Racism rears it’s ugly head again!

racism_is_only_for_humans_by_xxdbzcancucksfanxx-d4pe36rI like to think that people are basically good. So nothing makes me angrier than racial discrimination.

I have been fortunate enough to live in many different countries in the world and I have learnt that deep down we are all the same. No one race or culture is good or bad.

As the Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, “there are two races of men in this world, but only these two – the ‘race’ of the decent man and the ‘race’ of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people. In this sense, no group is of ‘pure race”.

Being a white guy I was pretty insulated from racism growing up. My school and college were fairly multi-cultural and kids any way just get on with life. It doesn’t matter where your class mates are from, they are just your mates.

However once I started travelling I encountered racial discrimination more and more. While living in Hong Kong for example I often saw Hong Kong people holding their noses while sitting next to Indians on the bus and even refusing to sit next to anyone from the African continent.

When I returned to New Zealand, a country I thought was open and accepting of all, was shocked to see my (Indian) wife refused service in shops and excluded from conversations because the other person assumed she couldn’t speak English.

Now living in India where my skin color puts me in the minority it is my turn to experience discrimination. I have been excluded from temples (See here), had distant relatives refuse to shake my hand at my wedding, and of course I have lost count of the numerous times I have heard that many of the problems in India are because of the West. To top it all off, yesterday I was told that as I am a Westerner I have no manners, values or culture. This too by a man I caught stealing the neighbor’s water from their storage tank!

To be honest the majority of the people I come into contact with treat me very well, and I have been welcomed and accepted into people’s homes, families and communities.

But it makes my blood boil when small minded people make a judgment about someone based on where they were born and brought up.

Come on guys! Get on with it, stop discriminating and judging. It doesn’t matter where you are from or what you believe in, at the end of the day we are all pink inside, bleed red when we are cut and all have to sit down to take a dump!



Racism in the name of Religion!

I write this saddened and disgusted. The experience I have had today has left me with a bad taste in my mouth and disillusioned with those we are supposed to look up to as guardians of our faiths and beliefs.
Today I was refused entry to the Mahabaleshwar Temple in Gokarna because I was born in a different land. Not only refused entry, but pushed and shoved by Temple Priests, my Indian wife ridiculed and reduced to anguished tears because she stood up for me and my 6 year old niece left mentally scarred by the sight of her uncle who she considered the same as everyone else, being discriminated against, shouted at and forcibly prevented from entering a place of worship.
I have been living off and on in India for the last 17 years and permanently for the last 5. I was married in a Hindu Temple and have visited religious sites (Churches, Dargahs, Gurudwaras and Temples) of all the great religions in this wonderfully diverse country of India. I have always been welcomed and this is the first time in 17 years that I have been barred from entering a place of worship.
The reason given by the Head Brahmin? “Foreigners do not know how to behave and are disrespectful and therefore they have been banned from entering. “
I was carrying an offering of flowers, had removed my shirt as is the custom in this Temple and was in the company of my wife and six year old Niece. Is this a sign of disrespect?
Foreigners give up their comfortable lives in the West and travel half way around the world to live in a different culture, a different climate, with no close family support, and take the trouble to learn another language and customs, in their search of the great spiritual traditions that India is famous for. They come and study Yoga, learn Sanskrit and practice meditation.
To ban all of them from visiting a House of God because they are not Indian is disgusting and discriminatory. Is the God in this Temple only for Indians? Did God, when he created the world, make a mistake when he created the other countries and races?
Hinduism is a beautiful, open, and tolerant religion, teaching non-violence, acceptance of all beliefs and love for all. What kind of Hinduism are these priests practicing? To behave violently both verbally and physically, to have no compassion for a fellow human being, to make fun of someone, all while standing in the sanctified place that foreigners are accused of disrespecting?
The great Saint Sri Ramakrishna once said “Lovers of God do not belong to any caste . . . . A brahmin without this love is no longer a brahmin. And a pariah with the love of God is no longer a pariah. Through bhakti (devotion to God) an untouchable becomes pure and elevated. “
A foreigner who comes to India to visit a temple has much more bhakti than the Priests I witnessed today.
What do I say to my niece who loves me unconditionally; who has always accepted me as an integral part of the family and has never paid attention to the fact that I look different to the rest of the family? How do I explain why a priest is pushing and shoving me and preventing me from praying to the God that she loves?
Eventually I will forget this and move on. But it is the devout masses of India who visit this temple in their thousands, that I feel sorry for. They will spend their life savings on a pilgrimage to this Holy Place to seek blessings for their lives and loved ones, only to be herded like cattle, shouted at and pushed, given 10 seconds for Darshan (sight) of the God they love and respect, and then fleeced of their remaining money by Priests who promise them all will be well if they perform a Puja.
If this is how the keepers of religion behave then I am no longer a follower. I believe in God but no longer in religion. My religion is one of compassion for my fellow man and tolerance and acceptance of all, no matter their colour, race, or beliefs.
All I can hope for is that, if the Hindu concept of reincarnation is true, these Priests are re-born in a foreign land.

“However men approach Me, even so do I welcome them, for the path men take from every side is Mine” – Bhagavad Gita iv -11