Diaspora and our ‘bronze-age-brains’

There are two common-use meanings for this term:  diaspora and Diaspora.

The ‘little d’ diaspora refers to any (more-or-less) peaceful migration or immigration or general re-settlement of a socially cohesive group of people with a well-defined social identity into an already populated area, with no intention of integrating into the host society.  The ‘capital D’ diaspora refers to one specific ‘little d’ diaspora:  the expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem by the Romans and their resultant scattering around the World.

At this point, I am only focusing on ‘little d’ diaspora.

This ‘diaspora’ is a curious concept:  a group of people who share a common ancestry/language/culture/religion – such as a tribe, or a clan, settle in an area already inhabited by ‘different people’.  Once there, they do not attempt to gain the land by conquest:  they either legally purchase it or, if the population density is low, they simply settle there and eventually claim squatter’s rights. So, there is no war.

The ‘newcomers’ are usually not perceived as hostile, so the people in the ‘host culture’ do not harbour hostility towards them.  Or, at least, not particularly so.  At the beginning.

But, we, humans, have come to be who we are by following a certain path of social evolution.

Each one of us is, first and foremost, an individual.  And, even in the most collectivistic of human societies, there is an acknowledgement (or a lament) that we are, indeed, individuals.

This fact that each of us is an individual does not, in any way, change that we are also very social:  we nurture our young and have long learned that pooling our resources can help us survive and succeed.  We don’t always agree on how much of our resources ought to be pooled, and how this pooling ought to be accomplished – but that is a different matter.

Different human societies have indeed reached different states of balance (or, imbalance) between the ‘individual’ and ‘society’.  This is only to be expected, because humans are such a prolific organism that we thrive – or, at least, survive – in greatly varying regions of the world.  These produce very different pressures (stresses) on the different human groups and their social rules that they govern themselves by.  Thus, very different attitudes, moral codes and social rules had developed.

Many people I have talked to seem to think that there is some sort of a ‘universal’ set of rules of ‘morality’ that all people subscribe to.  I am sorry to disappoint these people:  there is no such thing.  It is only because most cultures which had, historically, interacted with each other had been ones which were also in physical proximity:  thus, both a similar set of environmental pressures and long-term contact (such as trade) between the cultures served to spread ideas, learn of each other’s attitudes – in short, served as a ‘normalizing’ pressure on the development of these cultures.  This then gives an ‘appearance’ of ‘universal’ concepts of ‘right and wrong’.

Thus, this ‘universality’ is no more than an appearance.  What worked for one group of people in one specific time and place became their set of ‘right and wrong’.  Sure, if they learned a rule that seemed to produce better results, they usually found a way of incorporating this new rule into their society.  (Often, this was in the form of a new deity – which is why so many monotheistic cultures seem to freeze in their ‘moral’ development… but THAT is a completely different post!)

Isolated cultures are  prime examples of just how different ‘right and wrong’ is, depending on the pressures on the society.  Most ‘mainland’ cultures prospered if there were more offspring:  the more babies born, the more were likely to survive and become productive members of their clan, the better the clan did.  So, in most of these cultures, homosexuality (actually, most activities which would divert natural sex-drive away from baby-production) was forbidden and became considered ‘immoral’.  I remember my Anthropology prof telling us about an isolated culture on a small South Pacific island, where the overpopulation was the stress which drove the development of the society.  On this island, homosexuality was not only permitted, it was considered to be morally superior to heterosexuality!  As a matter of fact, heterosexual sex was taboo for over 300 days of the year…

The same is true of ‘murder’ – the concept of ‘killing another human being’ as ‘bad’ or ‘immoral’ is actually not all that common… as I have ranted on before.

As any physician will readily confirm, our brains are not any different from those of our bronze-age ancestors.  Sure, when we have better nutrition and vitamins, when we grow up mostly free of diseases, our brains develop into a much fuller potential then they would otherwise.  But not all our ancestors were malnurished or ill….  Our brains are have the very same physical characteristics, the same ‘blueprint’, if you will, that the brains of our bronze-age-ancestors did.

What differentiates us from our ancestors is our culture – our learning and our social attitudes.  In other words, ‘culture’ is what ‘defines us’ as ‘us’.

As opposed to ‘them’.

And this ‘them’ concept is extremely important to the way our ‘bronze-age blueprint-of-a-brain’:  because in our bronze-age past, ‘them’ could never really be trusted!  The simple fact that ‘they’ were not ‘us’, but ‘they’ meant that ‘they’ did not have a vested interest in ‘our’ survival.

That is why so many ‘ kings/chieftains’ would marry a daughter of a king/chieftain with whom they had just reached a peace-treaty:  the ‘father-king’ would have a vested interest in the survival of his grand-children, just as the ‘bride-groom-king’ has a vested interest in the survival of his own children.  This marriage and its ‘blood-bond’ reduces the ‘they’ factor and makes both sides see the other as at least a little bit more part of ‘us’.

Which brings me back to the ‘diaspora’:  the very point of a diaspora is that the newcomers do not become part of the ‘us’ which surrounds them. By the very definition of the word ‘diaspora’, these newcomers have a fully formed cultural (which includes religious) identity of their own and are not willing to compromise it in any way – especially through mingling of the blood!

In other words, the newcomers – by their choice – do not become ‘us’ to their neighbours/hosts.

This results in both sides being unable to fully trust each other:  blame our ‘bronze-aged brains’!

Heroes are no longer welcome in our society

Many people in the Ottawa area are discussing  how active a role citizens ought to take in the protection of our community and our fellow citizens.

Let me set the stage:

Two men were driving down a road, in a hurry (as they were late for a Kim Mitchell concert).  A woman jumped onto the road in front of them – they almost hit her.  Since she appeared not to be in perfect control of herself (the men thought she was drunk), they stopped in order to make sure she’d be OK.  She wasn’t…

This is where the situation takes a turn towards the surreal:  the young woman was hysterically screaming into her cell-phone, talking to 9-1-1,saying she had just been sexually assaulted.  Our two men immediately offered her assistance.

The woman was not perfectly coherent:  she had just been through something horrible, was bleeding… not exactly composed (screaming hysterically, as the 9-1-1 dispatcher put it).  Understandable…  But, she did convey to ‘or guys’ that her attacker was an acquaintance who was giving her a ride home, that he raped her and tried to choke her to death, and was sitting in that car over there!

The man she indicated started yelling rude insults at her and threatening to kill her and ‘put her in a cornfield’…. and appeared to take a drink from a bottle of Tequila.  Then he drove off.

Please, keep in mind that in Ontario, if you see someone drinking (alcohol) and driving, the law says you are to make a ‘citizen’s arrest’.  This is a bit of an ‘aside’, but it is important to the way the events unfolded.

‘Our guys’ took the injured woman into their car and, using her cell-phone to talk to the 9-1-1 dispatcher, they followed the man who had just they had just witnessed drinking and driving – and whom they heard threatening to kill the distressed woman.

This is where the controversy comes in:  many people have condemned the young men for chasing after the attacker!

The whole discussion is hardly helped by a very ‘misleading’ (according to the lawyer for one of the protectors) article about this event in the Ottawa Citizen:  today, I was listening to CFRA (an Ottawa radio station) when the lawyer for Ryan O’Connor called in and filled in some information.   (And, yes, it is ‘reporting’ like this that drives people away from the mainstream media…  It seems obvious that to them, this is no more than ‘just a story’… so the reporting is either unbelievably shoddy or intentionally misleading!)

OK – I heard the interview live, so I do not have a link to support my assertions (soon to follow).  Still, the lawyer (whose name escaped me) said his version of events would be brought out when the 9-1-1 transcripts will be released, so I am trusting that I heard things ‘right’.

The article asserts the woman knew her attacker and his name.  Well, he was an acquaintance – someone she had seen around.  And, he told her his first name.  I think that when a ‘familiar stranger’ – a person you know by sight, but little else – tells you his first name, it really ought not be reported as ‘the woman knew her attacker and his name’.  There is a serious difference between the two!

Also, there was the assertion (in the article as well as in much of the commentary that followed) that the man’s identity was clear because they noted his car’s license plate number.


