CNN reports that remains have been uncovered in northern Peru of around 250 children aged 4-12 years old sacrificed by the pre-Columbian Chimú civilization between the 13th and 15th centuries. Archeologists say the sacrifices to the Chimú gods were an attempt to end natural disasters.
This is an ancient example of a belief in something absurdly untrue leading to injustice, pain, and suffering . . . and, in this case, the death of children. People can think any old thing they believe is right. It does not automatically follow that they have the right to put those beliefs into action.
In a January 1886 speech in New York, Theodore Roosevelt said: “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every 10 are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.” Thousands of immigrant Americans embraced this attitude, resulting in the extermination of thousands upon thousands of Native Americans.
The subjugation of women, owning other human beings as chattel, whipping evil out of children . . . the list is extensive of firm beliefs that have led to or lead to injustice and misery for others. Some might bet their lives on their conviction that their genes make them superior to people of other colors. Allowing them to then act in perniciously discriminatory fashion is unacceptable.
In many cases, attempting to foment change with a rational view of reality is somewhere between difficult to impossible. A March 2017 piece in The Atlantic is titled: “This Article Won’t Change Your Mind – The facts on why facts alone can’t fight false beliefs.” It explains how rational thinking often plays no part in dispelling dearly held beliefs no matter how reality exposes the delusion. Excerpt: “All manner of falsehoods—conspiracy theories, hoaxes, propaganda, and plain old mistakes—do pose a threat to truth when they spread like fungus through communities and take root in people’s minds. But the inherent contradiction of false knowledge is that only those on the outside can tell that it’s false. It’s hard for facts to fight it because to the person who holds it, it feels like truth.”
I would propose that people who embrace thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs that are demonstrably refuted by factual reality can be left alone with their fallacious mindsets . . . UNLESS their ensuing actions visit injustice and harm to others. America’s founding documents and the principles stated in the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (to which the U.S. is a signatory) declare the right of every human being to safety, security, and a sufficient standard of living. Part of government’s mandate is to make sure this happens.
What is true and what is false? Rather than blindly commit to a way of thinking without critically examining such, it behooves one to perform due diligence when seeking to discern truth and falsehood. The Chimú community got it wrong – deadly wrong. We need to guard against similar mistakes.