The Right To Be And To Belong
December 4, 2015
“When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.”
— Jiddu Krishnamurti
I quote the words above, not because I believe in them, but because they represent exactly what I do not believe in. In fact, I believe that the above statement is the very mindset that has become the breeding ground for violence, and not the other way around. Separation and individuality and culturalism are not the breeding grounds for violence. Rather, it is the lack of appreciation of these, that breeds violence. Therefore, I believe that the more we work towards not appreciating these differences in all of us, and the more we work towards seeing these differences as flaws— the more and more we breed violence. It is in fact the type of thinking above that we need to do away with, in order to do away with violence. We are all different, and none of us will ever be the same, though some of us share cultures and beliefs. And this is okay. This is what makes the world beautiful.
We are all united by the fact that we are all different. We are united by the fact that we are comprised of many colours, many cultures, many beliefs, many names, many last names, many neighborhoods, many cities, many states, many nations, many continents, many stories, many memories, many dreams, many goals— they’re all different, we’re all different! If we were all the same, and if purple was the same as pink and pink the same as green and green the same as red and red the same as black and black the same as white, if everything were all the same, then tell me, why would life be any worth living?
It is the very differences that we speak out against and that we fight to blur and to eliminate, that are the reasons why we are beautiful as a human race! And these differences are never going to really blur, they are never going to become one, we will not ever have just one culture, just one color, just one dream, just one story, just one city... that is never going to happen! And yet, we crucify ourselves and each other for living in our reality, in a reality that is crafted by the hands of divine design and that is meant to be joyful, colorful, beautiful! It is not the differences that separate us; it is not the separation that divides us; it is not what divides us that causes violence and strife. On the contrary, our differences are what give us our beauty; the separations between us are what gives us oceans to cross; it is what divides us that gives us the reasons to have a place to call home!
The error of this age, lies not in the fact that we lack the ability to see that we are one; rather, the error of this age lies in the fact that we lack the ability to see the beauty in the ways that we are different, and to accept and appreciate those differences, to celebrate those differences, to elevate those differences as items of admiration!
You want to kill him, because you believe that all people need to be the same, and yet, why is he not the same as you? They want to kill you, because they believe that you ought to be as they are, and yet, why are you not as they are? Then something must be wrong, “sameness” must be created, thus, all differences must be eliminated! And if those differences cannot be eliminated, then they must eliminate you! People want to kill other people, because they cannot change other people. But I have a secret to tell all of you! And this secret is that no man and no woman needs to be the same as any other man, as any other woman. You do not need to be the same as them, and they do not need to be the same as you! You will in fact always be different from one another— that is okay, that is good, that is beautiful!
Look at all the reasons why we are different! Look upon them! They are the reasons why we are beautiful, they are the reasons why this planet is worth traveling, is worth exploring; they are the reasons why falling in love is an adventure! They are the reasons why we dream, why we wander, why we crave! Our differences cannot be denied, because they will always be there. Our elements of separation cannot be scorned, because they are what make life worth traversing! The borders that divide us, are not evidences of violence and misunderstanding; rather, the borders that divide us are the evidences of what we have been able to grow, to nurture, to rise! They are our evidences of what have been overcome in the past, what we are overcoming now, and what we may reform in the future! But they are ours, all the same. Our homes are ours, all the same. Your home is your home just as much as my home is my home. Your culture is your culture, just as much as my culture is my own. It is okay that you have your home and it is okay that I have mine. And if I want to find a home in yours, then I will do my best to respect what is yours, to adapt to what is yours, to learn and to appreciate what is different from my own. And you will do the same, with me.
Let no man or woman tell you, that we need to be the same. It is okay that we are not the same. What we do need, is to see our differences as elements worth appreciating and respecting. I have no more right to be different from you, than you have the right to be different from me. Our right is equal, and in that, we are equal. We are not equal because we are all the same— that is simply untrue— but we are equal because we all have the equal right to the things that make us unique, that make us ourselves, that make us know where we belong. It is in fact those things that point out how different we are, that are also responsible for defining our sense of belonging and the places and the people we call home.
I am a multiculural individual, and because I am a multicultural individual, I am actually a culturalist. Because I am so aware of the value of having a sense of belonging, I am aware that the sense of belonging is something prized and to be upheld. It is difficult for me to immediately say that I know where I belong, and because of that, I am painfully aware of the value of being able to immediately know where and to whom you belong. I am a culturalist, because I believe in the right that every individual has, to his/her own culture, own way of thinking, own lifestyle. Culture, lifestyle, and personal beliefs, are the three things that should not be tresspassed by another. If another would like to become a part of that, then they should be welcomed. But when they are welcomed, they should endeavour to make it there own, they must endeavor to respect and to appreciate, just as much as they respect and appreciate what is natively their own.
Love does not exist in the act of diminishing those things that define us; rather, love is enacted through respecting and appreciating those things that define each of us. Every man and woman has the right to their own culture, in their own home, in their own church (or absence of church). Let no other individual or group of individuals, attempt to destroy or to alter that.
I believe that until we stop trying to all become the same as everyone else, or to make everyone else the same as us, there will always be the violence that is falsley proclaimed to come from acknowledging our differences and appreciating our uniqueness. I would want to call out to all people, to do the opposite of what is encouraged that we do, I want to call out to all people, to allow others to be who they are, with the knowledge that you must also be allowed to be who you are, and that your home must be respected no less than how their home must be respected.
It is true that we are all citizens of this world; however, if this world were filled with identical citizens, then I don’t see why it would be a world worth staying in. Being a citizen of the world does not equate to being someone with no home, no identity, no culture and no creed. The world is a colorful place, and we are making all those colors, we are all those colors. Let’s see this, let’s understand this, and please, let’s love this.
I just want to close this piece, by saying thank you to Mélanie Berliet, Heidi Priebe and Noelle Beams, for welcoming me to Thought Catalog, and for arranging my stay here. I am happy to be welcomed here and I am happy to join the Thought Catalog Team. I’m also thankful and glad to meet all of you, my new readers. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read what I write, and I am glad that you are here.