Who said it was his car?  It could have been stolen.  It could have been borrowed.  It could have been just about anything! Claiming one could ‘prove’ the man’s identity by the license plate on his car is so idiotic, I don’t even know where to begin.  Jumping to conclusions without considering what evidence you actually have is bad – but when lives are at stake, it is inexcusable!

People have been condemning the two men who helped the victim, for a whole slew of reasons:

It turns out they were driving a Porsche – so they must obviously be bored rich kids looking for an excuse to live out a Hollywood – style high speed chase!

The fact that they were helping a woman in obvious distress, that they had abandoned their plans to go to a concert (the tickets to which they had already bought) and helped a woman who was hurt in body and spirit –  that little fact did not seem to matter to these petty complainers!  Nor did they seem to care that ‘our guys’ were well within the law to attempt to execute a citizen’s arrest on a drunk driver…

One of the two men turned out to be Matt Spezza – a brother of a very popular NHL hockey player on our local team, the Ottawa Senators.  The amount of venom this brought out in people – the ‘you know, he has a famous big brother so he thinks he’s God’ sentiment… that truly sickened me.  Why are people so warped and steeped in envy?  Does it not eat away at them?

The car chase reached ‘high speed’ at some points.  This means that they endangered themselves, the woman they were trying to help – and everyone else in the city!  They could have hit someone!  They just wanted to be heroes! (A woman said that last sentence at a call-in show.  She spat it out with such hate, as if wanting to be a hero was the most disgusting thing EVER!)

Yes, they could have hit someone.  But they didn’t.  The chase did reach ‘high speeds’ of 160 km/h (some reports go up as high as 170 km/h).   Not ‘Autobahn’ speed, mind you, but this is Canada!  We don’t think people ought to drive faster than a horse-buggy goes….you know, it could be dangerous!  The fact that the driver actually races cars – and would be quite capable of handling these speeds – seemed to only pour oil onto the fire of indignation against him!

Oh – and the driver continued to talk to the 9-1-1 operator while he chased the baddie:  talking on cell-phones while driving is bad!

Yeah!  He was talking to the 9-1-1 people!  As in, following their instructions…and, are our 9-1-1 operators not experts specially trained to assess the dangers of a wide range of situations?  And did not this expert assess the situation and decide that the danger of pursuit was ‘the lesser evil’ than unleashing a homicidal drunk on the public?  (By the way – this dispatcher has also been much maligned….before all the facts are known!)

They knew the attacker’s name and had his license number:  there was no need for a chase!  The cops could have just gone to his home and arrested him there!

Oh, like he was just going to orderly drive home?  Or, perhaps, he was going to drive to the nearest police station and respectfully request to be arrested? And then kiss some babies and donate to charity, too!

EVEN IF they knew exactly who he was (and, by now, the guys chasing the baddie and the 9-1-1 operator knew that the man did not own the car he was driving and that the victim knew nothing about him except his first name), LETTING HIM GO would have simply meant some other woman was going to be murdered that night.

This was a guy who was trying to live out a sadistic ‘rape-murder’ fantasy – and got interrupted half way through.  He was still high – on adrenalin, for sure, other stuff perhaps… and his reaction to having the victim snatched out of his grasp showed unabated rage!

Had the good guys not pursued him, he would – most likely – have snatched another person and carried out his murderous fantasy!

The cops certainly did not join in the chase – it was not until 15 minutes after the chase started that the cops got involved, stopping the suspect at a roadblock.  As in, no police helicopter.  No police cars or motorcycles joined the chase.

The baddie would have had 15 minutes (at least) to disappear!  During those 15 minutes, the suspect could have reached a spot where he could have abducted another victim, and then hidden away in some secluded area (the road on which the fist victim was assaulted borders the Green Belt:  an area filled with ‘nature paths’ and quiet, dark, secluded parking lots).

Yet, those who think it is unacceptable for citizens to take any action to protect themselves, that it is solely the job of the police (must be a union thing) – these people have won.  Today, the police chief announced that in the future, no citizen is allowed to lift a finger to help.  Anyone.  Ever!

Nobody expects the police to be able to be everywhere, right away.  It is not physically possible.  So, next time you see a crime in progress – just keep on walking!  It’s none of your business.

Found a loophole in the laws, which might let you help save a life?  Don’t worry, we’ll soon have those loopholes plugged!