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"Unity in Diversity" was a mantra I learned in the 1990s. It beautifully describes the many languages, colors, religions, countries, beliefs, lifestyles that coexist in peace and bring about oneness of human beings in spite of the variety that was present. We ate together, traveled together, helped each other, and respected each other. Sometimes there was no 'you' and 'me' - just 'us'. This was not a learned behavior. It seemed to have been a natural inclination - maybe this stemmed from innate human tendency or was taught and shown at such a tender age that it became part of our life and behavior.
It's 2021 now and I can see more divisions now than ever before. We are taught to take pride in our identity - not in our identity as humans, but in smaller and smaller divisions - based on language, color, country, religion, belief, or lifestyle. Within nations, we take pride in our state, district, or even caste. And we are taught to protect this identity with everything - even kill if needed!
We learn to find and recognize what another person's identity is before we decide how close to that person we will allow ourselves to get. If you are 'my' people, I will help you. If you are 'their' people, why don't you approach 'your' people for help? Divisions have deepened and boundaries have appeared where there were none. Our childhood friends are now distant work colleagues. We choose our neighborhoods depending on who already lives there. We choose a church that has my people. We choose a school that will nurture this identity in our children. Subconsciously we have trained our minds to be aware of these divisions and make the necessary adjustments.
We forward and amplify anything that glorifies our identity or puts another identity down. We don't fact-check or see what is truth. We cry foul if any one of us is hurt. But if another is hurt, we just shrug our shoulders and ask them to deal with it and move on.
The incredible power of this divisiveness is scary. Whether it is for 2 minutes of fame on social media or for 2 inches of pride amongst our own, we will move heaven and earth to achieve it. But we will not lift a finger for another outside us. The gaps have widened and the cracks have deepened. We walk around with our hands in our pockets and earphones in our ears. we stare at screens rather than risking interaction with the unknown. We trust less and hate more. We love less and pride ourselves more. Even religious places of love, subtly teach us to ignore others. Intolerance and hurt have replaced tolerance and friendship. We would rather take this hatred to the grave than practice forgiveness.
And great lands are run by leaders with this philosophy. They target the vote bank and convince them that their lives and identity are in danger from the minorities. They preach that only they can save their people. And elections have been won with hatred more than love. Everything that unites is just superficial - empty speeches, loud placards, and perplexed oppositions.
We have forgotten to co-exist. We merely exist against others. If you are not like us, you are against us. Everyone is an enemy unless otherwise proven.
Why have we become this way? Why has pride of identity replaced love for humankind? Why are those who love seen as exceptional human beings when we should all love that way? Why are history books being rewritten? Why are news channels biased? Why do we feel insecure when we go beyond these boundaries? Why are we threatened when we try to seal those cracks? Why are we expelled when we befriend others? Why do we gang up?
I still have more questions than answers. Maybe one day I will find the answers - to make the world a better place for my children and future generations. I will stand and love, I will go against the tide. I will be brave. I will explore. I will forgive. I will reach out. Will you?
Disclaimer: This article is just an outpouring of some of the negativity that I have seen in the world. It presents just one side. Fortunately, there are always people who are genuine and who love genuinely all around us. You can use this time to see if you are one such person!