The terrorism that took place in Christchurch, New Zealand (On 15th March 2019, Friday) is nothing but horror. The mere thought of the perpetrator to kill fellow human beings with such brutality is a display of cruelty not much different from that of ISIS chopping heads of its captives. The only obvious difference between Brenton Tarrant and ISIS jihadists is the molecular heterogeneity in their melanin levels. What is common in both is their hatred for the other.
No child is born hating the other children lying in nearby hospital cots. In fact, when one smiles, others join in. When one cries, the others show signs of discomfort too, as if trying to tell that they also feel their fellow’s pain. If hatred is not inherent (which thankfully it is not), how is it then that we end up being Tarrant and Taliban?
It does not take someone a doctorate in neuroscience to figure out the above how. The answer to it is straight-forward and undoubted. We – eventually – become what we begin to believe in. We begin to believe in what we think is becoming. It is a vicious loop that is choking the dreams of a lasting détente in an inter-dependent globalised world of today.
The discontent pertaining to ‘us vs them’ finds its roots in the manuscripts we hold dear, the personas we cheer and the group thinking we conveniently adhere. Over time, the bigotry begins to pollute the mind’s faculty of empathy; a new normal begins to form. The contempt for the others grows so fervent that even the sanctity of life loses its meaning. That is when we come out as fierce animals – Tarrant and Taliban. Borrowing from Carl Sagan:
“How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another. How fervent their hatreds.”
Ideals of white supremacy are as abhorrent as are some verses of the Quran and the Bible. History is not short of the burden of the suffering these doctrines have brought over mankind, and continue to do so. Religious have done more damage to humanity than the good they have brought. Where they may give a sense of inter-group unison, they are often the cause of intra-group frictions. They may teach you to love thy neighbor. They also preach the hatred from which thousands find the motivation to kill one another.
Frighteningly, a new tide of white supremacy seems to be on a rise, the Christchurch massacre being the latest show. In some recent episodes, in 2011 Norway witnessed a bomb attack and assault that killed 71 people. This onslaught was based on similar white supremacist conceptions. A shooter attacked a Sikh temple in the USA in 2012 killing six. This attack was again rooted on philosophies of racial supremacy. An anti-fascist activist killed by a Greek neo-Nazi party member in 2013. A former Ku Klux Klan leader killing three in a Jewish center in 2014 in the USA. Killing of nine black church parishioners in 2015 by a self-proclaimed white supremacist wanting to start a race war. The murder of British MP Jo Cox in 2016. The killing of six people in a mosque in Canada in 2017. Another perpetrator killing a random black guy in the USA in 2017. The evil-doer was against white women entering into interracial relationships. Two men stabbed to death for intervening to protect young women who were being attacked with anti-Muslim remarks. Van attack in 2017 in the UK where the killer shouted: “I want to kill all Muslims – I did my bit”. The mass shooting in 2018 in a synagogue killing 11. We all know where it happened (Hint – mass shooting). If we go further back in recent history, gas chambers of Nazi concentration camps groan throbbing tales. Schemes of white supremacy then costed lives of some 6 million humans over a span of just a couple of years, in Europe alone. (The above-stated events are not to veil the viciousness of the Islamic jihadists in other parts of the world today. Their persecution is equally terrorising and condemnable. The focus here, for now, is on the tide of white nationalism).
All this lies is past which can’t be changed. But we surely can change the track of our future. By planting seeds of empathy – fertilised with sanity and nourished with understanding – we can begin to lay the foundations of a utopian future; overflowing with feelings of love, understanding, and care. I am not proposing a world where differences do not exist. A world devoid of disagreements is not possible anyways. Our dissimilarities are the beauty of our characteristic diversity.
As long as two independently thinking minds are, disagreements are inevitable. They have been the catalysts of our progress. What I humbly envision is a world where differences and disagreements are taken as they are ought to be – with understanding, respect and humility. A world where life is the most sacred entity, not our ideological convictions. Instead of only day-dreaming about a world hereafter (even if there absolutely is one), why not try to give more thought to this one we certainly know we are in. Because however strong our belief in a life hereafter is, this current life here is still the most real one for now. You are not coming to this world again. And if you are convinced that you will, it still would not be this world or this you anyways. If your beliefs make you hate someone you disagree with, then I must dare say that your belief is flawed, graft and repugnant.
Philosophies of differences can stay. Ideas of prejudice must go. In the short run, amending gun laws can help. In the long run, improving our mental diet is the only hope. We should only take pride in our accomplished humility, not in our melanin heritability.