- Any living or extinct member of the family hominidae characterized by superior intelligence, articulate speech, and erect carriage
Before we begin this topic, let’s just say I am not about to go into a detailed discussion of history, evolution, or biology, I will leave that to the experts in those fields. I am not here to talk anatomy, feeding habits, or sexual behaviours, but I do want an in-depth discussion. About us. The human race.
Do you know what the difference between a polish man and a russian man is? Or a chinese man and a frenchman? Or an englishman and a pakistani? There’s probably a hundred differences, you could write about culture, looks, or habits, some cruel and disparaging, others mere hearsay or observation. If someone asked you to describe the english, you may say:
A. Drink too much
B. Like fighting at football matches
C. Curry is their favourite food
D. Always miserable because of the weather
We like generalisations about other people, especially nations. We manage to stereotype millions of people into a popular view, whether true or not. Good or bad. It doesn’t matter. We just like to have a rough idea of the type of people we’re dealing with. So even if you are english, don’t like football, curry, or alcohol, and actually love the weather, it doesn’t matter. You are english, and that’s what matters, so the stereotype is applied to you.
How many stereotypes do you have in your country about other nations?
Think about it for a moment. How many people do you actually know from that nation? Have you ever been there? I can hear some of you saying: “I heard about the stereotypical greek men, and when I went, they were exactly like everyone said!” But the interesting thing is, that some people actually start to conform to the stereotype.
For example, the english have a reputation for drinking too much on holiday, so what do they do? Not try to show their hosts that they are not like this, but actually behave the way think they are expected to, and are proud of it! The same with english football fans. Everyone expects they’ll cause trouble, so they do.
We all like to make judgements about people, even people we have never met. We have a pre-formed opinion of what they will be like, and we decide in advance whether to like them or not.
An italian man recently told me – on first introduction – that he in fact, didn’t like “the english,” but as soon as I told him I was “scottish,” he said “oh, that’s great, I love scottish people.” He hadn’t met many english, and he certainly didn’t know any scottish people. He didn’t know if I was a wife beater, bank robber, or axe murderer. He didn’t care. As soon as he heard I was scottish, he applied all his preconceived ideas about the nation to me, and fortunately he liked the people from the country of my birth (even though I spent less than six years there).
So this application of a stereotype can’t come from personal experience. You wouldn’t say “All americans are thieves,” because you once went to america on holiday, and someone stole your wallet, or “all indians eat curry,” because you went to a restaurant and saw an indian man having a curry, or “all english are drunks,” because you see one man drunk in a bar in england. That would be absurd, and no one would believe you if you said it. No, this has to come from somewhere a lot deeper, doesn’t it? It needs a nation of people to feel that way about the other nation. This is not about one individual, this is about a whole country.
But where does the stereotype come from? Is it all myth, or is there some truth in it? Well, we would probably need to go back into history, where countries were at war with each other. This is where a lot of stereotypes were created, where opinions of “foreigners” were formed.
“I don’t like foreigners, you can’t trust them”
The world is full of foreigners isn’t it? Over six billion of us! All foreign to someone. If we went to another planet that was inhabited, we would all be foreigners, think about that. Whether you came from south africa, indonesia, saudi arabia, india, iran, tahiti, or uzbekistan, they wouldn’t care, because the place of birth on your intergalactic passport would be “earth.”
- Relating to or originating in or characteristic of another place or part of the world
We all come from somewhere else; we all originated in different parts of the world, migrating through need for food, or through expansion of a nation. We all originated somewhere else. In the present day however, mass migrations have generally stopped, and people are happily settled into their various countries and ethnic groups, proud to be eighth or tenth generation, happy amongst their own people (humans who look identical and we assume are from the same country as us).
We like being amongst our own, like a lion with other lions, an ant with other ants, a wolf with other wolves. Except, there’s a big difference here, did you notice it? You see, the lion doesn’t want to be with the wolf, because he’s a different species! But when we talk about being with our own, we don’t mean the human species, we mean people from the same country, who look the same as us. That is a huge difference!
Same country of birth, and same language don’t come into it. So if I say I am japanese, it is not enough to speak the language, live in tokyo and be born in osaka, because if I don’t look japanese, I am not accepted as japanese! If you don’t look identical in facial characteristics or skin colour, you are a foreigner, and that will never change. This means we are not only divided by land and language, but are divided by things such as, skin colour, eye shape, height, body shape, food choices and clothes.
There are biological reasons why we all look a little bit different. Perhaps it is to do with how we evolved in different climates, over thousands of years. But now we stand fully evolved as homo sapiens (the only surviving hominid; the species to which modern man belongs; a bipedal primate having language and ability to make and use complex tools; brain volume at least 1400 cc).
