“We are all human; we are all together in this world and the troubles we face. Care for one another. Why? Because, when it comes down to it, we’re all that we’ve got.
“People are not born racist”. This is one of the facts of life- You are not born a bigot or prejudiced. Your beliefs are shaped by your parents, peers, role models, etc. Meaning that what they think usually forms the way that you think. And the issue of racism in South Africa is one that still prevails to this day. This article doesn’t point fingers, its aim is not to blame or justify nor to re-run the past. This article is for you- The next generation. You are making history and shaping that future with every action and belief you hold. Think about what you believe and why that is then read on.
When I was in a car ride with a taxi cab driver I had the unpleasant surprise of witnessing racism first hand. I won’t go into what he did or said but the point is, it’s out there. It hurts. It’s unnecessary. And it’s stupid. Being racist to some seems like something to be proud of.
Then you get racists who claim not to be, saying they just “prefer” their own race. Then you get the people who deny it point blank when pressed simply because they know it’s something to be ashamed of. And they’re right.
But one thing these people have in common is the fact that they are not helping us go anywhere. They hinder progress in a progressive, changing world. Racism has been the one withstanding prejudice through all time and it started with the notion that because we act different, speak different, have different cultures, skin colours and beliefs we must, logically, be different. However if you’re living in the 21st Century (which you are) you would know that these differences occur simply because of where you are born and to whom. That we are all, essentially, the same inside; blood, bone, heart and because of this we all feel the same things; pain, love, heartache, despair, hope…
Prejudice comes from one thing: A fear of the unknown. Fear of the unknown traps us, it keeps us huddled inside of the little capsule of the world that we know and are comfortable with. Fear of the unknown is what makes us afraid of the supernatural and also of each other. We’re scared subconsciously of “different”; scared because society condemns “different”, because another person may believe different things and we’re not quite sure how that makes us feel, because we’re scared to push our boundaries out of that little bubble and try to understand what it’s like for others. A different culture, a different way of thinking, a different way of life. We can’t identify and so we judge and so we stereotype because, let’s face it, it’s easier. And ignorance is bliss. It’s so much easier to just give someone a label and be done with it. Isn’t it?
But by doing so, by stereotyping, generalising and by letting fear of the unknown inhibit us we are doing just that; inhibiting ourselves. Stopping ourselves from growing; from learning. And we all know that to live a life staying the same without changing or bettering ourselves is to live a stale one; one that grows boring and isn’t rich with diversity and knowledge. I don’t know about you but it sounds damn exciting to me to get to know the people I cross paths with or at least a little about what makes them themselves. I find joy in understanding, even if I don’t agree with, their ideas and opinions.
A lot of people say “It’s not my problem”, when they see someone being discriminated against. But that’s not the truth.
My friend, one of the most special people I’ll ever meet who filled a room with his presence and put a smile on everyone’s face even when he felt torn inside, died in Afghanistan in September. He was killed by a suicide bomber because of an American organisation who made a video condemning Islam. You may have heard about it. And what angered me most was that it was so unfair; so unfair someone so good had to die so young for someone else’s hate and prejudices. I’m talking about the organisation that made the video knowing the repercussions it would have but deeming it worthy.
You thought I meant Islam, didn’t you? I didn’t; Because it’s easy to blame Islam for his death. And lets face it, unless you actually sat down and actually ‘thought’ about it, yeah ‘think’, as in ‘for yourself’, you probably do blame Islam. Why? Because that is what you have been TOLD. Through the media. Through those who control the media. Now lets try this for a second… the ‘thinking’ thing huh? So what we have so far is what we perceive, through the media, i.e. my friend Steven’s life came to an end when he was blown up by a suicide bomber. FACT.
So, looking at just that, at what we have so far, yes Islam is to blame no doubt. But, for this experiement sake, we’re not going to just leave it at ‘what we now through what we’ve been TOLD’ after all, we are adults here aren’t we so surely, we don’t just blindly do as we’ve been told (Apartheid another great example here. We’ve experienced first hand, okay, not me personally because I am not a black South African, but many are and hopefully those that aren’t have learned about just how damaging and hurtful ‘doing as one is told’ can be)? So, for the sake of this experiment, we’re going to actually ‘THINK’. So what we have is Stevens death was brought about by an Islamic suicide bomber. Now, in the naturaly ‘thought process’ an adult would think “but why?” “Surely there must be a reason, I mean no-one is going to kill anyone without reason/motive”? Bringing us to “so why then?”
And to answer this, I read a comment on one of my mothers wall posts actually, which I think about summed it up; “…if through your actions, the life of my family members are endangered, eg. you drove your vehicle into mine, and got out and shoot you, that would be a bit extreme dont you think?” My mother agreed. HOWEVER she went further as to say “and, on the same token, if you KNEW that by shooting me my death would be revenged resulting in the definite death of your family, would you still go ahead and shoot me?”. No response. Would you, the reader, still go ahead and shoot me, knowing full well that you were risking the lives of those dear to you?
What about if it was not the lives of your loved ones that were at risk, but the loved ones of another? Would you then go ahead and put into action a stream of events that would or could result in the death of another?
Where am I going with this? Stevens death may have been caused by an Islamic suicide bomber BUT due to a stream of events put into effect by someone who did not know him, someone, being the publisher of Charlie Hebdo, a French publication amongst others, an American org. who deemed it fit, that despite warnings of “leave us alone”, “leave our prophet alone”, “leave our religion and culture alone”, “you need not understand it you merely need to RESPECT it and as ‘we’ leave you by, LEAVE US BE for we have as much right as you to our own religion, culture and beliefs”, the two org. above deemed Steve’s life to be a worthy sacrifice in exchange for their wanton greed and superiority and need to control. For their own prejudice.
Do you see how prejudice, even if it doesn’t maybe affect YOU directly, it affects people and that’s what matters. We need to learn to stand up for each other instead of against each other.
We are all human. That is the truth. We are all together in this world, fighting for what we believe. But we fight separately and against each other. Does that make sense? It doesn’t, right. We neglect each other, hate each other and watch as another human starves, cry to ourselves about how bad the world is but we don’t do anything about it. We need to stick together, care for each other, even if that’s just a little bit; a smile, a donation, some time volunteering, a marathon fundraiser and the simplest of all: Empathy. That’s what’s going to save the world; not grand gestures, not hate and blaming; just simply acknowledging each other as worthy and equal and showing this by getting to know the people around us, sharing a simple smile or doing a nice thing, even if you don’t need to like picking up a pen someone dropped. It’s that simple and it starts with you. This is the call to come together.”
Author: Zoya-Laken (aka ‘Zee-Tesner’)