Apologies for the actions of previous generations?

Ceicei

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SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- The Australian government will apologize Wednedsday for years of "mistreatment" that have inflicted "profound grief, suffering and loss" on the country's Aboriginal people.

A paragraph caught my attention:

Former Prime Minister John Howardrefused to offer an apology, saying the current generation should not be held accountable for past misdeeds. He instead issued a statement of regret. Rudd, who defeated Howard last November, made an apology part of his election campaign.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/02/12/australia.aborgines/index.html

It almost seems as if it is the "in thing" for governments or groups of people to apologize for actions or things that happened years ago, sometimes even decades ago.

I believe apologies on an individual basis is appropriate and should be done. In certain circumstances, apologies for something on a mass scale (for instance, Germany regarding the Holocaust), can sometimes do good in allowing a society to heal and move forward. There are, however, some groups that seem to never be appeased and always bring up a reminder of the "wrongs".

There is a difference, I think, of keeping things in a historical perspective and groups castigating others in a mean-spirited way. The adage, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat history", should be kept in mind but not at the expense of being used as a "weapon" targeted to certain groups.

Thoughts and opinions?

- Ceicei
 

Empty Hands

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There is a large difference between individuals apologizing for past actions of their ancestors, and a government apologizing for past actions. In many ways, the government is still the same "individual" that committed those past bad actions. As such, it makes sense for a government to apologize.

This is particularly true of the Australian government. Many atrocities and other appalling actions were perpetrated upon the aborigines by the government within living memory.
 
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Ceicei

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There is a large difference between individuals apologizing for past actions of their ancestors, and a government apologizing for past actions. In many ways, the government is still the same "individual" that committed those past bad actions. As such, it makes sense for a government to apologize.

This is particularly true of the Australian government. Many atrocities and other appalling actions were perpetrated upon the aborigines by the government within living memory.

I agree, especially since the atrocities were/still are being done with the Austrialian aborigines.

I was thinking, though, of other groups regarding incidents that happened in the 1800's and early 1900's.... especially in context of what the former Prime Minister said. I believe there was another thread somewhere that someone said it wasn't necessary for the great-great-grandsons to apologize to each other for the actions of their great-great-grandpas.

I do think that if more people would develop the attribute of true humility with their apologies on a personal level with each other (as opposed to unfeeling verbal apologies), the world may be a bit brighter.

- Ceicei
 

michaeledward

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I don't believe the sins of the father should be paid out against the sons. Nor do I believe that the heirs of injustice necessarily deserve apologies for wrongs committed upon their forebears.

What we, in the present, owe to those in the past, and those decended from the past, is a constant vigilance to avoid repeating the wrongs committed in earlier generations.


If commitments made in an earlier generation were not honored, then serious discussions among the current generations are relevant. As I understand it, President Lincoln promised the freed slaves restitution for the wrongs committed them; and that restitution has never been made. I believe we today are obligated to find a way to honor the intentions of that earlier committement.

But, for a group in the current generation to apologize to a different group in the current generation for the actions of a sub-set of a previous generation against a different sub-set of that previous generation is silly and confusing, and not likely to accomplish anything of merit.
 

5-0 Kenpo

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I don't believe the sins of the father should be paid out against the sons. Nor do I believe that the heirs of injustice necessarily deserve apologies for wrongs committed upon their forebears.

What we, in the present, owe to those in the past, and those decended from the past, is a constant vigilance to avoid repeating the wrongs committed in earlier generations.


If commitments made in an earlier generation were not honored, then serious discussions among the current generations are relevant. As I understand it, President Lincoln promised the freed slaves restitution for the wrongs committed them; and that restitution has never been made. I believe we today are obligated to find a way to honor the intentions of that earlier committement.

But, for a group in the current generation to apologize to a different group in the current generation for the actions of a sub-set of a previous generation against a different sub-set of that previous generation is silly and confusing, and not likely to accomplish anything of merit.

