Rejecting Race Theory (with the help of direct experience & secular & religious ideas)

[The following is a blog post I first wrote & published in 2003, and since belief in race theory has not yet disappeared from this planet, I thought I would re-post the entry here, it may be useful for people who are thinking about ending their belief in race theory & the negative practices & views that arise from that belief]

Race Is A Lie
By Sujewa Ekanayake

For perhaps 10-20 years I contemplated two seemingly incompatible ideas that exist in my environment (society, the human world). These two ideas are: 1) all humans-more or less-are capable of the same level of high or low achievements, given the right effort (an idea that was planted in my brain by being raised as a Buddhist in Sri Lanka), and the counter idea is that 2) humans fall into a handful of categories, based on skin color and physical features, and the worth and the level of achievement an individual human is capable of depends on which group they belong to (for example: people w/ light skin or “white” people being capable of more things than people with dark skin or “black” people, an idea that has been popular in Europe, America and places that have been heavily affected by Europeans, also in India in a slightly different form and older origin).  After much contemplation, research, observation, including reflecting on the Sinhalese and Tamil ethnic violence in Sri Lanka, and analyzing knowledge gained from living among various people and interacting with various people, I have decided that idea 1 is correct and that idea 2 is not correct (this decision was made several years ago).

This means that how I view the world now and how I interact with it is drastically different than how many of the people in my immediate society (American) view and interact with the world. That is, I believe that the concept of race is a lie, a false view, brought into existence, refined, and kept alive for self-serving reasons by the creators of the idea and those who were able to benefit from the idea, and that at this point in time (2003 AD) many people simply accept race as a fact and organize their lives by it.  Many evil things have been made possible by belief in the idea of race or races of humans: including the Hindu caste system which treats millions of people as sub-humans, slavery, European colonialism or the taking control of lands through force by people who believed they were more human then the ones that they conquered, Manifest Destiny, and Nazi attempt to exterminate Jews in Europe. Less damaging perhaps numerically but perhaps just as devastating on an individual basis is that in modern-day America I see the population continuing to organize themselves based on the concept of race. The down side of this is that individual people are placing an artificial constraint on themselves, and along with this comes mental anguish, and of course in some unfortunate moments, physical violence. The plus side for the person who believes in race is that they have a group to belong to. But, all in all I believe that the negative effects of believing in race are greater to everyone then the positive effects. And I believe that it is counter productive to the American experiment of creating a great nation consisting of people from the hundred corners of the world (also counter to the aims of any modern country that wants to reduce friction & conflict between various groups of people).  And I believe that race is dangerous and destructive to the world in general because it causes people to sympathize more with, and in many cases at the expense of, some populations over others.  So, as a productive and well-meaning member of American society (& of Earth in general) and a moral human being who wishes to do good (that which helps humans live well) I am sharing my views through this public forum, this web page. I invite people to post their views and responses to my writing as I share and fine tune, through regular journal entries, my theories and observations and ideas for creating a world without race.

This journal entry is step #1 on this side project.  Parting thoughts: in ancient Christian thinking the concept of deception perpetuated by evil (or The Devil) exists, and in ancient Buddhist thinking there is a concept called maya, or illusion, created by a being called Mara or The Evil One. Race would fall neatly under those categories. Race (and its’ child racism) is an evil illusion because it causes human misery and it is a dangerous lie that has hypnotized the human population. Let me know what you think about this idea. Should we create a world without race or should we let the idea and belief of race exist in the world?

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Copyright 2003 Sujewa Ekanayake

Is Religion an important part of your life? 99% Sri Lankans say yes

Apparently, according to a Gallup poll done in 2008. Sri Lanka is 3rd on the list of the most religious countries in the world, after Egypt and Bangladesh, and leaps just ahead, by a whisker, of  Congo, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Indonesia, Djibouti and others. At the other end of the spectrum we got the countries who are the least religious, Estonia at 14%, Sweden 17%, Denmark, Norway, Hong Kong, Japan etc. Lists shown below. I’m sure I don’t have to point out some obvious trends, do I?

Lets break down these lists to perform some analysis shall we (data from Wikipedia and CIA Factbook);

Egypt – Approximately 90% adheres to Islam, the rest pretty much Christianity.

Bangladesh – Like Egypt, approximately 90% adheres to Islam, and most of the rest to Hinduism

Sri Lanka – 70% follow Buddhism, 15% Hinduism, 8% Christianity, and the rest Islam.

Indonesia – 86% follows Islam, 8.7 Christianity and the rest a mixture of Buddhism and Hinduism

Congo – 50% Christians, and 48% Animists

Malawi – 80% Christian, 13% follow Islam

Senegal – 95% follow Islam

Djibouti – 94% follow Islam

Morocco – 98.7% follow Islam

UAE – 96% follow Islam

A you can see, from this list, Sri Lanka is the only country with a Buddhist majority. Sri Lanka doesn’t have the highest concentration of Buddhists even (Bhutan 66-75%, Burma 90%, Cambodia 95%, Japan 96%, Taiwan 93%, Vietnam 85%). Of course, wealth plays a major factor. Most of the least religious countries are developed or well developed. If you are rich, you have the option of ignoring God, most of the time atleast. If you are poor, you tend to pray to, and ask, God most of the time.

Few of the least religious countries;

Estonia – 76% no religious affiliation

Sweden – 75% Church of Sweden, BUT, that’s because till 1996, people born Sweden automatically became a member of the Church, if one of the parents was a member. Now only if you are christened you become a member, and single digit percentages attend church regularly.

Denmark – 81% members of the Church. According to a 2005 study by Zuckerman, Denmark has the third highest proportion of atheists and agnostics in the world, estimated to be between 43% and 80%.

Norway – 83% members of the Church of Norway.

Czech Republic – 60% no affiliation to any religion, 27% Protestant

Mongolia – 50% Buddhism (!) and 40% listed as having no religion.

Azerbaijan – 96.7% follow Islam. Religious affiliation is still nominal in Azerbaijan; percentages for actual practicing adherents are much lower, according to Wiki

As the report itself point’s out, “Obviously, these data only compare the importance of religion in people’s lives — they say nothing about what being highly religious means in different parts of the world and among different faiths”.

So why do Sri Lankans say they are highly religious?

Is it because the principles and conditions of the religions are being followed meticulously by Sri Lankans? Is it measured by how much the people idolize their god(s) and believe in spiritualism and supernatural powers? Or is it because of the number of times we visit places of worship, and the amount time we spend there? The value of alms and donations we give to the clergy? The involvement of religion in politics? Or is it because we are still a developing nation, education and wealth wise, with a civil war in our hands?

Personally, the results from the Poll are a bit hard to believe, although its a valid poll done by a highly respected agency. But 99%?