The word discriminate today comes with a negative stigma attached to it. To discriminate in today’s speak seems to mean to dislike or to look down upon. I disagree.
Discriminate means to differentiate, and to differentiate isn’t such a bad thing. Differentiating things is something that humans grow up doing and learn as soon as we draw our first breath. Cold, hot, sweet, savoury, nice, cozy, painful, etc. If we have to discriminate things in life to be able to live safely, then it is only in our nature to discriminate people as well. Old, young, fat, thin, tall, short, evil, nice, orientals, caucasians, etc. So what?
When I looked at my dictionary, there was a second meaning that is to ‘make an unjust or prejudicial distinction in the treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, sex, or age’ and it gives the example of ‘existing employment policies discriminate against women’. It is important to note that the word ‘against’ was highlighted (in the dictionary) as well, as without that, the word ‘discriminate’ just by itself holds no negative connotations.
So, what I believe is that we should be allowed to freely discriminate. Freely point out the differences between ourselves. However, we should never ever JUDGE others. We do not have the right or power to proclaim ourselves more superior in any way to others.
So what if someone told you that you were tall or short, fat or thin? That is merely a statement from that person’s observation. It does not automatically follow on with ‘you’re not good enough to be my friend, or you’re bad for our society.’ Those follow-on statements are created by our imaginations, by our own insecurities. If you don’t want to be judged by others, I believe that you have to firstly stop judging others.
I recently showed support to a gay activist group called AllOut.org. They rally people from all around the world to help fight against unfair discrimination against gay people. The primary focus a few months back was when the Ugandan government wanted to pass the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill. I supported it as I would support any organisation that would fight against governments wanting to kill certain types of people, whether it’s because of their skin colour, background, sexual preference, or religion.
Today, I received an email from AllOut saying that a Tanzanian gay man is being sent back to Tanzania (where being gay is sentence-able to life imprisonment, it seems) by the British government who will not approve his asylum application. AllOut has asked for their supporters to help plead this case to the UK government. Now, this is when I feel that we are crossing the discrimination line and going over to judging. Who am I to say that this man is a good man and is suitable for asylum in the UK? Who am I to say that this man is not a mass murderer, or have criminal tendencies? If it is really as simple as the fact that this man is a really nice guy who will not have any problems assimilating into society here and will be able to find a job easily to support himself, then I can support the request to the UK immigration to allow him to stay. However, I do not have this man’s history. I do not know him. To be gay does not automatically make you a good or a bad person. The crux of the matter here is that application for immigration is based on more facts than just being gay. I think in this case, I will sit on the fence and allow those who are trained to make these judgements professionally do their jobs without being hassled.
So, I say… go ahead and discriminate as it is in our basic nature to do so, but do not judge. If we all stop judging others and not allow ourselves to be judged, then our lives would be much simpler, with less misunderstandings.