If you are referring to that so called "40 acres and a mule, Lincoln never promised freed slaves restitution. What is typically refered to as "40 acres and a mule" was based off of Gen. Sherman's Special Field Order #15 which was to give specific freed slaves in specific areas a specific set of land to own and occupy. There was no mule agreement in that order either.

If you have some other promise Lincoln had in mind, please, let me know.


And I agree with Empty Hands in regards to government apologies.
 

Steel Tiger

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The Prime Minister will be making this apology in about half an hour. The wording is already known and is rather specific to what is called "The Stolen Generation", Aboriginal children who were removed from their families at the instigation of the governement and missionary groups from about 1869 to 1969. So it is an issue that is still in the living memory of Australia. Many of the Aboriginal leaders believe it will be a move forward in closing the division in the Australian population, between indigenous and non-indigenous.

Personally, I can see no problem with an apology being made by the government on behalf of the government. It will, however, be remembered as "Kevin Rudd Apoligises to Indigenous Australia," and I think that is what pulled John Howard up short during his time.

Another important issue here is the Aboriginal view of time and history. There is no separation between The Dreaming, the past , and the present. What happens to the people, happens to all the people, with no real consideration given to when it happened. The Ancestors are alive and contributing to life, just in a different way. So an apology now is not so different to an apology then.

It would be better if these sorry events had never happened. But the world has never been at a loss for short-sighted do-gooders who believe their position is the only one worth paying attention to.
 

Xue Sheng

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I would like to apologize to the city of Atlanta for my great great uncle that was in General Sherman's Army.

Some how I don't think that holds much weight and seems a bit silly to me but whatever

Existing governments apologizing for past wrongs ok. Expecting the ancestors of those that were there and or involved to apologize, well if that is what you want but they were not there had noting to do with it and in many cases are not even aware they had any ancestors there.

Now with that said I am waiting for an apology from the ancestors of King James the 1st for what he did to my ancestors... oh and I am also expecting apologies form every single Catholic for the part they played in it as well.
 

MA-Caver

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Well it stands that the atrocities committed against Australian Aborigines, native Hawaiians, Native Americans and so on down the line do need some retribution. It was their land to begin with. What gave the whites that settled/colonized there the right to brazenly consider those races inferior and thus not worthy to share land with them, thus forcing them out and killing any who resisted or even didn't resist?
The governments that ordered these acts of moving these people (probably with the underwritten "by any means necessary") perpetrated by it's soldiers are responsible IMO. Individual acts of barbarism can only be held accountable by the individual but the right/wherewithal to perform those acts was given by that individual's representative government.
The lead singer of the Australian super group Midnight Oil, Peter Garrett semi-retired from music and went into politics to champion the rights of the Aborigines. They did so with their songs (2 examples below) and found out that it might get more action by getting into the government office. So there is some remorse being shown, even if by ONE individual, it's a start.
Beds Are Burning (lyrics)
Out where the river broke
The bloodwood and the desert oak
Holden wrecks and boiling diesels
Steam in forty five degrees
(Chorus)
The time has come, To say fair's fair, To pay the rent, To pay our share
The time has come, A fact's a fact, It belongs to them, Let's give it back
(Bridge)
How can we dance when our earth is turning
How do we sleep while our beds are burning
How can we dance when our earth is turning
How do we sleep while our beds are burning

From Kintore East to Yuendemu
The western desert lives and breathes
In forty five degrees

(repeat chorus and bridge 2X)
The Dead Heart (lyrics)
We don't serve your country, don't serve your king
Know your custom don't speak your tongue
White man came took everyone

We don't serve your country, don't serve your king
White man listen to the songs we sing
White man came took everything

(Chorus)
We carry in our hearts the true country
And that cannot be stolen
We follow in the steps of our ancestry
And that cannot be broken

We don't serve your country, we don't serve your king
Know your custom don't speak your tongue
White man came took everyone

We don't need protection, don't need your hand
Keep your promise on where we stand
We will listen we'll understand

(repeat chorus 2X)
Mining companies, pastoral companies, Uranium companies, Collected companies
Got more right than people, Got more say than people (ad lib)
Forty thousand years can make a difference to the state of things
The dead heart lives here

But by that token, the U.S. is/was expected to apologize to the Japanese for the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima decades after the fact.
Seems everybody in this world owes somebody an apology.
But the nature of man is thus. We can be kind, benevolent, compassionate, generous and helpful and then be brutal, merciless, vindictive, cruel and act with incomprehensible finality.
Who are we? Mankind I mean.
 

