By Daisaku Ikeda
Much of the information that floods our world has been selected and tailored to fit preconceived notions and stereotypes.
It is vital that we each ask ourselves some important questions. For example: Do I accept without question the images provided to me? Do I believe unconfirmed reports without first examining them? Have I unwittingly allowed myself to become prejudiced? Do I really have a grasp of the facts of the matter? Have I confirmed things for myself? Have I gone to the scene? Have I met the people involved? Have I listened to what they have to say? Am I being swayed by malicious rumours?
I believe that this kind of “inner dialogue” is crucial. This is because people who are aware that they may harbor unconscious prejudices can converse with people of other cultures more easily than those who are convinced that they have no prejudices.
If we think about it, people are not born Turks or Americans. They are not born Palestinians or Jews. These are merely labels.
Each of us is born as a precious entity of life, as a human being. Our mothers didn’t give birth to us thinking, “I’m giving birth to a Japanese” or “I’m giving birth to an Arab.” Their only thought was “May this new life be healthy and grow!”
In any country, a rose is a rose, a violet is a violet, people are people—though they may be called by different names.
Perhaps the clouds and winds high above the blue waters of the Bosporus are whispering among themselves as they gaze down upon humanity: “Wake up! There is no such thing as Americans, no such thing as Iraqis. There is only this boy, this life, called Bob, who happens to live in America; there is only this boy, this life, Mohammed, who happens to live in Iraq. Both are children of Earth. Wake up from this foolishness, this cruel habit of passing hatred and resentment on to the next generation.”
We need to awaken to a common consciousness of being all inhabitants of Earth. This consciousness is not to be found in some distant place. It will not be found on a computer screen. It lies in our hearts, in our ability to share the pain of our fellow human beings. It is the spirit that calls on us: “As long as you are suffering, whoever you are and whatever your suffering may be, I suffer also.”
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