Combating xenophobia through cultural practice

“To oppose knowledge? God forbid! Nay, for God, knowledge is the most glorious gift of man and the most noble of human perfections. To oppose knowledge is ignorant, and he who detests knowledge and science is not a man, but rather an animal without intelligence.

For knowledge is light, life, felicity, perfection, beauty and the means of approaching the Threshold of Unity. It is the honour and glory of the world of humanity, and the greatest bounty of God. Knowledge is identical with guidance, and ignorance is real error” Abdu’l Baho

Humanity? Humanity is just a dictionary word to us today. Humanity? An illusion we have fixed in our minds that exists not. Together, we were in the struggle but look at us now. Turned against one another like adversaries in a war. We have become unsympathetic of our own so effortlessly. This bolt from the blue has turned our soft hearts to wickedness and selfish desire. Desire to bring about violence, desire to hurt and desire to end lives. Impeccable lives for that matter. People are engrossed and enthralled by fear as minds have no traceable idea if they will live to see another day or not.

This expression of love has been replaced with hate, tolerance with intolerance, peace with war, happiness with sadness and unity with division.

The world is crying, the world is bitter, the world has changed and yet we go on and hold sermons, preaching the value of benevolence.

We were created as rational human beings who ought to think and reason unlike animals found in the wild but then we have adopted character traits of some of these wild animals and we see ourselves not looking up to that fundamental purpose of why we exist as humans.

 We are now self-made hypocrites as we continue to sermonize the art and value of humankind, as we continue propagandizing and ranting out sermons and talks that we fail to act upon.

‘Love for all and love for our people.’ Where did all that go? Where did it vanish to? The minute we turned a blind eye on humanity, we killed peace. The minute we decided to over value our desires more than spreading love, we killed peace. We slaughtered ourselves in the daylight and look at us now. We are filled with so much hate and animosity towards one another.

Lifeless bodies lie on the streets, human blood flows from one end to another, anger and detestation rule, peace hides away, for the two do not meet. It has become so easy to kill and take away life though we were never created nor given the right to end the lives of those around us.

We are busy preaching the art of tolerance when we cannot begin to practice what we preach. The golden rule has not been taken heed of as if it doesn’t exist.

The mass killing of people that recently transpired has effected nothing good but   unfathomable agony and discomfort to those that recognize and believe what humanity is.

An important and vital matter that should be denoted and understood so well is to highlight that, acts of xenophobia do not affect a country alone. Xenophobia is more like a smoulder that flinches in a wilderness and spreads out to other regions. Xenophobia affects everyone and every country in the world.

The main aim of this writing is to thoroughly use and depict how cultural diversity is a fundamental tool in dissolving xenophobia.  

The existence of cultural diversity does away with negative acts of Xenophobia, and it starts with us people training our minds to accept the idea of cultural diversity because it appreciates the fact that people of different races can actually co-exist regardless of their differences. Cultural diversity is appreciating and accepting the manifestation and representation of different cultures within a society or area.

It is all about understanding and coming to terms that, a wide range of cultures exist in this modern society hence as people we must learn and execute the behaviour of tolerating these different cultures. Tolerating in the sense that, we critic not human traits like race, religion, age, gender, ethnic group, nationality, skill as well as capability and many others such related.

These are cultures in a specific region existing in the world as a whole and us being fully aware and recognizing the quality of different cultures. It offers a strong and a powerful connection between culture and education for the purpose of sustainable development.

It is determined by different ethnic groups in an environment with diverged elements of culture like food, materials, shelter, beliefs and many others such related.

It creates a more vivid atmosphere, or a place made up of many different people and things. In an environment where there are two or more cultures present of divergent ethnic groups, there are high chances of advancement and growth because, firstly, there are a variety of skills, more depth knowledge and full mutual understanding of one another as well as the community we live and come from.

There is a pleasant room full of worldviews, opinions and perspectives which then will provide us with a source of good foundation of knowledge on how to deal with certain matters  that affect us all, one way or another and a possible remedy to that particular problem.

We are able to relate and interact with one another on best ways to serve our country as noble servants as well as the best tactics we can fully adopt to achieve our aims thus promoting the level of development.

The term ‘development’ does not necessarily mean road, school and hospital constructions but it also includes, another aspect of growing and establishing our human minds and being able to help one another with ideas, opinions and views towards a particular matter.

