Power Blindness

May 2021

In 8th grade, my geography teacher began teaching a unit on the country of India, where my ancestors are from. She began talking about the British invasion and rule of the country (which ended in 1947). Only she never got it across that it was an invasion. I doubt she even said the word. She made it seem like they had stopped by for some tea and biscuits. She talked about the bad things the British did, of course. Then contrasted that with the good things they did.

She said that the British did something good to India during their visit. I angrily asked her if she had been there. She said no. All “good” things done by the British are outweighed by their wrong doings. Look at the poverty their invasion (for opium) has caused. The suffering. I’ve seen homeless people with tumors the size of watermelons. I’ve seen kids with no food or money or parents sitting less than a mile from expensive hotels. I’ve seen people with missing arms or legs laying on the street with nothing but their clothes. This is a small glimpse of the suffering that can be attributed to the actions taken by the British during their time in India. They are also responsible for a body count 5 times that of the Holocaust.

During British rule “India experienced some of the worst famines ever recorded” including famines where “6.1 million to 10.3 million people died” The totality of human deaths during these famines reaches a number of about 55 million people. “Recent research,” concludes that the famines “were made more severe by British policies in India.”[1].

India is not the only country which dislikes the British. There are 178 others[2]. You begin to understand that the British are seen as monsters or worse in many countries. The point of this essay is to remove the blindness of how your powerful country is viewed by others. We, the US, have won much hate for ourselves in (but not limited to) Cambodia, Haiti, Tunisia, Japan, Palestine, Vietnam, Afghanistan, East Timor, and the 574 Native Indian tribes that were here before us. Many of the times, the actions of the US (like the famines during British Rule in India) are like stepping on ants—you simply do not care. The unconditional love that I see people posses for this country is concerning[3]. We spent more than two trillion dollars during a 20 year war with Afghanistan[4], 31 times what was federally spent on education in 2020[5].

If you live in a powerful country, perform the exercise of looking at the atrocities your country may have committed on others to remove any “power blindness” Think of the people who may hate you and your country with a burning passion. Think of the ones that can’t even muster up enough energy to hate you.

  1. Famine death statistics ↩︎

  2. British Invasion statistics source. ↩︎

  3. I’m not dissing the US here. I’m pointing out that we commit atrocities in other countries and to our own people. This is, by all means, a country that has a more general freedom than other countries of similar or less power. ↩︎

  4. Afghan war statistics source. The US managed to kill 40,000 innocent people during this war and made 2.7 million refugees. But on the bright side we marginally increased the education rates for women! ↩︎

  5. 2020 K-12 US Budget. ↩︎

2021/05/24 by Ishaan Koratkar