When I see news of armed conflicts or movies of historical war, and I see people dying, I do not cry and feel for an Indian, American, European, Chinese or Arab- I cry for the pain of the people, I cry because I know that common people give up their rights in the hope that other rights will be upheld. And the anger I feel is not towards the aggressor nations but the leaders of both the parties for they brought about a situation where people suffered and died, all because of a conflict of ownership of trade or land or control of people – the ‘nation’ did not do that, the leaders did.
When we grow up learning and believing in right and wrong, in good and bad, we learn that from what is taught to us by our teachers, families and cultures. And every culture has the same approach to preserve itself.
The big conflicts arise because cultures protect their entity – they do not protect the people. And they protect only their own entities, not the entity of other cultures. Religions are the same. Leaders do the same. The people are left alone and it is the people who are united in their suffering, pain, hopes and dreams. But individual cultures, religions and polities divide them because they teach difference, conflict, and fear. And on a day to day basis, people conform because the culture controls them through fear of ostracisation for being different.
Is it any wonder that we are living in an age of widespread and growing conflicts? Every party to all conflicts believe the conflict is on account of the other side, that the other side is wrong, that they themselves are in the right for their system is ‘better’, ‘cultured’, ‘civilised’.
To all such cultures and to all such peoples and to all peoples in familiar cultures but who follow a different belief system and to all such governments and rulers, what can I, a common of the commonest human being, say, but this: I am different- ostracise me some more, I am still alive and being different.