Is this the way to act in a relationship?

After reading the message about making our posts clear, I guess I’d better cover my butt by first saying that this post is an analogy. And I know that everybody here will figure it out instantly. I’m not posting an analogy to confuse people, but to make them think.
When it comes to relationships, it could be any, boyfreind/girlfreind, employer/employee, etc… will these kinds of behaviors bring people closer together or drive them apart?
Let’s say this relationship is a marriage. Say in the beginning one of the spouses was always drunk, or abusive, or maybe they didn’t do anything themselves, but didn’t defend the other spouse when needed. As time goes on, if the bad spouse truly changes and becomes a different person, then years down the road:

  1. Will it help or hurt the relationship for the formerly abused spouse to constantly keep bringing up the past instead of letting go and moving on?
  2. Will it help or hurt to hold the formerly abusive spouse responsible for things that their relatives generations ago did, or maybe even the friends or neighbors of those relatives did?
    For example, say one spouse says to the other “150 years ago, your great, great, great, uncle and some of his buddies stole $320 worth of my great, great, great grandmothers jewelry. I want you to pay me the $320.”
    Would this bring the couple closer together, or would it drive them towards divorce?

Are you having trouble with your wife constantly bringing up that cute blonde she caught you with that Saturday night behind the barn? Or is this about reparations?

If it is your wife, seek counselling. If it is reparations, I think they are after more than $320.00.

More than $320? Really? Wow, thank you for sharing those deep thoughts.

Joel, why don’t you just state what it is you want to debate about and what your position is, and not try to be cute about it?

A stand-alone analogy, how nice.

Joel,
Because, as Mangetout observed this is a stand alone analogy, it is hard to know exactly how literal to take it.

So A was nasty early on, but changes, some time later B harangs A for their nastiness, and you side with A? Surely if you just wait a while the same willingness to forgive A will be found in your heart towards B. Geesh! A better not complain then!

Do you see what I’m saying? You seem to be expecting standards of behaviour from B today that A could not deliver previously. The fact that both A and B might benefit from B’s perfect forgiveness is not the question, maybe B is flawed too, maybe A should be even more tolerant towards B, after all doesn’t A have past sins to atone for.

Well, let’s say that your dad stole your wife’s mother’s set of carving tools. Wife’s mom and your dad are both dead - but dad gave you the tools, and you use them in the garage to run a business.

Your wife doesn’t have any carving tools, and she keeps asking you to give those back: her mom was gonna will them to her before they were stolen. But you refuse to give them back. And you don’t share the money you get from your whittling business.

I think you’re hurting the marriage by refusing to give back the tools that your dad stole.

Daniel
two can play this game

I thought my comparisons would be pretty obvious, but instead I confused a lot of you. I’m sorry.
And MEBuckner, I’m not trying to be cute, I just thought that taking the mentality from race relations that white people owe money to black people for something that ended about 150 years ago and applying it to other kinds of relations might make some people re-think the issue.
Anyway, here’s what I’m making the analogies to:

  1. Does it do any good for racial relations to constantly be bringing up stuff like slavery that hasn’t been around for about 150 years?
  2. Is it right to hold people living now, accountable for things that they themselves didn’t do, but things that their ancestors did or may have done, and does this help to make race relations better or worse?

I thought my comparisons would be pretty obvious, but instead I confused a lot of you. I’m sorry.
And MEBuckner, I’m not trying to be cute, I just thought that taking the mentality from race relations that white people owe money to black people for something that ended about 150 years ago and applying it to other kinds of relations might make some people re-think the issue.
Anyway, here’s what I’m making the analogies to:

  1. Does it do any good for racial relations to constantly be bringing up stuff like slavery that hasn’t been around for about 150 years?
  2. Is it right to hold people living now, accountable for things that they themselves didn’t do, but things that their ancestors did or may have done, and does this help to make race relations better or worse?

Part of the problem is that you’re looking at this as a one-topic issue, e.g. slavery. You’re ignoring all the various injustices that are still being applied to blacks, such as greater suspicion from law-enforcement officials, a higher level of poverty, less access to career and education opportunities, so forth and so on. And a lot of these factors came about either because of slavery or the ©overt racism that supported it.

It’s easy to say “get over it” when you’re sitting nice 'n comfy in the catbird seat. It’s not so easy when you’re being stopped by cops every ten minutes for DWB (driving while black).

I’m not trying to play a game, I’m sorry that I gave you that impression.
Ok, if I was married to a black woman and my dad owned my wifes mother, then yes, I would be all in favor of paying back my wife for her mothers suffering because that would have a direct impact on my wife.
But in this case, it goes back many generations, and the further away from the source you get (the source being the slave owners) the less and less responsibility there is.
What I mean is, blacks today aren’t affected by slavery. When they are descriminated against, its by the people of today and those are the people who should be penalized for thier racist behavior.

This sounds like a fun issue…thought I’d throw my $0.02 in here.

Having done some research into my family history I have found that my ancestors owned slaves. Now, let’s say that a black man came up to me today and told me that my great-great-grandfather owned his great-great-grandfather and he wants me to pay him back for it. I would tell him to kiss off. I do not own slaves. Never have, never will. I will not take responsibility for something I didn’t do.

