Imagine a world if we removed just one sentence from our existence – “My _____ is better/True-er/Right-er/ compared to yours”. Such a simple sentence, with so much power. That blank could be anything – nationality, ethnicity, religion, race, gender, and even sports team. Imagine how much hatred, prejudice, bigotry, and violence would go down with the deletion of that one sentence. That sentence exists because we evolved as a tribal society. It was a means of distinguishing oneself from “others”. And “others” are never as good as us. It persisted because we lived apart, where someone in Arabia would not know of someone’s existence in Argentina. Or someone in Alaska would not know of Africa. Distinguishing ourselves from other tribes maintained pride and tribal unity. It was useful during conflicts over resources. I do not think it was ever right, but that is the way we have evolved. Where our culture is superior, our religion is True, our ethnicity is the best. And the glue that held those feelings together was Fear – fear of others, fear of the unknown. And every individual or institution exploited that fear to perpetuate division, and power.
One might say that it is better for us to change, but will we change? I think we will, for a very simple reason – we are not a tribal society anymore. Globalization has made travel easier. It has made learning and knowing other people easier. Today metropolises all over the world are multi-cultural and much more liberal than rural or tribal areas. The more we know and learn about others, the less we feel they are below us. Globalization has opened up the world, and it is opening up the minds. Today jingoism and nationalism is much diminished compared to history. Racism and discrimination has no place in pluralistic societies. The fastest growing population of the world is “spiritual, not religious” instead of “mine is the only True religion”. The more we learn, the less the differences make sense. It was the same thing about being left-handed, today it is being the same thing with lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community. The more we learn, the less we fear the unknown, the less we fear “others”.
Change isn’t just coming, this change is inevitable. The world, and Time itself, is progressive when looked through the arc of history. The pace of change will vary by individual societies. Those with diverse populations will change much faster than homogeneous societies. Those with freedom of thought will change much faster than autocratic or theocratic societies. Those with access to globalization will change much faster than societies that look inwards. But the winds of change always blows in the direction of progress. Time always moves forward, never backwards. Some of these societies can fight it, but they won’t stop the change.
I dream a world where an Indian won’t think they are better than a Pakistani. I dream a world where a Muslim or a Christian won’t say their’s is the only True religion. I dream a world where a white person won’t say non-whites are not as good as them. I dream where men won’t say women are a step lower than them. I dream a world where we can learn and study about each other’s past differences and see how it came into existence – and how it is no longer valid.
Is it possible? Progress isn’t impossible, it is inevitable. I dream a world where all of us are equal and where were all of us celebrate our diversity. Forces in power will fight it. Older generations will be scandalized by such “blasphemous” thinking. But it is coming. I dream a world where you can be who you are, love whom you want, and live a life the way you want…with everyone celebrating your happiness, not criticizing your “otherness”. I dream a world of absolute equality, and where our only identity is humanity.