Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Pontevedra Pensées: 6.12.16

This is a very Spanish week. With public holidays on both Tuesday and Thursday, we have puente holidays on both Monday and Friday. In other words, some lucky folk will only work on Wednesday. Perhaps. Reader Sierra has advised that such 2-puente weeks are known as viaductos. He/she has also given us un puenteing, which might or not be his/her invention. This is to take off the intervening work day but is not to be confused with un puenting. Which is jumping off a bridge, or bungee jumping.

I see from a chit from my bank that the Tax Office (Hacienda) have taken out of my account the charge I appealed against back in September, without ever responding to my letter. Not much chance of success, then. Así son las cosas.

The government says that all AVE high-speed trains will have wifi from sometime next year. So, it's good to know that, as and when the highly-delayed Madrid-Galicia line is finally operative, we won't have to do without this. Meanwhile, the number of problems both at home and in my regular bar with wifi over the last 3 days suggests that few people are working this week in Movistar(Telefónica).

Someone senior in the EU has said there's no need to panic about events in Italy because the EU emerges stronger from every crisis. Really??

As with that other doleful idol, Leonard Cohen, I've never taken to the singing of Bob Dylan. Nor to his personality. So, I had no difficulty in agreeing with this podcast on his churlish behaviour vis-a-vis the Nobel Prize committee.

Finally . . . Inspired by a BBC podcast, I'm re-reading Robinson Crusoe on my kindle. Last night, I was looking at the illustrations in the copy I got as a child and noticed that the following longish section was missing from it. As it endorses moral relativism, I'm assuming it was expurgated on religious grounds, as inappropriate for Christian kids. Even more interesting is the vicious harangue – penned in 1718 - against the Spanish for their atrocities in South America. Compared with cannibalistic savages, they don't emerge too well - for having offended against their own moral/religious principles. But even more noteworthy, perhaps, is the acceptance of prisoner-killing as normal practice in 18th century Christian warfare.

As long as I kept my daily tour to the hill, to look out, so long also I kept up the vigour of my design, and my spirits seemed to be all the while in a suitable frame for so outrageous an execution as the killing twenty or thirty naked savages, for an offence which I had not at all entered into any discussion of in my thoughts, any farther than my passions were at first fired by the horror I conceived at the unnatural custom of the people of that country, who, it seems, had been suffered by Providence, in His wise disposition of the world, to have no other guide than that of their own abominable and vitiated passions; and consequently were left, and perhaps had been so for some ages, to act such horrid things, and receive such dreadful customs, as nothing but nature, entirely abandoned by Heaven, and actuated by some hellish degeneracy, could have run them into.  But now my opinion of the action itself began to alter; and I began, with cooler and calmer thoughts, to consider what I was going to engage in; what authority or call I had to pretend to be judge and executioner upon these men as criminals, whom Heaven had thought fit for so many ages to suffer unpunished to go on, and to be as it were the executioners of His judgments one upon another; how far these people were offenders against me, and what right I had to engage in the quarrel of that blood which they shed promiscuously upon one another.  I debated this very often with myself thus: “How do I know what God Himself judges in this particular case?  It is certain these people do not commit this as a crime; it is not against their own consciences reproving, or their light reproaching them; they do not know it to be an offence, and then commit it in defiance of divine justice, as we do in almost all the sins we commit.  They think it no more a crime to kill a captive taken in war than we do to kill an ox; or to eat human flesh than we do to eat mutton.”

When I considered this a little, it followed necessarily that I was certainly in the wrong; that these people were not murderers, in the sense that I had before condemned them in my thoughts, any more than those Christians were murderers who often put to death the prisoners taken in battle; or more frequently, upon many occasions, put whole troops of men to the sword, without giving quarter, though they threw down their arms and submitted.  In the next place, it occurred to me that although the usage they gave one another was thus brutish and inhuman, yet it was really nothing to me: these people had done me no injury: that if they attempted, or I saw it necessary, for my immediate preservation, to fall upon them, something might be said for it: but that I was yet out of their power, and they really had no knowledge of me, and consequently no design upon me; and therefore it could not be just for me to fall upon them; that this would justify the conduct of the Spaniards in all their barbarities practised in America, where they destroyed millions of these people; who, however they were idolators and barbarians, and had several bloody and barbarous rites in their customs, such as sacrificing human bodies to their idols, were yet, as to the Spaniards, very innocent people; and that the rooting them out of the country is spoken of with the utmost abhorrence and detestation by even the Spaniards themselves at this time, and by all other Christian nations of Europe, as a mere butchery, a bloody and unnatural piece of cruelty, unjustifiable either to God or man; and for which the very name of a Spaniard is reckoned to be frightful and terrible, to all people of humanity or of Christian compassion; as if the kingdom of Spain were particularly eminent for the produce of a race of men who were without principles of tenderness, or the common bowels of pity to the miserable, which is reckoned to be a mark of generous temper in the mind.

These considerations really put me to a pause, and to a kind of a full stop; and I began by little and little to be off my design, and to conclude I had taken wrong measures in my resolution to attack the savages; and that it was not my business to meddle with them, unless they first attacked me; and this it was my business, if possible, to prevent: but that, if I were discovered and attacked by them, I knew my duty.  On the other hand, I argued with myself that this really was the way not to deliver myself, but entirely to ruin and destroy myself; for unless I was sure to kill every one that not only should be on shore at that time, but that should ever come on shore afterwards, if but one of them escaped to tell their country-people what had happened, they would come over again by thousands to revenge the death of their fellows, and I should only bring upon myself a certain destruction, which, at present, I had no manner of occasion for.  Upon the whole, I concluded that I ought, neither in principle nor in policy, one way or other, to concern myself in this affair: that my business was, by all possible means to conceal myself from them, and not to leave the least sign for them to guess by that there were any living creatures upon the island—I mean of human shape. 

Religion joined in with this prudential resolution; and I was convinced now, many ways, that I was perfectly out of my duty when I was laying all my bloody schemes for the destruction of innocent creatures—I mean innocent as to me.  As to the crimes they were guilty of towards one another, I had nothing to do with them; they were national, and I ought to leave them to the justice of God, who is the Governor of nations, and knows how, by national punishments, to make a just retribution for national offences, and to bring public judgments upon those who offend in a public manner, by such ways as best please Him.  This appeared so clear to me now, that nothing was a greater satisfaction to me than that I had not been suffered to do a thing which I now saw so much reason to believe would have been no less a sin than that of wilful murder if I had committed it; and I gave most humble thanks on my knees to God, that He had thus delivered me from blood-guiltiness; beseeching Him to grant me the protection of His providence, that I might not fall into the hands of the barbarians, or that I might not lay my hands upon them, unless I had a more clear call from Heaven to do it, in defence of my own life.

On a lighter note . . . Someone clearly didn't find this sign totally authoritative:-


Sierra said...

Re: AVE - further problems with 18kms. of the line - goodbye 2018:


Sierra said...

Meanwhile - news of upgrading the Lugo-Ourense branch - (note - the upgrading of the local 7kms. stretch of this line has now been going on for 11 years - without a final date yet!):