Playing Cowboys and Indians

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Last week David Brooks wrote a column in the International New York Times with the extraordinary assertion that in 18th century America, when the Native Americans and the European settlers lived cheek by jowl, not a single Indian defected to go live with the settlers, but many settlers took off to live with the Native Americans.

At the time, the colonial settlers had embraced what we regard as the ‘good’ and ‘civilized life’: rich, ‘advanced’, with single-family dwellings and a good deal of privacy.

The natives, however, had a lifestyle we might consider primitive because it was communal and tribal, with virtually all activities, from childcare to hunting, done in the company of others.



How to really say you’re sorry

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Not long ago, I attended a talk featuring a man who’d accidentally killed several people in a car accident through negligent driving – a case not unlike that of Oscar Pistorius, the Paralympic champion convicted of accidently murdering his girlfriend. (I’m changing some of the particulars but staying with the real meaning of what happened there.)

The man – we’ll call him John Smith – was tried, convicted of negligent homicide and served his prison term, during which time he lost everything: his business, his house and all his savings.

After he came on he began addressing his downfall as something that could have happened to any of us. Ten minutes into this speech, he was so booed and interrupted that he was forced to abandon his talk, pull up a chair and just take questions.




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