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America discovered by Welsh Columbus Day now known to be a sham

As is well known by our American cousins Prince Madog ap Owain Gwynedd heir of Owain discovered America around the year 1200 some 300 years before Columbus and founded a colony near to Alabama (although the exact location of the earlier settlements is in dispute some claiming Tennessee a more likely location). Recent radio carbon dating evidence, and the discovery of ancient Welsh style artefacts (clogs and a leak peeler) and inscriptions in the American Midwest have provided proof positive that Welsh explorers, under the leadership of Prince Madog ap Owain (sometimes put as ‘ap Meurig’ due to name confusion) set up colonies there. There is actually a dispute over when exactly Prince Madoc sailed to America. some claiming that this was much earlier around 562 AD just after the Romans got fed up with the continuous rain in Wales up-sticks and left. This claim however does not stand up to scrutiny as it is known that Prince Madog was one of 19 children of Owain Gwyneth (the first true Prince of Wales) ‘the Randy’ who was an historical figure dating from the 12 century. A Welsh poem of the 15th century tells how Prince Madog sailed away in 10 ships and discovered America and whether truth or myth, was used by Queen Elizabeth I as evidence to the British claim to America during its territorial struggles with Spain. So there you have it the first link in the long history of the Welsh in America.

caracles

Old picture of coracles used in Wales

Mandan_Bull_Boats_and_Lodges-_George_Catlin

Bull boats used by first nation people based on coracles

I could say a lot more about the discovery (but you won’t because I am already fed up ed.) but I will sign off with some fascinating facts:

  • By proportion Welsh surnames dominate in eastern states (source National Geographic).
  • There have been at least 10 American presidents with Welsh ancestry (Mitt Romney the 11th!!). Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, James Garfield, Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon and Barack Obama.
  • Jefferson Davies the Confederate President (good Welsh name there).
  • Robert E. Lee – Confederate General
  • Benedict Arnold – Revolution general who defected from the Americans to the British side (oops!)
  • Signers of the declaration of independence: William Floyd, Button Gwinnett, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris and Robert Morris.

And last of all over 10,000 pages of memoires were written in Welsh that survive today from the American Civil War.

Just a little knowledge bomb to lay on you; the Welsh patronymic system describes family trees in terms of the male line and records the family association in the ‘ap’ or ‘ab’ prefix (ap is a contraction of the Welsh word ‘mab’, which means ‘son of’, ‘ferch’ means ‘daughter of’ incidentally) so Madog ap Owain means Madog son of Owain. Often a small epithet to the name like Llewellyn ‘the last’ (the last true Prince of Wales) is also used and so in a more contemporary context we might regard the real name of Mitt Romney (as he claims Welsh heritage via his wife) as Mitt Romney ap George the Gaff Prone in celebration of his recent gaff that the UK was not prepared for the Olympics (which is probably true actually).

For more information about the Welsh in America visit : http://www.alabamawelsh.com/ and if your interested in signing the petition to restore a monument to the great prince go here:

http://www.petitiononline.com/AWA0987/petition.html

Incidentally this age of heroic Welsh princes contrasts sharply with the assorted halfwit princes we have has since the fall of the last great true Prince of Wales here is a picture of the latest incarnation Charles ap Windsor the Half Wit – enough said!!

Prince-Chuck-240x300br

How can we judge if Euthanasia is morally right?

I saw a program the other day on British TV about people traveling to Switzerland to end their lives. Personally I believe we live in dignity and dying with dignity is simply not possible and before that time of confusion and fear comes one must live authentically, in the moment, and act morally as far as we are able.  However the plight of those who feel the need to travel to a foreign land, to a grubby garage, and to choke down a poison drink to end their lives struck me as an issue we should think about from a moral perspective.

From a Utilitarian perspective euthanasia is acceptable as it minimises pain and looks at the balance of happiness and pleasure that will be gained from the situation. Considering this balance will be seen as a good way of deciding whether or not to allow someone to take their own life, as it allows not only the individual’s express desire to end their life, but also considers the others involved in the situation. It is also likely that a Utilitarian will say that, in the end, it is better to allow someone’s suffering to end painlessly than allow it to continue where there it little or no quality of life remaining.

On the other hand, Utilitarianism also tries to assess the consequences of each action so that the most advantageous overall can be chosen. This is likely to be a very difficult thing to do when death is involved, as there is no way of telling what they (the deceased) might be capable of in the future or how their death may affect others. Though it is good that the consequences are considered, it is much harder to consider long term effects or future consequences, and also to gauge just who particular consequences are good for.

Moral Choices

It could be said that euthanasia allows a person’s dignity to be preserved along with their autonomy and quality of life, however because the majority outweighs the minority in utilitarianism there are no guarantees that this will be so. Whilst it is important to consider the feelings of others, the patient themselves will ultimately have little real say and may consequently be forced into a decision – either through the preservation of the life they wished to end, or being forced into assisted suicide because that is what is better for the majority.

In contrast, an ethical theory such as Situation Ethics may be a better way of approaching euthanasia. This looks instead at the most loving thing to do in any given situation, regardless of law. Though it too considers the opinions of others, it is much more likely to look to the wishes of the patient and the most loving thing to do for them.

In conclusion then the best course of action when relating to euthanasia is to look to a relative moral theory so that each situation can be judged on its own merits rather than dictated by universal laws and maxims. However, though utilitarianism could be seen as a fair and democratic way of making such a moral decision, it also leaves way for the tyranny of the majority to take place, where the wishes of the individual are outweighed by that of the majority. Therefore, Situation Ethics or another such relativist theory could perhaps be a better choice of option, as this looks not at the quantity but at the quality and love involved in each given situation, ensuring that the wishes of the patient are taken into account and adhered to.