1200 Israelis dead …

This month my church has been having a series of sermons on racial equity and reconciliation. Dwelling on the fact that Jesus’ message cut across all nations, class and race, even 2000 years back. I know a lot has been achieved in the last half a century towards a goal of equity for everyone, but there is definitely a lot more distance to be covered. If there is one thing we have learnt above all else in these years of trying to attain equality for all men – be it their race, gender or caste- it is that the society plays a bigger role than laws.

So why am I rambling on about equality when the heading talks about 1200 Israelis being dead? Firstly, the heading is false, if there were that many dead Israelis you would have seen it on network TV 24 hours a day. Secondly this statement is true for the stateless Palestinians (the death toll was higher), but they do not warrant the same amount of network coverage or people time. No, I am neither an Israeli basher nor a Palestinian supporter. Also I am not fond of watching people die or hearing sad tales of loss. What made me think about it was that it seemed a double standard that one group of people dying would sound more terrible than another group of people.

This lethargy is not just confined to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You can see it manifest most frequently in the African nations. The fact that the western world thought that Saddam Hussain was more “bad” or “cruel” than some of the ethnic-cleansing, genocidal and baseborn dictators in the third world speaks volumes.

Closer to home I have been following the conflict in Sri Lanka, between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils, with whom I share my ancestry. This conflict has been going on for decades with no solution in sight. Infact the LTTE (Liberation tigers of Tamil Elam), which is the largest armed tamil group, have the distinction of being the originators of suicide bombings. The struggle started peaceful enough with the minority Tamils wanting equal rights in all aspects of life. Soon it spread to armed struggle that got out of hand. Most people including yours truly have labeled the LTTE as terrorists – they got me on board by killing one of India’s most beloved leaders in a suicide attack. I am not likely to withdraw that label, since they killed him in my home state of Tamil Nadu(country). Lately though I have come to realise that if this were a Tamil majority and Sinhalese minority conflict the roles would have been reversed and the Sinhalese resistance group would have been called terrorists.

At the end what it all boils down to is the fact that we are all prejudiced against people who don’t look like us, don’t talk like us or even eat like us. Until we change from the inside to believe that all men are born equal and not similar, we are going to have to keep paying in blood.

I personally believe that once you have Jesus in your heart, it becomes easier to overcome such prejudices.


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