The Gazette's Community Editorial Board

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The community editorial board is a new initiative by The Gazette to allow Western students, faculty and staff to voice their thoughts on any issue they choose.

There are no restrictions on topic or content as long as submissions do not violate The Gazette’s Code of Ethics.

Submissions for the next installment can be sent to gazette.community@uwo.ca.

Submitted by the Black Students’ Association
Can a society progress beyond the principles of its past?

This depends on the answers to the following questions: where is society seeking to progress to and what principles have been discarded? Firstly, society cannot progress without acknowledging the presence of unwarranted beliefs.

Furthermore, we as individuals cannot progress without having the desire to do so. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines progression as an onward movement towards a goal. For the purpose of this discussion, this article addresses racism not in the usual sense, but in its new evolved form: tolerance.

Prior to our existence, racism existed in a different form. We, the children of slaves and slave owners, shed a negative light on racism and rebuke modern day racism in an openly condescending manner.

History, however, tells us that this was not always the case. Rather, racism was once widespread and a well renowned principle of thought. It reigned within European and North American nations as moral understanding to the effect that even religion condoned this shameful mindset that all men were not created equal.

While racism is for the most part openly discouraged, we should not mistake the current phase of moral conduciveness as a mindset change. Racism has simply evolved from actions to thoughts, hence from violence to tolerance.

This has resulted in a phony sense of harmony in our society: a society in which pseudo concord is maintained and cowardice is hailed as congruence. One in which we hide our true feelings and only dare to show our deepest thoughts and most genuine feelings in the form of comedy. Why else do the funniest jokes and comedians tend to be those based mainly on racial stereotypes? Rather than asking ourselves “is he jokingly serious or seriously joking,” we cling to the false hope that no offence was meant.

Upon revision of the various forms of racism that have existed in our time and the times before ours, there lies one common theme: arrogance. An attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions. In layman’s terms, arrogance is an unjust feeling that one individual or group is better than another. Why do we maintain this attitude of shunning what we are not used to and deeming change inferior?

Why do we harbour an attitude that refutes change? Why can’t the term ‘different’ maintain its actual definition without a shadow of prejudice accompanying it? If history has taught us anything, it is that the only thing that is constant in our world is change. Have we not learned that the mantle of world dominance has a tendency to make rotations?

There were periods where the world was dominated by Egypt, Persia, Rome, Greece and so on; why then do we think that this current hierarchy is one that is here to stay?

We all need to realize that society is composed of the diversity of you and I. It is in this definition that 1+1 equals something greater than 2.

The complexity of the math stems from the inadequacies of a selfish nature. Survival of the fittest allows me to question the autonomy of you and I. Hence we engage in a paradoxical struggle of right and wrong, black and white, ignoring the fact that grey is the product of change we need because I cannot exist without you and vice versa.

We must progress not as individuals but as a society on all levels, despite the inherent differences and disciplines, we are still a social family that relies on the relationships of each other to thrive.

In the immortal words of Robert F. Kennedy, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”

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