My husband and I saw a wonderful movie the other evening—The Butler. We sat in the theater, enthralled to see the US seemingly come out of its racial bigotry.
I used to think racism and religious bias would eventually be swept into the dustbin. As people were educated and got used to living side by side, I figured we’d simply begin to see each other as people. As neighbors.
Growing up as an Irish immigrant in Canada, I thought that as Canadians we had a pretty good handle on equality. And for a time, I think we were almost there. You could just see that beautiful idea shimmering on the horizon.
I love the fact that I live in an area that is populated by a mosaic of nationalities. Two doors down from me live a lovely family from Northern India. All around my city are lands belonging to First Nations People, so I brush elbows with these charming folks at the grocery store. In my church I worship side by side with people from Asia, Haiti, Africa, and others like me of European stock.
But I think I was seeing the world through rose colored glasses. In a Vancouver newspaper the other day, I read that racism is rearing its ugly head again on the west coast of Canada. It seems immigrants prefer to live together with ‘their own kind’ in clumps of the city, so that large areas are becoming just one particular ethnic group. As one large group bumps into another that hatred is growing. We’re not living the mosaic concept that I grew up on.
In the research for my third book in the series Twilight of the British Raj, I’ve been trying to understand the reasons behind the bloodbath that occurred during the Partition of India and the creation of the brand new country of Pakistan. The current culture of high defense spending and militarisation in South Asia has its roots in the 1947 Partition.
A simplification of my research spells it out though—bigotry is born in fear. The fear of thinking, imagining, what ‘those people’ will do to you and yours if you let down your guard.
During the Partition, this fear escalated into hostilities and terrorism that caused the death of millions. On a fact-finding mission in 1948, the International Red Cross said that the crisis was so enormous, it had grown beyond the scope of their capabilities to help. Partitioning the people of India into two separate states—one for Muslims and the other for the rest of India—had created the worst case scenario.
Partition, Segregation, Apartheid, are the ugly words in our human history. And it appears nothing much has changed all these years later.
People are still afraid. People living in clusters of their own ethnic or religious group instill fear within themselves for ‘those other people’.
Individuals can’t do a whole lot to solve the racial tension in the world. But we can show kindness to individuals of another ethnic group. That’s what the Lord Jesus Christ said, give a cup of cold water to your enemy.
Maybe if we start with something small—one on one—we can pull down the walls of Partition and Segregation.
|Shadowed in Silk and Captured by Moonlight|
Christine Lindsay is the author of the multi-award-winning historical novel Shadowed in Silk, and of Captured by Moonlight, set in India during British Colonial rule. Books 1 and 2 are available in print and Ebook format.
Christine is currently writing the third and final installment of this series Veiled at Midnight which will be released summer 2014.
Drop by Christine's website