From the little dog in your neighbor’s yard to the Prime Minister, to the whales beneath the sea, to the rings of Saturn, everything has correlation. Whether tenuous or direct, it’s all action and reaction, and a giant mess of relationships we can only begin to fathom or comprehend.
It is, as they say, complex.
Whether it happened today, yesterday, a hundred-million years ago, or has not happened yet, relationships intrinsic or external among humans, objects, animals, the world, the environment, or even the Universe, all come together to shape and mold who we are, and everything else with it. You only have to think of such movies as “The Butterfly Effect” to understand what I’m talking about. The fluttering of a butterflies’ wings can set off hurricanes on the other side of the planet. The action you take, positive or negative, or do not take, have consequences. Do not be afraid into inaction. This is normal. It should just make you realize: you matter.
Two babies are born. One is white. One is black. Depending on the geographical location of their birth, their socioeconomic conditions, and the education they receive, they could become best of friends when they are old enough to meet. Or they could form a loving relationship. Or hate each other. Or they could kill each other. There is an infinite amount of variables involved in these two simple transaction of meeting for the first time. Depending on emotional baggage, education, similarity of world-view (or the opposite). This plays out a hundred thousand million times a day, all over the planet, with every single one of its inhabitants. Most people are simply strangers, and we harbor our curiosity or animosity in secret, going about our daily lives. When the opportunity for interaction does arise, though, which path should we choose? Usually, it is the one most traveled within our psyches that wins out. So we trot out a smile and a handshake if we are of an open mind, or a frown and repulsion if we are not. We have the unfortunate habit of choosing actions based on prejudices and the creation of differences based on superficialities, and that is why education is a handy tool in the fight against these two base reactions.
Education and experience will define the outcome of any encounter. Generally speaking, the more segregated the upbringing, the less likely there is to be friendship from, and this from all parties. This is why education is paramount to better encounters. To better relationships. To a better world. And we can only count on ourselves as the ambassadors of this better education. To live it. To make others realize that it is possible, and laudable.
It would not be so bad if there were but one bigot, in this world, and everyone saw him for what he was: a small-minded fool who has never been further than the end of his driveway. This is, however, not the case. There are scores of people who, for one “reason” or another, can’t stand humans who have skin a different color than theirs, a language they cannot comprehend, or a culture they see as alien because they’ve never encountered difference in their lives save to ridicule it. This creates friction, and tension, to entire regions. For what reasons? Pigmentation. Vowels and consonants unfamiliar and frightening. Fear of the unknown.
It would be okay if there were only one religious extremist, and he’d been found before doing any damage to anyone. Just locked up and looked at as if he were slightly loopy. Cared for, even though his only purpose was to kill all those who didn’t think like him. But there are many, and what possible reason could justify this kind of behavior? Interpretation. Denial of the beauty in difference. Intolerance.
I wouldn’t mind so much if there were a logging company that cut down trees, just the one, and few trees ended up chopped. But this isn’t so, and we end up getting junk-mail flyers we throw into the trash the moment we get them, allowing for entire forests to be completely obliterated. And not only logging companies, but all companies involved in the extraction of natural resources and creation of products. Why do we need this? Because we’re consumers, and our values lie in our purchasing power. And so we must destroy to make things worth selling. To give us value as people because if we don’t have money, we are worthless.
What’s the relationship among these three cases? What interconnectedness is to be found? On a small scale, not much, admittedly. On a larger scale you have the movements of societies and the survival of the planet, and our place on it as well. The bigots who make life hell for people who are different than themselves create an underclass of citizens by denying them access to paying jobs. They torment them and taunt them, and so anyone who is not within the circle of the ‘elect’ ethnicity is free game to be tortured, marginalized and killed. They are disrespected and vilified. This causes strife within their own communities, socioeconomic and otherwise, which in turn affects the rest of the population. Intolerance wrecks economies and lives, and is driven by hate. It destroys nations by awakening the worst emotions in those who live there. Those who poison people’s lives end up being their own worst enemies.
The religious extremist has a tendency to call for the elimination of others, and when he joins up with other, albeit twisted, like-minded individuals, will easily find those they hate, to persecute, and execute. Their actions and that of those responsible for their rise might even cause the evacuation of entire regions, to flee from their acts of savagery, causing pressure in other countries where the refugees will either be accepted or sent to their death by the narrow-minded aforementioned bigots who will reject them and send them back to be killed by the extremists.
Meanwhile, one of the main reasons why the religious extremists came to power was the rise of a political class dominated by corporate special interests which pushed the country to go to war for access to their natural resources in the first place. Everything is related. Whether we can see the direct correlation or not.
Everything I’ve been writing so far is also inter-connected on a deep level as well. I spoke of obsessions, and what we perceive as “sins”, which are our natural appetites allowed to run out of control. I spoke of philosophies, and what makes us tick, and many other things. It is hard to stay on subject for me, because, as I am saying, all that stuff doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s all inter-related.
Everything about us, within us is connected as well, whether (logically) it be our body parts, or our emotions, our thoughts, and the actions resulting therefrom. On a larger scale we affect our environment through our common upbringing and the values we share as a society, or share even through the rejection of society, or parts thereof. We are all in this together, whether we want to or not. When society is small enough, everyone must pull their weight, or everyone suffers. When it is large enough, we can share the burdens that arise, and spread the risk around.
In my mind, the best societies are those that accept and invite those who are foreign to their ways as brothers and sisters. Because, even though the newcomers themselves may not entirely “get it” (they did grow up in a different environment, after all), their kids will. If a populace rejects newcomers out of hand, they sow the seeds of ghettoization and disgruntlement withing their own societies. They become the seeds of their own destruction. A person might not remember a warm handshake for the rest of his or her life, but you can bet they’ll remember a slap to the face.
In my opinion, it is illogical to have so many people knowing so little about the way societies work if we wish to create a peaceful, livable world. It is our job to spread knowledge to everyone so that they may realize this. Whether they wish to hear about it is another story altogether. Remember this, though: we are all human beings, and most of us only wish to live in peace. It is those who want to take something or deprive others of something who start wars. Find another way of creating product or energy and you eliminate that particular excuse for it.