Humanism

Many people sincerely try to bring about social change by fighting against discrimination. Some of them are full-time activists, while the rest engage in activism in the course of their daily lives.

I admire all such people, but I have noticed that many, maybe most of them focus only on those forms of discrimination where they are victims themselves. They do not seem to be bothered about those forms of discrimination where they have the upper hand.

For example, men belonging to ‘lower caste’ families may fight against caste discrimination, but may condone or perhaps practise gender discrimination against the women in their families.

Or women belonging to ‘upper caste’ families may fight against gender discrimination, but may condone or perhaps practise caste discrimination against other women and men.

Do we all genuinely try to behave and speak respectfully with people who are economically weaker than us, such as domestic help, watchman, liftman, driver, etc.?

Don’t many of us look down on people whose knowledge of English is not as good as ours, and admire people whose knowledge of English is better than ours?

Why can’t those of us who fight against those forms of discrimination where we are victims, also fight against all those forms of discrimination where we have the upper hand?

Why can’t we practise Humanism?

(Humanism is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as: A rationalist outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.

Inspired by the definition of Feminism (The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes), I would like to add my own definition:
Humanism: The advocacy of the rights of all human beings on the ground that they are equal.)

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8 thoughts on “Humanism

  1. There are a whole lot of chiffon-clad armchair ‘activists’ who like to be seen page p3.
    In Mumbai are termed “SOBOs” South Bombay socialites who don’t believe Mumbai extends beyond Haji Aji and their knowledge of the Marathi lingo is so-so, even their Hindi is cliched. I heard HDFC Chairman’s Hindi on the TV when he spoke of being denied voting.

  2. Pro, I believe it is difficult for such people to practice humanism because the focus remains individualism. Typical statements you can hear from them – “I can’t keep others happy till the time I become happy,” “I can’t help others financially till the time i become super-rich,” “Why should I fight for someone’s equal rights, if nobody fought for me?” “I enjoy equal rights because I am lucky. Why should I fight for others if they are unlucky?” etc. etc.

  3. Heh! Pro, it is human nature to only see what ails them. Some compassionate people empathize, but most people actively support only those things they’ve themselves experienced. They do not want to take the time out to be all-out humanists. 🙂 Perhaps what they tolerate and condone feels okay to them because of their upbringing which makes change difficult?

  4. Reality sucks doesn’t it?! heh!
    I see women walk around with the flag of feminism flying high. But, they are the first to condemn, make fun of another woman who is slightly different than them.. sigh!

  5. Reading this at a time when I am totally broke because of a maid I employed. An elderly lady in her 50s who spoke so much rubbish and yet got away with nothing more than loosing the job. I respected her age and so I did not, rather could not, give it back to her. A choice I made myself. But it definitely is making me fume from within. I’m someone who has never (well at least from the time I remember) looked down upon the economically weaker or people from a lower caste or from a different religion and this behavior was truly uncalled for. The reason: she would not provide water/tea to the carpenters in our absence because they were Muslims. Her language and her arguments when confronted were beyond my level of understanding and hence I chose not to respond much. But the husband lost it and fired her immediately. Sometimes, I feel I have to reconsider my own principles. And then I feel it was a one-off case.

    • The maid did exactly what I have written about: she discriminated against Muslims, but, if you had given her back in kind, she would have raised a hue and cry that you were taking advantage of her because of her poverty.

      I appreciate the stand you have taken. I have done the same on a couple of occasions when key employees have misbehaved repeatedly. It caused tremendous inconvenience, but I couldn’t do it any other way.

      On a very practical note, please don’t feel guilty if you have to compromise on this issue once in a while. After all, we are human.

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