The white man’s folly

In 1968, Erich von Daeniken, wrote a book, “Chariots of the Gods?” In it, he deals with the possibility of extraterrestrial beings influencing ancient technology. He suggests the pyramids of Egypt and Mexico, Stonehenge, Machu Picchu and the Nazca lines in Peru were produced by alien visitors. His book cleverly disguises racism because he believes only white people were capable of such innovation, imagination and great feats of engineering. One would expect that highly civilized, intelligent aliens, capable of interstellar travel would produce something infinitely better than leaving huge piles of intricately arranged rocks. Our own “astronauts” on discovering “primitive” people on our own planet, immediately handed out free trinkets, set about civilizing the natives and restructuring their “savage” societies. But those aliens from distant planets, after scattering and littering our world with strange, massive structures and messing with the minds of humans, high-tailed it. They simply vanished, leaving no trace of their origin or technology.

The Nazca lines in Peru are drawings on the ground in the Nazca desert. They have been viewed by Daeniken as landing strips for alien space crafts. Yet the lines resemble designs of animals, birds, fish, llamas, jaguars and monkeys. Others resemble shapes such as trees and flowers. The designs are shallow lines made in the ground by removing the reddish pebbles and uncovering the gray earth beneath. They are roughly 4-6 inches deep. It has been wrongly ascertained these lines can only be seen from spaceships and these lines guided them to landing strips. These lines, in fact, can be seen from the surrounding hills. The lack of wind has helped keep the lines uncovered and visible. It is one of the driest places on earth with scarce rainfall. Scientists generally agree the real purpose of those lines in such an arid place were used for irrigation purposes.

Machu Picchu stands more than 7000 feet above sea level in the middle of a tropical forest in an extraordinary, beautiful setting. It is the most amazing creation of the Inca Empire. Its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem to have been cut naturally in the continuous rock encampment. The natural setting has a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Embedded with a natural landscape, the historic sanctuary of Mach Picchu is among the the greatest, architectural achievement in the world and the most significant and tangible legacy of the Inca civilization. The saddest part is that many believe it was constructed by alien visitors because the Incas were primitive and not intelligent enough to have built it.

Machu Picchu was built around 1450 at the height of the Inca dynasty. It was abandoned a century later as a result of the Spanish conquest. In 1911, American explorer, Hiram Bingham traveled the region in search of the old Inca capital and was lead to it by a local farmer. Bingham brought this to the attention of the world and a year later organized an expedition to undertake major clearing and excavation.

The Maya were an intelligent race and had a highly developed society. They not only left behind a famous calendar but also incredible calculations. Who were they? How were those ancient astronomers able to precisely measure time over thousands of years and predict celestial events? We would have been able to unlock their mysteries, explore their beliefs and reveal their accomplishments had it not been for the misguided and racist Europeans who destroyed their pyramids and burnt their books.

Most people, when asked about the Mayan and the Aztecs will tell you just how brutal and blood thirsty they were, offering human sacrifices to their pagan gods. The truth of the matter is they were great astronomers and when a certain star neared the meridian, they would offer a human sacrifice, cut out the heart and with the heart still beating, they would offer it up, pleading to their God to let that star cross the meridian so the world would not end and continue to exist for another 52 years.

It must be noted here that a short time after the publication of “The Chariots of the Gods?” all his theories were debunked and people were shocked to learn that Erich von Daeniken was previously convicted of tax evasion and embezzlement.

It is not worth a feather or a fig for the white man to talk about Shakespeare, Descartes, Michelangelo or Leonardo without mentioning Will Durant, who in his monumental work, “The Story of Civilization – The Age of Faith” tells us, that at the time when the Maya were studying the stars, there was scarcely a day that went by without Europeans slaughtering one another. Behind the army, groups of “varlets” followed on foot. They were not trained or disciplined. They helped despoil the conquered and eased the suffering of the fallen and wounded enemies by dispatching them with battle-axes. And let’s not forget the horrors that took place in the Tower of London and during the Spanish Inquisition and how people gleefully watched as heads rolled into a basket. And the hate, the intolerance, the persecution and the medieval anti-Semitism that raged across Christian Europe led to the most unspeakable crimes committed against humanity during the Holocaust.

It has been more than 500 years since the Spanish conquest of the new world. Yet the aboriginal people are still looked down upon. More than seven generations ago, the government of Canada embarked upon the policy of assimilating the Native Indian population and handed over the task of running Residential Schools to the Church where the policy of getting the “Indian” out of the child was strictly enforced. More than 4,000 children died and their parents were not informed. In these residential schools they were taught that their language, culture and religious beliefs were inferior to that of non-Aboriginals; that their parents and ancestors were pagans and uncivilized. At the same time, in public schools, non-aboriginal children were taught the same thing. Recently, Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver recently wrote that “The Catholic Church played a major role in the residential school tragedy. A century of cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse took place at our doorstep, while a policy of suppressive aboriginal cultures and languages were perpetrated. This deeply flawed policy led to enormous pain and suffering through succeeding generations and it has also had a profound effect on the relationship between Aboriginals and Canadians.

It is therefore startling that people would still berate the history and culture of the Aboriginals, going to the extent of writing that they did not build many structures intended to be durable and mainly lived in tents and moved frequently. They forget that the Native Indians were not sedentary people who were content to live with heavy mats or bark for covering the framework of permanent dwellings. They were migratory hunters and fishermen who had to keep moving or make seasonal journeys to find game or fish. Being practical, they required light, movable dwellings which could be easily transported. The conical tent of the Indian is so practical. It can be pitched by a single person. It is roomy, well ventilated at all times, cool in summer and could withstand high winds and heavy downpours.

While Aboriginals lived in conical tents. European peasants lived in hovels. The cottage of a peasant was of fragile wood, usually thatched with straw or turf and usually had one room. It had a wood burning fireplace, an oven, a kneading trough and table. Near the oven, on the earthen floor, there was an immense mattress of feathers and straw on which the peasant, his wife, his children and overnight guests all slept. Pigs and cattle were welcomed into the cottage for their heat. The busy peasants found cleanliness a nuisance and stories were told that even Satan excluded them from hell because he couldn’t stand their stench.

The Simon Fraser University in Vancouver will spend $9 million over the next four years to help implement recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Council to make sure the university is a welcoming place for indigenous students and where others can hear their songs, witness their ceremonies and ensure what happened in the past is never repeated.

It was the educational system that contributed to the detriment of the Native people. It will now be the educational system that will help restore the goodwill between Aboriginals and Canadians and that we all can go from harm to harmony. It is hoped that many will attend these activities envisioned by the Simon Fraser university and remember, not only the child who was taken but also the parent who was left behind.

About the Author
Originally from Mumbai, India. Studied, trained and worked in Mumbai, Munich, Germany and Toronto, Canada. For many years, Leslie owned and operated a printing company where he printed everything, except money! Currently retired. Married with four children (four too many.)