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 Blooming Stars

Unity of Humanity – 1

            In a world on the path of self-destruction, unity of humanity that goes beyond religions, races, castes, and classes is of at most importance. Religions, races, and nations need to come together and develop a unifying conscience, philosophy, and spirituality for the world. Humanity can only prosper in an atmosphere where everyone’s human rights, equality, and freedom are secured and safeguarded. We have made considerable strides in race and caste relations. Dogmatic, non-compassionate religions coming from an intolerant, fundamentalist mold and politics without principles that cater to vested and sectarian interests, and that fragment society are on the increase. Voices of gender equality are increasingly heard on the horizon across the globe. Gender equality is going to be the major struggle (war) of humanity in the coming decades.

            On the one hand we have the plight of a six-year old daughter in Kabul, Afghanistan, as the painful payment of a debt of $2,500 incurred by the family for hospital treatment (Painful payment for Afghan debt: A daughter, aged 6: New York Times News Service, April 1, 2013). The girl, Naghma, will be forced to leave her home forever to be married to the lender’s 17-year old son. A smiling, slender child, oblivious of everything happening around her is being sold. On the other hand, in the front page of Malayala Manorama, April 2, 2013 we have the rich and famous but sad saga of a couple with two children - Ganesh (a minster in the Kerala state government) and Yamini (a physician) - mired in civil and criminal charges and counter-charges. Sad and tragic as it is, this couple’s story is going to throw spot-light on the physical and mental abuse that mostly women (but also some men) in Kerala suffer. Interestingly, according to the United Nations Human Development Index, India having a rank of 136 out of 186 countries studied has one of the worst gender-equality records (UN, TNN, and March 15, 2013). India is South Asia’s worst performing country after Afghanistan with regard to gender equality. Harmonious development of all can occur only when everyone is given one’s due. Major impediments To the unity of humanity have been broached at length elsewhere. Here I am going to examine some minor discrimination that are there but often go unnoticed.

            Stereotyping: Stereotyping is a firm impression or mental picture formed due to a prejudiced attitude about a certain ethnic or racial group or caste or class, and this impression or judgment is uncritically attributed to the members of that group time and again. This group may often be identified by a slang derogative name. Here I am going to illustrate a possible stereotyping. When my wife and I were leaving St. Louis International airport in the USA for India a few years ago, l tendered our passports and tickets to the lady at the air-line counter. The lady did not even bother to look at me, and started talking to my wife, who, a Caucasian, looked very American. I guess she thought I did not know enough English. Wearing a kurtha (a loose-fitting long Indian style shirt) and a knit cap with stars and a long white beard, I could pass for a middle-easterner who might not speak English.

            Yet there I was who taught Master’s level psychology courses in Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, and who on occasions corrected the English of even Master’s level teachers in the special school out-patient treatment program I directed in Hawthorn Children Psychiatric Hospital for children in St. Louis. I can narrate many such instances of intended or unintended discriminations or disregards. A stereotype generally has a cognitive component (thought) that leads to prejudice as an affective component (feeling) that ends up in discrimination as the behavioral component (action). Racial, caste, ethnic, sexual, and gender remarks and jokes and demeaning stereotypical proverbs are the worst stereotypes that a conscientious and aware person needs to avoid at any cost. A good criterion: avoid a joke if one would feel hurt if he or she were the butt of that joke. It is important to use language carefully, judiciously, and wisely.


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