Western thought calls the process of well-planned and implemented schemes of divisions in our society “social stratification.” Most of us know this as social classes. Our society has five social classes: upper, upper-middle, middle, working and lower. This is the division of the “haves and have-nots.” Money is therefore the great divider that pits people against people, family against family and community against community.
Culturally speaking, we have experienced an invisible boundary which separates families and communities through cultural and spiritual beliefs. This cultural divide creates considerable psychological differences and has unfavourable effects within the community. This is a virtual barrier caused by cultural differences grossly affecting the interactions within the community, hindering the harmonious exchanges between family, friends and community citizens.
On an individual basis, we can divide ourselves through daily decisions, daily occurrences and our daily interactions. Jonathan Haidt, in his book The Righteous Mind, Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion said: “people’s behaviors in an environment—including a political environment that is strongly influenced by religious sentiments—will be determined by a combination of their cognition elements, intuition, and reasoning. Intuition is defined as ‘rapid, effortless moral judgments and decisions that we all make every day.’ Reasoning is defined as ‘the royal road to moral truth’ that people believe. People who reason well will more likely act morally.”
But the morality of life is easily shaken, especially if mistakes are based in the moral intention of the people. Once we make a mistake, as did colonialism and our government system by creating policies such as the reserve, Indian residential school and 60’s scoop, those mistakes need to be addressed. But instead of admitting the mistakes and scraping the system, the government of the day attempted to right the wrongs not by creating a new system, but rather by trying to rectify an already laid mistake. So, essentially once a mistake is made no amount of altering the system can correct the mistake as the first action is based in error.
To have proper reconciliation amongst our communities, families, politics and economy there must be a reboot. This reboot constitutes a deep conversation about the constitution of Canada. No political parties want to open the constitution for debate as this will require to complete real corporate work for all Canadians under the guise of corporate Canada. True reconciliation and the removal of divisions would therefore need true representation by First People’s in Parliament. It would require a place where our political leaders would be viewed as equal and have a vote within the halls of Parliament. Anything less further promotes oppression, inequality and divisions.
Academia, can also create divisions on a societal level. For example, when I worked in academia I was given the task of bringing communities together to speak about Traditional Knowledge and medicinal cures for the ails of society. The divisions were spawned from the idea that the PH.D’s at the school wanted knowledge from our Elders that they could not have achieved through their studies, as our Traditional Knowledge dates back thousands of years. The PH.D’s had studied for 7-10 years but they felt superior to our Elders, and that didn’t sit right with me.
I asked my immediate supervisor why they would not just issue honorary doctorates to our Elders, and that didn’t sit well with him. He asked me, “why the hell would we do this?” I responded, “well it is quite evident that your Ph.D. has no merit when it comes to the Traditional Knowledge you are chasing. With all your years of study you still do not carry the knowledge of our Elders, meaning your knowledge is inferior to our Elder’s knowledge.”
To me it was ludicrous. Here is arrogant academia knocking at our door looking for knowledge without wanting to acknowledge our Elders. In essence this is educational division created by academia that does not see anything wrong with its direction in the search for knowledge.
But the greatest divisions of all came when the colonial system obliterated our clan systems. These systems kept our citizens, families and communities working with the earth in harmony. It ensured that our bloodlines were not being crossed, and further ensured that no inbreeding was taking place, which made us a strong people. Within the clan system all were equal yet everyone had a job to do, which may or may not have been equal in what needed to be done, however, everyone ate the same. In our traditional communities there didn’t exist the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ like we see today.
Colonial rule has implemented the western ideology of the five social classes: upper, upper-middle, middle, working and lower class. Amongst western ideology divisions are as old as the monarchy. This is how kings and queens gained power over the commoners. This system managed to gain control of all money and eventually created revenue sources by taxing the people.
We are still dealing with this today.
Dealing with it when we argue about who is the best leader, and what party they represent, who has water rights, and where the property boundary line is, and who’s version of god should be worshipped.