No more hypocrisy!

Many years back, my uncle’s colleague was in tears when he described the unreasonable demands made by his daughter’s parents-in-law before, during and immediately after the wedding. My uncle felt really bad that all he could do was to offer his colleague a shoulder to cry on. I remember my uncle giving us a detailed description of the unreasonable demands and telling us how the bride was shocked and disgusted by the behaviour of her parents-in-law.

A few months later, my uncle attended the wedding of the same colleague’s son. My uncle was dismayed to observe his colleague torturing his daughter-in-law’s parents, making almost exactly the same unreasonable demands that his daughter’s parents-in-law had made. What pained my uncle, and all of us, was the fact that his colleague’s daughter, who had been shocked and disgusted by the behaviour of her parents-in-law, seemed to enjoy the spectacle of her parents doing the same things that her parents-in-law had done. Her shock and disgust seemed to have vanished into thin air!

This kind of thing happens all the time.

We are shocked and disgusted when we, or our loved ones, are victims of any form of discrimination.

But how do we react when we, or our loved ones, are perpetrators of the same form of discrimination?

Does our attitude towards any sort of discrimination depend on whether we gain or lose by such discrimination?

At the workplace, all of us like our seniors to treat us as equals, but don’t many of us love to boss over our juniors?

How many parents can claim that they genuinely try to treat their daughters-in-law just like they treat their daughters?

Women belonging to ‘upper caste’ families may complain about gender discrimination, but do they speak out against caste discrimination?

How many of us try to ensure that the economically weaker persons in our lives are treated with dignity?

Do we discriminate against certain persons or groups, particularly when we think nobody else will know about it and/or when we think we can get away with it?

Are we shocked and disgusted when we, or our loved ones, are perpetrators of discrimination?

Or are we shocked and disgusted only when we, or our loved ones, are victims of discrimination?

Let us all try to remove all kinds of discrimination, irrespective of whether we, or our loved ones, are victims or perpetrators.

Let us stop being hypocrites.

(This post was originally published on Nov 23, 2013.)

Humanism

Many people sincerely try to bring about social change by fighting against discrimination. Some of them are full-time activists, while the rest engage in activism in the course of their daily lives.

I admire all such people, but I have noticed that many, maybe most of them focus only on those forms of discrimination where they are victims themselves. They do not seem to be bothered about those forms of discrimination where they have the upper hand.

For example, men belonging to ‘lower caste’ families may fight against caste discrimination, but may condone or perhaps practise gender discrimination against the women in their families.

Or women belonging to ‘upper caste’ families may fight against gender discrimination, but may condone or perhaps practise caste discrimination against other women and men.

Do we all genuinely try to behave and speak respectfully with people who are economically weaker than us, such as domestic help, watchman, liftman, driver, etc.?

Don’t many of us look down on people whose knowledge of English is not as good as ours, and admire people whose knowledge of English is better than ours?

Why can’t those of us who fight against those forms of discrimination where we are victims, also fight against all those forms of discrimination where we have the upper hand?

Why can’t we practise Humanism?

(Humanism is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as: A rationalist outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.

Inspired by the definition of Feminism (The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes), I would like to add my own definition:
Humanism: The advocacy of the rights of all human beings on the ground that they are equal.)