Humanity is an incredible thing. From how we sacrifice our lives to save others to how we constantly push ourselves beyond the limit to discover new things, humanity is truly a gift in itself. But, being a human also means we are animal.
Sure, we have a “high order thinking system,” but when facing struggles, we tend to resort to our prehistoric, animal ways. Instead of solving matters diplomatically by talking out issues, we back-stab, bully, and insult those who are either intimidating, have a lot of power, or are more successful than us. We fight and riot over simple disagreements which could be solved by the use of effective communication. We put a price tag on the value of lives based on the person’s race, sexuality, gender, religion, and ethnicity. Why? Because we are human.
While we are making strides in science and technology, we are falling deeper into an abyss of doom, created by ourselves. We preach, “Our differences make our world a beautiful, less boring place. It is good to be unique.” No. Our differences scare us. And because of this fear, we separate ourselves, create social classes, and decide whether an opinion is valid or not based on superficial features of the person who suggested it.
While I am not that informed about the current Venezuelan crisis or conflicts in the Middle East, I do know that racism, sexism, homophobia, and Islamophobia still exist. And they always will. But all of these social issues were created by none other than ourselves. We dig ourselves our own graves by constantly dividing ourselves, whether it is intentional or not. It is inevitable, and that is the biggest flaw and obstacle in humanity.
I would like to dissect our flaws further, starting with different types of social stratification.
Social classes have existed since the beginning of time and will exist till the end of it as well. Here, I will messily explain my thoughts with a few prominent cases that are either loosely or tightly connected to social classes:
- Slavery– I have noticed that white people get a lot of blame for the white-on-black slavery that occurred in early American history. And while slavery is not excusable, it is crucial to note that every single group of humans has resorted to slavery at one point or another. While not as brutal as the slavery that had occurred in early America, Africans similarly enslaved other Africans. The only difference was that those enslaved often had to pay off debts or pay for a crime. Southern Asia is also guilty of using slaves for hard labor, not only in history, but to this present day! Slaves were born as slaves, because of their caste. Not only that, but the Arabs and Portuguese enslaved many Indian people as well. To this day, slavery, especially child labor and sex slavery, is still very prominent as the caste system hasn’t been erased yet. East Asia also has a similar story of slavery, which to this day includes modern-day child labor and the atrocious conditions fishermen face in the fishing industry. Cross apply this to South America and parts of Europe as well, where children are forced to go underground to collect mica. The point is that slavery will never go away and one group should not be blamed for it. We are human, and we will always resort to slavery whether you admit it or not. We can’t get past our superiority complex. The only way to stop it is to rid of humanity. It is in our blood and evolution has marked this nature.
- Religion– A lot of the conflicts that arise today stem from religion/religious views. (For example: crises in the Middle East, a lot of India’s history with Pakistan, whether or not homosexual people can legally get married, etc…). To make it short, religious disputes stem from whether there is actually a god or not, how many gods there are, what the name of the God(s) is/are, and what ideals should be followed to respect the God(s). These disagreements usually lead to one religion vs. another religion fights. But in all honesty, if all these questions were answered, we would still fight over religion. Look at the status-quo. There are divisions inside of religions as well. In Islam, there are the Sunni and the Shia. In Hindiusm, there are different castes. In Christianity, there are different branches. (Those are the only ones I am aware of, so there are probably more instances of intra-religious divisions). And these sections inside of these religions get into fatal disputes as well. The Middle East crises often involve one group of Muslims attacking the other, slavery in India is still based off of the caste system, and the Catholic-Protestant conflict that had occurred in Ireland involved fighting between the two Christian branches. But hypothetically speaking, even after knowing all the answers to our religious questions, we would probably fight over another factor like how to pray. Should you pray kneeling down or standing up? Should you pray on Sundays or Mondays? Should you pray before brushing your teeth or after brushing your teeth? Maybe the disputes wouldn’t be as chaotic as they are now (dividing up countries and people beheading others), but they would most likely still occur.
