Yes, there will be those who complain that the settling of the United States and its wilderness carried with it an inherent injustice. These people complain that when our ancestors came to this country, they had to displace the native Americans who lived here. The more this story gets told, the worse the story becomes, and the greater the injustices that are related. You have probably heard all kinds of horror stories: That the first settlers here essentially stole the island of Manhattan from the locals by trading them some beads and trinkets, in other words, giving them something that was worth far less than the value of the land being appropriated. And on some level that story may even bear a shade of truth, because the first Americans, the natives, didn’t really have the same concept of property ownership that we do. To them, being given a bunch of trinkets in exchange for ownership of land would be a lot like if I told you I would give you five dollars if I could own the sky above us. You’d probably take my five dollars and decide that I was crazy, because who can own the sky? And what possible good would owning the sky do me? How could my claiming that I owned the sky even hurt you? You’d pocket my five dollars and not give me a second thought, probably.
Well, we know what happened after that, and we know the horror stories: How the United States first settlers pushed out the natives, made contracts with them, and broke those contacts. How the natives suffered terribly from exposure to diseases for which they had no immunity, and how we made everything worse by, in some instances, trying to get them sick. There are horror stories of massacres of native populations, and there are more horror stories about how these once proud people were herded into designated areas of land and then moved from those to even less desirable areas of the country.
On some level all of that may be true, but what people today forget is that people then, on both sides of the issue, were all about conquering each other. Our entire world operated according to this conquest idea for a lot of centuries. For ancient people, and people living just a few hundred years ago, this was nothing new, and it was certainly nothing surprising. That was just how things worked. In other words, it was how people did business with each other. And taking advantage of people in business was nothing. If you could fool somebody, if you could steal from them, if you could make them a sucker, that was just how people did business, and back then, there were very few things that anybody could do about it. Of course, if a man tricked you into a buying a useless product back then, you could probably do some things in retaliation that we wouldn’t allow today. But that is altogether another story, isn’t it?
What I mean is, there was a time when business in the United States was conducted according to fraud and trickery. In the old West, for example, people hawking miracle cures and tonics would travel from town to town, selling things that were often nothing remarkable or that had no medicinal or curative qualities whatsoever. They would trick people into buying their worthless junk, their made-up medicine, and then they would move on. There’s a reason they didn’t set up a shop and just sell the product in the same town or trading post, trusting to good customer world-of-mouth to bring them more business, and that is that they couldn’t! If they didn’t keep moving, eventually the fact that what they were selling was useless or not as it was presented would come out. People would start to complain. The more they complained, the angrier they would get. And the angrier they got, the greater the chance that our hapless salesman would find himself swinging at the wrong end of a lynch mob’s rope.
There was some law back then, and there were traveling law men whose job it was to handle law enforcement for a given area, but the territories these men patrolled were often so large that they could respond to only a certain amount of crimes. Imagine a law enforcement system where you were far less likely to get a response at all when you specifically tried to get one, and where a law enforcement officially was almost never going to show up just on his own. Patrols of your town were nonexistent unless you and your neighbors formed “vigilance committees,” where you essentially took the law into your own hands and saw to it that justice was meted out as you saw fit. That is where the term “vigilante” comes from, incidentally.
The lack of dedication to proper customer service did not stop there. In the years that followed, when the industrial revolution happened, people suffered even more, because during those stressful years of expansion, we didn’t really have a good handle on how to treat people. People hadn’t yet realized that they could organize in order to get better treatment and, even worse, companies that produced goods and services believe that their greatest advantage lied in making sure that they took everybody for whatever money they could, regardless of the outcome. That was why you saw horrific things like the garment factory fire that killed so many people. During the urban expansion of the industrial revolution, the poor treatment of customers and a lack of regard for customer service wasn’t the only problem. It was also a problem that employers treated their employees poorly, using them for what they could get from them and being miserable to them.
So what does all this mean? It means that the typical monogamous relationship is like those turn-of-the century businesses. When you become someone’s spouse, you are essentially their industrial revolution employee, and you’re going to be treated badly because that’s just the nature of the beast.
Is that what you want? Is that what anybody really wants? This is something to consider for the future.