There is a lot of talk about non-discrimination in the world today. It is true that many conflicts around the world have been caused by people groups discriminating against other people groups. The history of the USA is full of political struggles of those who are accepted are and those that are not. There has been an almost constant battle to fulfil the promises of that great piece of work the Constitution. Notably black emancipation was the challenge for many years and in the last 50 years woman’s emancipation has come to the fore. It is right to challenge discrimination and to create a society of multi-culturalism and opportunity for all. But the way we approach this is crucial.
The great emancipators chose their strategy carefully, knowing that inflaming their oppressors could only make things worse. Love was the main weapon. Love to those in authority who become fearful of the vengeance of those who they have oppressed. The great emancipators knew that they had to be better than this and that oppression had to be beaten not the oppressors, otherwise you would only replace those in charge and business would continue as usual.
To censor language as a method of bringing peace does not appear logical to me. Language may reflect the condition within, but ultimately can only end up as being superficial and repressive. In a situation where the imposition of language control begins to discriminate against those on the margins of society, the system has lost and one tyranny has been replaced by another.
True acceptance comes from treating people as individuals. Ignoring class, creed, race, gender etc. can lead to people becoming simply colourless and uninteresting. Ultimately, we all become the same and we end up without multiculturalism or without any culture at all. People come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, that is what is interesting about meeting people from different places to discover new ideas and attitudes. In the end these are just pointers to the true individual personality that lies underneath. People are coloured by their culture, they may endorse it or they make oppose it, but we are all individuals and should be treated as such.
There are some interesting theories about personalities. There is Briggs Myers, which focuses on careers. There is the choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic and melancholic four humours theory from ancient Greece that indicates mood through various combinations. There is also enneagram theory that describes nine personality types. This theory suggests that the nine types develop and work in certain ways and can move into other types in certain conditions. It is an interesting theory and can help to explain why people can end up in conflict situations. People of one personality will understand and deal with a situation differently to others. When different personalities impose their methods on others, trouble starts.
With real teamwork, people are respected for their strengths and weaknesses and could well be encouraged to solve a problem in the ways best suited to them. I have always found it important to solve a problem by understanding what it is and making a plan. In large organisations or even simply in relationships, methods of working and relating can be imposed on people for simplicity, control and uniformity. Individuality is not necessarily encouraged.
In a just society, it is not just important to discourage discrimination, but in certain circumstances respect the individual in the way he acts in life or in their career, their relationships and their belief structure. It seems to me that people should be free to find their own moral compass and be free and flexible to express that. Organisations could do the same by stating their ethics honestly, employees or clients would be able to accept or reject. To do this would mean accepting different paths in life, for different individuals. Now, allowing complete freedom leads to anarchy and exploitation. But in society I believe that allowing a number of discrete paths for people to reach their goals in their work, home, social, political and religious experiences would be beneficial to all.
Having iconic leaders can be useful at times of crisis or change, but as life returns to normal, a team approach to leadership can be much more useful. For people to reach their potential they need to be aware about themselves, free to develop themselves and allowed to approach problems and whatever life hands them in their own style. By controlling and suppressing people’s true nature, they will never truly develop or meet their potential.
I believe the challenge for people to live together is how to identify the intolerant and what to do about them. In my opinion, people who are prepared to recognise the principles of balance, agape and truth in relationships as individuals or organisations are likely to be people that I can deal with. If these conditions are denied, then I feel a relationship does not exist. I also believe that in a fair society if an organisation or a belief structure is prepared to accept these general principles then they potentially can operate in society. In my opinion if they cannot accept these principles they must remain isolated and realise that without accepting others views there can be no coexistence, except in a separate community. This isolation could be splendid, there are religious, cultural and ethnic groups that remain separate in England and that is there choice and completely acceptable to me.
Clearly most people hold strong beliefs based on their upbringing or their experience. But until we realise that it is impossible to be 100% right in our assessment of our self, how can we impose our views on others. No one is perfect in behaviour or principles by any stretch of the imagination. On admitting this it is possible to see that other individuals with different personalities, beliefs and experiences must also be at least partially right about their lives. Admitting our individuality and imperfections is the route to acceptance of each other in a multi-faceted society that many of us experience. To forgive people and allow them to be themselves is vital for a peaceful and successful society.
When we understand this, we can allow independence, acceptance, co-existence, mutual respect, unity, common purpose and allow us to have the opportunity to make the most out of the gift of life.