History Tells Us Why All Should be Treated Equally.
The science behind racism.
Discrimination targeted on a specific group of people has never gone out of trend. From the inception of time for mankind, our history is full of genocides, abuse, and violence. The reason and outlook of discrimination changed with time but the core idea remained constant. The first suspected genocide powered by differences in men dates back about 40, 000 years. When we, the Homo Sapiens met Homo Neanderthals, a massive massacre occurred and we came victories while wiping Neanderthals off the face of this planet.
A war to protect the herd.
Since then, discriminations took different outlooks. But, the motives that power them drills back to the evolutionary traits humankind developed for survival. According to Historians, The reason why sapiens managed to win the war against Neanderthals was not physical superiority. We had inferior physical strength compared to Neanderthals. Still, our brain had a new trait which they had not developed. That was to gather people in large crowds.
It was only us who were able to create systems where larger groups of people can work together to gain a common goal. How we managed to do so was by getting everyone to believe in something which they cannot see, or something greater than them. Historians believe that this was the inception of primitive religions.
One leader would have said a group of our ancestors that a particular tree has a power that represents everything that they could not explain. He would have managed to get people in hundreds to believe that. Ones they are obsessed with their own made-up idea, they would have seen other people who don’t believe in the same tree as enemies. And got motivated to either convert them or get rid of them. Sound familiar? This is how religious wars began.
For about 30,000 years this was one of the defense mechanisms we had. The idea became a part of our evaluation. The world evolved, so does the concept of religion and race. After thousands of years of bloodshed, we now live in a relatively peaceful environment where equality is the common ground. We no longer need to call men for arms in the name of ‘our kind’. We have laws and systems to protect us. But with the smallest trigger, people tend to unleash our primitive behavior.
The Selfish gene.
In season 12 of the famous TV show ‘The big bang theory,’ Penny says to her husband Leonard that she doesn’t want to have kids. Even though Leonard wants the best for Penny, he becomes pretty upset about this. In desperation, he seeks the help of his annoying best friend Sheldon. Sheldon managed to explain Lenard’s feelings from an evolutionary standpoint.
Anyone who knows a little bit about evolution would know that any animal has an instinctive desire to share their gene as much as they can. This is why we have so much desire to procreate. Also why our parents got mad at us when we tend to behave differently than they want us to behave.
Before major concepts had a place in our societies, discrimination was always on physical differences. ‘If you look different, that means your generic code is not the same as mine. I find you a threat to my gene. Therefore I have to be hostile towards you to protect my gene.’
This was the chain of logic for our ancestors. However, with time, the changes among humans went beyond the physical realm. We started to see people with different believes as a threat to our generic code even though there is no real connection between genes and beliefs.
Nevertheless, for some reason, people started to believe people with the same ideologies to be of ‘same kind’. This seeded the idea of superiority. People started to believe purity in ideas.
This concept of ‘purity’ is the main sponsor for almost all the wars this world had to survive. Yet the idea is very cynical and primitive. People are trying to protect a made-up idea by inflicting violence on other such made-up ideas. Mainly because they believe that their made-up idea is somehow superior to the others.
Racism in the 21st century
After the Second World War, the world started to slowly realize that differences in ideas is not a reason to wage war. With that, unified large scale attempts powered by racism declined. The governments decided to use the money spent on that for better use.
Even though the collective world community was finally on the same page, individual ideas remained the same within most of the people. While we would not promote war against another race, some still don’t feel comfortable around different people. Racism is still very much active and alive in a different form.
This hidden nature is waiting to come back again whenever we see an opportunity. Leaders use this to win political power and common people use it to feel superior. Either way, racism has take-up a new strategy where it can survive in the background, in the minds of people, and inflict the same or maybe even more damage in the society.
The recent incident of the brutal killing of George Floyd is merely a snip of a larger picture. It was just, the world managed to see what happened to Floyd in his last moments that trigged a sense of justice in all of us. The incident managed to burn US cities in the name of equality. However, in reality, Floyd’s case was merely a single brutal incident. Hundreds if not thousands of such incidents go unnoticed every day. But,
”Being violent against violence can never solve anything.”
The Finance Minister of Sri Lanka Richard Jayawardene quoted Buddha in support of Japan at the San Francisco conference held in 1952. This speech made by the representative from a tiny South Asian country supported Japan to loosen the stress asserted on them by the world powers. Since then, Japan flourished to become a first world country while protecting the peace in the reign. The story would have been entirely different if the world powers maintained a strict policy against Japan.
Racism cannot exist in a single-sided ideology. It always coexists with other extreme ideas and feeds each other to survive. To get rid of violence one of the two parties has to be the bigger person and offer the arms of peace. Differences in us are what make this world going. One day or the other we all will have to come to peace with it.