I am as intimidated as I am excited for the gatherings with family and friends during the holidays. Excited because it is an opportunity to see friends and family I have not seen for some time; intimidated, because of the illogical conversations that I am forced to engage in.
This New Year celebration has been no exception, but it had a caveat.
The dominant agenda was racial discrimination that some of my relatives experienced living in Western countries. They spoke of unfair treatment merely because of their darker skin colours or non-native accents.
But then they changed course. Discussing local politics, they repeatedly failed to show the same level of empathy and fairness they wanted to be shown in the United States and Europe to the lingo-cultural groups in our community.
This is the sort of mindset that is making rationality and respect for others impossible within our society. We are facing a toxic epidemic, one in which too many people fail to realise that we are equal, regardless of differences in belief, culture, language or gender.
My relatives are not an isolated incident. At times, it feels like a ticking bomb that will succeed in creating great tragedy. An obsessive culture of tracing everything and everyone to some lingo-cultural precedent is taking over, blinding our sense of judgement and making our future ever murkier.
Finding something important and meaningful in life is a more productive use of our time and energy. Wasting time and energy on phony feelings of superiority against others though is meaningless and frivolous. It is a consequence of ignorance, bound to create more irrationality.
Certainly, we live in a madness of discrimination between black and white, women and men, rich and poor and literate and illiterate. These perceived divisions are limiting people from living in harmony and from benefiting by working together with one another. Seeing oneself in other peoples’ shoes is becoming less of a habit.
Discrimination remains widespread. People are looked down upon because of the place they come from, the language they speak, their gender and lifestyle. They are exposed to isolation, violence and verbal harassment for something naturally granted to them.
All of these are the outcomes of ignorance. It is a failure to understand that people have little choice about the way they are born, that petty differences cannot be used to define anyone or that the wrongs perpetrated by past generations cannot be transferred to future ones.
Movements and campaigns to create awareness have not created the required level of understanding of the difference between diversity and inequality. Even in the 21st century, despite the civilisation we purport to have brought about, there are many that look down upon others.
Perhaps this proves psychologists’ finding that ignorance leads to confidence more often than having knowledge does. Researches have shown that aggressive behaviours can be attributable to inclinations to discriminate. Studies also link such regressive tendencies with economic and political instabilities reinforced with fallacious cultural practises.
People are being blinded by their failure to look within themselves and challenge the unfairness that holds back the realisation of universal equality. This is both tragic and absurd. We can never be a truly civilised society if our actions continue to be dictated by our emotions. That starts with realizing that we are all equal regardless of any label.
Neglecting inequality for too long will have disastrous consequences for nations. Feelings of superiority have not brought about economic productivity or the welfare of societies.
If we are to improve this poor state of affairs, we must persuasively reverse the current dangerous path towards the discrimination of others. This would require changing the false superiority complex that many of us tend to harbour.
One of the components of a civilised society should be acknowledging diversity and equality. We are different but not unequal. We have to stop resorting to the use of unsparing descriptions of how we refer to people.
We should come to care about others. No one gets to benefit from the zero-sum games that come to us naturally. The lack of equal treatment of others and opportunities is an issue that continues to affect us all, and we need to right them before they lead us to outcomes that are impossible to reverse.
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