For those who believe that the blacks are constantly being treated unfairly, I’m sorry you feel that way. It may be true, I will never know (seeing as I’m white). But to say that slavery 150 years ago is still holding the black man down is, to me, an excuse. Plain and simple. I believe that if you are in a bad place, and you try hard enough, you can get out of it. If you don’t believe me, check out…

http://www.threedoctors.com

This is a nonprofit organization set up by three black guys who were born in the ghetto, and are now all doctors. If these guys can do it, anyone can do it.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

I use slavery, because when reperations are talked about, its allways phrased as, reperations for slavery.
And yes, even though minorities are treated better than before, there racism still exists. But I don’t beleive that you solve the problem by making all white people living today pay for the sins of the past, which this in effect is doing. I beleive that you should only punish those people who are being racist now, not those people who arn’t racist but may have had racist family members in the past.
Yes, racism is at the heart of todays injustices, but we should dealing with todays injustices and making reforms in the systems that exist today.

Are you talking about how my girlfriend always gets on my case after I’ve been drinking because my great, great grandfather stole some jewelry from her great great grandmother all those years ago? Because this thread really hits home if you are.

Aha, now that we know the subject of this discussion, I hope nobody will mind if I xref my recent thread Blame by association and pollution of ideas - it is kinda related.

I disagree.

In the example I gave, your wife was never a slave (actually, let’s just make her Jane, shall we? This marriage thing is a little too weird). Jane was never a slave, and was never robbed herself, and you never robbed anyone.

But you benefited from a robbery. That doesn’t make you guilty, but it makes you the possessor of stolen goods.

Now, imagine that your dad has stolen Jane’s parents’ land, and that’s where you were living now. Because of that theft, you grew up in relative comfort, your parents paid your way through school, and you were able to get a pretty good job. Because Jane’s folks didn’t have the land, she grew up in poverty, her parents weren’t able to pay her way through school, and she got a suck-ass job. Had your father not stolen the land, her inheritance, she’d probably be pretty well off now.

In that case, do you owe her anything?

What if the land were sold – what if it couldn’t be returned to her?

WHat if it were the grandparents who were involved in the theft, and the wealth transferred down through the generations to you instead of to Jane?

What if it were the great-great-great-grandparents?

What if it were labor that was stolen instead of land?
Now we’ve reached slavery. In my eyes, the fundamental ethical issue hasn’t changed:

If person A steals wealth 1 from person B and gives it to person C, and person B would otherwise have given wealth 1 to person D, then person D’s claim to the wealth is the one that holds ethical value.

I’m pretty sure the law would back me up on this in another case: I kill you and steal your diamond watch and give it to my best friend Jim. Your will states that the diamond watch goes to Ann when you die. The cops catch me, get the whole story out of me; do you think they let Jim keep the watch? What if Jim gave it to David – do you think David gets to keep the watch?

Descendants of slaves ARE affected still by slavery: their ancestor’s labor, and indirectly their own inheritance, was stolen from them by the ancestors of some white people (and Cherokee people, of course). The descendants of slaves just want their rightful inheritance back.

Now, there’s a couple things that complicate this question:
-Does a statute of limitations reasonably apply? I confess I don’t understand the rationale behind statutes of limitations, so I can’t speak to this.
-The bill of rights prohibits prosecuting someone for behavior that was legal when it was committed; reparations would conceivably violate this prohibition, depending on how it was phrased.

Well, them’s some thoughts on the subject.
Daniel

DanielWithrow, you make some excellent points, but here’s why I disagree.
The slavery of over a century ago doesn’t benefit anybody today, give anybody more pay or make their life easier.
Everybody has personal responsibility. The only time you’re responsible for others is if they’re too young or don’t have good mental capacity. If generations ago, one of my ancestors stole something from a black family, and I inherited it, I would have no problem returning it to that family’s decedents because I would be in possession of a stolen item. But if generations ago my ancestors had slaves, they can’t pass the labor down to me. If you steel an object, you and your decedents can keep benefiting from it. But if you steel intangible things, like labor, you and maybe your immediate decedents may be able to benefit from it. If I had ancestors who had slaves, they couldn’t pass down the slave labor to me, thus, I have nothing to return to the black decedents.
Also remember, not all white people owned slaves. If I were to agree with reparations, it would only be from people from the South. Also, if you want to punish people for what their ancestors did, remember that black tribal leaders in Africa sold their own people to the slave traders, helping make the slave trade possible.

I dunno about that – I suspect that if you found the families of the big cotton plantations from the Old South before the Civil War, and traced their fortunes to today, you’d find a fair number of them are still wealthy and well-off. Odds are that someone’s great-great-great-great-grandpa took his cotton fortunes, made some shrewd investments, and got even richer as a result. As the old joke goes, “I make money the old-fashioned way – I inherit it.”

All that money didn’t just evaporate after the slaves were emacipated, after all. And the Civil War wasn’t that long ago…

Would these people have to PAY reparations?

  1. People whose ancestors lived in America before slavery was abolished but who never had slaves.

  2. People whose ancestors moved to America after slavery was abolished.

  3. People who have immigrated to U.S.

Would these people RECEIVE reparations?

  1. People who are black whose ancestors lived in the U.S. before slavery was abolished, but whose ancestors were never slaves.

  2. People who are black whose ancestors immigrated to U.S. after slavery was abolished.

  3. People who are black who are immigrants.

It seems to me that even if you concede that reparations should be made to descendants of former slaves by descendants of former slave owners, the task of proving the validity of the labels would be monumental. And wouldn’t that be the responsibility of the one(s) asking for reparations?

How far back are you going to trace it? - if my ancestors turn out to include a little bit of Viking or Roman, should I be trying to trace and compensate the descendants of anyone that my distant ancestors might have oppressed?