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A world without discrimination

In our younger days, it never occurred to us to maintain a distance from people who do not “fit in”. At four years of age, we knew all were equal. It is absurd to think that those who stay outside the frontiers of society should be discriminated against.

But now, we live in a world where we get laughed at for saying the wrong answer in class, where dressing in a certain way attracts stares, where if you don’t fit in the “in crowd”, you are deemed a failure, where if your grades are poor, you are called dull, and where we are expected to live up to other people’s expectations. We live in a society that will look you up and down before looking into your eyes. Even without realising, we manage to drag those who don’t meet the expectations of society into depression and mental agony. We are not born with the urge to discriminate, but it is something that has been engraved into our brains at a fragile age. No one is born to hate another for the colour of skin, background or religion.

Nelson Mandela once said, “People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love too, since love is an easier language than the opposite.”

No social filter

I was excited and thrilled to make a new friend on the first day of school, and the thought of using a social filter while making friends never came across my mind. I never pictured making friends by distinguishing on the basis of skin colour, sex, caste and so on.

Being someone who does not “fit in” nowadays is like being a cyclist in a city where the cars reflect the “perfect” society. You are supposed to be able to share the road equally with the cars, yet that is not how it works. The roads are built for the cars and you try not to get hurt. Some of the cars want you to get hurt because they think that you don’t have a place on the road. And if you do get hurt, everyone says it’s your fault.

Diversity in life

Our diversity and contrasts impel life, and our surroundings and nature distinguish life and our every action. However, we humans exploit these differences to our advantage, and divide society.

Why is society divided into black, white, gay and transgender? Aren’t we all humans? Don’t we all bleed the same colour, drink the same water, breathe the same air? Don’t we all belong to the same community known as humankind?

We are not compelled to fit people into categories and races and treat them on the basis of the boxes they are checked into. Yet we do it unintentionally. It will be fascinating to make an effort to know each other without asking “Which race do you belong to?” because then the conversation will based on our intelligence, character and personality. Each of us deserves to have that conversation that shows we are more than just our race or gender.

It is in human nature to explore diversity. So the labels are not the problem, but what causes consternation is the fact that we don’t let ourselves explore and advance beyond these labels. India is a developing nation and will keep progressing from its current status. Hence it is imperative that we evolve ourselves to engage with people of contrast and diversities.

However, there are still many of us who on encountering somebody different from us tend to make assumptions, note the differences, label them, and then leave. This brings us to the conclusion that our nation is in pressing need to refurbish our brains in such a way that we will not look forward to finding contrasts. Studies have shown that becoming allies with people from different ethnic groups can help us intentionally control our subconscious mind from judging and discriminating.

On meeting an individual belonging to a different race, we should refrain from asking “What are you?” Allowing them to explain and introduce themselves without including their race, gender, caste, and religion in the description will be a way forward.

ancilinbijup@gmail.com

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 6:06:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/a-world-without-discrimination/article33480669.ece

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