Many of us have grown up in homes that have fostered the belief that one group of people is less than, or better than another group of people. This discrimination may have been related to race, nationality, or even both. Is the concept of discrimination really an illusion, just as our concept of self is often an illusion. I am,"better than", or "less than", someone else, I am wealthier, smarter, poorer, happier, healthier, or whatever the measuring stick may be. Thich Nhat Hanh talks about the ignorance of believing that we are superior to others, or less than others. The reason is unimportant, and the measuring stick is not only useless, but can also be harmful to both ourselves and others. He discusses the conditions of both high self esteem and low self esteem. He states that both conditions cause suffering, and both conditions are an illness. If psychologist treat low self esteem by trying to infuse high self esteem into the individual, we are treating poison with poison. For him our sense of self is an illusion, our separateness from others is an illusion. If we believe that our race is superior to another race that is an illusion, if we believe that our religion is better than the religion of another, that is also an illusion. He says that within every color there are elements of every other color. Sometimes we need to prove that we are better than others. Democrats may feel superior to Republicans. We feel superior, and we inflict suffering on the other by demeaning them and proving our value. The reality is likely to be that if anyone is hurt or injured, we all suffer. He talks about the concept of, "interbeing", This concept means that we are all connected, and that we play a part in each others sense of happiness and unhappiness. It reminds me of the American Indian belief that, "all things are connected", If this is the case, how can we hurt anyone, or cause suffer to another, without ultimately hurting or causing ourselves to suffer? For that matter how can we injure our environment without causing harm to ourselves and others? Definitely radical thinking! Are we really so different from each other? We are all made up of the same elements. We eat meat, fish, vegetables, we drink water. How is it possible that if we in fact are made of the same elements that come from the earth, that we could possibly be so completely different? Those elements that we are made of will ultimately return to the Earth as well. We are definitely alike in that regard. Clearly like a rose or a tulip, we can manifest differently, and yet the elements are the same. How could we possibly be superior or inferior. I don't really know what to believe about many things, but I do believe that many of us suffer, we ignore our suffering, we become angry, and in our laziness we find a convenient target for our anger and rage.. We act out our anger, and very nicely hurt ourselves, we contribute to our violent world, and we make it less safe, for our families, and our children, "We create", a situation in which we often need to be afraid, because of the part we have played in making our world less safe.
The Ignorance of Discrimination
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