Friday, February 13, 2015

Tearing Down the Borders - Chapter 1

A writer writes!

Our world consists of various countries separated by distance, designated borders, language, religious beliefs and political affiliation.  Our postal mailing addresses highlight our viewpoint that we are separate and don't share anything in common with other countries.  It doesn't seem to matter that we share the planet Earth.  Have you ever seen someone write down their address ending with the country name then "Planet, Earth"?  No, we don't view ourselves as being related and part of one global community.  We've established our distinct borders and a community of being separate from each other.

Within each country are people following distinct native customs or customs imported from other countries.  The government of each country supports nationalistic pride in their individual country.  It's what we've all been taught.  Have pride in your country.  Sing the national anthem. Recite the pledge of allegiance.  Pay homage and respect to the nation's flag.  As Actor Lou Gossett says, he always thought he was saying "and to the republic for Richard Stands...." instead of the words "for which it stands.." when he was reciting the pledge of allegiance in school.  We're taught to be proud of our country.  It's like the politicians who end a speech by saying, "May God Bless the United States of America."  What does that mean, that God should not bless any other country?

From childhood we begin our journey to become proud nationalistic citizens.   Unfortunately that approach does not support our learning about the other inhabitants of our world.  The internet does allow us to reach beyond our artificial and political borders, but language barriers limit that interaction.  Traveling to other countries as "tourists" allows us some limited structured contact with people in other countries.  But taking photographs, taking tours and ordering meals at restaurants in another country only touches the surface of interacting with and learning about another culture.

So how do we tear down the barriers that limit our interaction with our fellow world inhabitants? First, we have to decide that we accept the differences among people within our own country. Racism is still an issue within the United States.  Ridding ourselves of racist thoughts and behaviors is the first step to tearing down the borders that exist between people.  That is a step that may be a difficult one for some to adopt. Some people still believe that the color of a person's skin requires that they be treated subservient to people of other skin colors.  If you have a problem with a person's skin color and people who have immigrated to your community or country, you will definitely have a problem in accepting people of other countries in the confines of their own land. If you are a racist you must make a conscious decision to leave that frame of thinking and behavior behind. Once you are over that hurdle, you have to decide that you want to learn about other people in the world. But, if you can't overcome your racism you have established a permanent border that you have chosen to maintain for your lifetime.

Chapter 1 involves learning to respect and accept the multicultural differences within your own country.  Within your own life you need to tear down your self generated walls,  Walls of racism, sexism, hatred, biases, ignorance, and phobias you have adopted in your journey through life.  Those walls were put up in the past and sustained and modified throughout the years.  Formal institutions have been created to ensure those walls of racism remain part of the culture of a country.  Those beliefs are passed on to children as being truth-isms that should never be forgotten.  It is up to each individual to pause and question the validity of these hateful "beliefs".  Peel away the dark wall paper posted by generations in the past.  Underneath are the plain walls that can further be taken down to open up our eyes to a new enlightened view of other people.

Call timeout during your day and reflect on what borders have you established that keep you from seeing others in this world as a family member of our world community.

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