While I am a realist, I am of the optimistic variety. I truly believe that we have every opportunity to create a better world – if we want to.
I also realise that we humans are our own worst enemy.
Yesterday I became aware of several incidents (around the world) of violence against Muslim people.
Last night I learned that a local teacher agreed with an adolescent that nuking ‘them’ (whether it was Syria or Isis I can’t be sure) is an appropriate reaction. Great, so now we’re teaching our children that nuclear warfare is totally OK?!
Today I received an email advising that among some circles, there is now a call for France to dismiss secularism and return to Christanism.
I know that these aren’t even a drop in the pool with regards to the complexity of opinions that exist right now.
But it’s so bloody obvious to me. Just STOP. Stop lashing out at others and start looking inside yourself (at a global, local and individual level).
Stop sucking up to Saudi Arabia who fund Isis.
Stop the West from intervening in other countries and their geopolitics UNLESS it has specifically been asked for . And on that note, make sure that diplomatic efforts are carefully managed in conjunction with the needs, desires and values of the local population (and not JUST the puppet regimes). This is the ONLY way that long term, sustainable solutions will be successful.
The West should stop ignoring their role in shaping the world in which we live today. The West colonised the world. The West exploited the people and land of other nations for their own benefit from the 16th century right up to the present day. Yes many nations achieved independance after the second world war, but the West continues to exploit people through the neoliberal capitalist system. It needs to stop. If not to stop the grievances, then to stop the impending effects of Climate Change.
The West should stop alienating their minority populations – regardless of whether or not these populations are first nations, indigenous, migrant, refugee or assylum seeking populations: we are all human beings and along with being equal in the eyes of the law, we also deserve to be treated with respect, empathy and compassion. We also deserve to be respected wholly – this means NOT divorcing us from our whakapapa (ancestry), from our tikanga (our traditions), from our mana (integrity), from our reo (language), from our taonga (our treasures), from our wairua (spirituality), our mauri (life force) for the sake of making YOU feel comfortable in public. That has to stop.
How do we stop alienating people? We start by looking inside ourselves.
But this seems to be the BIGGEST problem today. To have compassion and empathy for others, especially those who are seen as different to us, we first need to learn to accept ourselves – warts and all. When you have the fortitude to recognise your strengths and weaknesses, and when you can love and accept yourself, there’s no need to fear others. When you feel safe in your identity, there’s no need to fear the identity of others. Allowing yourself to feel whole and allowing others to love you (or not?!) in your entirety, THAT is what it is to be human.
When you’re OK with who you are as a person, you shouldn’t need to worry about how other people go about their business. If you’re OK with who you are, you shouldn’t need to gossip and bitch about other people. If you’re OK with who you are, you shouldn’t need to criticise others. If you’re OK with who you are, your veiled neighbour shouldn’t bother you. If you’re OK with who you are, the Mosque up the road shouldn’t bother you either. If you’re OK with who you are, the lesbian couple across the street shouldn’t bother you. If you’re OK with who you are, you shouldn’t feel the need to disrespect, belittle, deny or alienate other people for being who they are.
If you’re OK with who you are, you should be able to accept that difference and diversity are not inherently wrong. If you’re OK with who you are, difference should not be seen as a personal affront. It just means someone chooses to meet their needs slightly different to you, and thats OK. If you’re OK with who you are, maybe you will be strong enough to accept that another way of doing something isn’t necessarily that bad after all?
It might even be better?! And if it’s not better, then by working together to overcome your differences and find a solution that works for all parties, you can find a completely new way of doing something!
How awesome would that be?
That is the power I recognise in diversity. It’s called adaptation. And it’s what we humans have been doing to survive for millenia.
On the contrary, if you feel the need to criticise someone or deny them because of their cultural practices, beliefs or their language; if you feel the need to make someone do everything YOUR way; if you feel the need to belittle other people or to alienate them because of who they are, then I ask, what are you afraid of? Because if you are afraid of them… it says more about you then it says about them. This means YOU are the problem.
Our communities (local and global) will be stronger when we realise the simple reality of our world today. The West created the conditions for globalisation and with that, came a responsibility to manage our multicultural societies. But due to Western superiority, this hasn’t been done well enough and as such, our most vulnerable have become alienated based on the idea that they should ‘integrate’ (according to Western European values).
But for the benefit of everyone in our multicultural societies, the West NEEDS to start respecting and valuing the experiences, values and beliefs of other cultures. The West needs to recognise the legitimacy of the ‘other’. We need to start engaging with other ways of being, seeing and doing. We need to allow people the freedom for self-determination, while respecting our internal laws. And so that we don’t create the conditions for isolation and anti-social behaviours, we need to support ALL citizens to feel valued as they are, in their entirety. We need to make sure they have the support and resources to be true to themselves. Coz if they’re OK with themselves, they won’t have any grievances to vindicate.
This might be scary and uncomfortable because we don’t like difference and we resist change. More importantly, accepting and allowing a place for diverging viewpoints challenges the very essence of our own cultures and societies. But this is nothing new. Cultural clashes have existed for the whole of mankind’s existence. There is nothing new about this. What is new is that for the last couple of hundred years, this process has taken place with the West at the helm. With globalisation, the West has finally found itself challenged by the rest of the world (in one way or another) and by other ways of doing and being. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
As a bi-cultural Kiwi who grew up in a multi-cultural community, and who now lives in France, I rest strong in my conviction that we NEED to accept the reality of the world we live in today, in order to find solutions. If we keep resisting… then we will surely be our own demise.