Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Problem of the Human Racism

I think we all discriminate against others. Our survival depended on it and it's the reason why we are here today.

I have come to believe we are all programmed by nature and nurture to be nasty to those we don't recognise and nice to those we do. It's part of the group survival instinct that we have inherited from our ancestors. There are also sayings that come to mind: 'birds of a feather flock together', 'like seeks like' and so on. I think we are programmed to predominantly seek mates from members of the opposite sex that remind us of the archetypal parents imprinted on us. There has to be a fine balance of familiarity and difference to recognise a genetically suitable mate. So we do discriminate whether we think we are racists or not. However, this does not mean that those we don't select to be close to us are in any way inferior. They are simply not suitable for us or to our liking. There are in other words those we like and accept and then there are the 'others'.

Where we all get into trouble is when we begin to think that the 'others' are somehow inferior.

The most obvious points of difference are the colour of one's skin and their culture, both of which were brutally deployed by the apartheid government to denigrate black people and create a division within the South African population. But what is equally wrong is trying to force integration of population groups to correct that past injustice. Both will result in anger, resistance and even violence. You simply can't ignore peoples choices and make them do as you unilaterally see fit. History has shown that people will naturally integrate as they become familiar with each other.

Although I was born and raised in a racist society, I have watched my children grow up in a South Africa free of discrimination and have seen them integrate with kids of other colour and culture without any thought of being different. I meet their black friends and I have hope for future of South Africa. They are all equally well educated, well spoken, mannered and ambitious. They are the future of South Africa because they share a common culture. The 'other-ness' is no longer and issue. They are simply the same in each other's eyes and would only deem each another unsuitable for no other reason but they simply don't like them. Why they choose to not like someone could be the subject of another long discussion, but essentially it's none of anybodies business.

We mustn't lose sight of the fact that although the 'Mitochondrial Eve' was supposed to have originated from the african continent, it is the younger european humans that have introduced all the knowledge, technology and invention to the world and exported it back to africa. There was definitely a difference between those human tribes that were established between the 30º and 60º parallels in Eurasia and those who were not. Their situation provided greater opportunities but also required more inventive problem solving that that translated into a degree of sophistication that has benefitted mankind in the long run. It also created the horrors of colonialism and slavery based on the misconception that the 'others' were ignorant, inferior savages and therefore less than human. It's ironic that the oppressed were often more dignified and humane than their oppressors.

Hitler also believed in racism. He promoted the idea of a master race. That philosophy resulted in white supremacists today that are only tolerated because democratic society affords every minority it's rights too. It could be argued that the white race has brought more of the benefits to humanity than any other race, but that doesn't negate the humanity or the rights of other humans. We perhaps should consider that humans as a whole are the master race. We might all have differing skills and some may seem better suited to thrive in the data-driven world of today, but that doesn't mean we are better than someone else. I think to be a truly noble human would require that you act selflessly and for the good of all the inhabitants of planet earth. To not do so would only confirm that we are indeed little more than jumped-up animals, suitable only for extinction when we finally thoughtlessly consume our limited life-support system.

Perhaps the real issue is one of the survival of the human race after all.

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