Once, when humans and proto-humans moved around in small groups — one dominant male leading each — xenophobia was a natural instinct. It was much more than the instinctive inter-species (cat-dog, snake-mongoose, or others in the same vein) hatred, or the animosity between aliens of the same species (say, the flak faced by any trespassing dog from entrenched local dogs). It was the mother of most prejudices — racial, regional, religious, social and cultural — that ail humankind till date. But that didn’t, apparently, prevent sexual alliances. They now say that Homo Sapiens Sapiens, for a brief period in relative terms, had cohabited with Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis (both human), and the other way round. So, we know not who had truly sired us and who held us in the primeval womb but, that didn’t prevent us from inheriting all their combined prejudices and more.
Xenophobia, fear of our near-equals, is a protective instinct of the animal world. (Near-equality is a salient clause; does a tiger fear a cow, or a cat a mouse?) Prejudice is illogical, an inherited trait, embellished with gory and inciteful details that couldn’t be verified but were very difficult to roll back once they’d been unleashed with malice. Prejudice also has its high priests and practitioners, mostly unashamed but often disguised. Some disguise themselves in abstract but gossamer veils of jana-sevā (public service) or a seemingly live-and-let-live policy-exterior. Others pretend to have no religious intent at all and show commitment to esoteric issues, such as the ‘Art of Living’, with tacit agendas. Scratch the outwardly shiny opacity with the ugly nail of your thumb and the prejudices will show in black letters beneath, often tainted with commercialism.
Prejudices are failings of individuals, having their origins in ignorance, but are nurtured lovingly by organisations to trap and confuse a greater number of individuals in the spider-web. If you think hard and apply logic to the most straightforward prejudices that you might have ever come across, you are sure to arrive at the truth — unaided.
Prejudices also happen to be tools of organisations that seek, wrestle from others, and wish to perpetuate power. Power, also known as might, is justly equated with wealth. It also enables imposing organisational wishes on unsuspecting individuals. And, don’t we all know that there are many one-person organisations?
Break the shackles NOW if you don’t wish to spend the rest of your life in slavery.