In my childhood I dealt with much hate and prejudice being a minority in a city dominated by one particular demographic. At the time Australia had not been anywhere near as multi cultural as it is today and dark-skinned migrants were still a relative rarity to come by in the 80’s. I grew up in the one area of Australia which is the most heavily populated Anglo-Saxon area according to statistics and as a dark-skinned female with a great amount of sensitivity to the environment and a timid personality, which was mainly due to the constant fear of judgement, it definitely was not an easy place to grow up in. Although outright racism was not the everyday experience for me, but it did occur occasionally, there was always issues of misunderstanding and assumption. Being asked if I lived in a hut when I went on holiday to South Africa was a common occurrence as well as the proverbial racist comments not aimed at me particularly, but expressed in front of me as if I were no different to the ‘normal’ white Australian.
Ultimately I grew up my whole life feeling that I knew this world was full of hatred, I had no innocence about me, I felt I knew the truth of life, that we are all destined to suffer and humanity was a self-centred species filled with darkness. Most kids don’t know this, for the beauty of childhood is that you don’t have to see the bigger picture, that is the best part of being a child. My family loved me but the cultural implications of coming from South Africa, a country which experienced generations of racial oppression, my parents lacked a warmth, a care for the emotional struggles of life, as they understood there were much worse fates. In this way I was alone in my suffering – without siblings, without friends going through the same things as me.
So what occurred was a grave fear of being judged where ever I went. I was always afraid of being put down as I felt I had no defence at all. If someone said I was this or that because of the colour of my skin, well then what could I say to it? I can think of many things now I could say but back then I had no grasp on why this happened to me – I would always find my self stunned, confused, while a deep swelling of pain grew in my chest and crept its way up into my throat eventually bursting through the welting tears of my eyes. There are hundreds of years of history that racist ideas stand upon, and well, as a dark-skinned individual and as a child you kinda believe it may just be true. It’s not even believing it is true but rather the thought that you have no defence, no way of standing up to the accusations, bullying and grand standing of others who wish to feel superior and are keen to get everyone on their side in order to justify their bullying behaviour. What could I be proud of in being dark? The grand civilisations of Europe, the Middle East and Asia and the Americas all have their history to identify with, to be proud, to know who they were and why it was good to be them. The cultural atmosphere of ‘black is bad’, ‘black is barbaric/degenerate’ even exists today, silently under the cultural surface, yet people don’t realise this is the case, it is so ingrained from the history of mans evolution on Earth.
I look back now and wonder why? I looked back for years with my mind flooded with anger and my heart-broken with sadness. I was angry that I didn’t know how to fight back, I felt I had nothing valid to defend myself with. I was sad that the fear of the weight in numbers, the majority rules principle, had held me back from using my intelligence to fight back, held me back from being confident that I knew the truth of myself and they didn’t, and that was ok, I didn’t have to convince anyone of anything nor have them understand me and where I came from unless they were interested. I was confused about why the world was so harsh, why more people weren’t open and loving, when I could feel such potential for a world with greater harmony between all.
I know there are worse fates for people in life but the way I see it, is that all pain and suffering in the world can find its roots in different forms of prejudice – whether it be based on race, class, religion, culture, age, etc. Even those sufferings caused by some of the most demonic acts such as rape have it’s root in the human condition which cannot see outside itself, all it sees is itself, nothing more. For if all people saw themselves in others, and saw the equality in all people, that all are human beings, all are essentially variations of the same thing, then the world would be in perfect harmony, people would not be interested in harming others. No more competition, no more grand standing, no more vengeance, no more greed, no more fear, no more pain. But this is not reality of our world, we live in the sphere of “natural selection”, the dog eat dog reality, where we must fight to survive and overcome our enemies.
Accept disgrace willingly. Accept misfortune as the human condition.
What do you mean by “Accept disgrace willingly”? Accept being unimportant. Do not be concerned with loss or gain. This is called “accepting disgrace willingly.”
” What do you mean by accept misfortune as the human condition”? Misfortune comes from having a body. Without a body, how could there be misfortune?
Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things. Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.
– Lao Tzu, the Tao Te Ching
So then how do we deal with hate when we wish to create a world of love? How can we bring about justice without the presence of anger? How can be free to be who we are, especially if we are a minority, without having fear of rejection and judgement? How do we defend ourselves against hate without having hate within ourselves? How do we shake the feeling of being victimized and let go of the desire for recognition?
I don’t know exactly how we can do this but my childhood experience has shown me the inner torments and struggles that can result from being bullied and harassed, and through this I know that whatever negativity it caused only served to stunt my development and create barriers for me to full fill my life purpose. But perhaps there was reason and logic behind it all. I know that if it were not for this experience, I would not have gained the wisdom and understanding I have about humanity and it’s suffering. Although I was targeted as a child I always understood and could sense that underlying every attack on another person, within the attacker there is suffering, and this suffering compels them to cause more suffering onto others. This is a deeply saddening fact and the cause of my intense anger all through my youth. I was not angry at the fact that people had hate toward others but rather I was angry that their hate came from a place of suffering within themselves – it was very hard to deal with, to know people have done wrong but that they also are part of a cycle of wrong doings which probably spans back to the beginning of humanity – and is a huge factor in what makes us human. I have chosen to stop this cycle within me.
Being a minority in any way, shape or form certainly has its challenges. It brings up much that is buried within. When one is accepted by others, life is generally quite comfortable and easy-going, even if people may see that you are different, as long as they are not persecuting you, life is ok, it can even feel very good as we have a strong sense of individuality without being rejected for it. But when the attacks come, and the hatred is enacting, this is when you really see what you are made of.
Will you retaliate with hate and anger? Will you hold to understanding and seeing the bigger picture in all events? Can you bear the loneliness of having no one that accepts you and majorities that reject you? Can you defend yourself without attachment to the result? Can you maintain honour without being proud of who you are?
To show pride in the face of accusation is to be defensive of that which you identify with. To identify with something is to be rigid and comfortable. I believe when we are under attack, if we act with honour and humility these qualities shine through and have the potential to destroy the hatred and any accusations toward us. Those with pure hearts will sence the truth, but if we act with pride and allow fear to exists then we give people a reason to be suspicious, to question whether or not these accusations may be valid. If we know we are on the side of light, if we know what we do comes from love, then we have nothing to prove and nothing to fear.
Who can wait quietly while the mud settles? Who can remain still until the moment of action? Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfillment. Not seeking fulfilment, they are not swayed by desire for change.
– Lao Tzu, the Tao Te Ching