We are the most intelligent species on the planet, yet we are afraid of each other! And when I say each other, I mean humans who look different to us. We’re more afraid of a muscular african than being attacked by a lion. We’re more afraid of arabs than being killed by a scorpion. We’re more afraid of the white man than we are of a great white shark. Why? Because we’ve got nature pretty much under control, we live in urban areas where there aren’t too many scary things left.
Gone are the days when hunters would be watching their backs at all times, to make sure they weren’t attacked by wild animals. We don’t need to hunt anymore – we farm. We keep our animals under control, we don’t let them trouble us too much. So we’ve got to be afraid of something, right? You’ve got it, each other!
If we are white, we treat the man from africa as if he is from a different species, the same goes for the chinese, arabs, indians, thai, vietnamese, and in fact anyone who doesn’t perfectly fit the “white” brand. Of course you then subdivide the white man into nations, which although may be the same skin colour, may have different shades; and then into language (first by country, then by region). Then we attach a mainly derogatory label to each of them, based on some sweeping generalisation in order to further divide us – such as “fat americans” or “greasy italians.” We have now created new sub-species of humans without even realising it!
Fear is perpetuated by rumour and insinuation, by media, by politicians, by teachers, by parents. They keep the fear alive by passing on their prejudices of people who are exactly the same as us! They may live in different types of houses; eat different bread; have dessert for main course; wear different clothes; eat rice instead of potatoes; eat animals we keep as pets; smell a little different because of the food they eat; believe in different gods, or have different customs, but these are the result of tradition, culture, and conditioning. Once we are naked, we are all exactly the same.
Imagine you are taking part in an experiment called “find your friend,” where you had to find the person in the group who was identical to you. You are blindfolded and your nose is covered, to eliminate any chance of guessing through any distinguishing smell you may pick up. All the subjects are naked (male and female) and you have to find one male and one female, in a group of ten people, using only touch, could you do it? Perhaps you might get lucky. Perhaps there is something in your race of people that is prominent, like height or weight, but if the subjects were all the same weight and all the same height, how about now?
What does your race of people have, that others haven’t? I am sure you will be coming up with all sorts of slight differences, but what about major differences like a different number of legs, more eyes, less arms, no nose, or a mouth where the forehead should be? Eight toes on each foot? What about higher intelligence? Can you feel for that? No, I think we all agree that humans are identical, otherwise we would all belong to different species.
The differences are only man-made, created by people who want to be different, who want to be superior, who want to dominate and oppress, who want to wage war, who hate you because of your accent, who despise your colour, who, over centuries, have been conditioned by society that to be “foreign,” is to be mistrusted. We have our parents to thank, and their parents before them, and our teachers and our parents teachers, and our government and our parents government and back we go, century after century…
The conditioning is deep rooted, and so is our prejudice. We don’t even know why we hate the english, although maybe 300 years ago their armies came and robbed our country and murdered our soldiers, but every country has been at war at some point in history. War is not exclusive to one nation. War and violence have surrounded us since the beginning of civilisation, and has clouded our judgement of people.
Do not tell me you hate the french, the swiss, the germans, or the russians. Hate is a strong word that cannot be used in terms of entire nations of people. You don’t even know these people. You are remembering a story from history, where your nation may have fought theirs on the orders of your leaders, not because individuals hated you, or you hated them. I challenge every one of you to go and meet someone from a country you “hate.” You will find the only way to deal with people in the world, is on an individual basis, one person at a time.
Remember what the place of birth would be on your passport if you went to another planet?
If there is to be a future for the human race, whether in twenty thousand, or twenty years, we all have to identify with the world as our country, because it is.
On a clear night, have a look up at the stars, and count how many you can see. Twenty? Fifty? One thousand? One million? One billion? We are quietly spinning in what appears to be the middle of nowhere, with no one else around. A strange place to be indeed. It makes the fact you abused a man because of his skin colour, killed a man for his wallet, bombed a country because you didn’t like them, or tortured a man for information, utterly worthless. So unimportant – apart from showing how cruel the human being can be.
Can you tell me what we have done to deserve the crown of “most intelligent species on the planet?” Can you tell me the mind that creates weapons and bombs is not sick? Can you tell me why we kill and torture our own species? It is indeed a sad day for me, because I believe the world would have been a better place, if we had not evolved into homo sapiens “the most intelligent species on the planet.”
When it comes to how we treat each other, we are no further forward than we were (even before) primitive times. We use our minds for greed, desire, destruction, and control. We kill and we maim, we steal and we acquire. We invent substances to shield us from reality. We are not ready for this power. The power that the mind has given us. We are not ready. We need more time. Our brains may be working, but our thought is corrupted.
We may have progressed materially and technologically, but in our haste we have missed one vital component, to know what it is to be human; to love one another, and to love the planet that gives us life. If I were from another planet, observing from space, I would cry for humanity. Such beauty on the earth, such abundance of life, such hope; all being destroyed by the human being, self-appointed custodian of the planet.
by alan Macmillan orr
“The Natural Mind – Waking Up”