of animals and vegetables that easily spread through the temperate latitudes. Africa's equatorial region didn't have any good animals. The candidate species in America and Australia (proto-cattle and -horses) were wiped out by invading human hunters before they could be domesticated. The Mississippi area ended up with dogs and corn instead of wheat, barley, cows and horses.

The best part of the book is that it shows just how industrious and ingenious humans have been no matter where they lived. Aborigines can survive in a deadly desert. Eskimos can survive on ice floes. Polynesians have a multiplicity of ways that depended utterly on the available resources. And every society took immediate advantage of any new foods and critters introduced by explorers or invaders.

We are all together in this life on this planet, and if we work together, we'll go much farther much sooner than if we don't.

Next Sunday, the Baha'is are having the annual Race Unity Picnic at City Park at noon. Everyone is welcome. It is potluck so if you can manage it, bring some food to share. Ethnic dishes are preferred, but anything edible is welcome. And if you missed the Metro Denver Baha'i Youth Workshop last time, they're coming again with their dances which directly reflect the racial struggles which have plagued us and the celebration of our unity in diversity. They'll be at the Sunday picnic and from 7 PM to 8:30 Saturday, June 12th, they'll perform at the stage in Old Town.