From Slavery to Cultural Diversity

2010 is the UN International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures. As the year draws to a close with Christmas only four months away, what better way to honour and respect this most noble of intentions than by revisiting history, understanding it, accepting the bad along with the good, and moving on as we form a multi-cultural and multi-racial world?

And how wonderful this would be if Mankind could make a start in the Middle East, a tangible new beginning, signed and sealed in the talks beginning in September. Perhaps this time around the international community should give all those involved some breathing space (and this is not “Israelis” and “Palestinians” but rather, multiple factions within both, making a myriad of extremely complex vectors virtually unfathomable to those who reside outside the area).

After all it is for the Palestinians to decide whether they bring to the table the human rights abuses committed by Israeli forces on a daily basis, the bulldozing and forced evacuation of Bedouin camps inside Israel, the theft of lands, the construction of colonies…these stories make the international news sporadically. Attacks by the militant wing of the democratically elected force Hamas make the news whenever they happen. Are the actions of one side more terrorist in nature than the other? However, the many Israeli groups working for equal rights for Palestinians do not make the news at all, neither do the noble actions of Progressive Jews who consider Zionism a blasphemy and nothing less than treason.

In fact, every time that Mankind collectively starts interfering in cultures and areas where he does not belong, the result is disaster. In recent times, foreign elements stirring up inter-ethnic hatred in the Caucasus, the international community getting it fundamentally wrong in the Balkans, two patchworks of cultural and ethnic and religious melting pots of creeds and histories and peoples, created exponential problems which resulted in the latter case in the anomaly called Kosovo.

Kosovo is Serbia. Kosovo has always been Serbia. Kosovo will always be Serbia and just because a handful of spineless sycophantic states willing to score points with Washington do not have the courage to stand up for international law, it does not mean that this does not exist.

Going back in time, we encounter horrific episodes of interference and domination by one group of humans over another. Within the collective conscience of Mankind remains the horrific, degrading and shocking period of the Holocaust against Jews, Poles, Serbs and other Yugoslavs, Eastern Slavs, POWs, Soviets, Romani, homosexuals, left-wing politicians, freemasons, the disabled and Jehovah’s Witnesses. This incomprehensible outpouring of hatred, walking hand-in-hand with notions of ethnic supremacy or special rights for one group over another, was and is as unacceptable in Treblinka, Dachau, Belsen or Auschwitz as it is in Gaza, Jerusalem, the West Bank or the Negev Desert.

Going back further, we have other sickening episodes, witness to the ease with which the human spirit can be touched by the hand of Satan and at a stroke descend into depravity. Slavery, a Holocaust not of 25 million human beings but a total of some 70 million lives lost or affected; families torn apart, human beings sold like cattle, whipped, tortured, branded, beaten, sexually abused, destroyed physically and psychologically.

And a synonym with the chapter of human interference is Imperialism, where European nations went globe-trotting, siphoning off resources, drawing straight lines on maps (this is ours and that is yours), interfering in and destroying entire cultures, only today to bar the people from the countries they colonised from those of the colonial powers – the epitome of hypocrisy.

And however far we go back in time, in the equation which constitutes the human being, depravity, cruelty and disrespect for others are constant factors, hangovers from the wilderness times of the law of the jungle, survival of the fittest.

Yet we are not cockroaches and therefore should not behave like them. And here, we address the main theme approached at the beginning of this article: the basic question is, for how much longer are we (collectively) going to engender hatred, intolerance and contempt? While the results of those who launch libellous allegations through hate groups on the Internet (accepted by search engines) are in general terms restricted to the screen, other more sinister movements make a real difference to people’s lives.

Bullets and mines kill and maim.

So, would it not make more sense for those of us in a position of symbolic power, whether in government or in the media or as leaders of business corporations, to do something tangible and not sit back and watch further generations grow up in a climate of hatred? After all, while the world belongs to nobody, everybody has the right to her/his space and to a life of dignity.

And this means respect for all by all, remembering that tears taste of salt, whoever sheds them, remembering at all human beings are born naked and die lying down on some planks of wood; what we do here makes the difference. And doing nothing is no longer an option.

Mr. Abbas, Mr. Netanyahu…the ball is in your court. The world is your spectator. We do not wish, we demand to see a good game.



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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey