The Spiritual Context of Human Rights
This time I want to share a very unique experience that I had recently, which relates to the issue of human rights to a certain extent. All over the USA, institutes for healing racism have sprung up in the past few years. The one in our town of Grand Rapids, Michigan, invited me to attend two full days of a workshop on the subject. Generally schools, corporations and other organizations pay to send their employees so they are better equipped to handle the increasing diversity in the population of the USA. Arguably, India may be the only country more diverse than this nation on planet Earth as of now!
It is very interesting to study how India has dealt with its diversity as compared to what we are doing in the USA now. Whereas in Bhaarat diversity was accepted in a spiritual context as a natural phenomenon—part of Bhagavaan’s creation, in the West it has not been so. The United States feels a heavy burden of its history of discrimination during the past couple of centuries. First, the Native American was killed in large numbers, and many treaties were broken to usurp the land that for thousands of years had been home to these groups. The natives had even helped the Europeans to survive in early years. Ownership of land was not a well-entrenched idea in much of the indigenous cultures of the world in pre-Christian/Islamic days. In fact, the study of the manner in which the West (the western part of the present-day USA) was conquered reveals the extreme suffering of the native population, which continues to this day. There is complete segregation among these people living on reservations and the mainstream. The other, and perhaps more pressing issue, is the fact of slavery of the black people who were bought, sold, beaten and literally treated in the most inhuman way for a very long time. These blacks are ten to fifteen percent of the total population and have contributed heavily to the construction of the new country, i.e. in its European Avataara. So while the natives got totally marginalized to the point of being called the invisible minority today, the blacks were plucked from their native lands against their wishes and then treated cruelly within the new land. Then there is the question of the Mexicans. Unlike North America, South and Central America saw the Spanish conquistador vanquish the land from the original owners. It seems the white Spaniard males took many native women as they wished, producing a race called Mexican that then was discriminated against and still is to this day! How can a white father not accept his own child who is less white, because of the father’s action is mind-boggling? All children of European and non-European mixture were unacceptable to the white Europeans. Even today in deciding who is a minority those rules apply—if there is any non-white blood then they can be a minority! Amazingly, they were accepted among the non-white communities with far less objections. The more one knows about the human race the less humane it seems!