Monday, February 18, 2008

Service to Your Race

Race is one of the inescapable aspects of who we are. We are born into a race and it influences who we are always. Even if we manage to mature beyond an ethnocentric world view, we will eventually see it in our societal relationships. There are those who believe that some races are superior to others. Can we live without "racism" in our lives? Our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

According to the philosophy of Ken Wilber's Integral Psychology, Worldcentric is better than ethnocentric which is better than egocentric. Each may be appropriate in certain circumstances, but there is no question as to the hierarchical ranking of increasing capacity for consciousness, care, and compassion. The author Nikos Kazantzakis suggests the following spiritual exercise: Your first duty, in completing your service to your race, is to feel within you all our ancestors. Your second duty is to throw light on their onrush and to continue their work. Your third duty is to pass on to your son the great mandate to surpass you." What do YOU think?


morgantj said...

I've always had a tendency to be more Worldcentric then anything, and I think this view should be promoted.

Jim Murdoch said...

This is not unrelated to your previous discussion. As our awareness grows to who we are, so we are less inclined to see ourselves as separate beings, and less concerned about our separate race, and more concerned about our human race and the world we live in and are part of.

Molly Brogan said...

Yes, I suppose the only way to relate this to the most recent discussion in this group would be to talk about race soul, which is the concept that really led to my writing this post. I agree with Morgantj, the worldcentric view is best, and I think that this is where we are all headed as humanity shifts from the information age into the age of ethics. But in the meantime, our daily experience reflects racism to us - the amount depends on who we are and where we are. How do we maintain that worldcentric view - or do we, as humans, float between all three naturally?

BellaVida said...

Well I am part of the human race and believe that's the best way to look at it. To rip each other apart into subgroups is to feed into a base animalistic instinct to survive at the cost of others. Divisions such as, color, country, sex, etc. are weak excuses for bad behavior.

When I first moved down south it was a harsh realization that racism is alive and thriving today. I feel it here more than anywhere I've ever lived. I get it all the time from every angle but the only thing I can do to fight it, is to be the best person I am capable of being.

I cannot feed into the hatred and ignorance. Somehow I strive to rise above it but it hasn't been easy.

Yes Molly it depends who we are and where we live but it is everywhere. There is no escaping it. If all of humankind were to realize we are the same creature and unite for our advancement it wouldn't be profitable. Money would become worthless. I wonder what kind of world that would be. What would be the structure? Who would set the goals? How would decisions be made?

I guess I have more questions than answers but as of today, 2008 I don't see a complete unification of humankind ever happening.

JM Sherer said...

I understand your perspective, however, to say that you do not see the complete unification of humankind ever happening is an unfortunate conclusion. I personally live in Southern California where racial barrier still exist, but amazing progress has been made. In the generation preceding myself, I notice almost no racial barriers between my nephews and their friends at school.

Above all if we continue to strive toward these ideals, a worldcentric view can be achieved. I think Molly has a good point that we all may naturally float between the three, but there is no doubt that progress can be made by communities and cultures as a whole.

Wehireu said...

Race is one of those loaded terms. Usually someone outside of your group decided who you are racially. Race is usually decided by government categories that are not beneficial to the people who are being categorized. It is one thing to have a self-identified race or ethnicity and another thing to have a government decide what label you should have with no input. When you self-identify yourself say as Russian because that is where your parents are from it is fine often. However, when your government decides that you are xx or you are a foreign born person who can never get citizenship because you are a specific racial category, it becomes problematic.

Race is often not determined by genetic markers, it is a cultural construct. It is often based on loose ideas, is there a buddhist or muslim race or christian race, some people would say so. To attach a specific soul or spirit is a very odd idea.

It is also pseudo-science, how one identifies a specific race is more culturally based than on rational terms. There are only humans in the end. We are not separate species. There is very little genetic variation in humans. At one point the human race fell down to about 10,000 people. This is pretty much the gene pool of 6 billion humans.

Lee said...

Life is funny sometimes, and by that I mean funny strange not funny

I was watching the news last night and the continuing story about Berrick-upon-Tweed, and will it or won't it go back into Scottish hands prompted a discussion with me wife and oldest child about the merits or not of nationalistic feelings.

I made it quite clear that the idea of feeling some sort of pride in what is essentially the accident of the location of your birth (something you have no control over) seems ludicrous to me.

My wife didn't really see my point, being vociferously proud of being an Essex Girl that she is, but my son(I could see) was quietly taking it all in and nodding his agreement.

So yes I certainly agree with the last point, the first two though, nope not at all.

Be proud of your countries achievements, if they are some thing to be proud of, but pride in the country of your birth just because...... it makes no sense to me at all, and creates all sorts of ills instead.