As I cite an example, my country, Botswana, is a diverse country; we believe that everyone has the right and freedom of speech because we are reflecting on one of our Tswana Proverbs which says, “Mafoko a kgotla a mantle otlhe.”

This is to explain that, everyone is allowed to air their personal views or have a say in matters that concern the society or community as a whole and we are bearing in mind that, everyone despite their differences can have their own perspective.

 We need to understand and critically understand that we as people, we are different, we think and react differently to various situations we encounter. Within that case, it is only justifiable that people should be given a chance and an opportunity to showcase what they have and the fresh ideas that they long to bring on the table. By doing so, people are given the chance and opportunity to contribute on whatever matter that concerns their country’s affairs. This encourages the nation’s growth status of ideas. Like it is always said, “the bigger the better.”

It is through cultural diversity that development is promoted as it allows and grants each and every one a platform to give out a helping tool to contribute positively towards the society that one lives in, regardless of our differences.

The existence of a variety of cultures within a society emphasize on hard work and improvement of our living standards. Different cultural ideas are more than acknowledged and respected. We have community donations that offer a helping hand also, and these contributions which are from different ethnic groups are accepted and moreover encouraged by our leaders.

For example, in Botswana, the building of Moeng College by Bangwato and the University of Botswana which was established by Batswana back then in which each Motswana gave out cattle for the purpose of constructing the University we pride ourselves with now.  We can never deny that indeed, regardless of colour, race, gender, ethnicity and tribe, we are moving two steps towards promoting development.

On the other hand, tolerance also plays a major role in promoting development. It instils a sense of acceptance and responsibility towards a human being. This is the willingness to allow people to do, say, or believe what they want without criticizing or punishing them.

Tolerance involves the spirit of accepting each other’s diversity, belief system, thought patterns and perspectives of the world. It is the state of absence of war, a state of physical, social, economic and psychological well-being. It is indeed the common brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity.

It is borne out of love of self and love for others. It emanates from acceptance of diversity. It comes out of respect of human rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of association and  many other such.

One may ask, how then does tolerance help in promoting development? The spirit of tolerance deals with the absence of discrimination, injustice and marginalization. The fact that we have many different cultures, languages and ethnicity does not give us the permission to judge one another.

However, it gives us the opportunity to protect and safe-keep our God given gifts for the sake of coming generations. It is through tolerance that development can be achieved as most people are taught and given full access of education so as to be enriched and equipped with information on the significance of tolerating one another regardless of our flaws as human beings.

In that way, people are empowered to know what is right and wrong as well as becoming full responsible citizens. We can never go wrong with education if people are taught about issues relating to tolerance more often as it is a tool which can change the mindsets of human beings and to change the world as much as possible.

When we tolerate ourselves and tolerate our neighbours then we are building an empire that can never be shaken in the very same world we live in. If I accept my neighbour’s differences just exactly the way I tolerate mine, I will not seek to hurt my neighbour.

This is because, it builds better communities, richer cultures and through advancing science, brings economic, social, cultural and psychological well-being to the world . Development in a country or to the world at large must therefore begin with the knowledge of acceptance which is the element of tolerance and cultural diversity.

Where we have disagreements, I will surely build bridges and mend fences. For betterment to prevail even furthermore then we need to foster acceptance of diversity and respect human rights. Education and more access to information about tolerance give out a helping hand for the purpose of attaining development.

Cultural diversity and tolerance soften the human hearts. If we desire a better place, then we must first build it. If the world is to realize these two main traits, there is nothing that can hinder us to increase our progression as a nation. I am engulfed with the verve and credence that indeed cultural diversity and tolerance promote development.

The same development that can do away with xenophobic acts because we would automatically realize that, it is not even beneficial to spread hate but the idea of loving one another is key to an improved community and more affluent cultures. If we need unity, peace, love and tolerance then, man must stop building walls but more bridges.

I am for cultural diversity and I am for tolerance for I am building a foundation block for development. Our differences make us one. Not a two-way route but one. One globe, one nation, one people. One world. Why hate when we could spread endless love and make a better world to live in. We are humans and so we need to see humanity. I therefore end with this quote.

“We are all different, which is great because we are all unique. Without diversity life would be very boring.” Catherine Pulsifer.

Motsu writes from Botswana

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