Hey there, welcome (back) to Hayat Soulful! It’s been well over a year since my last blog post but now I’m back to discuss an invisible topic that is – in my humble opinion – the source of our deterioration in this postcolonial world. Do you recall the Ubuntu Philosophy from my first blog post? The basic principle of Ubuntu Philosophy is that a person is a person through other people. However, this kind of philosophy or practical implications of collective consciousness for some reason seems so difficult to embed within our mentality… why?
…because in our past we had fallen to the hands of colonialism’s greatest strategy: divide and conquer. Let’s take a closer look into history’s colonial rule and the impacts it left on our world today.
Mapping the World through Disunity: Where the Problem Began
As taught in schools, we all learned about the facts of European colonization around the world that occurred roughly from the 16th century to the mid-20th century. European nations expanded their powers by establishing colonies under their rule in Asia, Africa, and the Americas that caused ripples of social, cultural, and of course economic destructions for generations to come.
Much of the resources, if not all, from native countries were extracted and used by the ruling countries while the native populations were exploited for labour and immoral pleasures. Slavery was a common practice during this time in so many countries around the world. One of the key strategies that was used by colonizers to maintain their dominance over the native populations was the tactic of divide and conquer. It may seem hard to imagine how entire communities, societies and countries “allowed themselves” to become slaves or to serve a foreign authority, especially in our day where our freedom is taken for granted. However, aside from the physical methods of domination, intellectual strategies also played a key role. Communities amongst the population were purposely separated from each other or set up as to be against each other in order for them to truly believe in the perspective that they are alone and therefore they must follow the European rule in order to survive. An example of this is in India pre-independence era, where during the British Raj Hindus and Muslims were manipulated into being enemies (for lack of a better term), while before that they had learned to live coinciding – for the most part – under one country as one identity. Thus, divided and conquered… literally with the creation of Pakistan and “Independent” India.
So, how does this history relate to our current state of disunity and lack of collective consciousness?
Picture this: Colonial rule soon began to end in waves around the globe and people who were once conquered were now free but how was their mental state? Living under a dominating authority for generations and centuries does not change deep rooted beliefs that were instilled within us overnight – especially if these beliefs are even hidden to our own awareness. Are we still divided in our minds?
Being an Indian by birth myself, and having been raised in North America as a Canadian, it didn’t take long for me to connect the histories of our people. The same struggle that my fellow African-American brothers and sisters have been through of slavery, segregation and the human rights movement can directly be shared by my Indian ancestors who were being stripped of our identity and culture by the British Raj and fought rebelliously during our freedom movement. For me, there has never been a difference between Malcolm X and Bhagat Singh or Martin Luther King JR. and Mahatma Gandhi, who in fact took inspiration from each other to continue their journey towards freedom. Their message was one.
Where Do We Stand Today?
Ask yourself this: how often have you personally connected with someone from another cultural background enough so to have really felt that there is a unity amongst you both? How often have you learned about another’s struggle or history or current societal imbalances and felt that it was your own – that there was nothing separating your identity from theirs? Is the answer never? Or is this sounding ridiculous and impractical, maybe too emotional for us to imbibe and function in the world? Because of course we seem to believe in the idea that we are not the same as our neighbours – we must hold on to our own identity otherwise we will lose ourselves in the future.
The histories of our countries are being written and taught in a way that gives the narrative of multiple histories and unique stories that can only be shared by the country whom the story is about. We should ask ourselves not how are we different, or how do our histories differ – but rather – how are we similar, what histories do we share? And moving forward, what are the repercussions of that shared history?
Remember the Ubuntu Philosophy… we can never reach a state of true unity and collective identity if we cannot confront the subtleties of our minds that cause us to see our point of view as different than others. Take a look at this video by Crash Course on a few theories of Social Psychology – particularly on how social influence and conformity can lead to a group mentality where individual responsibility of actions are at stake. We are constantly feeding our minds with an “Us versus Them” mentality – that can get dangerous in many situations that require social strength. For instance, many Criminologists have given validity to Labelling Theory that originated in the 1960s and states that when society labels someone as a “criminal”, the person will begin to believe it as their identity and eventually be constrained to a deviant life – leading to a self-fullfilling prophecy. The problem with this is that by labeling someone as a “criminal” and aggravating the “Us versus Them” mentality strips us of the opportunity in dealing with social influences/causes of crime. Refer to my previous blog on Exploring the Concepts of Collective Efficacy & Collective Disadvantage for more information.
Imagine what can unfold when we establish a global unity and how the world can be different. We are ONE HUMAN RACE – and if majority of us actually start to believe that, then we will begin to function at a higher consciousness than ever before. Perhaps our human evolution now depends on this very vital change of perspective.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and for tuning back in after a year. As always, please feel free to discuss anything in the comments, for we cannot move forward without sharing and growing together.
As the message of this topic is to unite globally and open our hearts to our brothers and sisters around the world – I would like to give a shout out to our Tamil community in Toronto who have recently started an amazing project to resurrect their voices – our voices – in achieving justice. Check out Seeds of The Revolution and support one another.
Peace & Love ~