Bigotry is one of humanity’s greatest evils, and sadly it’s alive and well. Bigotry is the idiotic concept that an entire class of people can be judged without any consideration of the individuals who consist it. Logically, this can only lead to injustice. But what is the core sentiment that fuels the hatred for bigotry? The answer is victimhood.
In 2016 decent people all over the world were shocked to see a spike in bigotry, center stage in the politics of first the UK, then the US.
In the UK the theme was the Brexit Referendum, which was reduced and ultimately defined by the notion that the influx of foreigners was the cause of the economic woes of the native population, despite no empirical evidence to support the notion that foreigners were either displacing jobs or lowering the wages of UK natives.
And, even more impactful, was the election of Donald Trump as US President, openly fueled by a veritable buffet of bigotry: hatred from Mexicans, Muslims, Jews, blacks and women.
The facts showing the rise of bigotry in the US and UK are alarming:
- 888 hate groups are currently operating in the United States, an increase of 48% since 2000. Among them: 20 Ku Klux Klan chapters in Texas, 9 black separatist organisations in Georgia, 10 neo-Nazi groups in New Jersey, and 21 skinhead groups in California. Source: Southern Poverty Law Center
- 41% of Hispanics say that they, a family member, or a close friend has experienced discrimination within the past five years. In 2002, just 31% said the same thing. Source: Pew Hispanic Center
- Reported hate crime rose by 57% in the UK in the four days after the [Brexit] referendum, [UK] police say.
- “The [New York] police department revealed today that the city has witnessed a 115 percent increase in bias crimes since President-elect Donald Trump triumphed over Hillary Clinton last month.” – http://observer.com/2016/12/nypd-reports-huge-spike-in-hate-crimes-since-donald-trumps-election/.
Behind this rise in bigotry is victimhood. In both cases cited above, the increase in bigotry was caused by fueling the sentiment of victimhood. Native UK residents were falsely led to believe they were victims of European immigration and economics and US whites were encouraged to blame their woes on everyone who wasn’t a white American. Of course, Hitler famously did the exact same thing, paving his way to power by equally untrue claim that the Jews were to blame for the economic hardships of the Germans.
This is one of the reasons why going beyond victimhood (see here my post and video on it) is one of the key concepts in the 3T Path. Victimhood leaves us unempowered, cultivating the illusion we are not responsible for our lives and thus incapable of fixing it. This illusion leads to other darker forms of illusion, such as laziness, envy, bigotry and hatred.
What to speak of going beyond victimhood, in the Bhagavad-gita Krishna explains that yoga cultivates the very opposite of bigotry, be emphasising the importance of equality, of seeing everyone equally. My spiritual master, H.D. Goswami (www.hdgoswami.com) points to three verses in the Gita on this topic:
In Chapter 2, verse 47, Krishna defines yoga as equality. In other words, there is no yoga and one cannot be a yogi with the vision of universal equality. Krishna comes back to this in Chapter 5, verse 18, where we find the relatively famous line “panditah sama-darsinah”, which means “the wise see everyone equally”. And lastly, in the conclusion of the Gita, Chapter 18, verse 54, Krishna emphasises that bhakti (devotion – the perfection of spiritual life) can only be achieved by “being equal to all.”
Let’s hope this vision of equality will one day conquer bigotry. Until then, let’s at least make sure we practice it in our own lives.
Check out my video on bigotry here.