Xue Sheng

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And the British Empire and its entire population need to apologize to most of the world for the empire building that it did based on Social Darwinism.

There have been an awful lot of VERY bad things done by an AWFUL lot of people to an AWFUL lot of other people through out history. They were wrong and they should not have happened but they did and expecting EVERY single one of those people to apologize means we spend our entire life apologizing and being apologized to.

Apologizing for great evil is a nice self help thing to do but in reality it does little for those that were the victims of it. I am all for the US government apologizing to the native Americans for past wrongs and trying to make it right but if with that apology comes a sigh of relief from the one who apologized followed by doing more wrong to the same group that just does not cut it.

The Australian Government apologizing is a good thing but I frankly could not care less if they apologized unless I hear what the Aborigines they apologized to think about it.

We apologize to the Japanese for the Atom bomb ok then the Japanese should apologize to the Chinese for the atrocities they practiced on them and then of course the Chinese need to apologize to the Tibetans and if you go back far enough the Tibetans have their share of apologizing to do as well. Oh and then of course Mongolia needs to apologize to Japan, China and Korea but then Japan did some nasty stuff in Mongolia and China and then China did back up Korea in the Korean war but then they should apologize to the US who needs to apologize to Japan...I'm getting a head ache here

Remember what happened, learn form it and do all that you can to make sure that it does not happen again, now there is an apology WORTH something not just lip service.

No wait it is sooooo much easier just to say

Hey, I’m sorry we wiped out about 80% of your population.. No hard feeling OK
 

Ping898

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The mass apologies for stuff done 3 or 4 or 5 generations ago...just annoy me. I think they do little and if your life is so hung up on something that happened to someone 200 years ago, then I think you have bigger issues than I can address. I can see some value in apologizing for something that is recent enough that people still alive experienced it either through themself or what is did to their parents. But I have real issues with some of the mass apologies lately, because I don't think they serve much of a purpose beyond a press release, I think they really have very little meaning and many times don't even have the barest hint of sincerity....
I don't think we can ever forget what has happened, as the sayitng goes you need to learn from history or you are doomed to repeat it, but I can't change the past and I refuse to issue an apology for what someone I didn't know, couldn't know, have no way of knowing cause they are long dead, did....
 
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Ceicei

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Another important issue here is the Aboriginal view of time and history. There is no separation between The Dreaming, the past , and the present. What happens to the people, happens to all the people, with no real consideration given to when it happened. The Ancestors are alive and contributing to life, just in a different way. So an apology now is not so different to an apology then.
Interesting. I had never thought it could be a cultural view to not have a dichotomy of times/generations. The Americans tend to classify generations [such as Baby Boomers, Gen-X, etc.] as well as time periods, to the point there is a sense of detachment for those who are not directly involved. What you say indicates a culture that sees all things are related, regardless of when, who, and where. I suspect the American Indians may hold the same cultural view of relationship.

Is this 'apology' trend more of a cultural misunderstanding?
Steel Tiger said:
It would be better if these sorry events had never happened. But the world has never been at a loss for short-sighted do-gooders who believe their position is the only one worth paying attention to.
Agreed.

