Monday, February 8, 2010

Japanese emperor or French king

When we were in Hawaii, we learned about several waves of ethnic groups that came to work in sugar cane fields and elsewhere: Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese.  In Louisiana, we learned about the Acadians traveling from France to Acadie (Nova Scotia) where they settled in a better life until the British deported them forcibly and in mass.  

The contrast between the two stories I heard was strong.  The Japanese emperor was asked if he would allow his subjects to emigrate to Hawaii and he agreed they could.  He designated a diplomat in his administration to move to Hawaii and inform his government of their conditions regularly.  This was in the latter 1800's.  Much earlier, prior to the French revolution, in the period of severe oppression and exploitation of the peasantry, French seeking a better life agreed to emigrate to the emerging colonial empire in what is now Nova Scotia, the other Canadian maritime provinces and other nearby lands.  When certain British colonial authorities decided they didn't like French in their lands and expelled them, some returned to France while others were deported or drifted to various eastern seaports, like Boston and Savannah.  Many were jailed or oppressed.  Some did travel more directly to southern Louisiana, the heart of the present Cajun ('Cadian) community.

So it looks to me like the Japanses emperor watched out for his subjects while the French king oppressed them, including those who temporarily returned to France when expelled after about a century of living in the new world.

Whether it is the schools or the government, citizens can be viewed as fodder for manipulation, or as valued people to be cared for.  Sometimes, it is said there are two views of human nature, X and Y.  One is that humans are devils and sluggards and in constant need of correction, punishment and scrutinizing.  The other is that humans are intelligent and good sources of ideas and effort.  Of course, an organization can include proponents of both views, which sometimes oscillate in the same mind.  But these views are about the nature of people.  There can probably be two (or more) views about the nature of government and administration, too.  One view might be that it is the right of the governors to extract every ounce of sweat, allegiance and taxes from the people they can.  Another might be that the government is the steward and assistant of the people, who ought to live better because of the government's effort, not worse.

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