Lonlaz said...

You know, you bring some questions that I've had within me for quite a
while, since 'race' is factor in my life. First of all, I would
prefer the masses to think that all ethnological groups are equal, but
is this really true? Genes do make a difference in what a person's
strengths are, and culture makes an even bigger difference, which
determines superiority in specific circumstances. Stereotypes exist
for a reason, although only a fool bases all of his judgment on them.

Now, duty to your 'race'. This is another concept that I don't
understand. I call myself Mexican because that's what everyone sees
me as. I don't know Spanish, I'm not Roman Catholic, I do love to
cook and eat Mexican food and also the obligatory hot stuff (including
Indian, yum). My father currently resides in Mexico, and both of my
grandfathers didn't speak English. I feel no obligation to my so-
called 'race' (which it isn't, but try to explain that to your regular
Joe), on the other hand, I'm not patriotic, either. If I 'had' to
pick an allegiance, I feel more West Texan than Mexican.

I can't say that my ancestors had much of an agenda beyond survival,
so in that way I intend to continue their work. I suppose that makes
me egocentric.

Pat said...

You know, you bring some questions that I've had within me for quite a while, since 'race' is factor in my life. First of all, I would prefer the masses to think that all ethnological groups are equal, but is this really true? Genes do make a difference in what a person's strengths are, and culture makes an even bigger difference, which determines superiority in specific circumstances. Stereotypes exist for a reason, although only a fool bases all of his judgment on them.

So the races aren't equal, but all members of any race are equally individual. The main difference between races is the relative amount of melanin produced by their skin, thus making the colour changes we all know and love(!?!?). Of course, as the individual has no control regarding of which race they are a member, THAT fact we all share equally. What I never understood is why (racist) people put so much on colour. Especially when a fair percentage of white racists still yearn to get their summer tan, thinking that it makes them look better, whilst denigrating others for having the same hue naturally. Go figure.
Black people (that is those of African descent) are supposed to have slightly stronger and thicker bones that others. Well, that makes sense to me if melanin is supposed to help convert sunlight into vitamin D, which allows for the better absorption of calcium into the body. You'd expect their bones to be, on average, slightly better built BECAUSE of the extra melanin. Scientifically, darker seems to be better; so those that do not have it, want it (demonstrated by the desire of lighter-skinned people to want to get a tan) yet still find the time to denigrate it in others when it comes about naturally. A truly perplexing paradox.

Scott said...

n an ideal, Utopian world, "worldcentric,' or "speciescentric" would dominate our perceptions and behaviors, as we all have common ancestors.. "Speciescentric" would also most likely imply a respect for the environment as our source of sustenance.

Why do we have races in the first place?

Races arose through natural selection, through genepooled group adaptation to geographical environments. We don't see Africa primarily populated by Whites or Asians or Hispanics for a reason, just as we don't see Asia populated mostly by Blacks or Hindu Indians.

Given the all important natural variation between individuals, through natural selection, races evolved from a common source to adapt to their geographical environment.

Our perceptual systems thrive on differences, not sameness. So we can't help but take note of others' different physiques or skin color or mannerisms that are grossly different from our own "tribe." It is a gut reaction.

Project back to our cave-men days: who is more likely to be a threat, to kill you males, rape your females, and eat your children, those that look grossly different from you, or those that look just like you (family or tribe)?

So, in modern times, we need to understand our evolutionary history, including the origins and evolution of races, and of racism itself, and transcend our genetic programming, our cultural indoctrination,and our egos, and our gut reaction to note such differences, and use other criteria, more "worldcentric criteria" to organize group survival and group cooperation.

Scott said...

All spot on!! Glad to hear from you, Scott. It's great to hear that kind of forward thinking, that is, the kind that, while looking forward, hasn't forgotten where it's been and uses that data intelligently. There's certainly nothing wrong with realising differences now, as we've done before, but, as our society has changed quite a bit from caveman days, we need to react differently than we used to do. But how can we get that message across to the scattered populace of this planet? (And have it sink in!)

Lisa said...

all you have said is understandable its the feelings of superiority that is the problem not recognising the differences. We all initially fear what we do not know, that is how we have survived as long as we have but the idea of being superior over another race or perhaps each race does feel superior over all others and only the whites are more open and vocal?

Scott said...

"Feelings of superiority" or ethnocentricity, are also probably leftover from our barbaric past, perhaps providing some sort group identity and a good excuse to kill or enslave or abuse the neighboring tribes or races. What do we do now? Same solution, understand it, and overcome it and treat everybody as an equal.

Language is a barrier, too. If we could all communicate with some sort of universal translator device, (coming within five years) it would transform the world.

Francis said...

Welcome to the group Scott!