- Race & Colorism– It’s no surprise racism still exists. And for the love of *insert a supreme being’s name*, it is not just white people! Yes, there is still racism heavily propelled by white superiority groups but what group doesn’t propagate racism? All of Asia is racist against African people (maybe it stems from colorism), yet we do not here a single word about this. For example, there has been a case where 5 Nigerian men were brutally attacked in India due to their ethnicity/race. This is even present in Bollywood movies where all the background dancers are white, not a single black OR EVEN INDIAN person in sight…besides the white-washed star of course. Although I have only provided examples of racism on Africans, I am sure there are many more other examples as well including minorities using generic stereotypes and slurs against each other. However, the most disturbing type of racism, in my opinion, is the type that occurs within the same race, usually colorism. This can be cross-applied to my point about humans fighting over anything. For example, all of Asia, Africa, and South America believe the lighter you are, the more beautiful and well respected you will be in society’s eyes. This results in constant torment against tanner/darker skinned people in these regions. Even the gorgeous Lupita Nyong’o, of Kenyan descent, reveals, “I too remember a time when I would turn on the TV and only see pale skin. I got teased and taunted about my night shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter skinned.” Many told her that she would not be successful in Hollywood due to her darker complexion. She then proceeded to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in 12 Years a Slave. 🙂 When you not only get put down by other races, but also your own, it is a terrible feeling. You feel as if no one cares about you and that you can never fit in. You will never find yourself as beautiful without that much needed representation of diversity on the big screen. Although my complexion is not the same as Lupita’s, she helped me find beauty within myself and that dark is beautiful too. Humans should not be tearing each other down and dictate what your value is based on something as superficial as skin color or race. Even if we were all granted the exact same skin color, as humans we would probably place beauty standards and divide ourselves over the size of our feet or the shape of our toenails.
- Wealth– While jokingly ranting to a group of friends a while ago about how Instagram models make a decent living simply based on their looks (as in, they are technically born into wealth), I realized that my light-hearted banter had a lot of truth to it. A lot of wealthy people are wealthy because they were born into it…hence the Kardashian/Jenner clan, Trump (his “small loan of $1M” which helped him jump-start &become successful in his business career), and even YouTubers. I believe that usually, the wealthier parents are, the more willing they are for their child to explore new career paths since there is little to lose if that career fails. Children of rich families have more chances to take a shot at success. They have more resources and are more bold when making decisions since they have a safety blanket (their family’s wealth) to fall on. For example, they can apply to more medical schools and have a greater chance at being accepted into one of these schools leading them to become a doctor. Same for business. Wealthier people are able to take more chances at starting a successful buisiniess and maintain their wealth. Poorer people cannot say the same. They cannot afford to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars in the case their business fails. Poorer people take less risks (because of the fear of losing money and becoming bankrupt) and thus are stuck in that continuous cycle until someone in their future generation breaks it. This in turn is kind of like the caste system, where you are often stuck in the same social&economic status you were born into. Although we aren’t directly creating this division, this is just proof that divisions will always exist no matter what and some of these divisions cannot be controlled.
So after this wordy discussion about a lot of major social issues, I will present my scientific theory on all of this:
During the last assignment for AP Biology, I chose to read a book, Life by John Brockman (my favorite chapter was Duck Sex and Aesthetic Evolution, definitely a good read). This book explained everything and anything about biology. As I was skimming through the chapters, something caught my eye. There was an entire section on this field of study called sociobiology. Let me insert the definition right here:
Sociobiology – “the scientific study of the biological (especially ecological and evolutionary) aspects of social behavior in animals and humans.”
Ants and bees, known as “superorganisms”, divide themselves into classes (workers and queens). They do this in order to accomplish all the tasks needed for the colony to survive as a whole. This nature to divide themselves up like this is literally ingrained into their blood. And this is what evolution has led them to do. So if we look at human behavior, we can see we have some similar traits in our species. Maybe we divide ourselves up by the caste system, for example, to simply “get things done.” Or at least that’s what evolution wanted. Let me make a correction to the sentence before the last one. We *initially divided ourselves up to get tasks done. But then, just like our animal relatives, we started getting greedy. Greed leads to cruel labor, exploitation, and oppression, not evolution.
So although there might be a scientific explanation in a very new field of biology to explain the social issues we face today, we still do not know enough to jump to conclusions and excuse our behavior. But if we ever do find out what leads us to constantly divide ourselves to this day, then we will finally be able to understand more about ourselves and take a chance at fixing our fatal flaws. That is, if we don’t get in a fight over the research.
Until then, let’s use the good gifts of humanity rather than letting our weaknesses rule over us. Let’s be aware of our flaws and speak up when we see injustices being committed. Even if we cannot fully end major social issues, we can definitely mitigate them.
(P.S. sorry for choppy ending)