Discrimination – 2

Definition


In human social affairs, discrimination is treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which the person or thing is perceived to belong rather than on individual attributes. This includes treatment of an individual or group, based on their actual or perceived membership in a certain group or social category, “in a way that is worse than the way people are usually treated”.[1] It involves the group’s initial reaction or interaction going on to influence the individual’s actual behavior towards the group leader or the group, restricting members of one group from opportunities or privileges that are available to another group, leading to the exclusion of the individual or entities based on logical or irrational decision making.[2] Wikipedia

Types


Class, race, caste, age, sex, disability, language, nationality, culture and religion.

Why do we discriminate?


Difference – for some reason, we find it difficult to treat others who are not the same as us.  Sometimes, it is out of a non-existence fear that they threaten us in some way.  Or, because we feel ‘superior’ to others just because ‘we are’ or because we are ‘more developed’ eg Blacks, Aborigines, Gypsies.

Power – we like to be in control and therefore others become ‘scapegoats’ for all the ills that befall us eg the Jews.  It can also be because we have always been in control, having ‘conquered’ a people over the centuries and we wish to keep that power eg Burundi, Rwanda, USA, UK, Australia, South Africa, etc.

Economic – we do not wish to get our hands dirty, so we employ those from other countries to do the work, whilst we enjoy the ‘spoils’ eg Indians working in the Middle East.

Religion – we cannot do with people changing their religion or having another belief system – some of this is to do with power eg Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism.  Even in Christianity this can happen eg when a nominal Orthodox becomes an ‘evangelical’ Christian eg in Greece and Russia.

Virtually all the countries of the world have signed the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, yet none fully complies with it!

The Way Forward


God created each one of us as a unique individual and we are all equal before Him.  So who are we to say anyone is worse than us?

We need to learn about each other in a non-judgmental way, seeking to

  • understand their culture, beliefs and needs;
  • know how we can help them flourish as individuals and groups within and as part of the wider human race;
  • identify common areas that help us to work together;
  • seeking to make sure they are not discriminated against

Unless this happens, a lot more wars will occur, the poor will get poorer and the rich richer, our planet will die and everyone will suffer in the long run.

Hence the importance of

  • teaching this from a young age in schools and in the home;
  •  the media in not stigmatising any group through the news, dramas, the arts, music and other forms;
  • religious leaders and Government officials working together to find ways of overcoming discrimination eg undoing misunderstandings of history and perceptions;
  • each of us making a determined effort to get to know people who are ‘different’ from you.

It would be good to hear of stories of people who have helped alleviate discrimination in any of the areas above.

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