What happened to the peoples of lost civilisations?

It would appear that, in the 16th century, Europe was still experiencing repeated infestations by the plague. When the Spaniards of that period set out to loot the treasures of the Aztecs and the Incas, about 90% of the people with whom they had contact were said to have died from introduced diseases (against which they had no protection), and from a campaign of killing by the invaders.

A great disrespect for human life, juxtaposed with a policy of religious conversion, seems odd. Death and debility of ‘native’ peoples through dangerous diseases was allegedly commonplace throughout the world in the colonial era. The great despoliation of indigenous cultures everywhere has, however, been adequately documented. Thankfully for mankind, a few sensitive and/or learned men among the European occupiers and their descendants have enabled part of the legacy of hitherto durable local cultures and civilisations to endure. The surviving remainder of the indigenous populations may, naturally, have been colonised as cheap labour or enslaved.

Since Earth has been subject to terrible prolonged droughts here and there, over time, turning fertile land such as the Sahara into a desert, it is almost likely that the people so affected would have moved on. When the bed of one of the arms of the River Indus allegedly re-located itself (a not unusual occurrence for rivers), the settlements affected would have been vacated in favour of other locations.

The vast movements of people across Central Asia in history is testament to what would be normal practice for settled peoples to re-settle elsewhere, or to return to nomadism, when either Nature or human marauders turn against them.


Rips in the fabric of connectedness

In the mid-1960s, Australia was attempting to extricate itself from the repulsive sludge of the racism which was integral to its White Australia policy. This sludge was interleaved with the prejudices (and some bilateral discrimination) of an enduring sectarian-religious divide (almost as divisive as the colour bar separating the Australian indigene from their oppressors).

The treatment of indigenous peoples has a long and world-wide history. When Europeans colonised the Antipodes and the Americas, there went the religious beliefs they proclaimed subsequently in order to save heathen souls for their Saviour. They offered salvation, while ripping them off in every way. To clear the land, the indigenes were shot, poisoned or driven away. With willing support from churchmen, Aboriginal men and women were herded into reservations in Australia, ignoring tribal and clan differences (thus also destroying tribal cultures). Owners of cattle stations obtained unpaid labour from the men, while handing flour and tea to the women to live on (so I have read). Randy men took the women freely. This created a new creole class eventually, whether or not the children were stolen from their mothers to work as servants. Christianity had a lot to answer for.

We Asian colonial subjects did not suffer to this extent. White ‘upstarts’ (as my elders described them privately) simply ‘lorded’ it over us, also creating a creole class unwanted by both Asians and the ‘Europeans’, with more souls gathered for Christ. But the possessors of the ‘saved’ souls did not seem to eat any better. But we too experienced the almighty rips in the fabric of mutual respect and tolerance which might be expected to reflect the conjoined creation of humankind, if not the teachings of Christ.

As for the darker-coloured people overseas, for nearly 2 decades after a new Australian government opened the immigration door to be non-discriminatory, there existed a heavy hand against that door. This discriminated against the flow of immigrants from the Indian sub-continent. How do I know? Two young men who had served as Immigration Officials in India and who became members (sequentially) of my team told me about this concealed practice. The traditional prejudice against dark-skinned people had not been dissipated yet.

The recognition of the unity of Man had a long way to go in this nation seeking to be modern. However, the immigration door now seems to be fully opened.