- Ceicei
 

MA-Caver

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The mass apologies for stuff done 3 or 4 or 5 generations ago...just annoy me. I think they do little and if your life is so hung up on something that happened to someone 200 years ago, then I think you have bigger issues than I can address. I can see some value in apologizing for something that is recent enough that people still alive experienced it either through themselves or what is did to their parents. But I have real issues with some of the mass apologies lately, because I don't think they serve much of a purpose beyond a press release, I think they really have very little meaning and many times don't even have the barest hint of sincerity....
I don't think we can ever forget what has happened, as the saying goes you need to learn from history or you are doomed to repeat it, but I can't change the past and I refuse to issue an apology for what someone I didn't know, couldn't know, have no way of knowing cause they are long dead, did....

True, very true. But we still got race issues in this country, not as bad as they were in the 60's/70's but still there. Which simply put. Parents of those who hate different races (white, black, hispanic, whatever!) just need to stop spoon-feeding their children the crap over the dinner table.
When I lived in my parents' house in Chattanooga as a teenager I recall that it was NOT a bright idea to go driving around certain (non-white) neighborhoods. Today, as I live in my parents house in Chattanooga as an adult (??) (self-mocking here)... I can drive through those same neighborhoods and even get out of my jeep and go into a store and not worry a thing (I still use my awareness however). Things have "calmed down" it seems. The black co-workers at the McDonalds I used to work at were all just great to work with and there was no racial tension to be felt at all. So it's improving, I guess, in my neck of the woods (ironic since it's part of the South). But elsewhere it's still prevalent and still the BASE cause of many different race crimes. There are still those skin-heads and Klan supporters as well as the various gangs of both African-American and Hispanic origins. The hatred is for past crimes against them. The first place they learn it is in their childhood.
It's this way all around the world. Somebody owes somebody else an apology and payback! Selfish, greedy, self-centered, self-serving attitudes like this is gonna keep problems like that around for as long as it's taught to the next generation.
 

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As has been said... government apologies to groups still in existence that were mistreated (the Aborigines being a prime example, also the German government and the Holocaust) are, I think, a good thing.

Groups of descendants of groups that were mistreated in previous generations - especially more than 2-3 generations ago - always appear to me to be sucking up in an effort to influence public opinion among the descendants and those around them, and I generally find them to be insincere. In fact, I find the attitude of Former Prime Minister John Howard to be more sincere, more realistic, and more reasonable than those who grandstand by apologizing for events in which they had no place, to people the events did not occur to.

As far as those groups who insist that, as the descendants of mistreated groups, they are entitled to receive apologies and remuneration, in general, I find their attitudes distasteful, separatist, and generally an attempt to incite trouble. Should the founders of the US have stolen land from the Native Americans? No... but neither should those who live where the Native Americans used to live be forced off their property in compensation.

Did the attitudes that allowed and encouraged slavery in the US lead to the degradation and discrimination against the descendants of former slaves? Yes - but any remuneration should be for actions that actually occurred within the lifespan of those who were affected (something Affirmative Action was supposed to do) - not for the actions of people 100 or more years ago against other people 100 or more years ago, not from the descendants of slave owners (who did nothing wrong) to the descendants of slaves (who may well have been the recipients of discriminatory practices - but they were not slaves, and should not be remunerated for the slavery of their ancestors several generations back).
 

jks9199

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As has been said... government apologies to groups still in existence that were mistreated (the Aborigines being a prime example, also the German government and the Holocaust) are, I think, a good thing.
But where do you draw the line? Is the current government of Germany the same government as the one that perpetrated the Holocaust? What about the current government of Iraq? Should it apologize for Sadaam Hussein's crimes?

Here in the US, our government can change dramatically over a 4 year period; it's conceivable for a new executive administration and substantially replaced legislature in that period. It could easily be argued that the US government today is not the same government that interned the Nisei.

Groups of descendants of groups that were mistreated in previous generations - especially more than 2-3 generations ago - always appear to me to be sucking up in an effort to influence public opinion among the descendants and those around them, and I generally find them to be insincere. In fact, I find the attitude of Former Prime Minister John Howard to be more sincere, more realistic, and more reasonable than those who grandstand by apologizing for events in which they had no place, to people the events did not occur to.

