Sunday, August 9, 2009

Compassion for the Plight of the "other"

Is perhaps one of the most incredible triumphs of human character to note. We don't realise it but recognising the humanity in those that are not like us is a challenge. Especially in a world that is so bent on forming divisions instead of breaking them through empathy and understanding.

These thoughts emanate from an article in the Saturday Star Canvas by Janet Smith. This month we celebrate women's lib or what we have of it. Though much needs to be done to obtain full equality, great strides have already been made. In comparison to women that lived half a century ago, we have many more opportunities to grow and progress as humans and not simply women. Ideas surrounding gender roles are much less rigid. Women can more or less do anything they want to. For that, it is a privilege to be a woman in the 21st century.

But it is a woman's location that makes all the difference. Muslim states in Africa and Asia still practice brutal genital mutilations. A clear act of pure unadultered misogyny which is accompanied by a myriad of other heinous acts.
I began this post with some talk about empathy. A recent movie which has struck plenty of controversy mainly owed to a scene in which a woman mutilates herself 'Antichrist' has left me wondering. The European public is so up in arms about this scene which is part of a movie and thus not real but less troubled by the reality of the many thousands of mutilations that take place. It serves to speak of how empathy breaks down almost immediately at the ethnic barrier. The West is somewhat indifferent to the suffering of those is less developed regions of the world because of this business of seeing only the "other" and not a fellow human being similar in a number of ways.
Otherization is something we have probably all been guilty of. Recognising that common humanity that binds us is one way forward toward a post-racial and post-sexist society and world.

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