Friday, August 5, 2011

I'm a Human Being. Period.

I'm this, not that.
I've always wondered why we need to keep trying to belong to this and not that. We try so hard to establish a difference, proclaim it and whenever possible, exploit our position of advantage to the detriment of those who do not belong.

Here's an example in my case:
I'm a human being, not an animal.
I'm a man, not a woman.
I'm an African, not Caucasian, Asian or any other race.
I'm a Kenyan, not just an African in other fifty-something countries.
I'm Kikuyu, do not belong to other Kenyan tribes which exceed forty...

... and the list goes on and on.

Beyond Difference

When I recently mentioned Karen Armstrong's TED wish that called for the formation of a Charter for Compassion, the overriding mission of that carter is [in part]

transcends religious, ideological, and national difference. Supported by leading thinkers from many traditions, the Charter activates the Golden Rule around the world.

That said, it still defeats me why we totally love to glorify our difference from, and perceived advantages over, other people. In fact, some of the worst atrocities in human history were carried out on the premise that other were different. For example, the crusades were against anyone and everyone who didn't subscribe to the faith. The Holocaust was predicated on the superiority of the Aryan race, and therefore considered other races, especially the Jewish race as unworthy of life.

Admittedly, it is important to belong to something because that way, we can find common purpose with those who are like-minded like ourselves.
Without opposing teams, there would be no competition. The same is unfortunately the reason many wars are fought.

In his 2008 TED Talk, Jonathan Haidt emphasized that every human being inherently think s/he is right.

We possess "righteous minds" which ultimately
- unite us into teams
- divide us against other teams
- blind us to the truth

That is the main reason we are seldom objective even in matters where we have no direct interest.

Just Being Human

Can we simply remain human beings? It is my humble opinion that when we only see others as other human beings who are in no way less deserving that ourselves, we can respect others and see that which is good in them.

In 2006, Alexander Nderitu penned The Golden Man, a poem that continually reminds me that it is indeed possible to transcend racial, religious, geographical and other difference... to simply see humanity as one...
...the Golden Man is without colour;
He knows that racism is ignorance and doesn’t bother
With petty prejudices, seeing humanity as one.

Are all these divisions necessary?
Kindly share your thoughts.


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