In lieu of what threatened to become a rant... I'll simply say I agree. I find it rather interesting that nobody seems to simply want an equal chance; it's always got to be a better chance (to offset the past) or money...
 

Kacey

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But where do you draw the line? Is the current government of Germany the same government as the one that perpetrated the Holocaust? What about the current government of Iraq? Should it apologize for Sadaam Hussein's crimes?

Here in the US, our government can change dramatically over a 4 year period; it's conceivable for a new executive administration and substantially replaced legislature in that period. It could easily be argued that the US government today is not the same government that interned the Nisei.

And this is where it becomes sticky - however, while the personnel in the government of these countries has changed, it is still the government of the country that committed the crimes. It is not the individuals who are being held responsible; the current government is being held responsible for the actions of the government. Is it fair? Not really - but it is less unfair than holding the children's children's children responsible for the actions of their great-grandparents.

In lieu of what threatened to become a rant... I'll simply say I agree. I find it rather interesting that nobody seems to simply want an equal chance; it's always got to be a better chance (to offset the past) or money...

I agree - I'm all for equality, but to get a better chance than someone else, or money, for something that happened to an ancestor you don't know is not reasonable - fashionable, perhaps, but not rational.
 

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Just to keep people informed.

The first compensation claim against government actions with regard to the Stolen Generation was lodged today 15 February) with the courts in West Australia. The claimant is a 44 year old man.
 

Touch Of Death

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A paragraph caught my attention:



http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/02/12/australia.aborgines/index.html

It almost seems as if it is the "in thing" for governments or groups of people to apologize for actions or things that happened years ago, sometimes even decades ago.

I believe apologies on an individual basis is appropriate and should be done. In certain circumstances, apologies for something on a mass scale (for instance, Germany regarding the Holocaust), can sometimes do good in allowing a society to heal and move forward. There are, however, some groups that seem to never be appeased and always bring up a reminder of the "wrongs".

There is a difference, I think, of keeping things in a historical perspective and groups castigating others in a mean-spirited way. The adage, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat history", should be kept in mind but not at the expense of being used as a "weapon" targeted to certain groups.

Thoughts and opinions?

- Ceicei
I see no problem with a cerimonial apology.
 

CoryKS

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I tend to go in the opposite direction. I wouldn't apologize for the actions of my ancestors because I assume no responsibility for them. I would apologize for the actions of my children because it's my responsibility to raise them well, and if they should fail to act in a manner that is appropriate in our society the failure is mine as well.
 

SageGhost83

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I agree with a lot of points made here. Some groups just use the past as a poker chip and a way to get what they want when deep down inside they really couldn't care less about their past and are often ignorant of the very past that they so regularly invoke. Even if one were to apologize, most of the time it doesn't even matter to certain groups. You are the bad guy and you will remain the bad guy in their eyes. Ironically, if you give them handouts without apologizing or even acknowledging the past, you are suddenly their best friend :idunno:. It seems to be less about a genuine sadness over the past and more about using whatever means necessary to attack the percieved enemy and make them give you what you want. So when an apology is given, it mostly falls on deaf ears. I seriously doubt that the real issue is the past. It is more like you have this-we want it-you did this at this time-now it is suddenly more painful to us than the original victims-therefore you must give it to us or you are (insert accusation). Don't get me wrong - we should all work toward reconcilliation, but I think that we must be smart about it because not all groups, be they victim or perpetrator, are operating in good faith.
 

Touch Of Death

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I tend to go in the opposite direction. I wouldn't apologize for the actions of my ancestors because I assume no responsibility for them. I would apologize for the actions of my children because it's my responsibility to raise them well, and if they should fail to act in a manner that is appropriate in our society the failure is mine as well.
You are currently bennefiting from the misdeeds of your ancestors and you feel no need to make amends? A simple, "I wish it didn't happen that way" is all anyone is asking. Are you happy it happened "That Way".
Sean
 
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