Saturday, 30 July 2011

Just because... (1)

My biological reaction to anything traumatic is to instantly recall all the times I’ve been there before either physically or emotionally. Sometimes things happen so fast that your brain struggles to keep up and goes into play-back mode, replaying every scene in your head in an attempt to comprehend what you’ve witnessed.

It occurred two weeks ago when a car had accidentally knocked a motorcyclist into oblivion. Even though he was wearing a helmet, he was hurt and immediately everyone in the vicinity stopped, pulled off in their vehicles and ran to his aid. I instantly recalled when I’d felt like this before... kneeling on the side of the road watching Mother administer CPR to the little boy who was unconscious while his Dad was sitting on the floor, covered in his own blood and his little sister cried on my own sister’s shoulder. I was in my early teens then.

And then there were other times when Mother was a hero, saving lives... to the detriment of my Adrenal Cortex and Hippocampus.

But something clicked while I watched the Motorcyclist laying unconscious on the tar road with hoards of people trying to help him. I thought to myself this is human nature in its purest, most natural form. As human beings, we are naturally wired to want to help others. The people helping the Motorcyclist didn’t care if he was White or Black or Asian; they didn’t care about where he came from or what he believed in... in much the same way that Mother didn’t care if the little boy she resuscitated was Muslim or not... the same way most of the World didn’t care about race, ethnicity and religion when natural disasters struck in Banda Aceh, Haiti, Japan and New Orleans etc.

All that matters in those moments are that the people receive the help that they need and most people are willing to give whatever they can to help. It’s primal human instinct to want to preserve life, not take it. How many times aren’t people moved to tears just watching someone else in pain? Nelson Mandela was absolutely right in saying that we weren’t born to hate and discriminate. That’s learned behaviour. And if people can learn to hate, then surely they can learn to love too.


  1. Racial hatred is certainly learned, but I'm not sure hate as an emotion is. Human babies seem to hate a lot of things, including not being fed on time!

  2. "As human beings, we are naturally wired to want to help others."

    I can't even begin to count the times I've been told (and have believed) otherwise. I've heard the "survival of the fittest" argument, "we are only animals", and "it is in our instinct to survive, not help".

    But we have a conscience, for one, which separates us from any animal. And, sometimes, helping others allows for a bond to be established, and having more "animals" on your good side is good thing to have for any "survivor".

    Great post. Your mom sounds like a tremendously courageous person! And you sound like you have pretty good instincts.

    P.S. When are you moving here so we can share shooooes?!

  3. This post touches the heart and the soul.

  4. Though it's a wonderful thought, I'm not sure we weren't born to hate and discriminate. I think we were. We are a species that can't think beyond the box that's called positive versus negative, light versus dark, love versus hate. We were made to think in terms of opposites. Up, down, heaven, hell. That's what we do. No good things without the bad. So we were born to love but also to hate. That's just my idea. What do you think?

  5. Mr. GB - We definitely have a "dislike" gene imbedded in our DNA. But we certainly don't have a "I-enjoy-killing-other-people-that-aren't-like-me" gene.

    BB-Aisha - We can start with our own kids one day InshaAllah.

    Michi - I'm sure when it comes down to surviving between you and someone else, you'd choose yourself (unless you're a mother). But in the grander scheme of things, we as people can't watch something like the earthquake in Haiti or the tsunami in Japan or the Famine in Somalia occur without feeling *something* for the afflicted.
    P.S. I have to email you... :)

    Angie - Thanks lady ;)

    RCB - I agree that a lot of our thinking is conditioning and I definitely think that as human beings we constantly judge other people because we need to validate our own existences. And in doing so, we classify and "box" people because we look for traits or characteristics to identify with and when we don't identify or relate - we tend to discriminate and reject the other persons beliefs and ideals.
    I think a lot of "hate" stems from ignorance in this regard. People don't know any better, or they can't appreciate someone else's culture without feeling obliged to "accept" it. I find that having an understanding of people and the world at large as well as a respect and appreciation of our differences eliminates the "hate". We don't have to "love" or even "like" everything about everyone... but we don't necessarily have to hate either. I choose respect and indifference :)

    1. See, this is why you're the best, Az. I choose respect.

  6. sometimes i wonder if being muslim/or a believer is to be human or to be that 'superior- holier' other.

  7. Fathima - Sadly I think there are many who thing being Muslim is the sanctimonious latter.