I loathe labels.
They unfairly categorize and pigeonhole entire groups of people. They also cast suspicion on our differences rather than celebrate them. And they breed intolerance and contempt, which, in turn, feed the ugly beast of bigotry, spark wars and ultimately threaten to destroy civilization.
I’m still trying to figure out why the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds hate each another so much inIraq. But then I’m reminded of countless other regional conflicts around the globe.
Think of the nearly limitless possibilities from the past and present: Arab Janjaweed militias spearheading atrocities against Dinka, Nuba, and Neur populations in Darfur– the latest genocide on record. Serbs, Croates, Albanians and Muslims slaughtering each other in the Balkans. Tutsis and Hutus inRwanda. Hindu Tamils and Sinhalese Buddhists inSri Lanka. Palestinians and Jews inIsrael. Fatah and Hamas factions in the Palestinian territories. Pashtun and Hazara groups in Afghanistan. Blacks, whites, Hispanics and Asians in the U.S. Crips and Bloods onL.A.’s mean streets.
I could go on and on, and if you ask me, it’s beyond shocking just how little humanity is left in this dangerous world of ours.
At this time of year, we hear a lot about the elusive quest for goodwill and peace on earth – timeless messages that underpin the spirit of Christmas, despite always seeming to get lost in the culture’s crass commercialism. These themes should be atop everyone’s personal list of New Year’s resolutions each and every year, regardless of how devout or cynical one might be.
But the trouble is that people generally get too wrapped up in themselves to really care about the dire consequences of continuing to fuel our suspicion of one another based on differences involving race, religion, creed or color. Call it the Age of Narcissism or the Age of Conspicuous Consumption. Maybe even the Age of Denial or the Age of Ignorance, which could apply in both developed and third-world nations.
We’re all God’s children, with far more in common than we might think. Any differences are increasingly meaningless in the Information Age, which takes the Age of Enlightenment a bold step further than anyone born a few hundred, much less thousand, years ago would have ever imagined. Thanks to the Internet, people from far-flung places are just a click of the mouse away from understanding, respecting and even embracing one another’s culture, philosophy and way of life.
The prospect for world peace has never been greater – or more at risk. These are challenging and heady times, but if we’re able to collectively turn our guns toward a war on intolerance (our worst enemy) rather than one another, then we might just be able to enter the Messianic Age.
Now I realize that’s a slippery slope. We’re all terribly familiar with how religious fundamentalists envision their respective versions of Judgment Day when only “true” believers will be rewarded for surviving the cesspool here on earth. It’s bollocks of the highest order.
Eradicating intolerance, war, crime, pollution, disease, hunger, unfair trade practices, unemployment, inflation and any other scourge afflicting the planet and causing untold human suffering is in everyone’s best interest. So for God’s sake, let’s harping on our differences, start recognizing common goals and find solutions for our own damn good. Let’s rock this world and make it a better place for all of us.
I’d like to wish everyone everywhere around the world a very happy and healthy New Year.