I think you're on the right track with your comments. "Otherness", difference is something which we may instinctively see as a threat. It may even be - to an extent - genetically programmed, since it's a characteristic seen in other animal species too. But, of course, this doesn't mean that it has to have any meaning for human society today. To regard one's skin colour as a ground for superiority is illogical - particularly on the part of so-called "white" (actually pink) people like myself.

After all, Africa is our common homeland so we were probably all originally black. Moreover, black people managed to live in Africa for tens of thousands of years in general harmony with their environment. It was only when "whites" or light-browns (i.e. Arabs) started getting involved there that the continent's problems really started to explode, from developing the slave trade to initiating massive ecological disaster.

Scott said...

Ethnocentricity and its associated feelings of superiority have been demonstrated historically for almost every ethnic group that ever existed.

Like many predispositions and tendencies we have inherited from our evolutionary past that may not be conducive to the world we want to create now, ethnocentricity is one that I am sure we all would like to see fall by the wayside!

If we all strive for basic human rights, no person should be subject to the abuse of being stereotyped, or hated, or placed in a caste because of their skin color.

Ashok said...

The core is ' stereotypes,' of what it is formed and what it does to the idea one comes to have oneself, and of others, and how that qualifies, even forms anew, the thoughts and behaviour we exhibit towards each other, and towards oneself.

We carry stereotypes in our mind. You may be having stereotype of Jesus, a Franciscan monk, a Druid, a Roman, a Jew, a Hindu, the Sikh guru, a Mayan, a Muslim, a homeless man, a slum dweller, a wealthy man, a capable man, James Bond, the Irish man, a sensuous consort ... a good neighbour, etc. Colour is the most immediate but also most superficial, thus easier to deal with. We find, we don't even manage that !

The pertinent stereotypes ( if not already dealt with, not just '
understood' but effectively sterilised, such that one is oneself
entirely free and unaffected of it all ) are at the fore of what is
forming the thoughts we then have, the pathological feel and emotion
we are then preoccupied with, more or less violence we then have in
our attitude, speech and behaviour.

But, of course, our attitude is formed by quality of goals we have
before us, choices we made and consequences we suffered or enjoyed,
liberating or constricting experiences we are then living through ...

Stereotypes are very empowered forms in our consciousness that just
happen to take centre - stage in projecting our very ' personality,'
the being we are to ourself and what we are to others. It has the
capacity to cause action -- good, evil or mere harmless !

Dinesh said...

Sita (Rama's wife, who was forcibly take to Lanka by Ravana) was supposed to be very beautiful, and such was her fame that all the female monkeys in the garden, (in which Sita was kept) went over to see what is so beautiful about her. They said "You call that beautiful? she doesn't have even an inch of tail, these humans are really funny."

I think initially it was FAIR with the Aryans being so, then it became WHITE with the Europeans being so. But, at least in India, it is the obsession of mainly the middle and higher class, and not so much of the common man.

Pat said...

Agreed! Stereotypes are a form of 'ideal' and people tend to be upset if their ideals are shown to be false. Perhaps people should realise that to idealise (or stereotype) anyone is a poor application of logic because people very rarely fit any particular ideal depiction.

kebelle said...

We often stratify and tend to be ethnocentric, the attitude to be overcome. There is more to life than regarding one's race as superior.

You have good obervation.

Daily Spirit said...

Perhaps, this is unrelated, but I think that one day, almost every human on this Earth will be one color...then those w/ hate will have to find another reason to hate, rather than race...that's what *I* think...

Congratulations on your recent award Molly Brogan!!!!!!!!!!

Pat said...

How about "Service to your Species" instead? I feel we are very gradually moving beyond using race as a major definition of our identities(Barak Obama's race has been a minor issue so far). Our tribal and cultural baggage is proving much, much harder to let go of. Look at how few (if any) recent wars have been between races or nations. Most are bitter ethnic/tribal conflicts within a state.

If we as a race(I prefer the word species, its less divisive) decide to do something meaningful about climate change, a lot of the old racial/ethnic/tribal crap will disapear. A greater awareness of the interconnectedness of everything will produce a more healthy worldcentric view.

The quote from Kazantzakis is dangerous bullshit. That kind of reasoning is part of the thinking behind the genocides in Rwanda, Armenia, the Balklans, the Sudan, Germany, right on down the list.

Molly Brogan said...

I suppose that if you though "throw light on their onrush and to continue their work" as continuing racist beliefs, then I would agree with you. But having read several of his works, I know that his big belief is that our purpose as a species is to transubstantiate body to spirit, by always seeking what is sacred. I think what he meant by throwing "light on the onrush" is dispelling racist belief, and all other negative force compelling our race into separatism.