Racism, Election, and Balancing of the Opposites by Navin Doshi (May, 2008)

Our world exists in pairs of opposites. Yin and yang, good and evil, male and female, light and dark – the list is endless. These multiple pairs of opposites constitute a space in which we all exist, institutions included. However, nature demands that we maintain balance and harmony within and without, to survive and prosper within this space.

Fear and security are also two such opposites in our psychic space. A balance of the two ensures a stabilized human nature. Occasionally our minds vacillate like a pendulum not having tight control, like what happened immediately after 9/11. There was fear of death and destruction, and fear of uncertainty. Apparently we have gained some control over it. However, since our beginnings, there has been one issue that has plagued our peace of mind in America; it is racism. Racism has been an issue almost the world over since colonization and before. The living standard was almost the same in Europe and Asia in the 17/18th century. The Industrial Revolution changed Europe for good. The standard of living continued to rise steadily through the 19th and mid 20th century. It brought the formation of European colonies all over the world. It brought also the “white supremacy complex”. It was a superiority complex, where, as most of us know, people of color- black or brown, were nothing more than slaves, or heathens. Heinous crimes were committed against people of color. Discrimination and segregation was at its zenith in the early 20th century. White people world over, considered themselves to be stronger, and the superior race. There was a rise of Nazism and Fascism. White people were feared and were synonymous with power. History was written in their favor. This was the peak of racial discrimination.

Then, people like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King worked hard to change the direction of the pendulum. Their teachings of non-violence, fairness, peace and equality took over, and countries like India received their freedom from colonial rule. Equality was not yet established, and neither did discrimination end. In the late 1950’s I recall in Los Angeles, there was still a hierarchy in professional placement. Blue-eyed, blonde, north Europeans were at the top, while the Mediterranean came second, followed by the Asians. But freedom was achieved, and in a sense, it was a significant move towards attaining egalitarianism. The pendulum had changed the direction from extreme discrimination towards fairness and equality. The value of life, in the west did not coincide with the economic peak in the 1970s; the delayed peak could probably come in the early 21st century. One measure of the value of life could be the tolerance of people to war casualties. Another could be how complicated things become in the case of Terri Schiavo and Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the strong advocate of voluntary euthanasia. The value of life, I believe, goes up with increasing level of education and stays low where ignorance is rampant.

Have things changed today, in the early 21st century? Indeed they have changed. The world has become “flat” in matters of trade and business. Living standards are rising in Asia and elsewhere. One of the indicators is the value of currencies. Just a few years ago, a dollar fetched about 50 Indian rupees. Today (2007-8) it gets about 40 Rupees, and indications are that it could drop to 35. Who knows, it may go back to 5 rupees per dollar as it used to be in the 1950s. Today, Caucasians in the U.S.A are scared witless of being accused of using “Hate Speak” which has become a commonly used term for language with racist connotations.

It seems to me that we are slowly, but surely approaching the other end of the pendulum swing. Gone are the days of white supremacy in most places. Now, even the slightest semblance of discrimination on the basis of skin color, brings with it the most agitated response- especially if these indications are made by white people. Our media and our government today are almost going out of their way to make amends and to be exceedingly careful of not hurting the sentiments of people of color. People of color, on the other hand, are becoming overly sensitive on matters of descrimination. Racial connotations are being found in the most innocent remarks. This is giving rise to a society driven by paranoia. Recent examples include the firing of talk show host Don Imus, and unjustified prosecution of three Duke University students by DA Mike Nifong, later found not guilty. Add to these examples, battles in primaries between Senators Clinton and Obama. The race became the issue unwittingly brought by leaders of both sides. The press and the media did not scrutinize Senator Obama as they did other candidates. They looked into the 20 years of association of the Senator with hate mongering Reverend Wright after majority of primary elections were over; Senator Obama already had clinched the nomination.

We may be closer to the other end of the pendulum swing. Are not Caucasian people engulfed in fear and paranoia at being misunderstood and misinterpreted? Even within the Latino community, we have people who have broken the law and entered this country illegally protesting blatantly on big city streets, demanding equal rights. Why hasn’t the authority spoken up against this? Because, the authority is afraid of being labeled as racist.

A book by Fritjof Capra, “The Turning Point: Science, Society and Rising Culture” was written to explain a perceived scientific and economic crisis. It begins by outlining and tracing the history of science and economics, highlighting the flaws in the Cartesian, Newtonian and reductionist paradigms. It narrates how such viewpoints have grown inadequate for modern technology and ecology needs. Capra argues that we need to develop the concepts and insights of holism and systems theory, bringing eastern (synthesis) and western (analysis) thoughts, the two opposites, in harmony to solve society’s complex problems. The book deals with how we need to start viewing our problems differently. Using our current strategies, we have only managed to move from one end of the swing to the other end, without ensuring a level of balance, and without attaining any sort of harmony. Humanity has made a tremendous progress harnessing the Nature external to ourselves. We need to accelerate the progress within ourselves of the mind employing involution. The election process needs to be acted upon by filtering the conditioning of hate and other negative attributes.

Going back to my original claim of being a contrarian, right now, what I say might be considered blasphemous and racist by some. However, it is merely an objective evaluation of our current situation- what has worked and what hasn’t. If we lose control, chaos will take over, and an overly sensitive society will continue to exist rendering a hindrance to human progress and balance. I am a contrarian, but I am also an optimist. Tremendous progress has been made in matters of racism and the world has more democratically elected governments. In time, I foresee a human evolutionary progress, employing creativity within and without that will keep reducing the swings, ultimately bringing us to an optimum life sustaining movements.

Navin Doshi (May, 2008)
(Mr. Doshi is a financial market trader, writer and a philanthropist)

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