By Zilong Wang
Today, the Student Freedom Riders had a discussion on racial division. I have long had the suspicion that mankind would constantly draw lines among themselves until aliens attack the earth; only after the ET arrives would we then realize that we the people in this world are indeed all humans, and we are not that different from each other.
But the aliens aren’t attacking. So do we have other ways to get rid of the endless division and opposition among ourselves? I do not have an answer to this question, but I would like to reflect upon the root of the divisions.
It almost seems that the tribal-style division is a part of our deepest animal instinct; even chimpanzees are divided into groups and launch warfare against each other. Humans divide themselves into groups for food, security, warfare, economic interests, control over resources– for survival. This survival game is then turned into group division based on skin color, nationality, geographic location, language, economic class, social status, etc. Various institutions are formed to perpetuate the structure and culture of a group: churches, monuments, schools, courts, political establishments, etc.
In order to form a unified group identity and to increase group cohesiveness, we then create “the others” to show the contrast. “The others” are portrayed as inferior in order to show that we are superior; “the others” are unethical and backward so that we appear to be moral and civilized; “the others” are a threat to our society so that we need to unite within our group and fight against “the others.” And in many situations, we form divisions to satisfy our ego: we are different and we are much better. Division and discrimination have become an important part of many people’s ego and psychological wellbeing.
So before the aliens attack the earth (and force us to see the truth that all of us on earth are equal humans), what should we do? We should be aware of where our divisions come from, keep the conflicts in control, and find common ground to increase mutual benefits. We should get the ego out of the way of our reason, and realize that we would even increase our self-interests by loving, not hating others.
If humans do not reduce their divisions and enmity against each other, they will probably destroy themselves before any ET makes its way to earth.