Racism and Religious Intolerance; How to Stop It

This article was originally published on June 14, 2020.


A topic that I think about quite often is racism and religious conflicts. Every year, there are conflicts about religion and race and it always gets me thinking about why our world functions around the concept of skin color and religion. I wonder why people think they are above another group of people simply because they have different skin color or because they follow a different religion even though both religions teach the same lessons. If we think about it, every one of us is a simple side character in the epic theatrical play of the cosmos. That was a lot to grasp, but I assure you that if you think about it, it will make sense to you. The skin of a person does not determine what they are capable of and what type of person they are. That type of thinking is sick and quite disgusting.

The pigment of someone’s skin cannot be the determining factor of who they are. Everyone one of us is made up of the leftovers of the Big Bang. This is a simple concept that all of us forget. We are so hung up on the materialistic part of ourselves that we never seem to understand that looks don’t matter. I don’t get why some people think they are more entitled than others. It can be God complex, meaning that people can never admit they are wrong and they believe that they are God’s gift, which is an extremely wrong ideology. The heroes of a story never think that they are the heroes, they often think of themselves as just a person doing their job.

Religious conflicts are just as horrendous. I feel that religious extremists always miss one fundamental point. All Holy texts teach the same lessons on how people should live. It makes no sense that we are fighting over religion. All religions preach the same thing, just the story on how that lesson came to be was different. God never said to go and fight with other people to make me happy. It’s sick that people fight over such small things when instead, we can be working to improve the world. Atheists also face problems too. My takeaway is that no matter if you follow a religion or not, everyone should have the same basic rights!

The problem lies within us. So does the solution. I think that people have lost the nerve to be brave these days. In a world where people are taught to be “polite,” people have lost the edge to confront injustice. For example, the bystanders in a bullying conflict. These people watch, laugh along, or just stay quiet. What people don’t understand is that the volume of silence in the face of injustice is as loud as the monstrous remarks from a bully. I am sorry to say but if you can’t stand up for yourself and if someone else has to do that for you, then I consider you a timid person. When you can’t stand up for yourself, how do you expect to stand up for other people? Being “polite” doesn’t mean to lose self- respect and bravery! Being “polite” doesn’t mean you take whatever trash is thrown your way or someone else’s way! Being polite means you stick up in the face of injustice and you throw that dagger of justice in it’s (in justice’s) way. Being polite means you show courage and self- respect when no one else has. By being silent and “polite,” you are equally at fault.

I take it that the people who have read this far might have a problem with me because of my previous paragraph, but let me tell you something, I was just like that not too long ago. During 7th grade, I was an emotional weakling. I was never brave to say what was on my mind and I always suppressed my feelings which turned into helplessness. What I found fascinating was that during the summer of 7th grade (meaning going into 8th grade) I found a voice. It was like a seed was planted into me and it grew during the summer. During the summer, I was re-learning about the Hindu epic “Mahabharata.” I love the epic because it, in a way, resembles how the world works now. In the “Mahabharata” many atrocities occur and some of the characters watch it silently, even though they are perfectly capable of stopping it. So many things could have been solved, and a war could have been avoided if some characters didn’t watch silently and stood up for the other characters. In that epic, Draupadi Devi resonated with me so much. Draupadi Devi was a brave woman who knew that being silent never helped anyone. She was what I wasn’t (and let me get this clear, I can NEVER be her. She is a goddess; I am a mere human being. It really gets to me when people compare humans to goddesses, but that’s a topic for another time.) and I felt that I needed to be just as brave and courageous as her. She is my role model and so is Sita Devi as well. Both goddesses’ courage inspired me to be just as brave and resilient. When I came back to 8th grade, I armored myself in self-respect and self-love. I started to speak out for myself and for others. I felt great! I felt that I had finally tapped into my true potential.

That was how I became brave, and there are so many different ways to develop this. My next solution is more socially linked rather than individually linked. I believe that schools should emphasize on social acceptance, as in, we need to have a class where we talk about equality and how we can solve issues related to inequality. By doing so, we can be able to grow a generation of people who have a strong moral compass and they can use this compass to lead the way for others. Schools need to emphasize morality just as much as they do on education.

Change comes from within us, but these battles aren’t fought alone. Everyone must take a stance and fight for the well being of others. Rest in peace, Mr. George Floyd Jr, and remember to stand up for what you believe in. Don’t be quiet. Peace!